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Mamma Musings

Mamma Musings

How to Perfect a Home Renovation

 

They key to any successful project lies in the preparation and the planning. So before you get your hands dirty and bring out the hammer and chisel, come up with a plan.

Preparation Is Key

  • What is the goal?

ehardwareTo save yourself and everyone around you stress and headache, try and make all of the decisions before the work begins. Know what you want before you start breaking down walls. This does not only apply to the bigger questions like which rooms will be renovated. Even the smallest of things should be considered beforehand, such as which paint colour, door knobs, and faucets to choose.

  • Have a Plan B

No matter how well you plan ahead, there is always the possibility that something can go wrong. So find out what to expect during the renovation and have a backup plan ready. Good builders and contractors know what kind of problems could possibly come up on the job and how to deal with them without causing delays.

  • What is your budget?

The last thing you want to happen is to end up with no money mid-way through your project and realise you can’t continue with the renovation. So before you start, draw up a budget detailing what kind of costs you can expect.
How expensive are the materials? Find out whether there are more affordable products you can opt for. While a crystal door handle might look the part on the Downton Abbey set, it might be wiser for you to think about cheap door furniture made out of stainless steel or glass instead of crystal.

Professionals vs DIY – Know When

While you might consider yourself a pro, it’s advisable to come to terms with your abilities and your limitations.ehardware2

Chances are, you won’t have the answers to everything. Luckily, there are many ways to inform and educate yourself. Not sure which door furniture and bathroom accessories to go for? Be it YouTube tutorials or online DIY guides – you’re never far away from help. And for those who prefer a more personal touch in the form of customer service, most hardware stores, for instance, also offer free and expert advice on all renovation-related questions.

Once you have established what you have to do and how to do it, don’t try to do it all by yourself. Confidence and ambition are qualities that are commendable. In this instance, however, it might be wiser to pass the torch, or rather the screwdriver, on to someone who knows a bit more about plumbing and electrical jobs than you. So don’t shy away from calling in the professionals to take care of the big stuff.

Work with What You Have

Blowing up our budget is, unsurprisingly, easier said than done, and the simplest way to achieve that is by being unrealistically over-ambitious.

If you are thinking of moving your sink or your toilet, for example, stop. Introducing a new plumbing system into your home will almost always be the number one reason for your budget, your stress level, and your blood pressure to skyrocket. Renovate, don’t rebuild!

Resist the Temptation

There is no doubt that you want your home to look all nice and flashy after a tedious and expensive renovation. After all, you spent so much money on new fixtures, fittings, and furniture, you naturally want the end-result to look the part.  ehardware3
The one way you should not go about achieving this, though, is by going for hip and trendy furniture options. Stay away from impulse purchases and buying the “coolest” items. Rather, opt for fixtures that will stand the test of time. After all, the last thing you want is to wake up in a month or two, look at your house, and feel like Justin Timberlake when he sees his hairstyle choices from his NSYNC days. #SayNoToBuyersRemorse

 

Note: This is a collaberative post, pic credit Pixabay

Mamma Musings

A Definitive Guide To Pregnancy: What To Expect And How To Cope

Pregnancy is a feat of nature. It can be a wonderful experience, but it can also be exhausting, stressful, and scary. One minute, you may bask in the bliss of feeling your baby wriggling around. The next, you may wonder how on earth you’re going to survive another few weeks or put up with any more mood swings, cravings, or morning sickness. If you’ve recently found out that you’re pregnant, here are some tips to help you prepare for the months ahead.

What to expect: scans and tests

 pregnancyWhen you find out you’re pregnant, you’ll probably have to wait a few weeks to see your baby on the big screen. Most women have their first ultrasound scan at around 12 weeks. At this stage, the technician will be able to show you the body parts and check everything is developing as expected.

At around 20 weeks, you’ll have a more detailed scan, and you can usually find out the gender of the baby. Some couples can’t wait to see if their bundle is a little boy or girl while others prefer to leave it as a surprise. In some cases, it may not be possible to determine the sex. This may happen if the baby is in an awkward position. You could always book another scan if you’re desperate to find out. The sex of the baby comes down to its genetic makeup and whether it has XX or XY chromosomes. You may have tried to work out the gender using a Chinese gender chart. But in reality, much evidence suggests there’s very little you can do to influence the sex of the baby. Many women have no further scans unless there are hiccups along the way. If you do experience bleeding, or you notice that your baby has become less active, seek advice from your midwife. Don’t hesitate to get help if you feel like something’s not right. You know your body, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

 

Coping with pregnancy symptoms

Pregnancy affects women in different ways. Some enjoy an incredible pregnancy while others have a really tough time. pregnancy2Symptoms vary, but usually include morning sickness, bloating, mood swings during the early stages. As your baby grows, you may find that you experience more physical symptoms. You’ll gain weight, you may retain more fluid than usual, and your back and breasts may feel sore. Hormonal changes can make you more emotional than normal. Try and take things easy and avoid stressful situations. Eat well, try and get enough sleep, and stay active. Exercises like swimming and yoga are relaxing, and they provide benefits for your physical health. At times, pregnancy can be overwhelming. Don’t suffer in silence if you’re struggling. Share your worries or feelings with your partner or a close friend. Ask your midwife if you have any concerns, and look after yourself.

 

Pregnancy is a unique experience. Every woman’s journey is different. Hopefully, this guide will give you an insight into what to expect and some helpful tips to make life easier. Try and stay calm and relaxed, focus on yourself and your baby, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Take Care

~Mamma F

 

Mamma Musings

Keeping kids occupied during the summer months

With the kids summer holidays fast approaching, and every parent knows what to expect over those weeks. Two words will likely penetrate your ears more than any others over the next few months: I’m bored!!!

bored

Even with planned holidays, day trips to the likes of the zoo and other local attractions booked those 2 words will still be inevitably uttered at some stage over the summer holidays.  Don’t fear; these simple tricks will help keep your little ones entertained in a pocket friendly way. Win -win for parents and kids alike.

The Great Outdoors

My boys, like many kids love being outside, between being out the back of our own house, the park, the playgrounds and the beautiful Liffey walk way on our door. We get out and about as much as we can.  The kids get exercise, fresh air and generally play together and more times than not there are plenty other kids out and about and they play together.  Kids have brilliant imaginations and can happily play for hours with other kids they only just met.  I find even by getting out and about together with the boys it really does helps encourage that  sibling bond.

Keep Technology Cheap

siblingsWhile as parents we do try to keep screen time to a minimum, most of the older children I know do love their modern tech gadgets. As long as it’s in moderation, there’s nothing wrong with them spending some time in front of those screens (just not all day!). However, you don’t want it to end up costing you a fortune.  While my boys are still much too young to have a real interest in particular games, I spoke with my Aunt informed my with the Euro’s about to commence FIFA is the game of the moment! Im not going to pretend I know anything about games however she did give me a good tip that rather than forking out huge sums for a new game, you could simply enhance the ones they have, for example in relation to FIFA you can  buy FIFA 16 Ultimate Team Game Coins.  She says it really does save quite a lot.

As you know im a Netflix StreamTeam member and can definitely recommend Netflix for both adults and kids.  The great thing is you get a free 30-day trial so might be worth contemplating for one of the summer months. Currently writing my May Netflix picks so check back soon for some recommendations for both adults and kids.

Make Money

It’s never too early to teach kids the value of money. So this summer, why not implement those lessons by helping them earn some cash? We did this regularly over the summers as kids. My little sister still hasn’t let me forget selling an East17 poster behind her back!! Please tell me we werent the only ones to do this. (below pic is from google but you get the idea!)yard sale

Im sure our house is not alone in the amount of junk we gather over the years and as the saying goes “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure”. Selling some of this at a garage sale can help earn money to be invested in the new items they want. Alternatively, you could bake and sell cakes. Whatever you do, it should remain fun. Nevertheless, this is a great opportunity to save money while educating the kids too.

 

Mamma Musings

Survival Tips for New Parents

Being a parent is wonderful. But it’s also incredibly hard work. Nothing can prepare you for the first few days of parenthood, but hopefully, these handy hints will help to make life easier, im the first to admit im no expert, but thought id share some tips I have picked up having had 2 babies!

Be prepared

When you’re pregnant, you count down the days until your due date, but really, your baby could arrive at any time during the final stages. This is why it’s beneficial to be prepared. Have the nursery ready and stock up on nappies, wipes and babygrows. You don’t need to buy everything before your baby is born, but make sure you have the essentials. It’s also a good idea to have your hospital bag prepped and ready, just in case you go into labour earlier than expected or like me end up in hospital from 30 weeks. Most certainly not what i expected but it meant i didnt get home before the baby arrived.

Get some sleep

People warn you about sleepless nights. But it’s impossible to appreciate the changes in sleep patterns you experience with a newborn until the baby comes along. It’s likely that you will wake several times during the night for the first while, and you may not get into a settled routine for weeks. This is why it’s essential to get sleep when you can. Nap when your baby naps, and take it in turns to get up during the night. Try and iron out any sleeping problems you have before our baby comes, that either you or your older kids. We spent considering time getting the big man into his own bed full time and off nightime feeds.

Invest in a new mattress and make sure your bedroom is calming, dark and peaceful. If you’re planning to try co-sleeping or you’re planning for the future, it may be worth swapping your current mattress for a larger one. Try out some mattresses  or look for a review on bestmattress-brand.org.

newborn-220142_960_720

 

Ask for help

As a new parent, you may want to spend every precious second with your baby, but it’s ok to take a break from time to time if you can at all. If you’ve got parents, siblings and friends offering to help out, don’t turn them away. Even an hour’s respite can give you a chance to enjoy a nice hot bath or pop out for a bit of fresh air. There’s absolutely no shame in asking others for a bit of support. They’ll probably be overjoyed to have the chance to spend some time with the new arrival.

Look after yourself

When you’re a new parent, all your energy goes into looking after your baby. But it’s also important to look after yourself. Try and eat healthily, have some time out and rest when you can. When your baby is a little older, try and get out and about. A walk to the park or a trip around the block can do your body and mind the power of good.

man-holding-newborn

Welcoming a new baby to the world is one of the most special and exciting experiences. But looking after a newborn can also be draining. Sleepless nights and busy days can make for exhausted parents. If you’re preparing for a new addition, take these helpful tips on board. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and try and get your head down when you can.

Savour every minute, they are only little for a very short space of time.

Mamma Musings

Unique birthday gift ideas

With the big mans 4th birthday fast approaching it has lead  me to think about some unique gift ideas for him.  birthdaygirlIt can be a hard decision when choosing something to buy your child for their birthday.  The boys are so lucky they receive so many toys and clothes so I like to purchase something for them which is unique. Searching the internet the last few nights has turned up some fab unique birthday gifts for kids, which has prompted me to devote an entire post to it!

 

A teddy

The boys receive lots of “plastic” toys as gifts and from us to be fair so I like to give them something traditional that I know they will love. You cant go wrong with a teddy, a teddy is something they can keep and treasure forever. They are unlikely to throw it out like they will do with their other toys when they grow out of them. teddycuddleI stumbled across this article which reveals, a lot of people still sleep with their teddies as an adult! I still have mine, Lulu has pride of place in the boys bedroom.  My own dad is almost 60 and he still has his.  My own boys are fascinated by the “really really old” teddy!! I have seen lots of places where you can customise the teddy, with the childs name or  you could add a voice clip to the inside the teddy. It’s a great gift idea from babies to toddlers and right up to older kids. There really is something lovely about a teddy that you can treasure for life.

A set of books

You cant go wrong wit books, our love of books is well known.  A set of books is also  a wonderful gift idea for your kids. They are something they can keep forever too. I love our time reading together in the evenings before bed, in time im sure he will be reading to himself and I know ill miss that lovely time together.  Some classic timeless book sets such as the Narnia books, or even the Harry Potter set are great options. 

 

Something customised

Who doesnt love something customised.  For something unique, you cant go wrong with a customised gift It could be a picture of them with a favourite doll/car/toy or perhaps a toy box with their name on. For something fun, I found these custom bobbleheads probably for a littler older kids, but great idea. You can even get the bobblehead dressed in their favorite football team or character costume to make it more fun.

Traditional board game

family-game-588908_960_720The big man loves, and I mean really loves board games.  Current favourite is Operation, which Santa brought last year.  In a world of electronics i love to see him interested in some “old school” board games.  They don’t get old (my son doesnt believe I had Operation game as a child!!) and the biggest thing i think is they encourage all the family to get invloved, not really a feature of the electornic side of things. There are so many you could get that your child will love; here is a good selction for kids!

A present from your past

Another unique present idea your child will love is a present from your past. Perhaps you have something you had when you were little that you want to pass on to your kid.  For example a teddy or a piece of jewellery.  I received a bracelet from my nannie for my 16th birthday that was hers. She has passed away since and that bracelet has become priceless to me.

 

Once I finally have the present sorted its time to think about organising a little party. He loves the idea of blowing out canldles on a cake! And sure who doesnt love a party!! 

party
Note: This is a collaberative post 

Mamma Musings

3 Fun Activities To Help Encourage A Sibling Bond

I have written about the bond between my boys before, I love watching them interact, I love watching the bond grow and develop over the months.  A strong sibling bond can last a lifetime. But the same reasons that siblings bond can be the reasons that they fight too! They are constantly by each other’s side and often know exactly what makes the other one tick. This means that they can help, reassure and support each other. But it can also mean they know what buttons to push. At any age, a sibling bond can be encouraged to develop and improve. A strong sibling bond doesn’t necessarily mean that all arguments and disagreements will become a thing of the past. But it does mean that at the heart of it all they are good friends and will always try to be there for each other. If you’re trying to encourage the sibling bond in subtle but effective ways, try a few of these fun activities.child-childrens-baby-children-s-large

A Joint Project

Encouraging siblings to start a project together can be a great way to help them become close. It might be a building task such as a new toy or even a sandcastle. Perhaps it could be a creative project like a painting or a jigsaw. Baking something together under supervision can also be fun. Presenting cookies or a cake to a loved one will be the result of their teamwork. This can create a sense of pride and accomplishment, meaning they will have good associations with working with their sibling. Many siblings can struggle to share toys or activities and can quickly become territorial. If they learn that working and playing together can be more fun and rewarding, sharing will start to come naturally to them. If one sibling has more experience than the other, they can become the “teacher” in the pair. This also helps to generate a bond of trust and collaboration between them.

A Sleepover

siblingbondA home sleepover can be a fun activity that is often overlooked. But building a cosy fort with snacks and story books, a night light and some games can be a great way to bond. One sibling could invite the other to their room, or perhaps both siblings could camp in the garden for part of the evening. With blankets and outdoor lights this can feel like a real adventure and bond the two together. Indoors, even if siblings share a room, a sleepover can be made exciting. Extra cushions, blankets and bunk beds are all fun for children.  My oldest is obsessed with bunk beds, he doesnt have them yet but we are hoping to get some this summer for them both.  There is tonnes of choice on line but probably the coolest triple bunk beds ever are top of the list at the moment so his best pal and little cousin can stay over with them. Stacked bunk beds are not only fun to climb but they also save on space in a bedroom because they are high rather than broad. That leaves far more floor space and a larger area for play!

A Team Game

Board games or quizzes can be made into a fun team activity and siblings can be paired up. Even if they are only playing against parents or a few friends, this can encourage them to stick together. A fun sense of rivalry against others for the game will stay playful. But it will also help encourage them to support each other. This can stay with them long into later life.

I’m sure I have said this a thousand times but it warms my heart everyday when I see my boys interact with each other. I truly do hope they will be life long friends.

 

 

Note: This is a collaborative post

Features, Mamma Musings

Preparing for a return to the corporate world!

 

annoyin

This one is a little light hearted, a little tongue in cheek, its my last post while on maternity leave!

The corporate world beckons from Monday morning. Its bitter sweet, I am looking forward to going back – child free toilet breaks, hot coffee, adult conversation but I will undoubtedly miss my wee men. I have been home with the pair of them for best part of a year and I will really miss them.  On the bright side they are in very safe hands with the legend that is The Nanna Fairy.

I was sent this info graphic and did laugh at how spot on it actually is! The info graphic (see opposite) was produced by www.gotomeeting.co.uk and depicts the  50 “most annoying” or most used corporate phrases used. Having a look through it a lot of these are creeping into everyday parlance also.

There are a couple from that list that drive me to the brink!!

My personal pet hates –

  • “ducks in a row” aaarrrggghhhhh – ducks where are the ducks??! Seriously no ducks, no more mentions of ducks, whats wrong with – “get organised”??

 

  • “bite the bullet – ok, nobody here is biting bullets! You are perhaps making a tough decision, your in business, its an important decision, its expected. Lets talk “tough decisions” instead.

 

  • “Going forward” – no just no, I have never and I will never use this phrase.

 

There are a couple from the list I haven’t heard of. Perhaps I should go back to the office to start “opening the kimono” or “looking across the piece”!

Anybody else have pet hates from this list??

Would love to hear them.

For now im about to take this off line while I get my ducks in row, to ensure I hit the ground running while thinking outside the box!!!

Take care

~Mamma F

 

Note: This is a collaborative post, thanks to www.gotomeeting.co.uk for the graphic
Mamma Musings

A busy maternity leave! Extension – conversation – garden upgrade

As my extended maternity leave draws to a close, been thinking back over the last few days of how manic the last 11 months have been.  Two boys under 3, a husband and a dog! Busy, busy, busy!!

Add to the mix the mad cap idea we had to begin our house renovations while on leave! As if I didn’t have enough to do! We bought a house in need of total renovation so this was always on the cards however the scale of which grew as our family grew.  We are currently in the midst of a roof conversion, this will be a playroom/ study.  Outside we are doing a single story 32m2 extension and a revamped garden which will be both practical and fun for the boys as they grow up.

The biggest issue we are facing is natural light, it is quite dark and sheltered where we are so getting as much light as possible into our house was always going to be a challenging issues.  We debated at length and considered the cost trade off and in the end went with Velux, 4 in the roof conversion and 6 in the back extension.  We had considered a long narrow roof light for the back extension however when we discussed with our architect his expert opinion was the Velux would give a deeper light and penetrate more in the older part which as a result of the extension was going to get even less light.    See here for some further information and some inspiration. We are probably about 40% through our project so check back over the coming months for updates and pictures of the finished project.

extensionmammafairy

 (Source: http://www.buildinginspiration.co.uk/)

My three year old has really taken an interest in the building particularly his new play space.  He asked the Dada Fairy to build him a tree house, not sure about this myself!!

We have trawled the internet many times over the last few weeks and finally agreed on this.  I actually think the addition of a firemans pole sealed the deal for my Fireman Sam fanatic! On a serious note an all weather playhouse will be a great addition to the revamped garden so hopefully the by the time we get to finalising the garden the budget will have some left for this.

 

Note: this is a collaborative post however all views and opinions are my own as always.

Mamma Musings

4 ways I know im a boys mother!

As you already know I am a mother to two beautiful (but very busy) boys ages 3 and 11 months. My close friend has two girls aged 5 and almost 3 so we are forever comparing note (in a very light hearted way!!) . I have absolutely nothing else to base this on but the time we spend with her lovely girls, which incidentally is quite a lot, that leads to me rationalise how I know im a mother of all boys!

momofboys21 – Shoes

I am FOREVER buying new shoes for my pair, they run, jump, hop, skip, fall, fall again and their shoes get destroyed. On the other hand my friends older girl has passed most of her shoes down to her little sister.  My oldest barely gets to the end of a month let alone keep them in good enough condition for his little brother to use them.

2 – Toys

I let them pick whatever toys they want, im totally in favour of gender neutral play and toys.  At the moment my oldest is totally drawn to all things Avengers related. I can talk superheroes with the best of them.  What I do notice most about the toys, is my pair have them destroyed in no time! Between wanting to take them apart to see how they work – to rough play with them.  However my lovely friends girls, their toys generally remain intact for far longer than they do in our house and get passed around cousins etc.  No such luck here.

3 Food

My boys eat A LOT. I am not exaggerating, the catch phrase in our house is “what can I eat now” I hear this relentlessly from morning to night. Boys, or maybe just my boys eat soooooooo much.momofboys

4 Clothes

No different to shoes, they boys go through a serious amount of trousers! They love being outdoors so this means a lot trousers end up torn or so mucky that is pointless to even contemplate washing! I don’t mind this one bit, its good for them being outdoors but my laundry basket is forever full.  I’m also like a demon when I see sales on boys tracksuits! I do stock up on cheap ones in sales especially for the summer months where they spend vast amounts of the day outside.

Any other mothers with boys feel the same? Please tell me its not just my pair of always hungry, outdoor loving, toy destroying, loveable rouges.

Take care

~Mamma F

Mamma Musings

That sibling bond….

That sibling bond

As regular readers will know I have 2 boys, the oldest is 3 and half and the youngest will turn 11 months tomorrow. What I have noticed of late it’s the incredible bond that is forming between the two boys. It melts my heart every time. It has happened without any prompting from us, the 11 month old has started to come into himself, he is interested in toys, interested in play, he is nosey, he is determined and inquisitive. This has made the 3 year old stand up and take notice….actually I have a play mate. Slowly mammy isn’t being asked to be the Robin to his Batman, the Jessie to his Woody, the Milly to his Gio ( Team Umizoomi!).

That touch

The gentle reassuring touch that the 3 year old has towards his little brother, I first noticed this when we picked him up from playschool. Each day without fail, he gently rubs his hand straight away when he comes out the door, it’s a gentle reassuring touch as if to say “its ok im back”.

That kiss

First thing in the morning when the little man wakes up, he calls out, not for Mamma or Dada, he wants his big brother who duly obliges and jumps in the cot beside him. Straight away little man gives him a kiss. He isn’t generous with those kisses, it takes a lot of asking and coaxing for him to give them away!

That sharing

I fully anticipated when the little man came along big man would feel a little put out and there will be constant arguments over toys and not sharing. However this didn’t happen, not yet anyway. I am amazed at his willingness to share his toys. If the little man decides there is a particular toy he wants and big man is playing with it there isn’t a drama, he lets him touch it or even use it. He seems to know the fascination will be short lived and he will get it back quickly. I know it wont be like this forever but im enjoying it while it lasts.

The bond between them warms my heart every time, I know over the years there will be many ups and down but I truly hope this is the foundation for a lifetime bond.

 

siblings

 

Take Care

~Mamma F