Thursday, 20 August 2015

Taking a Little Time Out

I have been trying my hardest not to write this post. 

But, I have admitted defeat. 

Moving continents with two toddlers has been considerably more difficult than I had ever anticipated, and I expected it to be pretty tough. Buying a house has taken more time than expected and there have been a lot of bumps in the already bumpy road. 

I'm struggling with settling into the UK, getting into a routine and getting settled, because we still aren't. I know when we finally complete on our new house, then things will get easier. 

Trying to maintain the blog has become too much to add on top of everything else we need to adjust to. It's particularly difficult because our Macbook Air is on it's last legs and freezes up every twenty minutes. 

I've run out of time to  catch up and keep everything spinning. So I've decided to take a little time out until we are settled into our new home and I have my beloved iMac back up and running. 

I'll still be running my weekly linky #wineandboobs and so I would really appreciate your support with that. I'll also still be following on social media, but for now my new content will have to wait. 

I've got so much to write about, but not the time to do it at the moment. But I will be back! 

See you all soon and thank you for the support so far. 

Monday, 17 August 2015

Repatriating - The Stress

I've been stressed before. 

I've taken exams, lots of them, often unprepared. 

I've moved town, country and continent, twice over. 

I've moved countries when eight months pregnant. 

I've been pregnant and given birth, twice. 

I've even planned a wedding on a different continent from where we were living.

None of the above comes close to repatriating to the UK with two toddlers. 

I have never felt stress like it, and even now, as we have been in the UK nearly two months, it isn't subsiding. 

I had no idea that stress could feel like this, or that it could have such a physical effect on your body. I don't remember pregnancy having such an overwhelming effect, and I had pretty bad pregnancies (hyper emesis for almost the entire nine months).

At the moment I feel so lost. I knew it was going to be hard, I knew it was going to be a big adjustment.

Knowing it and feeling it? They are two completely different things. 

I'm doing everything possible to make the transition as quick and easy as possible, but even that takes time. Rome was not build in a day, and neither is a new home. 

So, for those of you about to repatriate, here are some of the things you might need to be watching out for: 

Anger - Searing, burning anger:

I have never been the most patient person, but having two toddlers has taught me a huge amount about it. 

My patience has grown and was (at the point when we began preparing for repatriation), the best it has ever been. Even dealing with toddler tantrums was becoming routine and not a cause for the angry bull in a china shop. 

Currently, I'm always about a inch away from raising my voice. My temper is at breaking point when I open my eyes in the morning and it is often still bubbling away when I'm trying to get to sleep. My toddlers and my husband are bearing the brunt of it. 

I'm shouting at minor things that my toddler's do, like they've committed some major crime. I routinely confiscate toys and say no to things that I should say yes to, even though my actions are definitely going to make things worse for everyone. 

I'm reactive, rather than proactive. I'm probably not behaving much older than a toddler myself. I know it, but that voice in my head that usually steps in if I start to lose my cool? Nowhere to be bloody found. 

This also coincides with difficult behaviour from both toddlers, which is, no doubt, due to the stress of moving. 

I'm applying Balance essential oil blend like it's going out of fashion, and diffusing Bergamot and Lavender at any chance I get, but even they are struggling to get my temper back under control. 

I have, on several occasions, barricaded myself into the bathroom with my iPod and spent a minute blasting music, while the toddlers bang on the door. Usually in the foetal position. 

Apathy - Like a Dead Sea Slug: 

This apathy usually surfaces when my anger has burnt itself out. 

More than anything, I want to be outside with the kids. First of all, it stops the usual whining. Secondly, it's the only way to meet people (and hopefully make new friends). 

But... I just can't be bothered. On several occasions I've put the kids in the car to go to a playgroup, and just driven. Driven around for forty minutes and then gone home. I just can't face having to face the real world, and as long as the kids are quiet in the car, I'm happy to drive around mindlessly. 

I often spend time sitting on the sofa watching CBeebies. Seriously, me watching it, never mind the toddlers. The effort involved in getting myself off the sofa and doing anything that really needs doing, is often too much. 

This does not help my mood, or my energy levels when it gets to the end of the day and I still have a major list of jobs to do. 

Loneliness - Lonely but Never Alone:

I think this is the one that is hitting me the hardest. I've lost my mummy community. 

I was unbelievably lucky in Dubai, I stumbled upon a group of wonderful, amazing people and we've supported each other through thick and thin. Our first babies were about five months old, and we were all in the new mummy stage, where we didn't have a clue what we were doing. 

We swapped tales; asked questions; played "who got the least sleep last night"... and in the process, true friendships were formed. Friendships that I am currently pining for. 

All I want to do, almost every minute of every day, is go and sit on Laura's sofa and talk about anything and everything. 

I want to spend hours talking about toddler eating habits; debating who will be the next to get pregnant; asking random questions about potty training (or lack thereof). In short, doing nothing more important than talking about the weather. 

It's not even because I want to talk about the important stuff like buying a house (which is crazy complicated) or settling Miss S into her new life (much as she doesn't want to). I just want to talk about nothing. 

I want to listen, to hear about everyone's crazy nights, or the silly things the kids have done. I want to sit amongst my friends and bask in the warmth of the laughter and the piss taking. I want the camaraderie and the light hearted banter. 

I want it so badly that it physically hurts. It cripples me at odd times of the day, when driving the car; when songs come on the radio; when I'm sat in the silence of another midnight wake up. 

In writing this, I feel like I'm doing a disservice to my friends here in the UK. They have been amazing. They have travelled from wherever they are, made the effort and been simple fabulous. I am more grateful to them than I can say, and they are getting me through these difficult weeks. 

The problem is that one or two people (who don't live round the corner) cannot fill the void left by five or six girls who were close by and available for playdates and mummy's nights out. I used to go out of the house twice a day, and the majority of that time it was to go and meet a mummy friend and their toddlers. 

Heartbroken - "Go Home Mummy":

I completely underestimated how hard this move would be for the toddlers, Miss S in particular. 

I thought that if I got her straight into nursery, and regularly attending playgroups, I could avoid there being too much pain adjusting to living in the UK. 

I was wrong. 

I did not realise that two year olds really do have friends. Whenever people use the term "friends" to refer to Miss S's playmates, I used to smile, amused. 

I used to think that as long as Miss S had someone to play with, it wouldn't matter too much who it was. 

Miss S asks for her friends at least three or four times a day. By name. She asks to go and see them, she asks why we can't go on an airplane to see them. 

She asks to go home. 

Every. Single. Time. I feel like my heart breaks a little more. I feel like bursting into tears and I need to bite my lip to keep them back. 

Explaining that we can't "go home" to Dubai because we don't live there anymore, is so much harder than I thought it would be. Mainly because I'd quite like to "go home" and see my friends too. 

Thankfully, most of our friends are coming back to the UK this summer, to escape the Dubai heat. And even more thankfully, we'll get to see most of them, maybe more than once. 

Although part of me wonders if this will only make the transition worse in the long run. Seeing friends, only for them to disappear again. It's something I'll have to chance though, because seeing the joy on Miss S's face when she sees a familiar face, is something I cannot wait to see. 

Weird - The One to Avoid:

I know this particular feeling comes from paranoia. 

For those that know me, this might be a bit of a shock, but I hate meeting new people. 

Not new people who are friends of friends, that's totally fine, the more the merrier. A room full of people I don't know... where I'm expected to mix and mingle and get in with the small talk, gulp. 

It's makes my palms sweat, which is really not a good start. 

At these playgroups, my kids are off playing, and I'm feeling like the really weird one that no one really wants to speak to. 

I'm hoping that it's more in my head, than what people are actually thinking, but you can never be sure. 

I know it takes time to make real friends, but I really really wish I didn't have to. I was happy with my quota of friends, I wasn't in any rush to add to the number. But as they are all (almost all) still in Dubai, I suppose I'll have to put myself out there and go on the hunt for mummy pals. 

Emotional - Like a Pregnant Person Gone Wrong:

I never actually cried during pregnancy.

I wasn't one of those women who well up at the adverts on the TV. In fact, I spent most of my pregnancy feeling like I was cold as ice, because nothing made me cry. 

Now, I could give the first trimester hormone rush a good run for it's money. 

I'm literally crying at the drop of a hat. Songs I haven't heard for ages make me cry - Lena Marlin "I'm sitting down here" I'm looking at you. 

Random busker in the street singing "Somehow here again" from Phantom had tears leaking from my eyes without my permission. Seeing old photographs of friends in Dubai makes me practically go into meltdown. 

It's not pretty, and I don't know how to stop it. I don't even have the excuse of actually being pregnant! How ironic. 

Sick - As a Dog: 

No, I am definitely not pregnant. I have three negative pregnancy tests to prove it. 

That's how seriously sick I feel. It's like the first trimester of pregnancy all over again. Which is something I never want to repeat, especially when NOT pregnant. 

I thought it was the stress of moving continents, but four weeks after being in one place, still sick. 

I thought it was the over consuming of the wine, but I've stopped drinking, still sick. 

I thought it was because I stuffed my face with gluten, cut it out, still sick. 

I thought it was because I'd managed to get pregnant, three negative pregnancy tests, still sick. 

Seriously, whatever my body and my mind are doing, which is causing me to feel like I'm heavily back into the morning sickness, it has to stop, and soon. 

I'm in a place now where I'm feeling a little more relaxed, and a little more settled. We are about to move into a rental house, while we wait for our new home purchase to work through, and we won't need to move again until we move into our actual, hopefully forever, home. 

I thought at this point, with all the major things overcome, that I'd feel better, but I don't. 

Seven weeks and counting, can we just give up with the nausea please? 

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, because none of the above is positive. Repatriating IS hard work. It's a huge change, and it's made much, much harder with toddlers to carry through it. 

I'm writing it down, because it all felt alien to me, I didn't expect it. Not expecting it meant that I have found it harder to deal with it. So if this helps one person work through the repatriation process, my work here is done. 

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Review: iCandy Peach Pushchair System

When I found out I was pregnant with Miss S in early 2012, I was at a complete loss. 

I'd never even really held a baby before, and I certainly had no idea what to do with one, or what you even needed! 

I was also 3,500 miles away from family and friends, in the Middle East. So I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. 

Thankfully there are loads of internet forums and websites that give you lists and advice on what you need when you have a baby (and lots of what you don't need, but that's beside the point here!). 

Having established that we needed a pushchair, I began wading through the options, and felt vaguely panicked. How on earth are you supposed to choose a pram when there are MILLIONS available? 

Eventually Gary and I set down a few rules on what we wanted: 

  •  A pushchair that was a single, but that could be converted into a double;
  • A double that was not a side by side, so I didn't have to worry about moving around shops and malls;
  • One that was recommended on the internet forums I used;
  • One that looked a little bit different from the usual black.
I appreciate that the list isn't the most comprehensive, but as I say, we had no idea what we were doing. 

I stumbled upon iCandy relatively quickly and loved the colours and styles. At that time, iCandy were working towards the release of the iCandy Peach 2, but it wasn't going to be available in the small window of opportunity I had to buy one whilst in the UK at six months pregnant. 

iCandy weren't available in Doha at the time, so if I wanted one, I had to get it in the UK. 

Out of the iCandy models we decided on the iCandy Peach 1 because of it's ability to be converted into the double at a later date. 

After a brief argument, we decided on the Tomato colour way. Gary thought the Blue and Green colour way was a little bit girly for him (I totally disagree), and we didn't know if we were having a boy or a girl at that stage. 

I'm still convinced that Gary refuses anything blue on principle, and just wants the red as he is a Manchester United fan. 

Whilst I haven't used many other pushchairs, I'm still really pleased about our choice to buy the iCandy Peach. It, and it's Peach Blossom Double, has served us really well. 

I know that the iCandy Peach is now on it's third version, but as they are still similar to the original iCandy Peach, I hope this review helps those of you who are currently looking for a pushchair to rule in (or rule out) the iCandy Peach. 

What do you get? 

The iCandy Peach 1 came with the following: 

  • Chassis 
  • Main Seat
  • Rain Cover
  • Umbrella and Clip
It didn't come with the carrycot, which is supposed to be used for the first six months. 

As a new mum, particularly a first time mum, I was obviously going to use the carrycot to start with, so it felt to me like an essential part of the cot. But, and it's a big but, if you are buying the iCandy Peach as a pushchair for a child who is over six months old, then you won't want or need the carrycot. 

I know several people who are on their fourth or even fifth pushchair for the same child, and so it makes sense that you add the carrycot onto the purchase, rather than be forced to buy something that you won't use. 

When you buy the carrycot, it comes with: 

  • Carrycot 
  • Zip Cover
  • Rain Cover

I bought the additional pieces to make the iCandy Peach into an iCandy Peach Blossom double when I was pregnant with Mister L.

I didn't purchase the additional carrycot, because Miss S was too big to need a carrycot. So I just bought the second seat, which came with: 

  • Second Seat
  • Adaptors for the chassis
  • Rain Cover
The iCandy Peach also has adaptors so that you can use certain car seats with the chassis, we had the Maxi Cosi Cabriofix. These were (to me at least) completely essential. It is not easy to transfer a sleeping baby from the car seat to the pram, and Miss S always woke up! So being able to click the car seat onto the chassis and go was a real life saver. 

The assembly is actually incredibly simple, but as with everything in life, you need to know what it is before it really seems simple. 

iCandy have these great videos that show you how to put the pushchair together:

They are essential viewing as I don't think (from memory) that the instructions you got with the pushchair were that clear, it felt like I was dealing with flat pack furniture. 

It's worth noting that, no matter how simple the iCandy Peach pushchair seems to you, DO NOT let anyone random near it! I once used valet parking and they tried to pack my iCandy Peach away into the car for me.... I had to intervene after about five minutes because they were either going to break it, or themselves. 

I don't think the warranty covers breaking by inept helpful people. 

The Look

I still love love love this pushchair because of the way it looks. Even when ours was smeared with toddler snack and muddy footprints from muddy little feet, the colour made sure that it still looked pretty smart. 

The inner padding unzips, and we've machine washed ours with no problems. It all zips back together really well and I've had no problems with it. 

I also sent it to a stroller spa before we left Dubai, and it came back so shiny and clean and new I almost cried. So worth it after three years of gunk and grime from my two toddlers. I have no idea how they do it, but it's amazing! 

I'm seriously jealous of the new colours of the iCandy Peach 2 and 3. But even if we venture into the realms of a third child, I don't think I'm going to be able to justify a new one, the old one is just holding up so well!

Ease of Use

First of all, the iCandy Peach Blossom double folded up and fitted in the boot of my Mazda 2. Anyone who owns one of those very tidy but rather small cars will know that is an impressive feat in itself. I had to remove the boot lid to get it in, but it did go in, and it didn't take too much of a struggle. 

Adjusting the seat angle and removing the seat works by using the two buttons, one on either side of the seat or carrycot (the ability to angle the carrycot was great for my two reflux babies). The mechanism was smooth, and I've actually been able to drop the seat without waking my sleeping baby with no problems. 

Dropping the chassis so you can put it in the boot is a really smooth motion, and it's pretty light. I had no problems lifting it in and out of the boot by myself, even when I was only a few days out from giving birth. 

The seat can be forward or parent facing in the single iCandy Peach, obviously there is less choice in the iCandy Peach Blossom Double because you have to fit both seats into it. I know that in the newer versions of the iCandy Peach the two seats are the same size, as are the carrycots, which makes everything a bit easier, particularly when you are using one carrycot and one seat, as you can swap them over as needed. 

It has a huge shopping basket, which has been fabulous for me. Trying to manoeuvre a shopping trolley and a pushchair is a nightmare. You do lose the ability to use most of it when it's set up as a double, but there is still some room in the shopping basket even then. 

I usually do shopping with one toddler in the pushchair and one in the carrier, which means I can still use the shopping basket. 

Customer Service and Aftercare

My view on this is somewhat different because I've been in the Middle East, but I've found that the aftercare from the iCandy stockists does vary quite a bit. 

Whilst we purchased the iCandy Peach in the UK, we bought the iCandy Peach Blossom additional seat and adaptors in Dubai, which was where we were living at the time. The iCandy stockist there were not massively helpful, and it was impossible to discern whether they were able to send the pushchair off for repair if needed. 

I was also requested to contact the stockist I had bought the pushchair from. Cleary I'm not going to be able to wander into the stockist in Yorkshire, when I'm 3,500 miles away in the Middle East. 

So whilst I had very few problems with the iCandy, the problems I did have weren't easily resolved. The cable in the handlebars snapped about two years into having the pushchair. I suspect that it was because of serious overuse, I had the pushchair in and out of the car about eight times a day on average, which means quite a lot of stress on the cable. 

I ended up buying a repurposed one from someone in the UK, and had my mum bring it out with her when she came to visit. Luckily she was coming out less than a week after it snapped, otherwise I would have been left with no pushchair and no easy way to get it fixed. This would have voided the warranty, of course, but as this had already expired, it wasn't a concern for me. 

The warranty itself is only valid in the country of purchase. So if you are like me, having bought the pushchair in one country, and the double adapters in another, you might find repairs a little bit more difficult to navigate if the warranty is still valid. 

iCandy themselves have been really responsive both by email and over Facebook messaging. I haven't tried to contact them by telephone, as I was in the Middle East and would like to avoid a huge telephone bill. 

My Overall View

I really really love this pushchair, and I'm really pleased that this was the one we went for. I haven't really felt the need to replace it, or been that excited when I see other people's pushchairs. 

It has suited our needs, and we are still using it as Miss S turns three years old. 

We are currently using a different pushchair. Miss S clambered into the pushchair while the footrest was raised (Mister L had been asleep in it just a few minutes before), and one of the connections snapped because she placed about 13kgs of weight on it! 

As we were headed back to the UK, we placed the iCandy Peach in the shipping and on arrival to the UK we bought an umbrella stroller to see us through until we could get the iCandy back, and repaired. 

Unfortunately I've not found the umbrella stroller to be as good a stroller as I would have liked. First of all, I thought it would be great for getting through the airport, as we could take the stroller to the gate, and then have it returned to us at the gate on arrival. 

We bought the travel bag for the iCandy Peach (the single, I don't think they do a bag for the double), and it usually goes in the hold so it doesn't get damaged by being thrown around. So I thought the umbrella stroller would make airport transfer easier. 

It doesn't. The stroller was taken from us at the gate in Manchester, but was not returned to us at the arrival airport, and it contained my Ergo carrier! So had I been by myself, I'd have been scuppered, because I had Miss S crying because I'd had to wake her, and Mister L who can't walk the whole airport by himself, plus a huge bag. 

Thankfully I had family with me, who could carry Mister L and the bag so I could heave Miss S through the (mercifully short) airport. The brake on the umbrella stroller was also broken during transit, which is really frustrating. It's been sheared off so I don't think it can just be replaced. 

So I would really rather have checked in my iCandy Peach and had it safely delivered at the other end. 

I also hadn't realised how easy it is to push the iCandy Peach. It can be done with one hand, and it responds to a really light touch. I cannot wait to get it repaired and then we can get back to using it. 

I'd happily buy another iCandy Peach (and really want to persuade Gary into a new one, just for the new colours if we have a third baby). It's been really hard wearing and sturdy, while being really practical for one or two young children. 

Miss S can easily still sit in both the upper and lower seat (although this won't be an issue on newer models as I believe both seats are the same size), at three years old. 

To have a peek at the new iCandy Peach colours, go have a peek at iCandy World.

*I have not been paid for this review, all the words and opinions are entirely my own

Monday, 10 August 2015

Post-Pregnancy Body Changes

I wish I was one of those cute pregnant girls who wear skinny jeans throughout their pregnancies. But I just gain weight.
Jennifer Garner

When you get pregnant, you understand that your body is going to change. You understand that there is an entire human being to grow in there, and that your organs are going to have to make room.

You know that during the pregnancy, sleep will become more difficult. You’ll get backache, and your breasts will ache. You know that things are going to change.

You also know that there will be a period, after you give birth, where your body will not be normal. That there will be excess fat stored in preparation for breast feeding, that your stomach muscles won’t really know what to do with themselves.

What I didn’t expect, was that fourteen months after the birth of my second child, that things are still different. Still different even though I’m back to my pre-pregnancy weight. That I’m fitter and healthier than I’ve ever been.

So here are those post pregnancy body changes that I haven’t been able to shift:


My lower back is not a happy bunny. It seems to take the strain of everyday life much harder than it used to.

I suspect that it’s because my core isn’t that strong since I pushed and pulled it about during two pregnancies. Two pregnancies with two children who behaved completely differently while I was carrying them.

I also have a rather large curve to my back, which I think makes it worse. It’s always been there, but I suppose it makes my back a bit of a weak point.

Even though I can do full press ups, and full range sit ups without trouble. Even though I can do full burpees and even full planks. My core is still weaker than it should be.

I think pilates or some other exercises that are specifically focused on my core is necessary, so that I can begin to work solely on those muscles. I feel like the rest of my muscles around my core are so much stronger, and that my core is just lagging behind.


There is no denying it, I have wider feet than I did before. I still resolutely stuff my feet into my beloved Gina shoes, but even I have to admit that by the end of the night it’s like having my toes squeezed to the point of pins and needles.

It has definitely not helped that while I was pregnant, I was in the Middle East. So I was in the sunshine and the warmth and I was wearing flip flops for the entire time we lived there. My feet got used to the room and the lack of restriction, and have happily spread themselves about.

Is there anything you can do about widening feet? Other than continuing to cram them into shoes that are really not wide enough. I want to be able to wear actual shoes again, especially now we are in the UK and it’s cold enough to warrant actual shoes and boots.

Untamed Hair:

I used to love my hair. It was thick and shiny and healthy. It stayed in a style after you had blow dried it and it was a good enough colour not to need highlights.

Until my hormones got in the way. After I gave birth I lost a record amount of hair. It came out in massive clumps everytime I brushed my hair. In fact, quite a bit is still falling out fourteen months after the birth of Mister L, my second child.

I have wispy baby type hair EVERYWHERE. It sticks up at odd angles no matter what I do with my hair. It’s growing at a ridiculously slow rate and I’m getting really hacked off with looking like a fuzz ball.

Blow drying my hair is a luxury at the moment, but I even groan once that’s done. My hair doesn’t seem to have settled into it’s new shape, and it constantly appears to be fighting with itself. It doesn’t lie flat on top of each other, and it seems to just want to be as far away from my head as it can.

I keep reading that in time it will go back to the way it was, or at least to not being this bad, but I’m rather sick of waiting to be honest. The hair gods planted some rather nice hair on me, and I’d quite like it back!

Sleep Positions:

I completely understood that I wasn’t going to be able to sleep the same way, when I was pregnant. I knew that because my body was changing, I would have to change the way I slept to  accommodate it.

What I didn't realise was that even after I got my pre pregnancy body back, that comfort at night was going to evade me. I just cannot figure out, for the life of me, how my body now wants to sleep.

I’ve tried my pre-pregnancy sleep positions, they don’t work. I’ve tried my pregnancy sleep positions, they are really weird if you aren’t pregnancy anymore.

I’ve tried every which way and I just cannot seem to find a position that suits my post pregnancy body.

I’ve used pillows of different shapes and sizes, I’ve tossed and I’ve turned. That glorious sinking feeling I used to get when I got into bed, seems to have disappeared for good.

I’m most gutted about this one because I’m a complete nightmare without enough sleep, and currently I spend a lot of time tossing about until I seem to sink into a coma. I miss my bed and the comfort it used to offer…. Someone bring it back!