Wednesday, June 29, 2016

6 Things I've Learned About Myself Since Becoming A Mother Of Two ♥

It's almost six weeks since I became a mother for the second time and since then I've been on a learning journey of sorts. I've been learning all about my new baby boy, getting to know each and every aspect of his personality, his likes, his wants and needs. I've been learning how to reassure my biggest baby that he's still a very special part of mummy's life and that I will always have time to make him happy and feel loved, included, secure. And although my days are consumed with looking after my two precious boys and tending to their every need, I've also been on a learning journey of my own too, realising what I'm really like as a person, what I need to get on well in life and what really matters the most to me.

I've learned that I thrive on routine and I really can't function without it. I'm one of those weird people who loved school, not because I was learning new things or meeting up with my friends or boyfriend at the time, but because it had a rigid routine and that was good for me. I have a great routine going with the boys and I'll be trying my best to keep it that way - I'll be sharing a post about it soon. Tyler Lee is in that awkward toddler stage where his sleep is a bit disturbed and he can be prone to a tantrum or whinging outburst at any time and I think the routine has really helped to calm his behaviour too. It was hard going with him for a time, he was just lashing out for no apparent reason, but life is much better with him now and I'm thanking the routine for contributing somewhat to this positive change.

I've learned that I'm more than capable of looking after two young children on my own. I can't even begin to tell you how many sleepless nights I had worrying about how I would cope on my own with the two of them whilst Jacek was at work, how I would get out of the house on time (or at all) for dropping Tyler Lee to preschool, I even worried about how I get them both in and out of my little three door car, but I'm proud to say I'm actually doing great, better than I expected. Yes it can be very stressful at times, especially when one is in need with something but I'm busy with the other and then trying to judge whose need is more urgent at the time, but it's actually easier than I thought it would be and I worried for nothing.

I've also learned that I really shouldn't doubt myself so much. This is something I do a lot and I really should stop. I mean, why not me? Why should I already disqualify myself for something before even trying. I do it so much with the blog and opportunities that may arise too. It's something I'm trying to overcome and hopefully soon I'll have the confidence to not put myself down or doubt my abilities again.

I've learned that everything doesn't have to be perfect. I'm such a perfectionist, everything has to be 'just so' and my way and if it's not it bothers me, but since having Beau I think I've calmed down on this aspect of my personality a lot. One thing I've very finicky about is my photography, I was always under the impression if it's not perfect then it's no good at all, and although I don't use my camera everyday I've been capturing the most special moments on my phone camera, all marred with imperfections, but it doesn't even bother me anymore, I've realised that the moment is much more important than the capture. I've also come to terms with the fact that I'll never have a Pinterest-worthy house, not with two rowdy boys!

I've learned that money doesn't grow on trees and not to be so wasteful with it. Jacek and I have begun looking towards the future, have talked seriously about finally getting married and applying for a mortgage and everything else we want to save for. We've opened up credit union accounts for the boys so that we can save for them and I've begun contributing to my own one again too, something I haven't done for years.

I've learned that things are just things and that memories are worth far more. Before I was insistent on buying things we really didn't need just because they were in fashion or because I decided we needed to have them - we really didn't. I was inspired and spurred on by pictures on Instagram and Pinterest and decided that I just couldn't resist all that lovely stuff... now the house is full of things that go unused and it's shameful to see. I've begun selling them on now but I'm not going to be buying things just for the sake of it again. I'd rather we saved the money or used it to have days out or holidays with the boys, after all, the memories we make together are priceless, so what could make me happier? 


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

5 Simple Money Saving Tips Everyone Should Follow ♥

The older I get, the more saving money becomes a priority for me. Jacek is great with his money, he manages it so well and invests it wisely so that he gains interest and other benefits for saving his money, rather than spending it on impulse, like I have been prone to do in the past... I have never been much of a saver, money always seems to burn a hole in my pocket if it's there too long but these days I've begun saving money to invest in mine and my family's future.
I have made some changes to how I spend my money and have put plans into effect to help me be a better saver. I have learned to be thrifty rather than wasting money on unnecessary items or bills. Below are five simple money saving tips which I am following in order to save my money and set myself and my family up for the future.
Have a month-long spending ban / Use reward schemes
This is such a great way to save money and one which is quite popular amongst the blogging community judging by all the spending ban posts I see on a weekly basis. If you're like me and have multiple boxes and baskets full of makeup and beauty products which you have yet to use, why not challenge yourself to a month long spending ban and resist buying products which you really don't need. 

I've made a vow not to spend anymore money on makeup or beauty products until I've used up my current stash and so far I've stuck to it and have saved loads in the process. If I do feel the need to try something new I have been using reward schemes such as Back To MAC, Boots advantage points or Lush's reward of a free fresh face mask if you return six empty pots - which I have plenty of! 

I've also been trying to curb my spending on clothes for the boys as they have loads which they have yet to wear, but this is proving a lot more difficult. Why is it that us mums love spending our cash more on our children rather than ourselves? Seeing the money you would have spent on items that you didn't really need build up week by week is actually quite thrilling - something which I'd never have associated with saving before becoming serious about my money.

Manage your money sensibly and budget wisely
This is something which a lot of people struggle with and I'm one of them. I always feel so in over my head when people talk about different bank account options, interest rates, etc. but once you sit down and look into them it's actually not that complicated.

Setting up a savings account and having a direct debit taken from your current account for a portion of your wages to go into it every week is a great way of saving up for those rainy days and big purchases in life. Regular saving like this is also a positive for you if you go about getting a mortgage - something which we shall be looking into very soon.

Having a weekly or monthly budget set out to stick too is a good way of making sure that you don't overspend. Nonetheless, there are times in life when an unexpected bill or situation crops up that you may not have the money for right away or available in your savings and it can be stressful. Availing of a loan from a reputable lender such as UK Credit can be a good way of getting the money you need and as long as you budget in the repayments into your finances there should be no problem paying it back. They offer guarantor loans for both homeowners and tenants and I've actually had to take a loan such as this in the past due to an unexpected issue with my car and I was able to pay back the loan before time.

However, I would only ever consider taking out a loan if you really are in need of it and are one-hundred per cent sure that you can manage the repayments. UK Credit also have a great blog called Money Life, where you will find, in their own words "stories, musings and tidbits about the weird and wonderful world of money".

Be more energy efficient
As a family, we are probably overly conscious of how much electricity we use in our house due to Jacek having a bit of a thing about having too many things on at once. You can save a lot of money on my monthly electricity bills by simply taking more care about what appliances and lights you're using at one time. I no longer use the big lights in our house unless I really have to, the table lamp gives sufficient light. I unplug and switch off sockets when I am done using them and I try not to have the television on whilst I'm on the laptop because I know I can't focus on both at once. These simple changes have really helped keep our energy bills down and it's great to know we're being energy efficient too.

Follow a saving money plan and stick to it
This year I am doing the 52-week money saving challenge (or at least I'm trying to!) and although it can be hard to stick to it when I have so many outgoings, I am determined to put away money each week to save up for trips that Jacek and I want to take next year. Having a plan to follow can really help to focus on what you need to save every week and it's great to tick off the weeks as they go by and see your saving stash getting larger each week. If the 52-week money saving challenge isn't for you there are other templates which you could follow to be found on Pinterest.

Sell items you no longer need
If you're like me and have boxes full of things you no longer use or need but have very little space in your house why not think about selling these items? Two years ago I cleared out our attic of all my sons baby things and sold them at a local baby market. From doing this I was able to pay off a lot of bills and have some money to spend on Christmas gifts. I now need to have another clear out of things we haven't even used. I think Ebay and Etsy are the best places for selling unwanted items and these days there's also a lot of selling apps available too. The money I make from these sales will go towards this Christmas - every little helps for the season of good cheer!
Make a weekly meal plan before going grocery shopping
Making a weekly meal plan is such a great thing to do as not only will it help you become more organised when it comes to preparing meals but it will also help you save money whilst doing the weekly shop. I always have a list of dinners that we're going to have during the week with me when I go food shopping, this helps me focus on what I actually need to pick up instead of buying things we probably won't end up eating and therefore saving us money. We also stay away from brand name products when we can which really helps to keep the weekly food shop cost down.
Do you follow any of these money saving tips? Have you found the results to be rewarding on your purse?

*This is a collaborative post.


Monday, June 27, 2016

To My Dear Little Rainbow Baby... ♥

To my dear little Beau, my beautiful and precious rainbow baby,

How blessed I am to be writing this letter to you. How happy and grateful I am that you chose me to be your mummy, the one who was able to carry you for forty-one weeks exactly, the one who felt you move inside her  tummy, the one who gave birth to you, the one who held you for the first time and the one who first whispered "I love you" in your ear. I'm both honoured that you're mine but also that I am yours, a bond that can't be broken, our story waiting to be told.

I'll be honest my precious boy, those forty-one weeks weren't easy, I worried a lot about whether or not you would be meeting us at all and was terrified I would lose you too, as I had done your sibling, the day after your big brother's first birthday. Pregnancy after miscarriage is hard, I worried about every little thing and was always looking for a sign that you would be leaving me. I even confessed to people that I felt as though I wouldn't get a chance to meet you, how relieved and delighted I am that I did.

You see, you are my rainbow baby, the one who has made days brighter after suffering such a loss. People say "you'll get over it" or "it'll be fine", but would you believe, I never do. I still think about that other baby, in fact I shed a few tears for them after you were born, but being able to snuggle a newborn again, to feel all those heartwarming emotions and be filled with overwhelming joy to have you has made me the happiest person I have been in a very long time.

Getting over a loss isn't easy and for a long time I didn't think I'd get to experience being a mother to another child, but along you came making all our days brighter and joy filled. Honestly my boy you are such a dream and I tell this to everyone who will listen. You are the happiest, most placid little baby I have ever had the pleasure to meet and knowing that the rest of my days will be spent with you in them makes me feel like the luckiest person alive.

It's no coincidence that your name is Beau and a handsome little chap you are too. Your big brother must have known how much of a beautiful blessing we were about to received, he chose the perfect name for you. I've affectionately nicknamed you rainbeau (and little Beau peep, but I'll stop that when you're older, promise!), one that suits your colourful personality perfectly. I can't wait to see your little quirks and personality develop over the years, I already know it's going to be lots of fun as you seem to find everything amusing and love to be chatted to. You're a sociable one and a complete pet, I'm besotted by you and all your snuggles.

You've reconfirmed for me that it takes both rain and sunshine to make a rainbow and how lucky I am that my rainBeau is the most wonderful, bright and beautiful I could have ever imagined.

I love you my precious boy.

Love Mummy


Home Decor | Perfect Bathroom Ideas For Those Living With A Disability ♥

I'm really getting into my interiors as of late and I just love finding inspirational ideas for different rooms of the house and for people with different needs too, so I thought I'd share a few perfect bathroom ideas I've stumbled across recently and all of these ideas are ideal for those who are living with a disability. I know there are a few readers of mine who either have a disability or have a disabled child, so hopefully these ideas may give you some information for your own home.

One fab bathroom feature that I've recently stumbled across are walk-in baths, and believe me when I say that I'd love one of these for my own home. I can't tell you how many times I've almost fallen over getting in and out of my own bath - both due to my own clumsiness and having a big bump when I was pregnant, so one of these would have been ideal. Premier Bathrooms have a great range available, including a jacuzzi version, which would be ideal for anyone who has a disability that can be eased by hydromassage. I think these walk-in baths are also great for those with a disability who have young children as the child, once they reach toddler age, would be able to walk in and out of the bath themselves and believe me, I have a heavy three year old who I lift in and out of the bath on a daily basis so I know how much of a task it can be, especially if you have a sore back.

If you'd rather not have a bath in your bathroom due to space issues, etc. then a walk-in shower with a sit down facility is another great idea for those living with a disability. My grandparents have one of these and it's ideal as it means there are no trip hazards for them and the corner unit shower means that it doesn't take up much room in their small bathroom either. If you have more space available a wet-room is another great bathroom idea for disabled people, especially those who have to use a wheelchair, and is perfect if the person who will be using it can't get upstairs to use the original bathroom in the house.

Lowered sinks and toilets are also perfect for bathrooms for people who have a disability. The lowered height makes it easier for those in a wheelchair to wash their hands, etc. and also for carers to help them onto the toilet or for themselves to get onto the toilet. Hand rails can also be installed for ease of access and use of the toilet and bath.

Before researching these bathroom ideas I was under the wrongful impression that bathrooms for use by a disabled person weren't that aesthetically pleasing, that their function overrode their style, but looking at the pictures above, you can clearly see that the features and fittings are all modern and stylish. In fact, if I had a bathroom like the ones pictured above then I'd be delighted with the look of the space.

*This is a collaborative post.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Lamaze | Freddie The Firefly Gym & Freddie The Firefly & Bella The Bunny Soft Toys | Review ♥

Beau is now one month old and for the past few weeks I've been introducing him to some lovely, colourful Lamaze toys which we were sent for him before he was born. I always knew that I wanted to introduce him to toys and sensory play from a young age because I didn't really do this with Tyler Lee and I feel as though he's not as interested in toys now as other children his age. We're big fans of the Lamaze range here, having had many of the years and we love their bright, colourful, fun offerings for little ones to play with, explore their senses and be amused.

We were sent three toys from the Lamaze range - the Freddie the Firefly Gym and Freddie the Firefly and Bella Bunny soft toys, all of which offer a lot of fun for little ones. I have to admit that I've been having fun with these myself too, I just love all the crinkly bits they have so I've been squeezing them for Beau to let him hear and follow the sound.

I set the Freddie the Firefly Gym (€42) up in Beau's nursery on a daily basis - his room is too small to have it up permanently but thankfully it's very easy to assemble and stores away neatly under his cot. I let him lie on the mat looking up at the hanging toys, I then play with them so he can hear the noises. Tyler has also been joining in on Beau's playtime and I think the Freddie the Firefly Gym is a great playmat for including older siblings with baby's playtime too as they can easily lay down beside the mat and play with the hanging toys without disturbing the baby too much.

The Freddie the Firefly Gym comes with a colourful mat and cushion, a firefly hanging toy, two soft teethers and a mirror which all hang from a black and white arch. The mat can be used from birth and offers three playing positions - lying down, tummy time and sitting up, so it will last Beau quite some time. He really seems to love the mat, even from such a young age and looks up at the hanging toys, occasionally batting them but I know he's too young to interact at this age.

The mat is also perfect for his tummy time - now recommended from birth, so I include that within his playtime too. My only bug bear with the mat is that it's quite thin, I'd have loved more padding on it so I could have used it with him on the wooden floor in the living room but due to the thinness of it I can only use it upstairs on the carpeted floors. Otherwise, it's a great playmat and I love how easy it is to assemble and store.

The Freddie the Firefly (€18) and Bella the Bunny (€17) soft toys are fantastic sensory toys for little ones that can be used on the go or attached to baby's pram, car seat or to the side of their cot if they're awake and want to play. I have Freddie the Firefly attached to the hood of Beau's pram so that he can look up at it when he's laying down in it or when we're out walking. This is such a great sensory toy for babies, featuring a soft velour body, large crinkly and textured wings, a teether, clinking rings and knotted antennae for chewing on, it has something to keep even the fussiest of babies amused.

Bella the Bunny is quite similar to Freddie the Firefly, being a good-sized soft toy featuring textured ears, knotted legs, a carrot shaped mirror and a rattly tummy. I've attached Bella the Bunny to Beau's Freddie the Firefly Gym just to give him something additional to look at and interact with.

Lamaze toys are perfect for little ones, their bright colours and patterns are very eye-catching for babies to look at, their crinkles, rattles and squeakers are great for little ears and their different textures are great for little fingers to explore and feel. We're very impressed with the three toys we were sent from the Lamaze range and I have no doubt that these won't be the last in Beau's toy collection.

*We were sent the Lamaze toys for the purposes of this review, as always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Perfect Children's Garden Room/Playhouse Decor Inspiration ♥

For quite some time now I've been wanting to have an indoor space in the garden for the children and have been looking into different ideas from playhouses to garden rooms and everything in between, and whilst I love the idea of a playhouse, a garden room may be a better option for us as it offers more longevity - my eldest son is sadly already taller than most playhouse doors, I wish he'd stop growing up so quickly on me! A garden room would also offer a lot more space and a proper, functional room for them to enjoy.

I actually had a garden room as a child, complete with seating space, storage and electricity. It was a great space for my brother and I to enjoy and was most probably a godsend to my mother as it meant that we were out of the house and so were most of our toys - I never realised until I became a parent just how many toys a child can accumulate over time! I fondly remember my mother lovingly painting it a lovely blue shade and setting it all up for us, it was a great space for us to get out of the house, play house and to go with friends when they came to visit.

One of the key reasons why I'd like a garden room is to use it as an extension of our living space, to give the boys a play/seating area of their own. The garden rooms by Lidget, offer a safe, dry space to store things in so I could really make a unique and cosy space for the boys to enjoy. How amazing is the play space featured  on Jeanette's Hus, I love how light and airy it looks and if I could replace all the pink with blue then it would be perfect for my boys. I know Tyler Lee would love the cupcake stand and the dish rack - he's a bit obsessed with playing house at the moment and lovely anything that imitates things that adults use for cleaning, cooking, etc.

Inside the garden room I'd like to create a fun and cosy space for the boys and it's no secret that I love cottage inspired decor so I think I'd definite have to go with that theme - look how beautiful the decor is in the play room which was featured on Hometalk, I absolutely love the pastel colours used and the storage under the seat is perfect for a children's play area. I'd paint the walls a duck egg blue, similar to the shade used in the picture above, and get some little curtains for the windows - I think the novelty of having it looking like a real little house would really entice the boys to play in there. I also love the addition of bunting and the house shaped shelves, they're perfect for displaying little knick-knacks and toys. I think a day bed would be a lovely addition for them to sit in too, doubling up as the perfect place to have a sleepover once they're older. I love how the day bed looks in the garden room in my post about French Loaf.

A little table and chairs would be an essential for the room, perfect for them to play at and do some arts and crafts. I'd also pop Tyler Lee's kitchen and household toys in there so that he could play house in his own little space. I think putting his teepee out there and creating a cosy little reading corner with lots of cushions, blankets, fairy lights and a little bookshelf would be a lovely idea too. There are plenty of little DIY projects that can be done to make a children's play space quite special for almost no amount of money at all. The pictures used in this post are by the lovely Amy-Beth, @rory_eden.x on Instagram, who comes up with the sweetest DIY projects - just look at the play space she has for her gorgeous boys. It's so personal, unique and everything was put together with love. I also love the idea of this DIY market grocery store  from Welcome to the Mouse House and think it would be a great thing to have in a children's play area, it seems so easy to put together too and I can imagine them having lots of fun with this as Tyler Lee loves to play shop. We already have the cubed units so it would be easy for us to make.

I have so many ideas for a perfect garden room space for my boys and I know I'd have so much fun putting it all together. There is a lot of children's play area inspiration to be found on Pinterest, which is where I get a lot of ideas for things around my home and which is where I came across the beautiful spaces above. I just wish I had the time and money to recreate them all - tell me I'm not alone in spending countless hours on Pinterest wishing I lived in these places?!

Do you have a garden room or indoor space in your garden for your children to enjoy?

*Rory and Eden's playhouse pictures courtesy of Amy-Beth Rodgers.


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Beau Samuel James | One Month Old ♥

On May 19th I gave birth to our second precious son, Beau Samuel James and today he's one month old. I know it's such a clichéd thing for a parent to say, but time really has flown by the past four weeks - I'm putting it down to having a newborn to look after as well as a very active, loud and easily bored toddler too, time sure does fly when you're having fun.

This past month has been amazing and one of the happiest times in my life so far. I'm absolutely besotted with my baby boy and I've been taking these precious newborn weeks to get to know him, introduce him to the world around him, settle him into a routine and take lots of pictures of him of course. It feels like our little Beau has always been with us. He's such a little dote and is so good to us, waking just once in the early hours of the morning for a feed and being so placid during the day, he's an absolute blessing.

Beau is such a content little baby who'd love nothing better than to sit in someones arms all day and have them talk to him. Yesterday he lay in my grandmothers arms and wouldn't stop smiling at her as she talked, it was so sweet to watch. I'm sure these little smiles and giggles he's giving now aren't just wind because he smiles when he hears Tyler's voice if he's lying in his cot and he smiles at me if I say hello to him whilst picking him up. He's such a happy little baby and he's a joy to be around. I hope he's always happy in life.

Beau has already changed so much in appearance since he was born. He was born with a head full of shiny dirty blonde hair but this has since changed to a dark red/auburn shade which is beautiful, but he's begun to lose his hair so I wonder what colour it will be next. His eyes are a very deep blue, the same shade as his big brothers and they have a design around his pupils that reminds me of the outline of a flower - so beautiful. He's been growing so quickly too, already a big boy to begin with at 9lbs 11oz when he was born I think he's on or over the 12lb mark at this stage. He was 57cm long when he was measured two weeks ago but he's probably well over that now too. He's outgrown so many of his sweet little clothes already and I'm not sure weather to give them away or to keep them...

In Beau's short life we've already done and seen so much with him. He's had his first trip the beach, his first visit to a castle when we had a family day out in Blarney Castle last week, spent afternoons strolling around Fota House and Gardens, had his first trip to Fota Wildlife Park, visited another county - Waterford, had his first bath, had my first solo outing with him and he's met a lot of people over the past few weeks, from friends to family. I'm so thankful that he's a summer baby and that we've been able to enjoy the lovely sunny weather as a family.

I'm getting to know Beau and learning his little quirks, loves and dislikes in life. He absolutely hates wearing hats, so as you can imagine, getting these pictures was a challenge, I had to wait until he was asleep! He's very alert now during the day and he sleeps all night and I've been trying to keep him entertained by babywearing with him in the Kari-Me wrap I recently bought, laying him in his pram or on his playmat to gaze at his Lamaze toys, putting him in his swing (he's not too fond of this either) and going for walks. He loves being snuggled and held close to my chest so babywearing has been ideal for us and I'm loving it because I didn't try it out with Tyler until he was much older.

We love you so much Beau Samuel James, we are blessed to have you, our beautiful baby boy.


Friday, June 17, 2016

Whisbear - The Humming Bear | Review ♥

We are blessed with a brand new baby in our house and we are absolutely besotted with him, but like many expectant parents I'm sure, before his arrival into the world, we were worried about how we would cope with the night feeds and lack of sleep again.

 You see, our eldest son has always been a great sleeper and still is to this day. From just six weeks of age he has slept through the night and he has blessed us with a full nights sleep ever since - something we are incredibly grateful for. I worried that perhaps the new baby wouldn't sleep well, that he wouldn't be able to settle and that I'd then be like a zombie during the day, unable to give my very active little toddler the attention he deserves also, but I need not have worried, our little Beau is a fantastic sleeper and something I think we has contributed to his fab sleep routine is Whisbear - an amazing bear whose main purpose in life is to help babies sleep better.

We received our Whisbear before Beau was born and I knew that I wanted to begin using the bear with him from the very start. Whisbear is a grey cuddly bear, featuring four colourful and sensory arms that can attach to cots and prams due to the magnets in his paws. He also has crinkly sounding ears and a protruding nose which Beau just loves to try and latch on to. Whisbear comes with  a white noise sensor 'heart', which pops into his back - this is then secured with velcro, which makes a calming white noise sound for forty minutes to help soothe baby to sleep. The sensor is activated simply by pressing Whisbear's back and I'm happy to report that the noise really does help to soothe Beau and helps him to drift off to a peaceful sleep.

What I love about Whisbear is the fact that it also has a CRYsensor, so if the white noise has stopped and baby begins to unsettle the white noise comes on again for another twenty minutes. I think this is a great feature as it comforts baby, letting them know that they're not alone and this feature has helped to get Beau back to sleep again - especially when his big brother is being a bit too loud around the house! The Whisbear is easily turned off by pushing it's back again - I do this once Beau has gone to sleep as it runs on batteries.

Beau loves to sleep next to his Whisbear, he always cuddles his head up towards it and although he's too young at the moment to really enjoy the sensory arms it has, I can imagine that he'll love these too. Whisbear has been a great part of Beau's sleep routine and I'm delighted to say that he now sleeps through the night at only four weeks of age.

Whisbear is £39.90 and really is worth every penny. You can purchase Whisbear and browse other products on offer on the Whisbear website.

*We received Whisbear for the purposes of this review, as always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.


Wild Foxgloves | Beautiful Ireland ♥

Ireland is a beautiful place to live in all year round, but during the spring and summer months it's exceptionally beautiful thanks to all the stunning wild flowers that pop up and bloom in almost every direction you look. It's no surprise that Jacek and I love photography, it's a big passion in our lives and a huge part of my blogs, both here on Dolly Dowsie and on Fawns and Fables - which I set up for the sole purpose of sharing our pictures and little adventures.

My absolute favourite subject to capture on camera is my family, but nature and especially beautiful flowers comes a very close second. I'm blessed to live in a place which offers so many beautiful wild flowers to view and photograph - the hedgerows are full of blooms, the grass is dotted with daisies and buttercups and there are some stunning locations and places very close to my home that have gorgeous gardens full of different flowers, plants and trees.

People used to comment that from my photographs of Ireland it looked as though I lived in some sort of fairytale place and I think this description is just perfect for Ireland, I find myself being both inspired and in awe of the beautiful nature that surrounds me on a daily basis and I feel very lucky to live in such a green and blooming place.

As a child I loved foxgloves, I thought they were very pretty, but that didn't stop me from catching them by their stem and running my hand all the way up them to pop all the petals off - it was great fun at the time! I also used to pick the petals off and wear them on my fingers, taking the approach that if they were good enough for the foxes they were good enough for me too (I've since found out that they're poisonous and I really shouldn't have been doing that). Foxgloves will always remind me of my childhood summers and brushes with nature and for that reason they'll always have a fond place in my life.

On the way into our town there is a bank full of wild foxgloves and it's amazing to look at, we just had to capture them all on camera. They are surrounded by a carpet of bright yellow buttercups, lush green grasses and other wild flowers too and I think it's such a beautiful welcome in to where we live. Witnessing a sight like this everyday with the green fields in the background I can see why people are so charmed by Ireland and are always wanting to visit here.

I will always be a nature lover, how could I not be when mother nature keeps blessing us with beautiful flowers and awe-inspiring views.


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Tyler Lee's Nautical/Beach Inspired Bedroom | Wishlist ♥

We are currently in the midst of updating our home, giving it a new lease of life with a fresh lick of paint, buying new soft furnishings and decluttering everything. One room which is almost complete is Tyler Lee's bedroom. He's now three years old and knows his mind, so we wanted his room to be inspired by something he loves, and if you're a regular reader of my blog it won't come as a surprise that he loves the beach, so a nautical/beach inspired room seemed like the perfect choice for his own little space.

Also, I think the beach theme is quite calming and that's just what he needs from a bedroom space because he's a very active little boy and anything that can help in calming him down and to get ready for bed is something I will embrace with both arms.

Tyler Lee's room is almost complete - it's had a new coat of paint, new bedding, blackout curtains, we rearranged the furniture, took down his cot and moved him to a big bed and picked up a few soft furnishings too, it just needs a few more little things to complete it and that's why I'm putting together this post, so I can save up for the things I want to add to his room and have everything in one place to remember and tick off once we get them.

The drawer on the wardrobe in Tyler Lee's room broke last week and I hate the wardrobe anyway - pine furniture just doesn't appeal to me, so I'd love to get him a new one and the beautiful stone white one above from Room To Grow caught my eye. There's a beautiful range of children's furniture at Room To Grow and I also loved their storage options too. Plus, I think the stone white colour suits the nautical/beach theme much better than natural wood.

The wall above his bed is bare at the moment and his bed doesn't have a headboard so I really want to make a little feature out of the wall. I'd love to have a banner hanging there, maybe with 'sail the sea Tyler Lee' or something along those lines featured on it. I really like the look of the banner featured above, the aqua starfish boards are a nice touch. I'd also love to get some beach themed prints and quotes printed out and pop them into some cheap white frames to create a photo collage on the wall. Some Polaroid style prints would look lovely there too. The Laura Ashley and nautical fabric bunting was something I found on Ebay and I think it's lovely. It's double sided too so it'd be perfect for hanging across his room.

I like to have bunting/lights, etc. in Tyler Lee's room for him to look at whilst he's going to sleep and I think the red, white and blue star fairy lights above fit the nautical theme really well, also, his curtains and a pillow in his room feature stars so they'd fit perfectly in his room - we tell him the stars are the night sky. There's no lampshade in his room at the moment and I love the print on the lampshade featured above, the beach hut print is really cute.

There's a significant lack of storage in Tyler Lee's room at the moment and when I spotted this star motif foldable canvas box I thought it would go perfectly with the silver star cushion that sits on his bed, it's also perfect for popping his cuddly toys in and believe me, he has a lot of them!

Finally, I spotted these life ring cushions on Pinterest and thought they'd make for lovely scatter cushions on his bed, I think the design makes for the perfect nautical cushion.

These are just a few items that I have my eye on for my biggest boy's bedroom. I absolutely love the theme and once the room is complete I can see it being a place that he loves to play and sleep in.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Tyler Lee & Beau | Siblings {June 2016} ♥

My two beautiful boys have been siblings now for almost one whole month. Time has gone by in a whirlwind and it's been amazing watching their relationship grow over this short but wonderful time. The moment they met is one I'll always remember - luckily we were able to capture it on film too.

I'll never forget Tyler Lee's rather nervous and unsure little face appearing at my hospital bed, both looking forward to and hesitating to meet his baby brother for the first time. He knew about baby Beau from the moment we did, he showed affection towards my bump and even gave Beau his name (always referred to as 'baby Beau' by his big brother) and all of those special moments had led to this meeting. I was delighted when Tyler Lee said - "Hello baby Beau", in a quiet voice and lent in to kiss Beau on the forehead. He also brought one of his old comforters as a gift to Beau, the Guess How Much I Love You nutbrown was very appropriate for this overwhelming loving moment. Their first meeting will always have a special place in my heart.

For about a week after Beau and I came home from hospital Tyler Lee still showed affection towards his baby brother but it was obvious that he was quite upset that he now had to share his mummy and daddy with someone else and there were a few tantrums and tears.

Thankfully that has all passed now and even though he still has lots of threenager moments (the terrible twos are nothing compared to this!), it's clear that he does think a lot of his brother, I think he's a bit unsure of what to do with him though as he's still so small and Tyler Lee is so boisterous and active.

I love seeing the two of them together, always lying down as Tyler Lee is unsure about holding Beau - I'm quite glad of this really as I could see him just abandoning him at any given moment! They interact together so well already, with Beau always turning his head to the sound of Tyler Lee's voice, staring in awe at the outline of his curls and giving little smiley looks at his big brother. Tyler Lee gets very excited and says - "I love you!" to his baby brother, it's adorable. I have little videos of them together on my Instagram which you can see on @fiandtylerlee. A lovely lady on my Instagram commented on one of the videos stating that - "she loves how Beau looks at Tyler Lee as if he hung the moon" and I loved that phrase. It's so true too.

I'm looking forward to seeing the boys relationship grow and develop over the coming years. I really hope that they become best friends and the fact that Tyler Lee already calls Beau his best friend is a positive sign to say the least. I can envision a lot of rough and tumble between the two of them in the coming years but also a lot of heartwarming, loving moments too.

This is my first month linking up to Dear Beautiful's Siblings Project and I can't even begin to tell you how wonderful it is to be able to finally do this after reading and seeing everyone's beautiful posts and pictures over the years.

The Me and Mine Project


Monday, June 13, 2016

Graco Milestone All-in-One Car Seat - The Only Car Seat You'll Ever Need | Review ♥

I don't know about you, but when it comes to baby and toddler products I want to have things that are uncomplicated, easy to use and beneficial in some way to my child. I can't stand products that are overly complicated, where it takes an absolute age to assemble them and now that I'm a mother of two, I simply don't have the time to faff around with products that take too long to set up properly. We were recently sent the new Graco Milestone All-in-One car seat to review, marketed as the 'only car seat you'll ever need' (and that statement's not wrong!) and thankfully this car seat is so user friendly that it's actually a parents dream.

My mini product tester Tyler Lee has really put the car seat through it's paces and I'm delighted to say that he loves his new car seat - he told me so on the way to preschool one morning and as a parent, it's great to know that my child likes a product that he has to use on a daily basis.

The Graco Milestone All-in-One car seat is perfect for children of all ages - babies, toddler and beyond (up to 12 years!). It's a multi-group car seat, meaning it can be used as baby's first car seat (up to 13kg) in the rear facing position. Once a child reaches 9kg, and until they reach 18kg, the car seat can then be used in the forward facing position, securing the child with the 5-point harness. Finally, the car seat can be used as a high-back booster seat for older children (15-36kg), where the seat belt is used to secure the child into the seat. As you can see, the Graco Milestone All-in-One really is the only car seat you'll ever need and the longevity that it offers is fantastic. Honestly, car seats can be so complicated and a bit of a pain to use, but this one is so easy to use and it makes getting my toddler in the car a fuss-free task.

The car seat itself looks very sturdy and comfortable for the child. It offers side impact protection, a multi-position headrest, cup holder and padded support for babies. The multi-stage positions are so easy to get into place too, you just click it into place and the seat moves accordingly. We're using the car seat in stage three position with Tyler Lee, still using the 5-point harness to secure him in. This is so easy to adjust too, there's a little flap that you lift up on the seat that allows you to loosen or tighten the harness depending on the child's needs. There's a guide on the car seat itself which indicates the stages and what age range they're suitable for and this is very helpful.

As I said above, the headrest on the car seat is multi-position, offering a choice of ten positions, all of which can be achieved by squeezing the red button at the top of the seat and pulling it into the position you want. The harness can also be adjusted with the red button, which is really helpful, especially if you have a squirming toddler who doesn't want his mummy or daddy agonising over different buttons, etc. while all they want to do is get going and on their way.

Tyler Lee has been so comfortable in his car seat. He's fallen asleep in it multiple times and the side supports have meant that his head doesn't droop downwards, he's able to sleep comfortably and safely in the seat. The arm rests on the seat allow him to sit comfortably and these are great for longer journeys. The car seat is quite roomy - a great feature as Tyler Lee is such a tall boy and I'd hate to see him looking cramped in the car.

The removable cup holder is another great feature as Tyler Lee is always drinking and snacking in the car and it's good for him to have access to his cup without it spilling everywhere because he has to hold it (he drifts off to sleep in the car a lot). He's been a great product tester for the seat and has really put it through it's paces, especially on the cleaning front! He's spilt ice-cream, the contents of his roll and a carrot cake bar on the seat but thankfully it's really easy to clean with it's removable padding.

I'd highly recommend the Graco Milestone All-in-One car seat to any parent who is a fan of fuss-free baby and toddler products, who is looking for both great value and longevity from their child's car seat and who is wanting to provide the utmost safety and comfort for their child when traveling in the car - and lets face it, what parent wouldn't?

We are so impressed with the Graco Milestone All-in-One and only wish we had had it for Tyler Lee from the start. We now want to get another one for Beau and I think that fact speaks for itself in terms of how much we like the car seat.

The Graco Milestone All-in-One car seat is €224.99 and is available from Halfords, Smyths and other outlets nationwide.

*We were sent the Graco Milestone All-in-One car seat for the purposes of this review, however, as always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% our own.


Sunday, June 12, 2016

My Princes At The Castle | Blarney Castle & Gardens ♥

As a family we love getting out and about, visiting new places and old haunts, exploring the world around us and capturing all our memories on camera - and yesterday we did just that. We've been out and about so much since Beau was born and it's been lovely, having a summer baby to enjoy the sunshine with is wonderful, it's such a contrast to having a February baby, whom I enjoyed snuggles with by the fire and walks with in the falling snow. We spent Thursday and Friday afternoon strolling around the beautiful Fota House & Gardens, a place where we visit a lot, but yesterday we decided to venture further afield to one of our favourite places and the place we take Tyler Lee every year on his birthday - Blarney Castle and it's stunning gardens.

This was our first outing where we actually managed to get some pictures taken with the boys and the pictures above are actually my first with them both, so they're quite special to me. When we first got to the castle grounds Jacek went to take Tyler Lee up to the top of the castle (he's been up there only once before on his second birthday) whilst I stayed in the gardens with Beau, he was so excited as I had told him a prince lived there but sadly it was way too busy for them to go up - they'd have had to queue for ages and this isn't something Tyler Lee would have done without causing mischief.

Instead he had a great time exploring all the gorgeous areas of the gardens, from the wooden boardwalk down by the waterfalls and folklore trail to the herbaceous border (where the pictures of us and the boys were taken) which he fondly named 'P.C. Plums garden' as it was right next to a little white house - he's Balamory obsessed.

We had such a lovely time strolling around together, the grounds are so beautiful and as we usually visit during the month of February when all that's in bloom are daffodils and snowdrops, so it was nice to see the place in full bloom and full of colour - it's a dream for people like myself who love to photograph nature and I captured lots of gorgeous photos of the flora there.

Outings with two small children in tow are actually a lot more manageable than I imagined. Beau slept almost the entire time in his pram whilst we went around the grounds, he was so peaceful and only woke for a feed and a nappy change - sadly I couldn't find any nappy changing facilities on the grounds so it doesn't seem to be the most family-friendly place to visit with small children but we managed. Tyler Lee has such a sense of adventure, which is lovely to witness but at the same time quite frustrating as he kept running off or ahead too far. Next time we go anywhere we're bringing the reigns - I keep saying it but honestly, he has no sense of stranger danger at all so I think it's necessary.

After an impromptu picnic on the grass amongst the buttercups and daisies we had a visit to the playground by the exit, before getting Tyler Lee an ice-cream for being (mostly!) good for us. It was such a lovely day and I couldn't think of a better way to spend a Saturday. I wish every weekend allowed for adventure but sadly Jacek works most weekends, so a weekend like this was rare and very special to us.

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