New Toys!!!

Some new toys for Ché Phoenix arrived in the post this week! I was beyond excited! I had stayed up late with Al picking toys from the Little Woodlanders Etsy shop last week. We wanted to give Ché toys that he could grow into, that would promote imaginative play and last years, if not generations! I'd love it if one day his kids could play with some of these toys. Because my family traveled so much I don't really have anything to pass on like this, I love Al's toys that he still has though, they are so special now.

A journey to a dream - Little Woodlanders Toys

At this age Ché Phoenix puts everything in his mouth so I love giving him natural things he can suck, chew and lick without worrying what chemicals it was made with or has come into contact with. Rachel from Little Woodlanders makes each of these toys herself, from the drawing and cutting to sanding and finishing :)

A journey to a dream - Little Woodlanders Toys

A journey to a dream - Little Woodlanders Toys

A journey to a dream - Little Woodlanders Toys

A journey to a dream - Little Woodlanders Toys

A journey to a dream - Little Woodlanders Toys

Mummy being silly (as usual lol) then Cara came to see what all the fuss was about, Ché Phoenix loves her so much its adorable! Sorry for the blurry picture but babies and cats together are just about impossible to photograph! 

A journey to a dream - Little Woodlanders Toys

This Saturday we are having our naming ceremony for Ché Phoenix, my sister Pip arrives on Friday and tomorrow we are doing the special secret thing I mentioned here so its busy busy busy in our house, and we love it :) Also I'll be putting photos up on my Instagram if you want sneek peeks of the ceremony or our secret thing before the posts next week!

A journey to a dream - little woodlanders toys
My new favourite photo of him <3

Getting fit again after pregnancy...

It's not easy LOL A few weeks after Ché Phoenix was born I was out of breath walking to the end of my road (not very far!). 

A journey to a dream, getting fit again after pregnancy
Walking with him for the first time!

Even though I had kept up exercise all through my pregnancy and hadn't really gained any extra non baby weight I found myself super un-fit, which I didn't expect, did anyone else find that? I sorta thought once he was born I'd just have a squishy tummy and the rest would feel normal after a few days. If you're a mum yourself feel free to laugh at me now, I would!

A journey to a dream, getting fit again after pregnancy
39 weeks pregnant :)

39 weeks pregnant side view (I got way bigger btw!)

So over the last 4 months (Ché Phoenix is nearly 5 months!!!) I have been working towards my pre-pregnancy fitness levels. I think it's important to do this gently and to be patient with your body, it has just done something miraculous and deserves your respect no matter what shape it's in now! Especially when you're breast feeding you need to keep up your liquid and calorie intake which is quite a bit more than normal and if you're exercising you need extra on top of that! So I didn't diet at all, just ate healthy and hiked, carrying Ché Phoenix :) 

Next week is breast feeding awareness week here in Ireland and the UK so although I don't normally show nursing photos I wanted to over this next wee while to show my support for other mums and help normalise it in this part of the world. It's natural and the best thing for babies, if you're a breast feeder you should be proud, I am :)

I tried to go walking with my friends about once a week and we did a family hike once a week. We started with a little 2k walk then moved up to a 6k walk then a 10k hike (with hills!)


A journey to a dream, getting fit again after pregnancy
I love panoramic photos but I always forget my phone can do them!

A journey to a dream, getting fit again after pregnancy
Mourne Mountains County Down

I'm very proud of how my body has regained its fitness levels and we have something MASSIVE planned that we have been waiting/training for... but I cant tell you LOL yet! It's a celebration of sorts and a special thing we wanted to do for Ché. Pictures and post on that as soon as we've done it! 

Blue skies and smiling babies :)

The last 2 weeks have been SUNNY!!! Here in Ireland thats kind of a big deal so pretty much all non-essential things just stop and anything that can be done outside is done outside! Well thats what we do anyway! It's only a short amount of the year that it's warm enough to sit in the shade to work and for babies and kids to not have to be wrapped up in layers, I think they really hate the restrictiveness of warm clothes... Ché Phoenix LOVES being outside, rain or shine but the last few weeks he's really enjoyed having baths and water play outside, stories outside, playtime/tummytime outside and his new favourite naked outside time! LOL 

As well as soaking up the sun and kissing Ché Phoenix 1,000,000 times a day we have been busy busy busy working on our Itty Bitty Book Company. We have just secured another beautiful local gift shop to stock the books (and have 3 other owners to ring back!), I now have public liability insurance so we can start doing the famous St Georges market in belfast on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as any big craft fairs we fancy. 

The online Etsy shop is doing well and I've been studying up on search engine optimization and ways to improve the way your shop looks and 'feels'. With all the changes I've made I'm hoping to see a spike in traffic there in the next few weeks (it takes the google-bots a few weeks to read your pages). 

So it's exciting times for us on the business front, it's taken a lot of work to get it to this point but it's really starting to feel like its starting to pay off as the sales start coming in and it feels so good :) 

I met a blogging friend - IN REAL LIFE!!!

Yesterday we went into Belfast for the 'late night art' evening and crossed something off my 101 list by meeting up with Linda from Hey! Homewrecker.

A journey to a dream - Hey! Homewrecker

We have been following each others blogs for about a year now so it was so great to meet her in person. If you don't know her blog, it's worth checking out, she does some awesome posts like 13 ways to wear a jumper and she keeps ex-battery hens in her urban backyard, very cool.

A journey to a dream - making blogging friends real friends!

A journey to a dream - making blogging friends real friends!

Ché Phoenix loves the cute vintage owl she gave him, she made it herself from retro fabric - he thought it was perfect for chewing on - as is everything these days! 

A journey to a dream - making friends

A journey to a dream - making friends

Have any of you met up with a blogging friend in real life? I thought it might be a bit weird but it really wasn't, it was lovely! In a way it was like meeting someone for the first time that you have lots in common with and in another way like meeting an old friend that you have loads to catch up on with! It was lots of fun and I'm sure we'll be seeing Linda more in the future :)

A journey to a dream - happy mama

How do you find the time???

Sometimes I get frustrated with myself because I am so ambitious, I just want to do so much! Be the best mum I can be all the time, keep really fit and healthy, see my friends, have quality husband and wife time, chill out time, gardening time, cooking and baking time, keep my blog going, run and expand my new business... Plus enjoy each day of the journey to a dream of course :) My list goes on, and it is hard sometimes but totally do-able!

Working with a new baby
Making Itty Bitty Book stands with Ché Phoenix - he's a great helper!

When ever I'm feeling overwhelmed I talk it out with Al and we make a new plan, tweak our routine a bit to make time for what ever it is I feel like I need more time for. We are beginning to realise that for us, time management is a necessity and I'm starting to feel like I am doing all of the above now.

Keeping fit - Mourne Mountains
Keeping fit on a family hike in the foothills of the Mourne Mountains, County Down

Here's how we make time for it all, we've found you have to MAKE the time, it's never just spare, waiting to be used :)

  • Up each day at 7am and we both work on The Itty Bitty Book Company for 2 hours before Ché Phoenix wakes up and then we have family breakfast :)
  • During the days we alternate 'baby duty' so while he's awake at least one of us is fully focused on him, giving him the attention he needs :) During this time who ever is with him gets things like washing and odd jobs around the house/garden done.
  • Monday mornings (after our 2 hours work) we head out to a local cafe and have a weekly strategy meeting, chatting about how last week went and what each of us needs to get done/focus on this week, we write lists and drink tea basically! Then while I'm at my mums and babes group Al works in the cafe.
  • Tuesday and Thursday 9.30-12.30 I have computer time to blog etc and Al's on 'baby duty'
  • Wednesday we head into town (after our 2 hours work) and while I'm at our baby sensory class with Ché Phoenix Al goes to the gym.
  • Friday I'm on 'baby duty' all day so Al can work.
  • Saturday and Sunday are family days where we go hiking, do gardening, see friends and family etc. On our day trips out we always see if there are any markets or gift shops to stop in on as well for The Itty Bitty Book Company so we hit 2 birds with one stone there.
  • Our work day ends between 5.30 and 6, we cook healthy fresh meals together as a family every night and eat together. 
  • Ché Phoenix is mostly asleep for the night by 9 and us by 10.30
  • Some evenings I go out walking with my friends and Ché (catch up time and exercise time), other times I bake or we just chill and watch a movie or something :)

Reading to babies from birth
Choosing which story he wants before bedtime :)

Since writing this post about practicing what we preach we have been so pro-active in making sure we are living our dreams, making sure we are reaching our goals and it's easier than you think, you just need to set aside time to work on your dreams, every single day!

How do you fit in the important things when you think you have no time?

The cost of a baby... $ £ €

I always wondered how a baby could possibly cost as much as people said. Now that I have a baby I can see why they can be a huge expense. 'Can' being the operative word there :)

Here is a few of the things we have chosen to do that keep the cost down and that I think benefit us and him too.

  • We let people know that we planned to buy second hand, I told people because I think it's an ethical way to shop and don't believe there should be such a stigma about it so I proudly told friends and family that we planned to buy as little as possible new. That had a surprise benefit of people offering us things, once they knew we were happy to use second hand things (some people are funny about it) they gave us things we needed that they were going to give to charity anyway! It's great, we got given all Ché Phoenix's clothes, his play mat, rocker, blankets, car seat, cot/toddler bed and we were offered a pram too but we babywear - see point below!

  • Cloth nappies and washable wipes, we bought our last packets of disposables and will be switching to cloth this week, it works out soooo much cheaper (about 10x) even with the washing machine costs, plus the health benefits to the baby and environmental benefits, makes it a no-brainer for us. We searched online for cloth nappy 'libraries' and found a local group who rents out cloth nappies for you to try, 20 different types so you can use them all and see which type suits you before you invest in a set, we pick ours up this weekend :)

  • Baby wearing! All you need is about 4m of non stretch fabric, thats it! In my opinion this basic wrap is far more comfortable than the expensive carriers out there, and super cheap :) There are so many benefits to carrying your child instead of pushing him, carried babies are more content, sleep longer, less likely to be light sleepers, you keep fit! Contact with you regulates their heart rate, temperature and aids the digestive system. Carried babies have a more developed sense of balance, and their communication development benefits hugely from being so close to your face while you talk, sing and engage with others. Oh the list goes on for miles - google it if you're interested, I was fascinated!

  • I breast feed. It saves a lot of money! No bottles, formula, sterilisers etc... That's not why I do it at all but its a bonus. Ireland (north and south) have one of the lowest breast feeding rates in the world. It's so sad. This is a topic I am massively passionate about but I'm very aware of how sensitive people are about the choices they make for their children and don't want to offend anyone... Just please do your own research before you decide how your baby will be fed (and weaned) and if you see a woman breast feeding, give her a smile instead of quickly looking away like you've seen something offensive.

  • Baby toys... People gave us some as gifts, our friends and family know us pretty well so the toys were mostly wooden or sensory :) And 'no plastic shite' lol thats our parenting mantra! Newborns don't want or need toys, they want to be held, talked and sang to, fed and kept warm, basic needs :) At Ché's age he's starting to hold things, become aware of his hands,  follow noises well and generally loves any interaction and stimulation. This doesn't mean it's time for expensive toys. It's all about sensory development and you can use so many things from around your house for playtime and things from the natural environment too. Feathers, christmas tree lights, tinsel, ribbons, pieces of different fabrics, wool, pine cones, wood, glow sticks, big stones, shakers made from water bottles filled with pasta, lentils, glitter and water, anything interesting looking or that makes noise. The more different things your baby experiences the better! Don't forget temperature things too, warm facecloth, ice cubes/frozen toys. Once you start you realise the possibilities for free sensory toys are endless!

  • Cosmetics, we were given some lovely smelling baby moisturiser, Ché loves the bath and the water dries out babies skin (ironic isn't it...) well we used the moisturiser and his face reacted slightly to it, causing little bumps and red colour, also still dry. We found out that a tiny bit of olive oil or similar natural oil massaged in is much better, plus no chemicals. If you only use a little bit your baby won't look greasy. I wish I'd done that from the start but you live and learn! Also it's basically free :)

  • Our healthcare is free so I can't comment on insurance etc.

  • Bulk buying things like baby wipes, the ones I like were on a buy one get two free deal a while back so I bought enough to last ages, works out much cheaper in the long run. I'd recommend doing that with non baby items too!

  • We didn't buy a new car, everyone said we'll need a 4 door but we don't really, we have a little 2 door diesel clio and even though it's awkward to get him in and out of his carseat in the back, its not impossible! We manage :)

So thats my little list, I hope it helps anyone wondering about the cost of a baby, I would have loved to hear this perspective when I was pregnant. Ché Phoenix is 4 months old this friday and if I had to guess a number I'd say we have spent around £250 ($380) on him. If we hadn't been given so much by friends I'd say that number would be doubled but still... 

We believe if you want your children to be happy and 'turn out well' spend less money on them and more time with them!

If you have any questions or money saving baby tips please leave a comment below :)
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