Tuesday, June 27, 2017

An Imperfectly Perfect Father's Day ♥

*Advertorial Feature

This blog is usually written in my words, sharing the world through my thoughts and my eyes, but as this feature is about Father's Day I asked Jacek to get involved and share his thoughts for me. Thankfully, he agreed. Read ahead to hear about Jacek's imperfectly perfect Father's Day experience.

Parenthood, it's not something which we can really plan out or prepare for is it? We may have ideals and ideas in our heads of what our children may be like before they arrive in our arms, but in reality, we have no idea what those tiny little babies are going to be like or what adventures they're going to take us on during our lives with them.

For many of us parents, the perfect ideals we imagined couldn't be further than the actual reality of parenting and we find ourselves admitting that parenting is hard, tiring and frustrating at times.

Of course, all the difficulties of raising young children come hand in hand with all the wonderful moments too, those perfectly imperfect moments that make being a parent totally worth it. With Father's Day just around the corner, we're teaming up with SMA® Baby Club to share the real moments of parenthood and show how those not so perfect moments can truly become special memories.

Since Fiona and I had our boys our days have been filled with imperfectly perfect moments. There's no such thing as a parent parent or a perfect child, but I think sometimes we put unnecessary pressure on ourselves to try and be that unrealistic 'perfect' parent. I know because I work long hours and don't see the boys as much as I'd like to throughout the day, I find myself feeling guilty a lot of the time, thinking of the moments I'm missing when I'm stuck at work.

We plan day trips that we think are going to be amazing and fun-filled and for the most part they are, but we also encounter the tantrums, tears and frustrations of a day out with two lively boys. One such day trip was our visit to the lavender farm, which I thought would make a lovely Father's Day excursion - having to go in advance as no doubt I'll be working on actual Father's Day.

We were so looking forward to our visit - our last being over two years ago now, seeing the lavender and taking lots of family pictures to look back on in years to come. However, our day didn't quite turn out the way we planned.

The minute we stepped out of the car Tyler was disappointed - "Oh no, I wanted to go to the water park" he exclaimed with great disappointment. Fiona and I gave each other a knowing look and carried on into the lavender farm, trying to remind our son of our last visit and all the fun he had.

We walked around the fields realising that we had arrived far too early in the season, encountering just sprigs of the flowers we so wanted to capture our family pictures by instead of the big blooms we had imagined. Nonetheless, we carried on optimistically, determined to have a nice family outing.

Then Tyler old ran off down the fields, chasing after the chickens even though I yelled after him not to, him never listening to me of course. I darted off to catch Tyler from going into someone's garden - that boy is always making me run after him!

Tyler wasn't happy to be caught and then the crying started, that loud cry he saves for when we're out in public - if you're also a parent you'll know the one!  For a while I carried him on his shoulders back up the fields while Fiona pushed Beau in his buggy and after things calmed down a bit I left Fiona go off and photograph some of the flowers around the farm while I stayed with the boys.

Tyler was getting frustrated and impatient as any child would. The solution to this problem was answered by the swing at the top of the garden. When I told him of this magical escape from the torture of boredom his face lit up with joy. The moment I sat him on the swing all I could hear was  - "Push me higher Daddy!".

I could hear laughter coming from both boys as Tyler swung and Beau was bouncing up and down in my arms. Seeing their happy faces instead of the crying faces that I had seen earlier made the trip so worth it.

I'm glad that SMA® Baby Club have made me look back on my day with the boys and realise that even though things didn't go as Fiona and I had planned, I still got to enjoy some wonderful moments with the boys.

Just that moment alone, with the three of us by the swing, was enough to make my Father's Day imperfectly perfect.
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Monday, June 26, 2017

AVEENO ♥

At the beginning of May I was invited along to an event in London, hosted by the lovely people from AVEENO - who I have previously worked with before, you can read all about that here.

I was very excited to go to the event and learn some more about the new products which AVEENO have added to their range, notably the AVEENO Daily Care Range which has expanded in 2017.

I have been using the AVEENO Baby range with my sons for many months now and I can't fault the products. They have never irritated my boys skin and has left them feeling soft and nourished. I have also developed dry and sensitive skin since having Beau - it was something I never suffered with previously, so I went in search of something to help that too and that's where AVEENO came in.

I've also begun using AVEENO's products myself and can only rave about their shampoo, it's amazing! Not only does it leave my scalp feeling a lot less itchy, but it also leaves my hair looking shiny and healthy too. It's a product I love and can't recommend enough.

The event in London was fantastic. Not only was it hosted in the most beautiful, Instagram worthy room I have ever seen, but the activities we experienced that day and the new products we saw, all left me with a sense of wanting to be close to my baby and live even more wholesomely and healthily then we already have been doing. It was such a lovely feeling to walk away from an event with.

I tried baby yoga for the first time (albeit with a doll, Beau was back home with his Nana) and I really loved it. I've always wanted to try yoga and I'm so glad that I finally had the chance to do it.

We were instructed by Dai from Tatty Bumpkin and had a lovely ocean themed session with sea creatures, a mermaid and bubbles galore - such a lovely sensory experience for the babies.

As you probably know, AVEENO's products are formulated with naturally active colloidal oats and during the event we also got to sample some delicious, healthy dishes created by founder of 26 Grains Alex Hely-Hutchinson.

Alex created a very healthy and moresish looking Baby Bircher Muesli with apple and beetroot and this is something I definitely have to make for Beau. You can see the recipe in the video below.


Alex also made Savoury Oats with Parmesan for us all to enjoy at the event and I know it sounds quite silly, but I'd have never have thought of putting oats in a savoury dish. It was so delicious though! You can see the recipe in the video below.


I have been using the AVEENO Baby Daily Care products given to us at the event, with Beau these past few weeks and I have to admit, I've loved using them with him. I have been using the AVEENO Baby Daily Care Cleansing Milk to cleanse his skin after he gets mucky playing in the garden as it's soothing on his skin.

The AVEENO Baby Daily Care Baby Moisturising Lotion has been a firm favourite of mine. It has a classic baby product scent ( does that even make sense?) and it leaves his skin feeling so soft every morning after I've massaged him with it before bed. It's also suitable for his face, which is great as it can be a bit of a pain having to use two separate products for face and body, especially when you have a wriggly baby to contend with!

I've been using the AVEENO Baby Daily Care Baby Hair & Body Wash in Beau and Tyler's bedtime baths and it leaves them squeaky clean - but not dried out. Due to it's mild formulation this can be used on a daily basis and it also has a lovely scent too.

Beau is in the midst of painful teething at the moment, which means that the skin on his bottom can become quite irritated. Thankfully, the AVEENO Baby Daily Care Baby Barrier Cream helps to soothe his delicate skin when used during nappy changes.

AVEENO is a brand which I love using with my children and on my own skin too and I will continue to do so as it works amazingly well for us and I just love the products.

*This is a collaborative feature on behalf of AVEENO, however, as always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Life Lately | House Hunting, Blogger's Block & Lemon Socks ♥

If there's one apt word to describe my life lately it's stressful. We ended our holiday on a low note (after also beginning it on a low note - losing four days off it due to Tyler's passport being out of date and none of us realising until the night before we were due to fly...), with our landlord phoning us at 8.30 at night (a very strange time to call anyone with bad news, in my opinion anyway) to tell us he was selling the house we're living in.

Cue all the negative feelings you could possibly muster into one person at one time - shock, worry, panic, sadness, stress, fear... not the way we were wanting to feel on the last night of our holiday. I tried to soften the blow for Jacek, telling him that it could be worse, that the phonecall could have been about one of our loved ones dying and that we were simply having to move house. We also awoke the next morning to the news about the Grenfell fire and that really helped to put things into perspective for us. However, the panic of worry and impending homelessness due to no available houses to rent in our area really has taken it's toll on us these past couple of weeks.

We have viewed a house though - thanks to me putting a shoutout on my personal Facebook asking for people to get in touch if they knew of anyone renting, and we're going to take it, even though it's only available for a year (we'd have much preferred a long-term letting so we won't have to be in this position again this time next year...) and €300 more than we're currently paying.

We contemplated moving somewhere new, even to a whole new country - both of which I would have very much been up for, but Jacek wasn't. He's already moved from South Africa to Ireland and I don't think he'll ever be up for relocating again. Plus, we've only just moved Tyler to a lovely new preschool. It's in the countryside and the teachers are so lovely there, he's settled in so well and after all the trouble we encountered with him in his last school it was an absolute relief, so the thought of unsettling him again really wasn't an option for us.

Jacek met with a financial advisor this week and it seems as though it'll be another two or three years before we're even in a position to go for our own mortgage - yet we're able to pay €12,000 in rent - ludacris to say the least! We have to make wills - I laughed at that one, what am I supposed to 'leave' people, my collection of postcards?!

Anyway, we'll get there in the end I'm sure and will one day be homeowners, but I can't help but think we've just done everything assways. Now don't get me wrong, I love our boys dearly and I wouldn't change them for the world, I just wish we had established ourselves more in our careers and in owning our own house before we brought them into this world - isn't hindsight a wonderful (awful) thing? I've always had this hippie-dippie perspective that 'everything will work itself out in the end', but in reality, I should have thought about life more seriously before now.

We came off the back of our holiday with Jacek working six days. He's gone over twenty-four hours without seeing myself and the boys and I'm left wondering if it's even worth going on holiday at all when he's punished with six-day weeks anytime we get back? I'm also left feeling like a single mother to the boys, getting up with them, minding them all day and then putting them to bed on my own each and everyday. It's not only hard but it's also so lonely - single mothers, I comend you.

On top of everything my blogging mojo has also disappeared (please come back!). I'm finding myself constantly stuck on what to write, resigning myself to the fact that no one really cares about what I have to say or share. Everyone else always seems far more interesting or cool (yes, I do use the word cool, further proof that I'm uncool!) and my life just seems so boring compared to everyone elses and I know, 'never compare yourself to anyone else' and all that jazz, but honestly, in the blogging world that's a very hard thing to avoid!

I'm sure I'll come back one day with somethig interesting and amazing, but until then I'll just keep lulling along. These days I can't even pick up my camera because I feel my photography is so mediocre. I need to do a course, learn more technique and better editing skills. I thought that being self-taught would cut it, but I don't think it will in time.

The weather has been gloriously sunny so we've been trying to spend as much time in the garden as possible and I'm realising that all the beautiful handmade rompers I got for Beau is sport this summer, are so impractical for a crawling baby in a gravelled garden... his poor knees! I've resorted to having to put him in 'crawling pants' (crappy cheap joggers from Penneys that I don't mind him getting filthy) and so far they're working, even though he ends up boiling in them in the 22 degree heat.

I took the boys to my parents garden during the week and Beau was only gorgeous in his little Peter Rabbit handmade romper and lemon knee-high socks! Is it strange for a pair of socks to make me so happy? I think they're just the most darling things and I'm so glad I found them for so cheap on AliExpress. They remind me of the school socks I used to wear back when I was small - oh the nostalgia. Plus, lemon coloured anything makes my heart happy.

I realise that this life lately update has been quite a negative one, but it's been a time, let me tell you! These past few weeks have been hard and I really wasn't prepared or expecting them at all. It'll all be okay though, I'm sure of it. We may not have our own house, or a house to rent for very long at all (I've discovered that a year is actually a very short space of time the older I get), but we have sunny days, adorable socks and each other and ultimately, it's the latter that's all that really matters.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Day Trip To Sark, Channel Islands ♥

One of the most popular posts on my blog to date has been the post about mine and Jacek's trip to Sark, Channel Islands two years ago. I guess we're not the only ones who are charmed at the idea of a small, sunny island with no cars, no crowds and no busyness to get lost in.

A couple of weeks ago we returned to Sark, initially hoping to stay overnight to experience all that the world's first Dark Sky Island had to offer, but the website of the hotel we wanted to stay in wasn't working properly and we couldn't really be bothered with all the faffing about, so we just decided to go on a day trip to the island again.

We didn't take the boys with us, which was quite sad for me as I love having them in my pictures, but honestly, it turned out to be such a sweltering hot day with lots of walking involved so it was probably for the best.

The island is somewhere I've been visiting since I was child and it's quite a special place for me. I've never found somewhere so quiet, so tranquil and so other-worldly as Sark and I love visiting every time - even though the boat journey makes me feel incredibly ill!

It's recommended to explore the island either by bike or horse and cart, but this time round we decided to walk it - I stupidly thought it was smaller than it was, but we managed it anyway.

Our ramble took us down some steep, tree-sheltered steps to the beautiful Dixcart Bay, a beautiful secluded beach with crystal clear blue waters to splash about it. We were the only ones down there and I honestly felt as though I could have been in somewhere as far-flung as New Zealand whilst sitting down there, it was just so beautiful and didn't feel as though this little island could have been situated so close to home.

We stopped for something to eat, and a much needed drink, in the Cafe. The seating area was situated outside the beautiful big pink house right in the middle of the village and I've always been curious about it. I'm not sure if anyone lives in it, but if not it'd be a real shame because it's gorgeous. It was lovely to sit in it's yard and enjoy a sandwich, scone and glass of prosecco in the glorious sunshine.

On this visit I was determined to visit the walled gardens and I'm so glad we did. Not just because we got to see them in all their beauty, but because on the way there we also found a lovely house called Beauvoir which had a sign outside inviting people to visit the garden. I thought this was so lovely and Jacek and I ventured for a stroll. We weren't disappointed either as it was such a beautiful garden, tended to with much love and care I'm sure. It's a house and garden which I could only ever dream of owning but it was lovely to walk around it. As a gesture of thanks Jacek left some money in the ladies tin which she used for selling eggs outside her garden gate. It's all these little things and welcoming nature that makes Sark such a special place for me and one I'll keep visiting throughout my life.

La Seigneurie Gardens were beautiful - a perfect place to visit for a flower lover like me. I love strolling around it's pathways, breathing in the fragrant scent of the pretty roses. The pink daisies spilling out from the banks of the main pathway were just gorgeous and they led me to a shaded bench to gather my thoughts - a much needed spot on such a sweltering hot day.

The gardens also featured an old tower which left me feeling like Rapunzel sitting on it's steps, some artillery and a very old phone box, which gave me quite an eerie vibe! There were also plaques to previous owners pet dogs - many of whom seemed to have been called Beau. In fact, a lot of place names in Sark have 'Beau' in the title - think of all the lost photo opportunities with our littlest!

From there we walked to Sark's most prominent feature and beauty spot - well in my opinion anyway, the bridge that takes you from Big Sark to Little Sark. On our last visit we didn't get to actually walk over to Little Sark and I'm afraid this time I didn't get to either, but Jacek did run over for a quick look while I snapped some pictures.

This bridge really is such a beautiful place, with views to a gorgeous sandy bay down below and a look across at the other channel islands of Herm and Guernsey. For a few minutes I was the only person on the bridge too - quite a rarity during the busy summer months when the island is visited by tourists.

After a quick stop at the post office so that Jacek could send some postcards home to South Africa it was time to go and catch our boat back to Jersey. In all we walked 10 miles that day around the island and in hindsight it would have been much better for us to have gotten bikes as we could have seen a lot more in a shorter space of time, but at least we'll know for next time.

Sark is such a special place and must-visit for nature lovers or those who like to ramble and find new, beautiful spots to enjoy.

If you're interested in visiting Sark for yourself boats visit the island from Jersey and Guernsey.


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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Tyler Lee & Beau | Siblings {June 2017} ♥

This posts marks a whole year of the siblings project for us. I remember this time last year, being so excited to finally get to join in with this linky and share a month picture of these little boys of mine and share about how their relationship as it developed month to month. Back then I had a newborn and a freshly turned three year old, now I have a one year old and a very grown-up four year old - where does the time go?

This past month my boys enjoyed their second holiday today when we went to Jersey to visit their grandad. They were actually fantastic on the planes (we took three altogether) and during all the travelling we did and we all had a lovely time away from home.

Tyler is at an age where he's very imaginative and only plays games the way he wants to. Beau always wants to join in with him, but Tyler isn't always a willing playmate, getting annoyed with Beau sometimes when he goes near his toys. Yet sometimes I look over at them and they're playing nicely together and it's those moments which are so lovely to witness.

The boys are still very close and literally do everything and go everywhere together. I make sure that they eat lunch together everyday, they have bathtime together and look for each other every morning. Beau wants to do everything his big brother is doing and now that he's pulling himself to stand, I don't think it's going to be too long before they're running around together.

I can't believe they've been siblings for a whole year now. I don't know how they were ever without each other. I'm so glad they have each other, always a playmate and someone to chat to - or at in Tyler and Beau's case, Tyler is always telling him his stories and using his cuddly toys as the characters. It's adorable.

I'm going to continue documenting their relationship through a monthly siblings post. I'm so glad I joined in with this project and have all these precious pictures to keep forever. I'm sure they'll be glad of them too when they're much older and want to look back on their childhood.


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Nowhere To Call Home ♥

We've only just arrived back from holiday and although I totally expected the post-holiday blues to hit me like a ton of bricks, what I didn't expect was the news that we could potentially be homeless in a couple of months.

You see we're one of those unfortunate young families who are stuck in the rental market, in doubt to whether or not we'll ever own our own home - and not because we can't afford it either, but because the banks are reluctant to give our mortgages since the recession.

Is it so wrong to just want to set down roots for yourself and your children? To have a place to properly call home and make your own?

When the landlord rang to tell us he was selling the house I didn't expect to feel so sad, worried and panicked. It's not as if I ever liked the house to begin with. It was supposed to just be a one year thing and then we were going to move on and find somewhere bigger and better, but since we moved here in 2013 the rental market has changed considerably, meaning there's almost nowhere suitable to rent in our area and if there is the prices are extortionate.

I can't even begin to tell you how angry and frustrated it it makes me to know that we can 100% afford to buy our own house with the help of a mortgage, but more than likely will not be offered one because of some stupid stipulation or another.

We're planning to speak to a financial advisor - hopefully next week, so right now I'm trying to live in hope that he'll have some good news for us and a plan for the future. Until then, we're having to look for a new property to live in whilst packing up (and throwing out) the last five years of our life.

I'm not a fan of this house, but I'm highly sentimental and the fact that we brought both of our babies home to this house and all the memories we've had here makes me want to cry. We've tried our best to make this our home - despite it being filled with all of the landlords furniture, which I hate and now it will be home no longer. We have nowhere to call home anymore.

Stupidly I keep thinking about Tyler's playhouse in the garden, the one he only just got this past Christmas and which he loves. It'll now have to be taken down and stored away if we can't find anywhere with a garden - right now there are only two bedroom apartments on the market. It's funny how out of everything, all I can think about is that playhouse. Such an insignificant thing yet so important to me for some strange reason... I guess I just want the boys to have happy childhoods, playing with one another in the garden and being able to have a place to call their own. Right now that playhouse is symbolising all of this for me.

I don't know what we're going to do if we can't find somewhere. We could potentially be homeless in a couple of months and understandably it's a real worry for us. Now we're faced with the prospect of searching for somewhere new, packing up all of our things into boxes, whilst having potential buyers roaming through the house even though we're still living here - an absolute nightmare for someone like myself who suffers from anxiety.

I thought we'd have a lovely summer ahead of us, with the boys playing in the garden on sunny days, going on day trips to places we've been wanting to see for years and spontaneous trips to the beach. Now it'll just be filled with worry, chaos and hassle, all of which I am so unprepared for.

Maybe this will be the beginning of a new adventure for us as a family, maybe it'll be the start of a complete and utter nightmare... only time will tell. My fingers are firmly crossed for the prospect of an adventure.
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Friday, June 09, 2017

Daniel Wellington Classic Petite Bondi Watch ♥

Time. It's something which hasn't been on my side as of late, with the days ticking away at lightning speed, leaving me not able to do all I want when I want...

With time (or lack there of) being such an important element in my life at the moment, a beautiful new watch was just what I needed to keep on track of those pesky minutes and make me get to where I need to when I need to. Luckily, Daniel Wellington had the perfect time-keeping accessory for me with the release of their beautiful new Classic Petite Bondi watch.

I've always been an accessories person - a fact which was even written about me in my secondary school yearbook and I feel as though my wrists are bare if they're not adorned with something pretty. This watch has been a new style staple for me this season - with it's white leather strap and rose gold face and dials it's the perfect summer accessory.

It looked gorgeous against the bright and beautiful hydrangeas. I got Jacek to snap these pictures whilst the two of us were out walking my Dad's lovely little dog Willow. It was so nice to just get away and breathe for once. I feel like there's always something to be done and our days are eternally busy at home, but here we got the chance to sit by some beautiful hydrangea bushes, look out at the beautiful beach below and just have a breather.

The Daniel Wellington Classic Petite Bondi watch is $135 which I think is quite a reasonable price for a good quality, stylish watch.

If you're wanting to get your own Daniel Wellington watch - they seem to be quite a popular style staple these days - use the code DOLLYDOWSIE to get 15% off your order. This code is valid until June 30th 2017.

I'm just hoping that time slows down a bit for myself and my little family in the coming months. It seems as though the days have been racing past since Beau was born and it always seems to be morning!

Does anyone else feel this way?

*This post is in collaboration with Daniel Wellington, however, as always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

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Thursday, June 01, 2017

Me & Mine | {May 2017} ♥

We only have one picture for this months Me & Mine because I actually forgot about the whole thing - oops! I had envisioned us getting beautiful family pictures at Beau's first birthday, but then the four year old wouldn't co-operate and when he did he stood with a very frightening looking face right up by the camera lens while the rest of us were in the foreground...

May was a super busy month and it just totally slipped my mind for us to go out with the tripod and take a family photo and it's such a shame too because we did go out for family walks on sunny days and we could have captured some lovely shots. I could have cheated and taken some snaps today, but in typical Irish weather fashion, it's raining...

We did take some pictures during our fruit family BBQ with Robinsons so I'm using one of those for this month, still wanting to join in and share a memory. I do love this candid shot. I feel as though my photography tastes have changed a lot in the past few months and the candid snaps are now taking prominence above the 'perfect' staged ones for me.

This month Jacek is loving:
Clearing the clutter out of the house
Going on a trip to London
The food from Natural Kitchen

This month I'm loving:
Seeing lots of flowers in bloom
Getting pictures taken of myself and the boys
Buying new clothes (for me and the boys!)

This month Tyler is loving:
Playing with the neighbour's little girl
Going to school and playing with his friends
Days at the beach

This month Beau is loving:
Turning one and getting lots of attention
Playing in the garden
Pulling himself up on things to stand

The Me and Mine Project




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