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Month: February 2014

Friday Find: The Tiny Beans Photo Book

Friday Find: The Tiny Beans Photo Book

For those of you who are regular readers, you would know that I am a super huge fan of Tiny Beans. For those of you have not been following for a while (poor you 🙂 ), TinyBeans is simply the best app you could ever have on your phone…if you are a parent! Tiny beans helps you to capture the precious moments you share with your children each day and share them in a private way. You can have a personal album, or share it with a few loved ones. That way, if you don’t want pics of your kids splashed all over social media, you can still share the love, but in a more intimate and controlled way. If you want to know more about the fabulous TinyBeans app, head on over to my previous post review here and here.

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Since its inception, TinyBeans has undergone several updates and improvements. One of the fabulous features is the ability to know create your very own Tiny Beans Photo Book. It’s pretty easy…you simply:

  1. choose the amount of months you wish to include
  2. play with the captions, colours and images you wish to include
  3. click to order!

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It is delivered straight to your door, and allows you to flick through your gorgeous memories in a beautiful book. We were lucky enough to try out this product before sharing it as a Friday Find. I always pride myself on sharing only the best products on Happy Ella After, and I have to say that the quality of this photo book is second to none. The best part is that it is so simple to make, and literally takes just minutes. Here is a selection of snaps from Ella’s Book. We chose the three month book that included twenty pages…

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A very cute layout of the month…

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Gorgeous colours and captions…

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Different layouts…just drag and drop!

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Ella just loves it..

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To check out the prices and find out more information about this great product, please check out their website here.

Happy Ella After readers are again blessed with luck, as the team at Tiny Beans will be offering one lucky parent the chance to create their own three month book!!! Stay tuned for details in the coming week!

kate

 

*Images are linked to the Tiny Beans website.

Turning Two!

Turning Two!

It’s amazing to say it, but this week, our darling Ella turned two. Two happy, funny, challenging and wonderful years for Ella and  us! We are so proud of her, and so proud of ourselves for surviving! It’s such a great milestone because we also know that this will be her last birthday as an ‘only child’. Next year she will have to learn the skill of sharing her presents and letting her younger sister or brother share some of the lime light (we’ll see how that goes!).

This year, we celebrated in a much more low key and simple style compare to the extravaganza of the First Birthday. We opted for a simple day out at a local playground – for any Melbournians, the fantastic Caulfield Park. Thanks to a tip from a good friend (thanks Amanda), I rang the local council to reserve a great spot with a Rotunda, BBQ, toilets and toddler playground. Who would have thought that you have to fill out paper work, pay for insurance and ‘reserve’ a spot at the park, but I guess as all things do, time changes everything!

So this year we invited a small group of family and friends to help celebrate the occasion. The weather held off and it was a lovely couple of hours. Whilst it was low key, I still had to get creative with some of the birthday staples, and turned to good old Pinterest for inspiration. Here are some of the ideas for invitations, food and decorations that made the day really special…

Nothing beats Etsy for invites. Beautiful designs emailed to you at a reasonable cost. Print them out at Officeworks or your local printer and bingo! We got this one through Sarahlukecreative.

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You simply cannot go past Cake 2 the Rescue for Birthday Cakes. This year I made Ella a Hootabelle Cake. Done in few hours, these girls make you look like a Masterchef without the fuss and expense!

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Simple lolly boxes – noodle boxes from the $2 shop! I then altered Ella’s invite using Keynote to add a thankyou greeting!

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Good old retro Marie Biscuit Smiley Faces – recipe to come!

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A ‘simple’ picnic at Caulfield Park Avery Garden. For Melbournians interested, you need to reserve the area, and the contact info can be found here!

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A fabulous toddler playground!

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Family Fun..

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The birthday girl with her presents…

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and with me…

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It’s been an amazing two years. They have flown so fast. I look forward with such joy to the years ahead and the next Birthday where she will have a little brother or sister! I hope that the ideas above help you celebrate your own kids’ birthdays!

Happy 2nd Birthday Ella Moo!

kate

 

 

A letter to my former (pregnant) self.

A letter to my former (pregnant) self.

They say hindsight is a wonderful thing. Being able to make decisions with the luxury of knowing how they will turn out, and not having to worry about the consequences. Being pregnant a second time, has sort of felt like this. Whilst I know that each pregnancy is different, for each and every woman, I have felt a certain amount of calmness and predictability this time, as the ‘unknown’ was taken over by my previous experiences. I’m lucky, I know, that my pregnancies have been pretty straight forward and smooth. I know that many women find themselves in a different predicament. That said, however, each woman only knows their own journey and for myself, there were certainly ups and downs.

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Given the fact that I’m moving into my third trimester in a couple of weeks, I’ve started thinking about all of the things that happened last time. I was reading this great article on Mamamia last week that described how a baby changes your marriage. For most…getting through the challenge of pregnancy is dwarfed by the challenges we face when the little baby presents itself, and the hard work really begins. I wish I could go back and give my former pregnant self some advice. If, for nothing else, just to tell her that everything WILL be ok. If I could, my ten pearls of wisdom would include…

1. It WILL get easier.

In those first few months you feel like a complete zombie. Sleep deprived, covered in milk, sore and emotionally drained. If you were anything like me, then you went from being a confident individual, respected in the workplace…to a person who had no idea if it was night or day. It wasn’t all bad of course, but there were certainly times that it felt like the hardest time of my life. I remember vividly sitting on the couch at 6pm with Ella crying, Dan not home from work yet and wondering if I would ever get to a place where I could make dinner, have a shower, feed myself and have everything done that Ella needed. Two years on I know that yes…it does get easier, and it becomes the most enjoyable thing you will ever do.

2. She WILL sleep through, eventually.

For us, it took a little longer, but after two years Ella finally sleeps through. In the beginning you are thrust into the world of sleep routine and advice. Bath, story, bottle, bed. Eat, play, sleep. It’s all a bit full on, but in the end…you will have to trust me on this one…she will sleep through.

3. Don’t stress about ‘bad habits’.

No Mum want to create bad habits and do things that will backfire. That said, there are so many mixed messages that you have no idea who to believe. They say ‘trust your instincts’, and I believe this is true. The only problem is, with no experience, you often have no instincts to trust. My advice to my former self would be to do what feels right at the time. If rocking feels right then do it. It feeding feels right then do it. Try to be informed about developing good habits, but take it one step at a time. Somehow, the knots unravel and things just have their way of working out.

4. You WILL feel (somewhat) normal again.

For me, this was the biggest hurdle of all. Going from being an independent 32 year old woman, with a job I love, places to be, people to meet, to being at home with a little one. The only way to describe it was feeling as though I had lost my identity. It’s like moving to a new place. It’s exciting, but you feel completely scared and unsure of which way to turn. Things seem the same, but also feel completely different. My advice to my former self would be to take things one day at a time. Lean on your friends. They will become your rock. Try to get out each day, even for a ten minute walk. It really does help. Eventually, you will go out on a date night, or a dinner with friends and start to feel normal again. It’s a very different normal, but it will become one that you will love and cherish.Nappies and all. There is no need to give up your former self, you just need to find a way to keep the things that you love.

5. Do ‘those’ Kegel exercises. 

Need an explanation? Read last weeks’ blog post here. Enough said.

6. Every day may not be a good day, but there is something good in every day.

The day your child will smile for the first time will show you that this is true. You may be covered in vomit, and then you will see something on TV that will make you laugh. It’s the little things that will bring you the most joy. Even if it is a simple cup of tea.

7. You will fall in love with your husband all over again…

This is one of the best things you will experience. Seeing your husband hold your little baby in his hands is one of the most joyous things in life. Full stop.

Image sourced from Mamamia
Image sourced from Mamamia

8. The most expensive products are not necessarily the best.

Nothing explains this better than the good old IKEA high chair. Available for RRP $24.95 it’s cheap, light weight and most of all…easy to clean. Don’t get sucked into purchasing products that seem great because they seem to have every gadget under the sun. Don’t go and buy that expensive high chair that is adjustable at different heights, rotates, is on wheels, and has comfy cushioning. It will get covered in food, vomit and other things that I won’t mention. Check out internet forums before buying and just stick to the rule that often simpler is best.

9. Peppa Pig, Thomas the Tank Engine and Daniel Tiger will become your new best friends. 

All I need to say is watch ABC4Kids. You will sort out the rest.

10. Be kind to yourself.

This is easier said than done, but trust me. Just be kind to yourself. If this means splurging on something to make you feel nice, having a massage, going to the gym or just simply telling yourself that you are doing a good job. It sounds too simple to be true, but being kind to yourself is really important. Don’t try to do everything perfectly. As long as your baby is fed, washed and sleeping you are doing a great job.

If someone offers to cook dinner for you…accept it. If someone offers to come over and bring you lunch….accept it. I will be forever grateful to those friends and family who brought over frozen dinners. They are simply a life saver.

Ask for help when you need it. We all want to be a good Mum, but you don’t need to be a perfect one. There is no such thing. If you are struggling, my advice would be to ask for help. Whether it be for cooking, cleaning or just some advice. Don’t ever be afraid to speak about your feelings and ask for help. My maternal health nurse was wonderful and helped me work through my feelings about being a little lost. There are so many people and networks out there. Reach out to people, even if it is on Facebook. Being connected is what gets you through.

Needless to say that I’m sure that my experiences after having my next child will be different, so any pearls of wisdom from Mums juggling multiple kids would be greatly accepted. I know I will probably be telling myself to go back and read this article in a few months…but I’m determined to go with the flow and just be a little kinder to myself second time around.

Here’s hoping I can listen to my own advice!

What advice do you wish you had listened to when you first had your baby?

kate

Friday Find: Target new kids’ range sale!

Friday Find: Target new kids’ range sale!

In the last few days, the temperature has cooled down significantly in Melbourne and that means getting out the warmer clothes. As we dressed Ella for day care a couple of days ago, we felt pretty bad as the jumper that fit her a month ago, now seemed a little snug. Same went for the other long sleeve tops in her drawers and we sent her off looking very fashionable in 3/4 sleeves.

So the day before her Birthday celebration, I set off to Target to find her some stylish clothes at a reasonable price. Target never fails to please as I not only found a new range in store, but they currently have 20% off kids and babies clothing and sleepwear. Score!

Here are a few things I picked up…

At $5 each, these neon stripe basics look super cute and will wear well!

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Ella is growing so tall, and these skinny jeans were a steal at $10

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This peach long tee with owl appliqué was gorgeous at $12..

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And finally, my favourite…for her birthday tomorrow this beautiful gold and white tea with ruffle heart. At $15 it is just beautiful!

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All together with the discount, this loot came to $42. A great investment for winter!

Get into Target for their sale today. You can find more information about the sale by clicking on the image below.

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Happy winter shopping!

kate

 

Well this is a little awkward…

Well this is a little awkward…

surprised-womanThis is one of those posts that Mums everywhere will be able to relate to, and will (hopefully) find amusing. It’s also something that is embarrassing and a little awkward. So I apologise in advance if you are a. not a Mum, b. have not gone through this (lucky you) and c. just generally feel squeamish after reading it.

You see, there are many things that people tell you, or rather warn you, about post pregnancy. The time it takes to get back to your pre-baby weight (if that every happens), the dramatic change in breast size, the healing, the hair falling out…the list goes on. Whilst you are in hospital, and also throughout your pregnancy, you are also encouraged to perform what are called ‘kegal’ exercises, to ‘keep things tight’ down there. These so called exercises are easy to do, and should be done each day to strengthen your uterine muscles, and help your body get back to it’s natural state. Natural is not really the right word, but it seems nice when you hear it before you have your baby.

I’d like to say that I was good at kegal exercises, but I have to admit that I didn’t keep up with the workout. For various reasons, and plain old forgetting, I guess you could say that I wasted my gym membership. It hasn’t really been until 25 weeks into my second pregnancy that I have felt the consequences of this, and now I’m just plain old annoyed with myself, and wish I could go back and warn myself of what was to come….

Now this is not a sponsored post. I’m not advertising anything, or reviewing anything. However, in the past week I’ve had the experience of needing to browse the ‘womens” aisle in the supermarket, and purchase some products that I haven’t used since Ella was born. Pads. Because you see, I currently find myself in the situation where I cannot cough or sneeze without…hmm…let’s just say…leaking. Oh I’ll come right out and say it. I keep wetting my pants. It’s so frustrating and annoying. I’m sure it’s quite amusing for people who see me sneeze in public. I have to stop myself, cross my legs and pray to dear God that nothing comes out. I’ve even found myself holding onto my husband’s arm for extra support to try to squeeze all of my muscles together.

You see no one really tells you that you are at risk of reverting back to your 3 year old self and wetting your pants in public. No one wants to see that, and I’m sure that no woman would want that either. I’m sure I’m not alone. There are adds on TV and Mums everywhere who experience this problem right? Right? And it gets better after you have your second baby? right?

Well in the mean time, I’ll do my best to keep it in and practice my ‘kegals’. Hopefully it’s not too late to tone up….or else there might be some more toilet training happening in our house.

kate

*Image is linked to it’s original source

 

 

A new giveaway! Win a Mamaway Second Skin Seamless Maternity / Nursing Bra!

A new giveaway! Win a Mamaway Second Skin Seamless Maternity / Nursing Bra!

Screenshot 2014-01-21 09.40.10A few weeks ago, some of you may have read my review of Mamaway’s Second Skin Seamless Maternity Bra! Well if you missed it, you can check it out here. It was simply the best, most comfortable maternity bra I’ve ever worn. I made it known that I was not looking forward to wearing maternity bras in my second pregnancy, as last time I found them bulky and very unflattering. Well this time around, I’m happy to report that the Mamaway bra is fantastic. Silky, comfortable and really gorgeous to wear!

Lucky for you….Mamaway is offering one lucky Happy Ella After reader the chance to win your own. With choices in colour of white, nude and black and valued at $69.95, this bra is the best investment for any expectant Mum, or Mum who is breastfeeding. Let it also be known that if my ‘ladies’ stay this size, I may even wear it post breast feeding!!

Entrants need to enter via the link below. Terms and Conditions are available on this link. This competition is open to Australian Residents Only. It will open at 9.30am AEDST  on Monday 17th February and close on Monday 3rd March at 6pm AEDST. The winner will be announced on the blog the following day.

Good luck and be sure to share this great giveaway with your friends!

ENTER THE MAMAWAY COMPETITION HERE.

kate

 

 

 

 

An early Friday Find: Valentines Day Kids’ style

An early Friday Find: Valentines Day Kids’ style

With Valentines Day coming tomorrow, there is always much hype around the day being ‘commercialised’ and ‘tacky’. I say make the day about family, and do something from the heart. Given the fact that Dan and I are parents now, I couldn’t think of a better way to express our love, by including Ella. I thought I’d share some great Pinterest ideas I have found that are simple, inexpensive and really come from the heart…

‘Thumb body loves you’ – definition of cuteness…

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Handmade heart – who wouldn’t feel loved?

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‘You light up my life’ card – simple and fun to make..

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‘Be mine’ valentines card – hands and hearts combine…

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LOVE…a gorgeous art idea for family…

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‘You’re one in a Million’…a yummy valentine treat

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and finally my favourite…a beautiful card that says it all…

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So whether you plan to go out or stay in, these Valentines day gifts will be sure to make anyone feel loved.

I hope you have a lovely day tomorrow.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

kate*Each image is linked to their original Pinterest source