Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Review: Serenity Beauty - Lovely Longer Lashes!

As a busy Mum finding time to do things for me is hard but there are a few things that always make me feel good. I like to have my nails done, my hair highlighted and my lashes long. In the past I have relied on eyelash extensions ahead of main events so I was interested to hear about a lash lift.

I have always wished my eyelashes were better. They are short, light and straight - the trifecta of what you don't want. I was given the opportunity to try a LVL Lash Lift. Put simply:
LVL straightens your natural eyelashes at the root, so unlike a traditional lash perm it creates the effect of longer, lifted lashes. They’ll stay that way for six to eight weeks.

The process was quicker that getting the extensions - about half the time - which was a bonus and I was pleasantly surprised with the result. I was surprised by how well they curled and the tint really made them stand out so I feel like I only need to wear mascara if I really want to glam up.


Kirsty was lovely, super friendly and easy to chat to which made the whole process enjoyable. The treatment room made me instantly feel at ease and as well as loving my lashes I also left feeling relaxed and refreshed.

Check out details of the LVL Lash Lift and the rest of the treatments offer at Serenity Beauty Solihull if you are midlands or Birmingham based. A treatment could make the perfect Christmas present!

Sarah enjoyed a facial at  Serenity Beauty, here are details of her experience.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Review: Star City, Birmingham!

Just outside of Birmingham is a place for kids and adults of all ages called Star City. For anyone old enough to remember the scene in Toy Story where we met 'the claw' that was freeing the Aliens - that's what this place reminds me off.

In it's bio this is how Star City describes itself:

Star City is Birmingham’s leading leisure destination with an array of great places to eat, drink and have fun. Restaurants and casual dining tenants include Pizza Hut, Nando’s, KFC, Subway, Oodles n’ Oodles, Shere Khan, Harvester, Tinseltown, Pepe’s Piri Piri, Shobhas and McDonald’s. Fun for all the family includes; Star Ice Rink, Adventure Mini Golf, Fun Station, Goals, Vue Cinema, Tenpin, Monster Mayhem and Family Fun Zone. Located 1 mile from Junction 6 on the M6, Star City offers 2,400 FREE parking spaces.

We'd say it's a fun day/night out!

We discovered Star City a few years ago when we were invited to play laser tag. This time we were invited by a PR company to check out more of what was on offer.

Our evening started at the Ice Rink - set up for Christmas. As it was newly opened we were the only ones on the rink giving us the opportunity to get tour skates on test it out. Thankfully we didn't need a skater aid but it was nice that they were available.

After skating we headed to Nando's - as you may know we LOVE Nando's here's why - but this was a whole new experience. Rather than our 'usual' order we got to try Wing Roulette, a selection of wings with different levels of spice. I hit a 'hot' on my second wing and I'm not sure I tasted anything else. It was actually my second challenge - my first being to eat chicken off the bone, not something I would usually do. It's definitely worth trying at least once though.

Having stuffed our faces it was on to crazy golf. The adventure golf has two courses on offer, both are 18 holes and take about an hour if you play as a four and you are okay. I won which was pleasing. We do love a game of crazy golf.

Although golfing wasn't hard work we were grateful to get to Pizza Hut to try out the pizza. It had been a while since either of had been and it will be a while before we go again. It's no Dominoes! The pizza bases were weirdly thin and soft and strangely none of the pizza's had any taste. Like any taste! it was weird.

Overall though the trip was brilliant and a great reminder of just how much is on offer at Star City. There is so much on offer and so much to do that you could easily spend a whole day there. With so many restaurants to try we will be heading back soon just for an evening.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Baby Blogging: This Is 4 Months!

It's been a while, I knew having Annabelle would mean my days would change but I wouldn't say it has really hit me until she hit 4 months. It has taken me almost 2 weeks to finish this post! Up until this point days involved a lot of naps, fairly consistent night-time sleeps and a baby that was fairly
easy to entertain. Motherhood was (dare-I-say it) fairly easy.

Then. 4. Months!

It's hard to remember all the small changes that have happened because they appear so frequently but the culmination is that we have a very different baby to even a few weeks ago.

One major difference is that nap time is now giving us a structured routine, that if mess up we really know about it. Gone are the days where she will happily fall asleep in the buggy, now naps are mainly in her cot in her room. Night time sleeps occasionally regress, sometimes because of teething, sometimes because of hunger and sometimes both. Whatever the reason we have had less sleep in the last few weeks than at any point since Annabelle arrived.

We now know what people mean when they say Motherhood is hard work. Up and until now Annabelle had given us an easy ride.

Skills that have appeared in the last few weeks now include:
Grabbing - a serious life threatening skill and it means we have to watch her constantly
Sitting - so she can be part of everything, but it now means laying down is not something she will entertain so we can't just leave her happily playing on her mat.

Playing with toys - a great new way to entertain Annabelle but interest in each toy lasts a few minutes max so the lounge is now covered in toys
Rolling - although not consistently, when the mood takes her Annabelle will now roll increasing the area she can cover

Laughing/Giggling - heart-warming, charming and guaranteed to always make us melt

Smiling to charm - okay so Annabelle has always been a smiler but seeing her use it to make anyone and everyone fall in love with her is adorable
Standing - not totally unaided but definitely with minimal support, again this helps her be 'part' of the conversation

Annabelle even graduated Baby Development class, her involvement was limited but we're proud! She even joined us at an actual graduation and thankfully slept through the whole thing - including a speech by Michael Parkinson!

As it Children In Need Annabelle wore PJ's, the slippers were the first thing we ever bought  our 'baby. They reminded us of Bisbee!
It's fair to say our baby girl is growing up fast and I am both overjoyed and sad in one breath. The interactions, engagement and actual involvement I now have with Annabelle are moments I will treasure. We work on things together. I will make faces, do voices, in fact do whatever it takes to get the giggles. I have learnt beat-boxing, fart noises and cheesy music all work for getting a giggle.

With this comes a serious lack of time for me though.

Sometimes it can take me half an hour to get Annabelle to sleep and then she will only sleep for half an hour - barely enough time to get a wash on.

Then there is teething. Overall we are 'managing' with teething but some days it's as if teething is all Annabelle can focus on. I am forever mopping up drool and finding teething toys - Sophie the giraffe is current favourite. Oh and the teething mitt.

Seeing Annabelle start to enjoy the wider world is amazing though. Her eyes light up when she sees trees. She loves fires - we discovered this in our cottage in Wales and on Bonfire night (more on that in a later post). She's chatty in the cutest way and will happily join the conversation when we are sat round the table.

One thing we are still working on figuring out is how quickly she'll fly through emotions. From happy gurgling to crying it can be 0.1 of a second. Often we'll go back to gurgling but here have been times when it's escalated unexpectedly.

Thankfully as Annabelle is easy going we have managed to keep up our travels. In the last few weeks we have visited Wales (survived getting a puncture in a location without phone signal) and headed to Sheffield to stay with friends and check out the Derbyshire Dales. On both trips Annabelle was amazing and happy to go with the flow. Although we had some moments in the car where we had all out screams.

Nothing phases Annabelle, she has also got eczema that started to appear at 4 months. It's not irritating her but it has set my Mum guilt off - post coming soon on that! She rarely cries and loves Bisbee, even if she gets a little close at times.

I have also learnt (mainly through Baby Development) not to be 'so' careful with Annabelle. That throwing her around is good for balance and inner ear development. Turns out they need to fall before they figure out how to sit. I just need to make sure I don't drop her. We have learnt plenty of songs with dance routines that include trowing Annabelle in the air. This is our current fav:

Days always fly by but I can either have really good days, Annabelle will have napped. We'll have walked Bisbee. I may have done a bit of tidying. I will have eaten. Annabelle will play happily. There will have been little drama and we welcome Laura home.

On bad days naps will be non-existent however hard I try. Bisbee won't get a walk. Nothing will get done. Food will have been a random snack. Playing involves tons of toys as nothing will hold Annabelle's attention. When Laura comes home I sigh with relief.

Raising a baby is certainly a journey!

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Rocky Horror Our Way!

Every year for as long as we have been together we have celebrated Halloween with a Rocky Horror. In the past we have traveled to places to see Sing-A-Long version on a big screen but with our latest addition and no local screenings around Halloween we decided to watch it at home.

In 2011 we attended the showing at Leicester Square's Prince Charles cinema just the two of us dressed in the outfits from the 'Don't Dream It, Be It' scene. All the details are here.
2013 we were in London as Party Goers with Brad and Janet. Details are here.
2014 we attended as Party Goers again in London, details are here.

Since then we have been to showings in Sheffield and Wolves.

Dressing up for our home showing was still required.....

We had from left to right: Bisbee the Party Goer, (me) Coulmbia, Sam as Janet, Annabelle as Brad, Sara and Otis as Party Goers, Kate as Frank n Furter and Laura as Eddie.

The benefit of watching the film at home was we could eat a feast beforehand as we weren't working to timescales.

Laura whipped up Meatloaf (or Feetloaf) for main with Hot Patootie potatoes and we had Rocky Road for dessert. A perfectly themed feast for the evening!

Laura had also organised a goodie bags with all the vital props required - bubbles as the confetti for the wedding, newspapers for the 'car breaking down' scene, a latex glove for Frank n Furthers creator moment, party poppers for the 'coming' moment and cards for sorrow and our phone camera torches for the 'there's a light' song.

I love my wife all day, every day but this is her time of the year. Seeing her planning and thoughtfulness come together to put on this wonderful evening for us and our friends was amazing.

The memories we are creating are ones we will be able to share with Annabelle as she grows. Her first appearance as Brad made my heart melt.

And I can't wait for more family pics as she grows up

We didn't intend for Annabelle to stay up and watch the film but this girl suffers from serious FOMO, if we have people over she really struggles to stay asleep and this night was no different. We gave in and let her stay down and she was mesmerized with the music and moving pictures - a RHPS fan in the making! (Although hopefully it's a few years before we have to explain what some of it is about :D).

Do you have any Halloween traditions you do with your family?

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Baby Blogging: Review- Snufflebabe For Baby Colds!

So the saddest experiences with Annabelle so far have included watching her have blood takens and her first cold. While the blood tests were neccessary (she has low cortisol levels that need sorting out :( ) watching her suffer with a cold was just awful and felt unfair for someone so young.

I know it's just a cold and everyone gets them but it was horrible. In fact we read that babies often get 7 or 8 colds before they are one, but it's still awful. Watching Annabelle struggle to breathe and not being able to explain that it'll pass was difficult. Trying to lay her down to sleep was almost impossible. Comforting her was a struggle. The snot.....OMG all the snot was awful. All in all it was not a pleasant experience.

It also didn't help that Laura and I were also full of the cold so were not functioning on 100%. Add in a night of sleeping sitting up to support Annabelle and I'm sure we weren't even making sense a lot of the time.

For those of you who sent us helpful tips on Instagram - thank you!

Our poorly baby
After the first two nights of very little sleep we went on a mission to find any remedy that would help Annabelle and Snufflebabe vapour rub was top of that list, due to all the recommendations (thank you anyone who messaged).

What we found was that alongside the vapour rub the saline drops really helped. The full Snufflebabe range actually includes the following:

We will also be trying the vapour oil as listening to Annabelle trying to breathe at night was hard. We frequently jumped up to roll her on her side to stop her coughing and had her crib tilted slightly to help but a degongestant vapour would have been really useful. 

It turns out that Snufflebabe are actually the UK's number one baby nasal decongestant range and the vapour rub is award winning. If you want to check out the range click here, it also includes how and when to use it. We found this useful as we didn't realise that babies under 3 months couldn't use certain things. Thankfully Annabelle had just turned 3 months. 

What we have learnt from this whole cold experience is just how stressful it is, for everyone. I was practically force feeding Annabelle to keep her fluids up and 'flush' the cold. Laura was ever present with the thermometer, soothing hugs and a tissue. In fact we were both ready to catch snot whenever, wherever. We just wanted Annabelle's nose clear so she could breathe easier. Also pro-Mum tip - cotton buds! Who knew a cotton bud up the nostril, quick twist and there you have a massive boogey! TMI I know but super useful. 

All the snuggles!
What we can share based on our experience is stock up. I know that sounds obvious but we often run out of things and forget to restock. In this case we didn't know what we should have, so had nothing....a rookie error. For whatever reasons colds always seem to start late in the day and get worse into the evening. This happened with Annabelle's cold. It started with a few sneezes late afternoon and by 8pm she was so blocked up. It came on way quicker than any of our colds. It was too late for us to head out so we tried to comfort her as best as possible. By the next morning we were all way sicker. In hindsight if we had some of the decongestants that night would have been way better. 

Sleep was actually the best way for Annabelle to power through so we tried to keep her asleep as long as possible. The saline drops were really useful for that! Oh and warm baths with plenty of steam. 

We aren't looking forward to her next cold but I think we are more prepared. Fingers crossed it won't be as bad.....for anyone!

We are so glad to have our happy, healthy, cold-free baby girl back!

Here's to a healthier, cold-free winter!

Disclaimer: We were provided with Snufflebabe samples but were not paid to review the products. All views are our own.