Monday, 15 January 2018

Baby Blogging - The Family Announcements!

What do you think of Pinterest? Laura loves it. In fact, our family baby announcement ideas all started from Pinterest posts....but our results weren't quite like Pinterest had suggested they would be.
Even though we were passing the 3 month pregnant stage just before Christmas we had wanted to use the festive occasion to share our news with our families. Laura's parents were back from their travels and staying with us and we were seeing my parents for Christmas lunch. 

We officially had Laura's family Christmas (Smithmas!) on Christmas Eve. With Laura's 92 year old Nan being driven up from Windsor and her brother coming down from Manchester, we filled the day with presents, food and a carol service in the evening. 

After all the present opening, we announced we had one final present for everyone. For Laura's Nan a sign that said 'Only the best Nan's become Great Nan's', for Laura's brother a Tour De France onesie - as he loves cycling, and for Laura's parents their favourite sweets with a 'my name is' list on the front. We had filled the list with 'Nan, Nanny, Nanna, Grand-mere, Nonna and Giagia' (we used a few versions from countries they had recently traveled to). Laura's Dad's list had 'Granddad, Grandpa, Papa, Pop, Grand-pere, Nonno and Pappous'. Our thinking being that as we didn't know what they would want to be referred to as granparents, we would give them their choice of names. (Laura's mum chose Nan and Laura's dad is going with Grandad)


No-one got it immediately.

So we launched into announcing we were pregnant. Laura's Mum was so excited and full of questions, Laura's Dad looked completely shocked and was speechless, her Nan and brother were congratulatory. We thought it had been obvious - I felt that my belly was really obvious, I was constantly falling asleep, and we weren't drinking or eating Camembert or pate - Turns out it wasn't at all!

The rest of the day was enjoyable and included a refreshing dog walk. The only challenge arose at dinner, although I had helped prep a feast, I could barely eat anything! Turns out when you are first growing a baby there isn't much space for food. As I had been snacking throughout the day I had filled my stomach and as I sat staring at the delicious food I had to psych myself up to eat a few mouthfuls. I should have stopped there but greed got the better of me and I spent the entire evening finding ways to stretch out just to help digest the food. A lesson learnt!

Thankfully by Christmas morning, I had recovered. I was careful to have a small breakfast before we packed up and headed to my parents' in Stratford-Upon-Avon. 

We love having my parents closer. Our drive was half an hour instead of an hour and a half away, and on arrival we unpacked the car, changed into Christmas pj's and assumed our relaxing positions. 

Over the course of the day Laura put in her stint in the kitchen and our dinner was ready for my sister and her boyfriend's arrival at 3pm. Before eating though - presents!

Just as the day before, we let the main present opening take place before following up with our final gifts. 

This time we had a set of tennis balls that had a 'tennis buddy loading' sign and the 'my name is' labels. My Dad chose Pop as his dad is a Grandad!


For my mum we had a keyring made (as she collects them) saying the 'Only the best mums become Nannys' - although she initially thought it was from Bisbee!

Pic from Etsy
My sister got a t-shirt saying 'Best Auntie Ever' which she loved and her boyfriend got a bottle of prosecco that said 'hold my drink......'
Pic from Etsy
As my sister already knew, she helped my parents understand after my Dad announced 'I don't get it'.  Four minutes later, they were both still confused - Laura had to pull out the scans before they clicked! At that point my Mum promptly burst into tears and we were engulfed in hugs. 

We learnt that sometimes Pinterest over complicates the simple moments - our nice ideas for surprises weren't 'in your face' enough for either of our families to understand without a bit of help - perhaps because neither family had any idea that we were trying, but still, we were surprised at their surprise!

Dinner was delicious and started an evening that included numerous phone calls to family members who were all so excited for us. Oh and more tears as the news sunk in for my Mum.

Both families are completely over the moon, our baby will be the first grandchild on both sides. Tater Tot will sure be born into a whole lot of love! And it was a wonderful and memorable way to spend Christmas.



Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Aston Hall - The Review!

It's true that Birmingham is full of history. You don't have to go far to get the Black Country, that came to prominence in the Industrial Revolution or centrally you can visit Gas Street Basin where the canals provide a living history, the Custard Factory - where Bird's custard was produced and The Mail Box - a regenerated Post Office. In Bourneville you have the world famous Cadbury's World and in Aston you have Aston Hall, located by the impressive Aston Villa football ground.

It was Aston Hall that we discovered recently courtesy of Laura's Dad and Birmingham museums open days. It is one of the last great Jacobean style homes in the country and only open at certain times so you have to book on a tour to get in. Our visit was on the first Sunday of January.


On arrival you can't fail to notice the grandeur of the house. Sat in well maintained gardens, on top of a hill that provides an impressive view of the surrounding countryside. We thankfully had a bright day for our visit so we could make the most of it.

The visit starts in the cafe, where the tour guide shares a brief history about the three most prominant owners - Sir Thomas Holte, who commissioned and built the house to highlight his status as a Baronet, Sir Thomas's sons who inherited the property and James Watt Junior who was the last person to live in the property (he was son of James Watt who built steam engines).


As you approach the house the symmetry - typical of Jacobean designs - is clear. If you cut the house in half, each half would be identical. An impressive feat for a building built in 1618!



Depending on when you visit - wrap up. If it is cold outside, it will be cold inside. While James Watt Junior modernised the house while living there, he left before central heating was a thing. You are protected from the elements but in a winter coat it was still chilly.

Starting in the great hall you are taken on a tour of the main living quarters, the entertainment rooms, the long hall (longest in the region), the bedroom, servants quarters, kitchen, pantry and a room dedicated to the civil war. As the house was attacked during the war, there are articles on display that were found in the grounds. You also get to see where a cannon ball went through the stair case!

Dinner is served

The Long Hall
Just being in the house you get a sense of how it would have been when Charles I visited. The grandeur hasn't been lost, even after all this time. 

We wouldn't recommend taking kids that are too young - unless they have a love of history - but for anyone who loves architecture, history, getting to know the local area or days out that teach you something, this will tick a lot of boxes.

Having studied the Civil Wars for A'Level history, I was in my element. The views from the house itself are also well worth checking out.

Turns out Birmingham Museums also have other properties available to visit, including Sarehole Mill that inspired J.R.R.Tolkien author of Lord of The Rings. You can check out venue details here.

The hot chocolate in the cafe was exactly what was needed to warm up!



Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Baby Blogging - Weeks 6 - 12!

Hi All,

You may remember last week we shared the exciting news that we are expecting!!!!! If you missed it here's the first post: Baby Blogging - Where It All Began.

With the 6 week scan at Care showing just one baby and one very strong heart beat we are both relieved, over joyed, excited and now this is all starting to feel a bit more real.

Next step was to register with the doctor, that's it for our time with Care Fertility. They did their job and now I join the rest of the pregnant women on the NHS.

The doctor appointment was quick. A few questions, a blood pressure check and some advice about what happens next including calling our local midwife and registering with Birmingham Women's. As we left the surgery we were given a pack that contain Emma's Diary in between congratulations. It was all so efficient it was a blink and you miss it experience.

A labour pack seems slightly early at this stage!
Weeks 7 and 8 passed in a blur. The need to pee was constant and appetite was intermittent. If anything, being pregnant has been a great diet. With all the healthy eating and eating more often but having smaller meals, I've lost 7lbs! Not that I'm trying to at all!

There's been no cravings either yet. At the start I really enjoyed meals with avocado but I wouldn't say it reached craving level.

Week 9 was the start of December and our annual Thanksmas celebration. With 12 people in attendance my wife had to deal with me randomly napping and then feeling queasy at the sight of uncooked meat. Although I was great at grating cheese and crumpling biscuits for the mac and cheese! We also had help in the form of Sam and Sara which meant the pressure was somewhat off. And all 12 guests of our guests were well fed.

It was also the week I told my boss about the news as our Christmas party was coming up and I wanted to make clear my not drinking was not party pooping. Unfortunately, in previous years I was an entertaining drunk so the expectations were set. It would also allow me an early exit without the persistent persuading to make me stay.

I was glad I had shared the news as it allowed a swift exit. Sadly it was only to land at Euston among train cancellations so my journey home involved train hopping and finding bathrooms at two different stations - not ideal!

Week 10 was thankfully a quiet week symptom wise though, but one of my close colleagues asked if I had already started my Christmas indulgence or if it was just the jumper as I was looking a little rounder. I of course blamed the jumper but Laura and I both had the thought that my belly had popped.

On the Friday we met our midwife - An experience we are both still reflecting on. The midwife was a little brusk - a Scottish word that means efficient but not in a friendly way. Her line of questioning occasionally led us to think we knew nothing. When we asked questions we were told it was 'too early to worry about that'. We got plenty of advice though and a pack with lots of info and took away the message that we should just continue as is.

The comment 'if you need me call or text me - but have an identifying detail as you are one of 200 ladies I am looking after' didn't fill us with comfort but I'm not sure what we were expecting.

Now to find the time to start the reading.

By week 11 the tiredness ramped up - I could literally dose for an hour at lunch and still be flagging by 8pm. The vivid dreams were eased by Laura insisting on a night time routine of spa music, a belly rub with bio oil to ease the impending stretch marks and a back rub as my hunching (part scoliosis and part comfort when slouching) has gotten quite bad. Something I am consciously working on.

We told my sister this week and she had the best reaction. It made us look forward to our parents reactions.

In the last few days my belly has firmed up and there is a clear circle, there has also been what feels like stretching on the inside and Tater Tot (as we refer to our future offspring as) is not a fan of me springing out of bed. To be honest - neither am I :) Laura, on the other hand, would like me out of bed long enough to participate in any Christmas activity. I had to let her go to a carol and mulled wine evening with her choir alone as I knew I'd need a quiet corner and a nap halfway through.


I did make it to a Christmas performance at the local theatre and to take Bisbee to see Santa Paws so had the chance to get into the Christmas spirit.


As we wanted to share the news with our families at Christmas, we booked in for a private scan at peek-a-boo baby on the Friday afternoon after work. Our plan was to be able to have pictures of Tater Tot to make the announcement extra special. We also wanted the comfort of knowing the baby was developing okay.


The scan was quick but seeing our baby for the first time - looking like a baby - was amazing. The sonographer showed us the head, legs, arms and the belly. Tater tot is a wriggler and kept bouncing around - so strange that I can't feel it at all. This is truly feeling real now.

With our pictures in hand we skipped out of the scan and headed home on cloud 9.

Our official NHS scan wasn't until the 27th. We'll share more on that and how we announced the new arrival to our families in a post soon.

If you didn't get a chance to check out our announcement video you can do so here.


Sunday, 31 December 2017

2017 Most Read Posts!

Hi There!

May your new years eve celebrations be full of fun, happiness and love.

Ours will be a low key one in a cottage in Cornwall with friends- just the way we want it. We'll have a meal of raclette and enjoy Appletiser instead of Prosecco.  A perfect tater tot friendly evening.

The day has already been a great one with a beach visit and pit-stop in Padstow for pasties, fish and chips and ice cream.

A relaxing evening is also a chance to reflect, 2017 has been a busy one. We have been on amazing trips in Sydney in February, Vegas in May, Lake District, Hebden Bridge, Brighton, Cornwall, Oslo in Norway and plenty of day trips around the wonderful UK.

That brings me to our year in review and the top 10 posts from this year, so from January 2017 to now here's our list:

Why Lesbian Loving Is The Best: I think the title says it all!

Happy Valentine's Day - Love really is all around- our Australian wedding organised as a surprise by our lovely Aussie friends.

Top 10 Travel Tips: Planning on taking a trip in 2018 you have to check out this post!

10 Tips For Your Santorini Trip: I don't think Santorini will ever not be a top destination to visit. It's beautiful, the weather is stunning all year and there is plenty to do - what more can you ask for?

Growing Up Isn't So Bad - Right? How often do you take a chance to reflect on just how far you have come?

The Average Girls Guide To Yoga: we started Yoga in 2017, we kept it up all year and this post shared our experience getting started.

Travel Round-Up: since starting this blog we have traveled Europe, Australia, America and beyond. This post rounds up our travel highlights!

The Worst Thing About Being A Lesbian Couple: Okay so there aren't many things that we can complain about but this one things is the worst!#

5 Reasons To Visit The Lake District: This beautiful part of the UK has so many reasons to visit and so many different places to explore, we had a challenge to narrow it down to 5.

If You Wear Contact Lenses You Need To Read This: Seriously this is a lesson I hope no-one else has to learn!

We Have Exciting News: If you have read the blog in the past few days you'll have already read about this, if not click next post :)

We can't wait for 2018. Happy New Year!