Saturday, 24 September 2016

Top 5 Skincare Products for Eczema

To round off National Eczema Week I thought I would recommend the skincare products that have made a difference in my life. When you suffer with eczema then it's easy to feel like you are restricted to the thick, gloopy creams prescribed by the dermatologist. Or you live in fear of trying anything new because so many products, even natural / sensitive skin ones, actually dry out the skin or cause flare ups. Well, I've found a few great ranges that I can purchase over the counter and that I trust.

1. Aveeno Dry & Sensitive Range


The whole Aveeno range is amazing and is my go-to brand when it comes to skincare. It's a good, mid range price but a little goes a long way so it does last and there are regularly 342 offers on in Boots if you want to stock up! Its main ingredient is oatmeal and you'll have seen Jen Aniston fronting their campaigns. I use the moisturising lotion daily, including on my face, I have a tube of the hand cream in my bag and I use the bath oil when my skin is particularly dry and needs a bit of TLC. These products are basically what keeps my skin on an even keel. They also do a Baby range, but the Dry/Sensitive range is suitable from three months. Available in Boots and most large supermarkets.

2. Liz Earle Hot Cloth Cleanse & Polish


This is a bit of a treat because it's quite expensive, however when I was having real problems with my face, it was a life saver. If you can't afford the whole cleanse, tone and moisturise set, then treat yourself to the Skin Repair Moisturiser, I'm convinced it will make a difference, but the whole set is brilliant. I put it on my Christmas list every year. It leaves my skin feeling so soft, clears up any dryness within a couple of days and keeps my skin looking clear. It's also really enjoyable to use - I'm not a beauty blogger, I don't necessarily 'enjoy' skincare, but this is an exception. It's a total pleasure! It's stocked in the larger Boots stores and John Lewis and is available online.

3. Waterwipes


I was once advised by a dermatologist to use on my baby the same products that I would use for myself. Now, we go through a lot of baby wipes in this house but it's taken me a while to find some baby wipes that I'm entirely happy with. Thankfully my kids show no signs of eczema so no problems there, but I still am wary of the amount of chemicals we put on our skin as a family so would always prefer natural products. You can't get more natural than water! Waterwipes contain 99.9% water and 0.1% fruit extract. I was sent some to review and I am so pleased with them. They are super moist, and we've been using them for everything - nappies, hands, faces. They do such a good job because they contain so much water, but I don't get the impression they dry out skin and it's nice to know that they don't contain loads of chemicals. My one concern is the price as at £2.49 they're significantly more than what we currently pay, but if your baby had particularly sensitive skin then I would say they would be more than worth the cost. Available from Boots, Amazon, Ocado and most major supermarkets. For more information, visit www.waterwipes.com.

4. Coconut Nourishing Body Butter, The Body Shop


This was recommended to me on an internet forum by a bunch of people who suffer with skin conditions. Sometimes it's just nice to feel like you can walk into a shop and purchase some nice, luxury skin treats rather than worry about the effects on my eczema. I actually use this on my hands on a daily basis. It's light, not sticky and sinks into my skin easily. We're lucky to have an outlet store near our house so I stock up regularly when the offers are on. It's safe to say I'm a big fan!

5. Emollin Spray


This spray was prescribed to me by my dermatologist nurse because the dry skin and eczema on my back was driving me to distraction and preventing me from sleeping. I had also complained that I didn't have time to sit around waiting for gloopy creams to sink into my skin before getting dressed every morning. It's an emollient spray that not only moisturises but also provides a protective barrier for the skin. It can be sprayed from any angle so is great for hard to reach areas like your back and sinks into the skin pretty much immediately so is great if you're time strapped. In all my time seeing doctors I had never been told about this one but it has certainly saved my sanity during bad flare ups so definitely ask about it if you haven't come across it.

***

So there you have it, five products that I personally can recommend for eczema. Obviously I'm no doctor so, goes without saying, do consult your doctor or dermatologist before changing your treatment! For more information on eczema and National Eczema Week, visit www.eczema.org.
Read More »

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Mind My Eczema

It's just a bit of eczema.

I find myself saying that a lot. It's that childhood skin condition that some never grow out of. Yet you've spent your childhood being fobbed off, being told that it's 'just a bit of eczema, you'll grow out of it', and then you don't.

Just a bit of eczema.

Just the constant, infuriating, frustrating, burning, insatiable itch that will never be scratched.

The itch that starts off small, but if you give in and start scratching, the itch spreads and before you know it you want to rip all your clothes off and scratch and scratch and scratch your entire body, in a hot, frustrated mess, with an itch that will never be satisfied.

A scratch that is never vast enough, never deep enough, where your finger nails dig and dig and dig to get to the bottom of that itch that can never be scratched.

It's just a bit of eczema.

Just a bit of eczema that leaves you lying awake at night, trying not to move, for if you brush your skin against those soft cotton sheets, you might set off the itch, the itch that can't be scratched.

Just a bit of eczema that leaves you scared to go to sleep, because you might end up writhing around in an itchy dream, covering your sheets in your dead skin cells, waking your husband in your hot, frustrated mess. Then you wake in the morning, your nails stained with blood, unable to move your joints which are now covered in scabs.

It's just a bit of eczema.

Just a bit of eczema, that renders you a rubbish housewife. Unable to keep on top of the house that's meant to be a home. Unable to wash dishes. Unable to dust, whilst knowing that dusting is the answer. Getting rid of the dust would help, but it would also cause your knuckles to crack and bleed and your skin to bubble with infection.

Just a bit of eczema. making you the boring parent. The one who can't splash in the bath, the one who can't take them swimming, the one who can't play in the long grass.

It's just a bit of eczema.

Just a bit of eczema, which makes you the awkward guest. The one who always brings her own milk, starves herself through buffets with a smile, insists on avoiding pizza restaurants and then asks to analyse the menu before ordering, checking for milk in the most unlikely of places.

It's just a bit of eczema.

Just a bit of eczema that affects your ability to concentrate. When you nod and smile and ooh and aah in all the right places but if you looked behind the eyes you'd realise, I'm just desperately concentrating on not scratching. On not subjecting you to the blood thirsty horror of the scratch. The scratch that will never scratch the itch that always needs to be scratched.

It's just a bit of eczema. A bit of eczema that fills your cupboards with disgusting, gloopy creams, none of which serve their purpose, none of which contain the cure to the itch that can't be scratched.

A bit of eczema that forces you to crank up the shower because somehow the itch can be burnt off your skin with scalding water, only bringing light relief for a short while before it creeps back over your hands and then your arms, like some kind of horror story alien taking you hostage in your own skin.

It's the bit of eczema that as your smiling, drying your hands on a tea towel, you end up wringing your hands really hard underneath the cloth in a bid to remove every trace of water and destroy the itch with it. When your hands emerge they are flaky hot and raw so you run them under cold water to cool and soothe, whilst beginning the vicious cycle again.

It's just a bit of eczema.

Just a bit of eczema that bleeds and weeps, that cannot be seen and yet your attempts to hide it leave you more itchy than ever. It causes you to dread the dampness of winter and the humidity of summer. It makes you cover up, yet the dry air is the one thing that might make it better if our British weather system would ever oblige.

It's just a bit of eczema.

Just the eczema that drives you to tears as you realise there's an occasion on the horizon which might require you to smile in photographs, but you know, you know that your face will not clear, it will not be better and you step up your moisturising, you step up your medication in the desperate hope that you might, you just might, be able to wear make-up that day. That is if the foundation doesn't stick to the awful flaky mess that is your face.

Just a bit of eczema that makes you check your calendar for any social events where you might need your confidence before taking any new medication or risking your skin on a potential allergy buffet, or even, say, cleaning your house.

It's the eczema that, whilst others flick through magazines, or check their phones, makes you absentmindedly pick the scabs off your hands to try and achieve the holy grail of smooth.

It's just the eczema that's always there. On bad weeks it's visible for all to see and for me to feel. On good weeks, it's in my mind, affecting everything I do, the fear of a flare up preventing me from living fully and freely. It lies in wait, ready to pounce, ready to steal my confidence on days when I need it most. It creeps up, nothing major, just a bit of eczema, crawling over the surface of my skin until I look down and suddenly I'm broken and weeping, red raw, exhausted. It's stolen my sleep, my self-esteem, my confidence, my joy, my abilities to parent, clean, concentrate, engage.

But it's just a bit of eczema.

***


It's National Eczema Week. This year as part of the Mind My Eczema campaign, The National Eczema Society is focusing on the psychological and emotional impact of eczema, encouraging people to remember the person as well as the skin. This isn't me all the time, in fact a lot of these feelings are thankfully a rarity nowadays. But I still live in fear of flare ups and plan my life around preventing them - which does have a psychological and emotional impact. Eczema makes me feel frustrated - can you tell?!

For more information visit www.eczema.org
Read More »

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Adult Eczema: My Story part 2

It's been nearly three years since I wrote this post on my journey with eczema so far and as it's National Eczema Week this week I thought it was high time for an update!

Shortly after I wrote that post, I was referred by my GP to the dermatologist once again. I had just had a baby and my eczema had flared badly again. We were now living in a different area under a different NHS Trust so I thought it might be worth another go.

I was still living a dairy free life - something I was now well used to. However, when my eczema did flare up (normally triggered by an allergic reaction), I struggled to control it. My GP had once again sent me home with a myriad of creams without giving much information on how they should be used. In truth, despite being an eczema veteran, I still had no idea what I was doing!

So in Spring 2013 I trooped off to the dermatology consultant. This one man was by far the best medical professional I had ever seen. Finally, someone who showed empathy! Finally, someone who seemed willing to help! Finally, someone who gave me adequate information and other avenues of research that I could do for myself! In this appointment I actually cried - massive, sobbing, tears - because this man seemed to understand, he took me seriously, he actually looked at my skin, he listened to me and he said he could help me.

He said that my first port of call was for me to understand my condition myself. In nearly 30 years not one medical professional has provided me with any information or pointed me in the right direction so that I can take responsibility for my own care.

He not only asked what creams I was using, but he asked how I was using them. Turns out, I was using them wrong! He recommended some moisturisers that were actually nice to use (hello, Aveeno!) rather than sticky, gloopy moisturisers.

And he sent me away with a moisturising routine and a new list of creams to use.

I finally felt like I was getting somewhere!

It wasn't easy however. The consultant wanted me to moisturise all over, four times per day.

Now, I don't know what it's like for other people who, you know, live lives alongside their condition, but four times per day is pretty impractical (factor in the hour of sitting naked waiting for the creams to soak into your skin and it's pretty impossible!). But, with renewed enthusiasm, I was managing twice daily and within a week my skin had drastically improved.

Over the last three years since then, I've had some ups and downs.

I had full blood tests done and have no allergies apart from dust mites (though, dairy still triggers a reaction, go figure!).

I've recently had patch testing done and in terms of contact allergens, I'm only mildly allergic to local anaesthetics (probably should have told the dentist that recently!).

I still have allergic reactions.

I still have eczema flare ups.

But I can at least manage my own condition now. I've learnt to feel in control, knowing what my triggers are, rather than get hung up on what my medical records say (I challenge any doctor to feed me a pizza and then try and tell me that food and eczema are not related!).

I never saw that consultant again. Instead I would go back every six months and see the dermatology nurse. She was brilliant, always recommending new products I could try. Referring me for more allergy tests even though science was telling us that I wasn't allergic to anything.

And this week, she discharged me!

Part of me is frustrated that we never got to the bottom of the milk allergy. Part of me is pleased that all the tests are negative because it means that one day, if I'm brave, I might be able to reintroduce milk into my diet (bring me the profiteroles!). Part of me knows that allergies are not the area of expertise for the dermatology department anyway.

Part of me thinks that the medical professionals need to do more to assist eczema sufferers. Part of me knows that there really is nothing to be done as there is no cure.

But I'm glad I've been on this journey. My eczema has never been better. It's still there, it still affects my daily life, but it's managed and I don't feel self conscious about it like I used to.

I hope that one day there will be a cure, but in the mean time, it's about knowing your triggers, knowing what helps, and knowing how to treat it.

So, in case any of this rings true for you (and I know this post will reach fellow eczema sufferers as my previous post is my all-time most popular post!), here's mine:

My Triggers
~ Milk products
~ Stress
~ Cleaning products
~ Dust
~ Damp or humid conditions

What Helps
~ Pregnancy and breastfeeding (love those hormones!)
~ A thorough moisturising routine even when it's good
~ Showering to rid the skin of dead skin cells (then moisturising!)
~ Changing bed sheets really regularly and hoovering the mattress
~ Avoiding the triggers
~ Sunshine!

How to treat it
~ Moisturise! Moisturise! Moisturise!
~ Steroid creams (always moisturise the area before applying)
~ Keep an eye out for infection of open sores - no amount of moisturising is going to clear up infected skin.

My Advice
~ Keep going back to your GP or dermatologist until you're satisfied that you have received effective treatment and advice.

~ Force them to look at my skin. I've been to numerous appointments where I've talked about how I'm doing but I haven't actually showed them my skin and the medical professional hasn't asked to see it. Remember, my idea of a 'good day', might be entirely different to a medical 'good day' so even if you think it's good in comparison to what you're used to, show them anyway.

~ Be bold enough to ask the right questions. If I felt like I was just being fobbed off or like the consultant's appointments weren't serving a purpose I would politely say "I feel like I don't understand what the purpose of this is, what are we aiming for?" They're then forced to say something like "We need to help you manage your condition because there isn't a cure", which is then your opportunity to outline how you don't know what you're doing! 

~ Get support. There is a huge psychological, emotional and practical impact to living with eczema. Be honest with your GP, family and close friends about how you're feeling - remember stress is a trigger so anything your family can do to support you or help out around the house (allowing you to avoid cleaning products!) is an appreciated bonus!

To find out more about eczema and National Eczema Week, visit The National Eczema Society.

Coming up this week, I'll be talking about the psychological and emotional impact of being an eczema sufferer as well as showing you the skin care products that have helped my condition. Stay tuned!
Read More »

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Review: Bratz Remix and our #SummerofBratz

If you've been following along on social media you might remember that the lovely people at Bratz sent us one of their dolls for Ruby to get to know. We've been taking her everywhere on our travels and posting pics on social media of our Summer antics and Ruby has loved having her along for the ride.

Here's the moment that their friendship began....


Now, first of all, we are just embarking on a world of girly fun with Ruby, who is three and a half*, so this was our first encounter with the Bratz brand. I love the idea of having dolls who are slightly 'cooler' than your average tall, skinny, blonde doll, but I wanted to know they were still age appropriate and not overly sexualised. But, I needn't have worried.

A photo posted by Emily Davies (@emilydavies85) on

Our new friend, Jade, was dressed in dungarees and a t-shirt - the type of clothes Ruby herself would wear. She came with some headphones, a hair brush and a mobile phone. This couldn't have been more appropriate because Ruby LOVES listening to music on my phone so I think she could relate really well to Jade. Part of me wanted to jump on the internet and get Ruby a pair of matching yellow headphones! (I resisted).

Jade chillaxin' at home

During the course of the summer Jade has come out with us everywhere. Granted, our adventures haven't been particularly exotic but we took her to the park, blackberry picking, for coffee, to church, for picnics and even to the dentist! There was one incident where she nearly got left on the bus - cue Mummy running back down the street to the bus stop and rugby tackling a driver who had picked her up! Thankfully it was the end of the route.


She has provided bags of entertainment for Ruby and is the perfect size for taking out (ever been lumbered with a much-loved huge teddy bear who your child insisted on taking with them to the shops? Me too). I love that her clothes and shoes are removable and I guess if you built up quite a collection then hours of fun would be had with wardrobe changes. But for now, Ruby was perfectly happy to brush her hair, put her on her shoulders and troop about with her everywhere. She's even started talking to her as if she's a part of the family!

Jade enjoying a latte

Anyway, needless to say I was suitably impressed by the doll. She seemed sturdy, well made - her hair didn't fall out like cheaper imitations tend to - I liked her casual style, and that Ruby related to her. It might be an odd thing to say as well but I liked that she came already named. Ruby has other dolls but she's not quite able to assign them proper names and I think this hinders her ability to relate to them and play with them in a meaningful way. Whereas Jade was already named and so she was immediately Ruby's new friend and was referred to as such.

Jade & Ruby out blackberry picking


I would now consider buying Ruby a few more Bratz dolls when she's a bit older, assuming that their style suited Ruby and that they were equally as cool. I like that the brand encourages creativity and originality in fashion rather than cookie cutter style (we can't all look like a certain all-american blonde equivalent). According to the website Jade is a confident trendsetter and I'd like to think that Ruby might grow up to be a bit like that too!

All in all, Ruby loves Jade who is now a firm part of the family. I very much doubt that her affection will wain just because our #SummerofBratz is over!

You can find out more about the range at the Bratz website but be sure to head onto social media and search #SummerofBratz to see what other Bratz dolls have been up to!

(*It's worth mentioning that the packaging does recommend Bratz dolls for age 5+ so Ruby is slightly younger than their target market).

We were gifted Jade by the lovely people at Bratz for the purposes of this review, however all the opinions are my own (or Ruby's!), 'cause, you know, I wouldn't lie to you! 
Read More »

Friday, 22 July 2016

Our mini-break to Wells, Somerset

If you know me at all, then you'll know that I have had a long love affair with the West Country. Bath has to be my all time favourite British city (London doesn't count, that's home). I love Jane Austen country, I love the architecture and I love the romance and history of it. I can totally imagine all these Austen-type characters, parasoles in hand, parading round the Royal Crescent. Love it!

However, just outside of Bath there is a small city (the smallest in England, in fact) called Wells. Famed for it's beautiful cathedral and the Bishop's Palace, I think Wells has to be my second-favourite city and we're lucky enough to have some family there!

Recently, a family wedding took us to this part of the country and when I posted up pics on social media of our holiday apartment I had loads of people asking me about it, so I thought I'd do a quick review. Because when you find a gem of a place, in the right location, at an affordable price, it's almost a crime to keep it a secret (almost!).

This was our first foray into self catering holiday lets as our family has grown and can I say it was the best experience? We're used to staying in large, chain hotels which is generally fine when you're on your own. But we're fast learning that with kids it's not ideal. I mean, who actually enjoys retreating to the en suite at 8pm every evening to sit on the toilet and read a book because the kids are tucked up in bed?

We were looking for an affordable apartment that would be a comfortable base for us, our three year old and our newborn baby. In Wells. Which is actually quite an expensive place. And I have high standards, I want a hotel experience for a hostel-price! Not asking for much, no? (We also only definitely decided at the end of April that we were going so a fair few places were fully booked already).

We happened upon 1 Sadler Street on holidaylettings.com and as soon as I saw it, I knew we had to snap it up for our dates, fast.

The living area

I won't go on too much, because really the pictures speak for themselves. But basically, I couldn't have wished for better. The standard of finish on this newly renovated apartment was brilliant. It was perfectly clean and felt really bright and fresh, despite being a compact space. I would hazard a guess that the owner had some kind of design or creative background because on the blank white canvas was plenty of trendy, bright and fun pops of colour - whether it be the wall art, the accessories or the furniture - I mean, how many places have you stayed in with a pinball machine for a coffee table?

So much packed into a tiny space, but it didn't feel cramped at all!

A lot of the accessories and ornaments doubled up as interesting little toys and trinkets for Ruby to be enamoured with (she loved the display of rubber ducks in the bathroom!). And any problems were foreseen and sorted - it's a compact, renovated first floor flat with the potential to get really hot, so they provide a top of the range air conditioning unit. The bunk beds are in the living area, so they provide a TV in the bedroom.

Bishop's Palace

The location was perfect for us. We don't drive so it's a bit of a mission to get to Wells (we had a relative drive us from Bath Spa train station). But once we were there we were able to use this place as a base and be pretty independent. The apartment is right in the centre of the city and looks out onto the beautiful cathedral square. There's plenty of pubs, restaurants (we went to the local Ask!), coffee shops (try Crofters across the street, Ruby enjoyed their ice cream!) and little gift shops too! The apartment is above a pasty shop (smells amazing!) and a fudge shop too tempting for Jon!

The shower room

Anyway, we absolutely loved it and I think once word gets out, this flat is going to book up pretty fast! Here's a summary of the details:

  • First floor apartment (not wheelchair friendly but we managed by taking the buggy up and down the stairs).
  • 1 x double bedroom, inc. TV
  • 1 x shower room
  • Sleeps 4 (bunk beds in lounge area)
  • Open plan kitchen/living room, inc. Sky TV
  • Dishwasher
  • Washing machine
  • WiFi
  • Towels provided
  • Fully equipped kitchen
  • 10 minutes walk from Tesco so you can stock up the fridge

Now, I couldn't find a lot of fault in this place but for the sake of balance it's worth pointing out - this is a small apartment. It's a perfect base for a weekend, but if you're bringing children it could very quickly become noisy and claustrophobic on a rainy day. If you're cool with that, and you're planning on going out, not bringing kids, or if you're pretty used to squeezing a family of 4 into a small space then don't be put off! Personally, I probably wouldn't stay longer than a weekend either, but that's because my pre-schooler is not quite au fait with showers yet so the absence of a bath could prove to be a problem (unless we all trooped down the road to Jon's Nana's house!).

The bedroom

The only other thing was we brought a travel cot for our newborn but there wasn't space in the bedroom to set it up so we ended up co-sleeping. We're fine with that, but if you're not comfortable with that then there's space in the lounge - it's just by that point Ruby had clocked the exciting prospect of bunk beds so we couldn't switch.


In short, though, if you're travelling solo, a couple or a small, young family this is perfect for you. Booking and payment was strightforward, checking in and out was easy and the apartment felt secure and safe. Check it out with all the details and availability here.

And to finish, here's a pic of Mr. D and Ruby at the wedding, just because!

Jon & Ruby
Read More »

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Getting off the starting blocks

There are some things in life that seem like they'll never get done - the never-ending laundry pile when people just keep wearing clothes. A totally clutter free and clean house when children are in existence (Does Marie Kondo even have kids?!). A half decent savings account when your wages barely stretch to the end of the month anyway. World peace when people just keep starting wars - you know, just the small stuff like that!

It's the stuff of dreams, the seemingly impossible. The mountains.

And yet, I've been thinking a lot about this lately and I've come to the realisation that we just need to start. A house is built brick by brick. A marathon is run step by step. Savings are built penny by penny. Novels are written word by word, sentence by sentence, chapter by chapter. And sometimes it's taking that first step, writing that first word, saving that first chunk that is the hardest to do.

But as with many things in life, once you've made a start, once you've gotten over that initial first hurdle, once you've got out the starting blocks, the rest builds itself. The subsequent steps seem to become easier, the subsequent words seem to flow better.

See, life is simply a series of steps. But how often do we put off attempting our first steps because the rest seems impossible, too big or too hard? How often do we struggle to get out the starting blocks because we can't see the finish line?

Some relatives of mine were brave enough to run the London marathon this year. And I can imagine as they stood at the starting line, 26 miles from the finish, it probably felt like a bit of a daunting task. The finish line was out of sight. And life's like that, we don't know where the finish line is. We can't see the end goal - whatever it is. But we just have to start. We just have to have faith that by putting one foot in front of the other, we will eventually reach the end goal - whether that be owning a house, publishing a novel, or simply getting to the bottom of the laundry basket!

Image courtesy of Peter Berwick via Canva.com

In the Bible, God had promised Abraham huge things, things beyond Abraham's wildest dreams. Abraham had no idea how or when these things would come to pass. But it says in Hebrews 11:
"God called Abraham to travel to another place that he promised to give him. Abraham did not know where that other place was. But he obeyed God and started travelling because he had faith." ~ Hebrews 11:8 (ERV)
Abraham had no idea where the end goal was. He didn't even know what it was! But he knew he just had to start.

So I've started to start.

I've started to do the laundry, one load at a time.

I've started to save money, one pound at a time.

I've started to write, one word, one sentence, one blog post at a time.

Like Abraham, I don't know what the end goal is. I don't know how far away the finish line is. But I do know that I have dreams. I also know that God has dreams for me, probably beyond my wildest imagination. So, what do I have to do? What's my part in the plan?

Just to start.

And starting seems pretty achievable, right?
Read More »

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Where have I been?

If you've been following my Facebook or Instagram (and if you're not, why the hell not?!), it's no secret as to the reason for my long and unintended blogging hiatus.

That's right peeps, I birthed an actual child and some crazy God decided I was worthy and capable of looking after not one, but two children! At. The. Same. Time. Madness, I tell you. 

So, we've been transitioning into this new chapter of parenthood but now that little man is nine weeks old, I'm itching to do something for myself again. I may not be the most successful, consistent or engaged blogger on the Interweb, but I do miss it when I'm away. It does form a part of my identity and it's probably the one thing in my life that I attempt to do just for myself. I don't always achieve what I set out to but if I cease trying then I think I would be really sad about that. 

So anyways, I'm back, for now. And here's a quick photographic update on what the last couple of months have looked like. It's mostly involved being pregnant, giving birth and attempting to look after multiple (ok, two) children. Seriously, I'm like Superwoman right now!

L-R: 32 and 36 weeks

L-R: 38 and 39 weeks

Hello world!

Joel Stanley John Davies arrived perfectly on time, at exactly 40 weeks. The birth was brilliantly straightforward, with us being in hospital less than 12 hours in total. It felt a bit surreal, as if we'd just been on a little day trip and picked up a baby whilst we were out! He was 7lb 13oz and born at 12.24pm (I know you totally don't need to know these minor details, but I write them down for my own benefit!).

Sleepy baby!
He has pretty much slept through the first two months of his life thus far and despite a few issues early on with tongue tie and feeding, he's lovely, cuddly and placid. I thought Ruby was a relatively easy baby but I look back now and realise that I just didn't know any better (she was actually quite colicky and unsettled in the first few weeks!).

Siblings!

Ruby has adapted really well to being a big sister. I had no idea how she would react. Generally speaking she's a really confident, flexible child, but she has been the centre of our world for three years so who knew! She loves "her baby"!

Cute at six weeks!

All dressed up for a family wedding!

Sleeping through life without a care in the world!

It did occur to me yesterday that Joel was born into an entirely different world to the one we live in today, only nine weeks later. He's lived through an EU referendum, the beginnings of Brexit, a fair amount of political and economic turmoil, some quite significant politicians leaving the stage and then some new ones taking their place, plus plenty of other quite horrific events taking place the world over... and yet here he is anyway, sleeping his way through it, dreaming his way through it. 

The hopes and dreams we had for him nine weeks ago, are no different to the hopes and dreams we have for him today. We smile as we look to the future. 

And if there's one thing I hope I can teach both my kids to do in life, it's that.

To smile at the future.

Whatever it may bring, whatever the world looks like. There is always hope. And I hope they remember that.

I hope we can all remember that.
Read More »

Friday, 6 May 2016

Living Life in Limbo

I'm a great believer in the seasons of life. Sometimes life is very much on the up - things are good, the sun is shining, we feel positive. We have seasons of hurt or pain, those winter times, where the old dies away in preparation for the new. And there's seasons of hope, seasons of preparation, seasons of transition.

Seasons don't last forever and, though sometimes painful, there's something to learn through each one. Sometimes we have the power to quicken the season in our own life, sometimes we just have to wait it out and pray that spring is coming soon (it very much felt like that in the natural last week - snow at the end of April??!!).


I'm not sure what the first quarter of 2016 has looked like for us. I wouldn't say it's been a winter season necessarily, but it's definitely been a season of transition - one that will culminate in the birth of our baby boy, heralding a very new season!

I started the year full of hope for new things, things we would achieve, things we would get done, and basically it hasn't happened. Not because of anything huge, but just a combination of everyday stresses which have prevented us from moving forwards. I've battled cold after pregnancy cold, we've had work stresses, financial stresses, household stresses, pregnancy stresses... In fact, we've battled through a fair amount of everyday stress in almost every area of life.

All of this could explain my lack of blogging - I haven't really had the energy, inspiration or inclination to put my fingers to keyboard... And when I have my posts have languished in the drafts folder, never seeing the light of the published Interweb!

However, (because thrillingly life is always punctuated by 'howevers' and 'buts') we are embarking on a new season! Over the last few weeks all of these stresses have begun to melt away, we have been able to look forward to a new day!

Our life in limbo is coming to an end and we are full of new beginnings - a new baby, a new job situation, a new financial situation, a new church situation which brings with it a new season in the spiritual, new relationships and friendships along with a strengthening of important old ones.

But until these things come to pass, we must wait - a bit like the end stages of this pregnancy! We're playing the waiting game. Living in hope that the past can be tied up in a neat little bow and that a new day can dawn with sunshine and flowers!

I hope that with this new day comes a fresh outpouring of creativity and inspiration. I hope that I'll be able to share with you on this journey, but if the blog does become a bit neglected as we adjust to life as parents of two, you can always catch up with me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and you can find my monthly guest posts over on the Meet Other Mums blog.

In the mean time, wish me luck! I am coming up for 39 weeks pregnant. Up to now we have settled into a bit of a state of denial that this baby will actually arrive, so this week is the week we will get organised and prepare - we just need to pray he doesn't make an early appearance!
Read More »

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Book Review: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Before I read The Kite Runner I (shamefully?) knew nothing of Afghanistan. I knew about 9/11. I knew there was The Taliban. I knew about The War on Terror.

I didn't know that it snows in the winter. I didn't know that there had been a war there in the '70s. I didn't know that many Afghan refugees fled to the West as a result of that war, before The Taliban ever graced our news bulletins.

I didn't know that Kite Running was a thing. I didn't know you could compete with kites like a sport, and that the glass string was sharp enough to cut your skin, and that you were meant to cut other kits out of the sky. My experiences of kite flying stem from the finale of Mary Poppins and my own feeble attempts on windy days at Camber Sands.

But The Kite Runner changed all that.

And that's the mark of an amazing book. A story that teaches you something. And after reading The Kite Runner I feel I've learnt a lot.

Khaled Hosseini has a knack for story telling that is rarely found in modern literature. And he manages to do it cross culturally in a way that educates you on that foreign culture, its history, its beauty and its flaws, all the while keeping it relatable and somehow, not foreign.

We follow the life of Amir from his childhood in Afghanistan, his own journey to the US as a refugee and then his journey back to Afghanistan in search of redemption, answers and healing - when he gets there he realises he will be going back to the US with so much more than he bargained for.

It really is a deeply moving tale filled with moments of deep joy, swiftly followed by moments of deepest despair and tragedy. But in the end, there is hope. Hope for redemption, resolution, happiness and peace - if not in Afghanistan itself, then it the hearts of its people, wherever they might reside.

Available on Amazon and all good bookshops.
Read More »

Thursday, 21 January 2016

...and then there were four


If you follow me on social media, you might have seen our announcement last week.

That's right, we're adding to our little team! 

Right now, I am about mid way through my 24th week of pregnancy. 24?! I know, kept that one quiet, didn't I?!

It wasn't my intention to be so secretive, but the weeks have flown by! Is that normal for a second child? For it to go so quickly? It's not like we haven't known about it - we actually realised that we were expecting around week 3 so no excuses there! After the 12 week mark we obviously then waited until we had told all of our relatives - though that did take an insane amount of time (not through want of trying - we love you all!). I did suffer for quite a while with sickness and tiredness (thankfully we've now seen the back of that!) which meant I wasn't really in the mood for telling people, then it was Christmas and all of a sudden we were over half way through, the countdown has begun and we only just got around to announcing it to the wider world (*waves* hello wider world!).

But you know, apart from when I was heaving over the toilet whilst Ruby rubbed my back and told me that she would keep me safe, I haven't thought that much about this pregnancy. I keep having to remind myself that this is going to happen!

I even contemplated applying for a job that I saw advertised! A quick reality check put paid to that idea!

BUT despite all of that, we are absolutely ecstatic. We had our 20 week scan during Christmas week which is when we found out we were flying the flag for blue (sorry, no Pinterest-style gender reveal over here!), Mr. D. is over the moon - he practically shouted at the sonographer when it was revealed. Our family feels complete (don't hold me to that!) and he hasn't even arrived yet. Ruby is so excited and keeps telling everyone that she's getting a brother, the bump has well and truly made an appearance and is getting lots of hugs from big sister and all the girlie hand-me-downs are finally making their way to younger friends and charity shops to make way for all the cute boy stuff that we're about to stock up on (who thinks boy stuff is so much cuter, anyway?!).

I am so excited to experience parenting both a girl and a boy. Mr. D. is wonderful with his best girlie, but I have always wanted to see him father a son. I'm sure he will be raised a Spurs fan (Ruby is most definitely a Palace fan so we'll allow Mr. D. that pleasure), and that we will throw ourselves into football, mud and glorious boy things. It's going to be fricking awesome. 

So, that is our big 2016 news! I would like to say I've made lots of goals and resolutions for the new year, but really it's just to safely transition from three to four - however that might happen - and to survive the months that follow relatively unscathed. Wish me luck!
Read More »