Monday, 29 May 2017

What I've Learned from Being in a Long Term Relationship

Tomorrow is mine and my husband's two year wedding anniversary and in August we will have been together for fourteen years. We have been together for such a huge chunk of my life that I can't imagine what my adult life would look like without him. Without being too vomit inducing, I have to say that I feel really really lucky that I found someone that I love so much that I want to have by my side for the rest of my days.

To mark the occasion, I thought I would share fourteen relationship lessons I have learned along the way. I am not saying we are perfect and I don't know what our futures hold, but at this moment in time we are pretty bloody happy together and have been for the fourteen years we have had together so far. We can get on each others nerves and we do fall out sometimes but we love each other a lot and have had a pretty solid relationship for long time. We've ridden the waves that life has thrown at us and we've done it together, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Everything in this list applies to both people in the relationship!

Trust is a big part of a relationship and if you don't trust each other then I believe that you need to address and fix it asap or there is no relationship.

Trust is a two way street and as well as trusting your partner, they need to be able to trust you too. Be as honest with them as you expect them to be with you.

Sometimes it can be easy to take your other half for granted, don't forget to let your partner know you appreciate the nice things they do for you. A 'thank you' goes a long way (as does making someone a brew).

Whether it's housework, taking care of the kids or planning your wedding, don't forget you are in a partnership. Life can be tough enough without you working against each other.

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Don't Forget Yourself
Whilst you are a team (see above) it's also important not to lose who you are as an individual. Enjoy your own hobbies, interests and friendships. Your relationship will be richer for it.

Don't assume your other half is psychic. Just because you have been together for years and can sometimes finish each others sentences does not mean that your partner always knows what you are thinking. You might might be pissed off because they did or didn't do something but if you don't tell them what is bothering you, they might not know what's going on.

Make Time for Each Other
As time goes on and more elements are added to your relationship and/or life, it's important to make time for each other. Go on dates, watch a film together, go for a walk, talk about your day. It's sometimes difficult to have quality time together (especially when kids are in the mix) but relationships need to be nurtured.

Watch a stupid film, dance like idiots in your kitchen, tell each other cheesy jokes, just make each other laugh. It's true what they say, laughter is the best medicine.

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Be Positive

When you live with someone or have been with someone for a long time they can annoy the living shit out of you. But you fell in love with that person for a reason, so before those petty annoyances build up into a giant ball of resentment, think about all of the good things about your partner. So they load the dishwasher up the wrong way, but they're always there with a good cup of tea and a hug right when you are at the end of your rope.

Sex and intimacy are important in a relationship but don't forget the other times where touch is important. Remember when you first got together and you held hands all the time, or when your partner put their arm around you to shield you from the cold? Cuddle, hold hands, squidge bum cheeks, whatever you prefer. Just remember even the most subtle of touches connects you with your partner.

Sometimes it's really important to swallow your pride and admit when you are in the wrong. Whether you've lashed out because you've had a shitty day, whether you misunderstood a comment, whether you had actually forgot to tell your partner about that christening you said yes to even though you were convinced you had, for goodness sake hold your hands up and say 'sorry'.

Pick your Battles
Some things in life are not worth having a blazing row about. Life is too short to be screaming at each other over who last took the bins out. There will be times where arguments are unavoidable but don't sweat the small stuff.

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Grow Together
It probably sounds super cheesy but as time grows on your relationship will change, and you will change as people. It's not all about what your partner needs to do to be a better partner, you need to assess yourself and how you behave. You need to balance each other out and be the right person for each other.

Keep the Love Alive
Falling in love is the easy bit, it's all hormones and rapid heart palpitations. Staying in love takes work. It's up to you and your partner to do romantic things for each other, to make each other an important priority, to say 'I love you', to be there for each other when things get bumpy. If it's worth having you have to cultivate your relationship, if it's not then let it go.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Crafty Mum - Sensory Bottle

One of the main reasons I became a Mum is that I needed more justification for my craft stash. I'm joking* but I really do love to make things. My Mum always tells me that one of my favourite things to do as a kid was 'cutting and sticking' for hours on end. I wanted to be a teacher because I thought it meant you got to do Arts and Crafts all day long (I now have friends who are teachers and this is definitely not the case). 

I had a bit of a dry spell with crafts but now that I have Ruby it has motivated me to get stuck into making things again, and I thought that I would share my crafty adventures with you all. I wanted to start off with something fairly straightforward so I decided to give my first sensory bottle a go. 

I found a great tutorial from a little delightful via pinterest and gathered my materials:
  • Empty water bottle (cleaned, dried and label removed)
  • Foil star confetti 
  • Beads 
  • Glitter
  • Glue gun
  • Baby Oil (or Glycerine, I used baby oil because I had some at home)
  • Washing up liquid
  • Water

How To

It is super duper easy to make this type of sensory bottle, I basically made the whole thing during Ruby's morning nap!
  • Half fill the bottle with water
  • Add your glitter/beads/confetti (or whatever you want to add)
  • Add one tablespoon of baby oil (or Glycerine) 
  • Top up the bottle with water (but not right to the top)
  • Replace the lid and give it a shake to test. You may find you want to add more beads etc or you may feel you need a bit more oil (or Glycerine). Keep testing until you feel you have it the way you want it to be and that there is enough in the bottle. 
  • TIP - if the items in the bottle seem to be clumping together add a small amount of washing up liquid (I found this tip on another site and it did the trick for me).
  • When you have finalised what is in the bottle use the glue gun to glue around the rim of the bottle, then quickly screw the lid on (do I need to remind you that the glue will be hot so be careful? I feel I should just in case!).
  • Once the glue has dried, your sensory bottle is ready to use! 

Ruby enjoying the first attempt

It's a nice super easy craft and we have enjoyed playing with it and it's cheap and cheerful. I will definitely be experimenting with more in the future. If you have a go, please share your results here, or over on my Facebook page

*or am I? 

Monday, 10 April 2017

Dressing During Pregnancy - The First Trimester

It goes without saying that your body will change during your pregnancy. And it is not just the growing 'bump' that will alter, as you go through the pregnancy you may find a lots of changes you don't expect! Every pregnancy is individual and not all women will change in the same way but most women find they need to reassess their wardrobe.

The first trimester is tricky, it's not advisable to go out and buy lots and lots at this stage because the changes in your body have a long way to go! You are also at the stage of your pregnancy where it is likely that very few people know that you are pregnant, so you are also dealing with trying not to 'look pregnant'.

While you might not have a noticeable bump at this stage, many women experience bloating which can make your clothes feel really uncomfortable. Even though I could still fit into my regular jeans at first, they felt like a torture device so I switched to some stretchy jeggings, one size up for comfort (I preferred the high waist ones). These can be bought fairly cheap and come in handy post pregnancy too. Leggings are another good option as they can bought cheaply, and can be worn under long tops and give support under dresses.

Another good tip is to buy some cheap stretchy maternity bands, which you can use to get a bit more wear out of your non maternity jeans and trousers without having to go out and buy more. They help hold your trousers up without you having to do the button up and cost a fraction of a new pair of trousers.

I made good use of any long t-shirts and shirts I already had, and invested in a couple of loose fitting tops from H&M. They do a really good range of basics at an affordable price and I could slip them into my existing wardrobe. Again, any loose fitting tops I bought have come in handy post pregnancy too. 

I also invested in a plain black stretchy skirt in a larger size (see picture) which was much cheaper than a Maternity one (I think it was only about £7, again a H&M bargain) and I was able to wear it quite far into my pregnancy because of the stretch. One or two stretch skirts that can slot into your existing wardrobe can be really handy, especially if you work somewhere you have to wear 'office' wear. 

You may have items already in your wardrobe that are cut in just the right way to disguise your 1st trimester bump. I already had some loose fitting dresses so it wasn't suspicious if I rocked up in one. And the bloating plus the knowledge that you have may be making you feel bigger than you actually look so you can probably get away with more than you realise.

Shopping the First Trimester

Add these affordable key pieces to your wardrobe...

Maternity 3 Pack Assorted Bump Bands, £10 - Asda
Dark Grey Pencil Skirt, £8.99 - H&M
Black High Waisted Leggings, £7.99 - New Look
Long Sleeved Top, £9.99 - H&M

Monday, 3 April 2017

Dear Ruby (a Letter to my Little Girl)

People tell you so many things when you are going to be a parent and I knew you'd change my life. But I could never have imagined that it would be so instant, such a thick line between my life before and my life now. The moment I saw you I knew. When I held you close, felt your skin next to mine, I knew I'd do anything for you as long as I live. And at the same time I was terrified at how much you would need me. I didn't know if I could ever be enough for you.

Those first few weeks are a bit foggy in detail but our little family began its story. Your dad and me learning as we went along. Changing nappies, making bottles, pacing around at 3am trying to soothe the discomfort of colic, wondering if we'd ever sleep again. Even when you were asleep I lay there listening to make sure you were breathing. I agonised over every single decision I made, no matter how big or small. In late night moments of weakness I consulted Google to see how I was doing (bad idea).

The days flew by and turned into weeks and then months. Your first smile, your first Christmas, your first laugh, your first trip to the hospital (not fun). They're all happening so quickly. I try and drink the moments in, engrave the memory in my brain. You're now rolling over and almost sitting without help! I'm frightened to blink in case I miss anything. I take a million photographs and videos of you, scared in a year's time I will forget the important moments.

Your funny gummy grin always makes me smile and your giggles are the best noise I have ever heard. When you fall asleep in my arms I enjoy every second, the world just stops and the 'to do' lists can wait. The dog is still not sure about you, but I know once you learn to play fetch your adventures will be many and will make my hair turn grey.

Sure the day to day can be hard and tiring. I'm not going to lie little one, you have a set on lungs on you and you can scream for England, a good night's sleep is an abstract construct, the house is a mess and time is at a premium. I don't always have time to do things for myself. Let's face it, my Goodreads challenge this year is not going to happen and my Netflix list is getting bigger each week. If I hear one more toy that plays that song about having a dog named 'Bingo' I am going to go nuts.

It is all totally worth it though, you are totally worth it. Watching you grow and explore the world around you makes my heart swell, even if there is a part of me wants to keep you a tiny baby for just that bit longer. Every day you do something new (sometimes it's that you can make a very loud noise) and I am amazed. The teeny 'poppy seed' that was in my stomach this time last year is a gorgeous, funny, happy (and sometimes grumpy) amazing human.

You have brought the best in me, made me more patient and showed me I can be strong. You've made me more vulnerable because I love you so much. You have filled our lives with joy, our hearts with love (and our living room with toys).

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Nikki Lou Writes Re-Launch

I haven't been writing for a while as I took a short break to work on some other bits and pieces, which turned into a long break when I found out I was pregnant! 

Watch this space for my re-launched blog which will focus on my new life as a (clueless) mummy and other home and life stuff. You can also catch me over at Leopard Print Specs which is a collaborative project with my lovely pal Sarah. 

Ruby came into our lives 12.11.16 💗

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Finding out I was Pregnant

Original post from Leopard Print Specs

I always imagined that the day I found out that I was pregnant I would have an explosion of emotions and it would play out like a scene from a TV show or film. I'm a ridiculously emotional person and always have been (my Mum still hasn't lifted the ban she put on me watching Watership Down despite me now being 32). So you can imagine the amount of ugly happy crying I expected to do on the day I had such huge news.

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Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Me and my Pregnant Body

Original post from Leopard Print Specs

Since being pregnant I have experienced a whole range of symptoms and side effects. There was the relentless morning sickness of my first trimester that started at around week six, and felt like it was never going to end (whoever called it morning sickness is a total dick by the way, I had it morning, noon and night). There has been the aching and forever growing boob situation (both painful and costly). Oh and let's not forget the raging hormones that left me sobbing watching an episode of 'The Golden Girls' (the one where they give a lottery winto a homeless shelter).

These are all expected and run of the mill for pregnancy and appear on most lists that guide you through the craziness of growing a baby. However, I have experienced something else of late that has been a rarity during my adult life. I've started to realise that my body is fucking amazing, and I don't really give one about how other people see it. I totally love my massive belly. Me, the girl who hid her teenage body in massive baggy band hoodies, and sobbed in her 20s in changing rooms because she felt grotesque.