13.09

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O N   T H E   9 T H   S E P T E M B E R ,   A T   4 . 4 0 A M…

…and I haven’t stopped going on about it for a week solid! All last week my catchphrase was ‘this time last year!’ as I reminisced over the week I was in labour with Ottilie. ‘This time last year my contractions just started and I was rushing to get my hair washed and legs shaved!’ (let me tell you, no rush was necessary!!!), ‘this time last year was the first full night of contractions’, ‘this time last year I was in the birthing pool!’ and so on and so on…you get the picture!

But really, how on earth has it been a year? Watching Ottilie grow from a tiny baby into a miniature- and very, very sure of herself!- little person, has been the greatest joy of my life so far. She fills our days with so much laughter, and hearing her sweet chatter all day long makes my heart feel so full with love I’m sure it might burst.

I still can’t get my head around the fact that this sweet baby girl is all ours, and when she shouts ‘Mama Mama Mama!’ as she climbs the stairs each morning after she’s had her breakfast downstairs with Jason I feel so privileged that it’s me she’s calling for. I never take for granted what a gift it is to be a Mother, and have embraced all the opportunities this year has brought me to grow as a person as I’ve found my way into this new role.

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We decided to have a little get together over the weekend to celebrate this year with our baby girl, and it was such a fun afternoon! My Mum, sister and I spent most of the day before her birthday preparing sandwiches, rainbow skewers of fruit, chocolate traybakes, salads, and then I stayed up super late baking a vanilla and homemade blackberry jam birthday cake! Just don’t ask me about the first batch of cake that went into the bin, okay?

I honestly think could stare forever at these photos below of Ottilie when she first spotted her pretty confetti balloons, the joy on her face makes my heart ache…

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^^ Getting so steady on her feet these days ^^

We bought Ottilie the a beautiful wooden dolls pram for her birthday, and she wants to push it around non-stop now! I ummed and ahhed for ages over what to choose for her as her gift, but it’s been a hit so far! Up until recently she hadn’t been keen to try and walk at all, but since we gave her the pram over the weekend all she wants to do it stand up holding it and trundle it up and down the hallway. I wonder how long it’ll be until she’s off and running? I’m not sure I’m ready for a walking baby!

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We’d been holding off letting Ottie have anything majorly sugary until she turned one, and so I’d been so excited about giving her a slice of her very first birthday cake! But I’ll be honest, she wasn’t majorly interested…I think she’s still a fruit girl at heart! She really just ate the jam out the middle and then mashed the rest up a bit…but hey, she’ll learn! ;)

Also, seeing the way she’s playing with my cousin Emily’s sweet little girl Darcey in the photos melts my heart! Cousins are just extra siblings, if you ask me <3

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See what I mean about Ottilie and her fruit?! We ‘borrowed’ a couple of apples from the tree next door that has branches hanging over into my Mum’s garden, and they were seriously delicious!

Also, please note the crumbs of something or other in my hair in the first of those two photos above! I nearly edited it out, but then I thought, hey, it’s representative of Mum life!

(p.s. I’ve had a lot of questions about the dress I’m wearing in these photos! It’s from LK Bennett, I bought it in the sale at the end of June. As far as I can see it’s no longer on the website, so I’ve put a few alternatives, at a range of budgets, in the widget below :)


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Tania, Freya and their other halves came down from London to celebrate with us, which of course made me the happiest. I’ve missed being able to be spontaneous and pop up to London as much as I used to this year, and so having them come down to visit is the best! In fact, Tania Freya and Lizzie’s visits when Ottilie was a tiny baby were complete lifesavers- they used to come down for the day, take over Ottie-cuddling duty and send me off upstairs for a relaxing bath! I have the best ever friends- fact.

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And that’s it, my baby is one! It’s been so lovely sharing her first year of life and my first year of motherhood here with you all, and I’ve been so grateful for being able to turn to this community for support and advice along the way. Here’s to year number two!

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21.08

Cider-with-Rosie-Graco-Snugride-Evo-review-11

Of all the Big Purchases that are necessitated by the impending arrival of a baby, none seem quite so daunting as the carseat-pushchair combo. Between the terminology that you feel you need a dictionary to decipher (i-size, travel system, ISOfix, 3 vs. 5 point harnesses…), the endless options available each offering a myriad of differing functions, and the fact that these will likely be some of the most expensive purchases you’ll make for your little one, it’s hard to know where to look first!

Now, as you know, throughout this year I’m working with Graco, and so am lucky enough to be getting to road test a selection from their range of thoughtfully-designed, stylish products. Ace, for a Mum who a mere year ago was totally flummoxed by the whole carseat-pushchair shopping experience and had more than one (largely hormonal, let’s be honest) meltdown over the issue!

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Let’s talk car seats, first…

Now, it might just be that Ottilie isn’t the greatest road trip lover in the world (you know the old ‘put baby in the car to get them to sleep’ advice? Yeah, that was never our game!!), but she hated the car seat we’d bought for her as a newborn from the very first time we put her in it at 36 hours old, and has done pretty much ever since. Compared with many of the other car seats I saw my friends using, in ours Ottilie seemed so scrunched up and uncomfy. In fact, we’ve been so unhappy with it that we’d already decided to replace it with a different model for baby number #2! (<< not a pregnancy announcement, FYI…)

Enter, the Graco Snugride! I didn’t think I could ever get excited about a car seat, and yet here we are! This genius bit of baby kit is iSize compliant (meaning it meets the government regulations for rear facing car seats), and unlike the 9-12 month lifespan of most other car seats designed to take a newborn baby, this one goes from birth to 18 months!

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The seat glides through seven different reclining settings on its ISOfix base, meaning that you can move your baby into a more upright position as they grow and want to see more of the world around them. Ottilie seems so happy to be sitting in a higher, more upright position, and the five point harness feels snug and secure when she’s strapped in. Top marks all round!

Oh, and Jason was dead impressed by the in-built kick board, designed to save your car’s seats from little dirty shoes!

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^^ Ottilie didn’t want to be kissed just at this moment. Can you tell? ;) ^^

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Over the weekend Jason, Ottie and I whizzed out to a local village to give the Graco Evo XT a road test, and it didn’t disappoint.

It’s smooth as butter to push (my TOP criteria- whilst doing the patented ParentMultiTaskJuggle you so often wind up pushing buggies one-handed and so steerability is king!!), collapses with just one simple movement, and we need to talk about that huge old shopping basket. It’s seriously dreamy, I mean, we could fit both dogs in there I swear.

I’ve learnt since Ottilie was born that having a decent sized shopping basket on your pushchair is vital- I mean, who knew carrying nappies, wipes, multiple outfits for both you and baby, a spare raincoat and sunhat, suntan lotion and an umbrella, several toys, 3 tupperware boxes full of food, a pack of breadsticks, the library books you should’ve returned three weeks ago, and the parcel you keep meaning to drop into the post office would take up a lot of space? And so having space to cart around all those essentials in the base of your pushchair rather than trying to cram them all pell-mell into your change bag is a total game-changer!!

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I’ve also been so impressed with how durable the material covers of the Evo are- with our pushchairs having to share car boot-space with two (often very muddy) spaniels, we’re big fans of anything wipe clean! And with the ClickConnect feature, allowing you to clip the Snugride carseat straight onto the chassis without needing to fit any extra adaptors, it really is so easy to use.

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The Snugride car seat, ISOfix base, and Evo XT pushchair together come in at around the £800 mark, which I think is a complete steal for such carefully designed, adaptable products that’ve been created with longevity of use in mind. In short, I’m a total convert and am so glad to be able to recommend them!

~ This post is part of my ongoing collaboration with Graco. Thank you for supporting the sponsored content that makes Cider with Rosie possible! ~

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10.08

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There’s no denying that the early days of motherhood can be daunting, both when you’re pregnant and are anticipating the joy and chaos to come, and then once baby has arrived and you find yourself adjusting to life as new parents! I remember wondering what exactly you *do* with a newborn, when you bring them home from hospital, and spent much of my time during my final few weeks of pregnancy trying to prepare as much as possible for the unknowns that lay ahead. And so to that end, I thought it might be fun to put together a little post of tips and tricks for managing life with a newborn, with a few of the things I was so glad I’d sorted ahead of Ottilie’s arrival, and a few great ideas I’ve picked up along the way that I’ll be remembering for next time…

O N E  :  Fill your freezer!

Like many newborns, Ottilie had a knack for waking up wanting a feed JUST as I sat down in the evening to eat my dinner. Thankfully for both Jason and I though, I’d been given the wise advice to spend my final couple of weeks of maternity leave stocking the freezer with ready to cook/reheatable meals, and so with Ottie resting on a cushion on my lap feeding away and a bowl of something hot and tasty beside me, we’d both fill our bellies at the same time. Meals you can eat one handed are ideal, so think cottage or shepherd’s pies, ragu (to be heated then spooned over pasta or jacket potatoes), mild curries, chilli con carne (I’m veggie so would make this with lentils and beans instead of mince), ratatouille, stews, and soups (reheat and serve with some potato wedges or a stack of toast!). Those little foil pots that Chinese takeaways often come in are ideal, as they can be put straight in the oven and don’t need washing up!

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T W O  :  Set up feeding spots around the house.

I attended an event with Graco last week, and learned from Sarah Redshaw of BabyCentre that a newborn’s stomach is the size of a hazelnut, and by the end of their second week of life it’s expanded to the size of an egg. That explains why they want feeding around the clock, I guess! And it also explains why my abiding memory of the newborn days are the many, many hours I spent sitting and feeding!

Whether it’s by bottle or breast, feeding is time consuming and leaves you stuck in one position for often up to an hour at a time. It’s a great idea to set up a few little boxes around the house in arm’s reach of in spots you’ll likely be sat feeding, containing a bottle of water, some tasty snacks (flapjacks or granola bars are great!), the TV remote, a book, and other essential nonessentials like hairbands/lipbalm/handcream.

T H R E E  :  Practise, practise, practise with the pushchair and carseat!

I’m fairly sure every new parent has experienced the flummoxing stress that occurs when trying to assemble/disassemble a travel system in a car park, whilst a sleepsuit-clad 7lb person shrieks in the background. It becomes second nature in no time, but practise taking it apart and putting it all back together again a few times in advance to save on the early days-stress!

F O U R  :  Prepare for stain removal.

Babies poo. A lot. Usually at inconvenient times, and very often on things that are not a nappy. A tub of Vanish Oxy Action should be handed out to all parents departing hospital with a newborn, if you ask me, and plain white vests are best to buy as you can bleach them back to good as new as many times as is needed without messing up any patterns or designs.

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F I V E  :  Connect with other new mothers.

There is nothing, NOTHING better than the support of other mothers. Whether you attend an antenatal course whilst pregnant, reach out to other Mums you meet who live locally to you (my neighbour has a baby 10 weeks younger than Ottilie, and we’ve been a lifeline for one another more times than I can count this year!), visit your local children’s centre, or book onto a music, baby massage, or sensory class, the chance to connect with other women experiencing the same life changing joys, highs, lows and challenges as you will be invaluable. And you’ll be so glad you got brave and got yourself and little one out of the house!

Sarah Redshaw recommends contacting your local children’s centre in advance of baby’s arrival to request a timetable, and to see if there are any waiting lists for classes you might want to add your name to. Such a great idea!

S I X  :  Wraps and slings are your new best friend.

This isn’t true for all babies of course, but many, Ottilie most certainly included, hate being put down. I’d been bought a Solly wrap as a gift when I was pregnant, and remember tying it on and putting Ottie in it for the first time when she was 5 days old, and she stopped crying at once and fell fast asleep. The proximity to your body and the secure way in which the wrap holds them to you is incredibly comforting for a baby during the fourth trimester, and having both your hands free at the same time will be a welcome relief for you! (Photos above from that very first baby-wearing occasion! Ignore how loose the wrap is, I got better at it as time went on!)

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A few more of my favourite tips and ideas:
- Have a bottle of Infacol in the house ready for when baby comes home from hospital. A Godsend for windy newborn tummies!
- Aden + Anais swaddle blankets are expensive, but worth it. As a light blanket in warm weather or for layering during winter, as a swaddle, breastfeeding cover, or throw-over for the pram or carseat, they’re invaluable. Ours have washed so well and are in mint condition for next time around!
- Pick up as many packs of maternity pads as you think you’ll need (Boots slimline ones were best, I found!) then buy at least 3 more packs. And you’ll probably still run out.
- If your baby hates being put down in the pram or a cot, try warming it with a hot water bottle first (Lady Ottilie of Surrey demanded this for the first three weeks!) and a rolled up towel placed around the edges of the bassinet and covered over with a soft blanket can help baby feel more secure.
- You might not think you want to use a dummy, but have one to hand just in case. I was stupidly adamant we wouldn’t need one but caved after 10 days, and the blissful silence that fell as soon as Ottie took it was a complete and utter joy!

In short, Sarah’s motto, ‘Whatever your expectations are- lower them!’, is a brilliant one. Ignore anything or anyone who tells you your 8/12/20 week old should be sleeping through the night, or be in a predictable routine, because it’s all nonsense. And hard though it may be at times, being kind to yourself should be as high a priority as taking care of your sweet baby.

I’d love to hear any more tips, tricks and ideas for life with a newborn in the comments!

~ This post is part of my ongoing collaboration with Graco. Thank you for supporting the sponsored content that makes Cider with Rosie possible! ~

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14.06

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My favourite thing to do at the moment is just sit quietly and watch Ottilie play. She’s into EVERYTHING, and whizzes round non-stop at top speed finding new things to make messes with!

Favourite games right now include throwing piles of laundry around from one spot to another (always with a very serious look on her face, like she’s got a system going on and is busy sorting things out…), tipping out the contents of my purse and ripping up all the receipts, dancing to music or Mama’s (tuneless) singing, putting things on shelves and then taking them back off again, and shaking the little rattles that came with that red shape sorter bus we bought her for Christmas.

I feel like we’ve reached such a fun stage lately, and every day Ottie seems to be getting more and more interactive. It’s the most exciting thing, watching her little character develop and to see her communicating more and more with me as she grows.

Now, I’m off to install a pack of plug safety covers all over my house…

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