Sunday, 28 February 2016

Baby Steps | Wedding Planning

Apologies for the previously used photo up there, it's getting dark out and I've had a hard day being pregnant so have already retired to my bed! We got engaged almost two months ago now and to say I'm impressed that I've not yet set a date, booked a venue and sent out my invitations is an understatement. Personally I think James timed his proposal to perfection, late enough in my pregnancy that I wouldn't be physically able to make too much of a start on any severe wedding plans but still early enough for us to do some initial rekkies without lugging a baby around and enjoy it just the two of us. Although obviously our new baby will be a part of our big day, I'm very adamant that I still want it to be predominately about James & I. Our honeymoon will (hopefully) be just the two of us and whilst we already adore being a "three", to me a wedding is about us becoming Husband and Wife and she's had enough attention all to herself already!

So, today we went to our first Wedding Fair at Doddington Hall, I was really excited to go as it's the first venue that James has brought to the table and I've never been to a Wedding Fair before so I had no idea what to expect! First of all, it was busier than we thought, we got there quite early which I think on reflection wasn't really necessary as it's not like the stands are going to run out of information or leaflets (and they can always post things out to you if they do!) and when we ducked our heads back in a few hours after it had started, things had definitely calmed down. Secondly, it seemed a lot more about the suppliers than the venue. My intention was definitely more to look around the Hall and see how it could be set out for a wedding however the room we were interested in for our reception was occupied with the stands for the suppliers so it actually looked rather cramped. So my first tip that I have learnt is if you're interested in viewing a venue then I'd make an appointment to view it on a "normal" day as opposed to at a Wedding Fair being hosted there.

We did indulge in almost all of the suppliers and that would probably be my second tip that I've learnt, even if you think you know what you want and even if you know a friend will be doing something for you, have a look at what professional suppliers have to offer too. For instance my Sister will be doing my wedding flowers, however I'm still intrigued to visit the Florist stands just to see what they have to offer as they may have thought of something that I hadn't. It can be quite a dangerous game trusting an aspect of your wedding with a friend or relative just in case they don't get it quite right or things get lost in translation so I would recommend being able to tell them exactly what you want, preferably in the form of a photo that they can match up to.

The other thing we gained from the Wedding Fair was just how many types of photographer there are. I've already been told by my sister to invest in my photographer above all else as it doesn't matter how beautiful your makeup, flowers, dress or venue are - if they aren't captured well then it's all a bit of a waste. I knew that I wanted someone who would be around pretty much all day and I kind of longed for a duo so that someone could be photographing James getting ready whilst also having someone in with me and my bridesmaids. I also had a good idea of the style of photos that I wanted as I like them to look quite candid and we are not good at posing! However at this Wedding Fair there were three different photography companies and they were all so different. One was a husband and wife duo who did pretty much exactly what we wanted, candid shots (with a few posed ones thrown in just in case), a pre-wedding/engagement shoot and all of the photos on a USB stick plus a choice of different albums dependant on what package you go for. The second one had very dramatic, contemporary images that for us weren't quite natural enough. Think a lot of heavy lighting and a large dose of photoshop to enhance the whole "operatic" feel to them. Don't get me wrong they were absolutely beautiful but it didn't feel like our kind of thing. Lastly was another duo (I think Husband and Wife) who were similar to the first however the photos were a lot more posed. I don't think there's anything wrong with posed photos and obviously we'll have some but on the whole I want the photographer to merely be in the background to capture the day as it happens rather than have structured photos rather than memories. If that makes sense?

So that's it for our first Wedding Planning post! Whilst in the end the venue really wasn't for us as it's a huge stately home and we quite frankly don't have enough friends to fill such a venue, we both feel as though we learnt a lot. We're enjoying taking this year whilst I'm on maternity leave to look at loads of different options and enjoy all of the Wedding Fairs we can find before knuckling down next year to start putting concrete plans in place.

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Monday, 22 February 2016

New Mum Questions Pt 3!

If you fancy catching up on parts 1 & 2 of my "New Mum Questions" then you can find those here & here. I'm going to do a round up post after the final instalment of this series (which I'll post soon) to hopefully help out any other new parents with the same queries as myself!

1. Stocking up on nappies - We've got around 100 of the first sized nappies and I think around four packs of the next two sizes up. Are we pretty much done on the newborn or will we still need more? I've seen friends say that their little one has moved up in sizes quite quickly so I didn't want to waste money on nappies that we wont use.

2. Swimming - When can we take her swimming? I love swimming and especially now it's the only thing I can really do to keep myself active. What's the youngest I can (safely) take her swimming and what equipment will I need?

3. Dr Browns Set - We've got the Dr Browns  Deluxe Newborn Set for the 1 or 2 bottles that we hope to feed her a day (of expressed milk, all being well!) - Will this be enough or do we need anything extra?

4. Towelling Down - Basically, do we need the towels with the little hoods on or are they a way of conning us Mummies and Daddies out of extra money? Will a mid sized towel do?

5. Getting Confused - I want to feed our Little One breast milk exclusively (again, all being well), however want to share some of the feeding duties with James and express some for him to bottle feed her. Is there a time limit we should wait for so as not to confuse her and potentially ruin her breast feeding? Similarly, is there a particular time of day that may be better for him to do the feed (other than the middle of the night, obviously!)

6. Car Seat Position - James is adamant that he wants her Car Seat on the passenger's side in our car in case we were to have an accident and for any reason the seat should fly into the driver's back (shouldn't happen, I know, but you try telling him that!). I'd prefer her on the driver's side to make things such as parking etc. easier, is there any reason for her to be on either?

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Saturday, 20 February 2016

Snuzpod2 Review

One of the things that I've been really head strong about all the way through my pregnancy is co-sleeping. I'm also adamant about breast feeding and as far as I can see co-sleeping is an essential part of that during the night. Instead of clambering in and out of bed and having to lift my little one from her moses basket, I can simply slide her across, latch her on (hopefully) and feed away! I'm also one of life's natural worriers and I think having her within arms reach will help me to settle and know that she's safe and well next to me. All of this means that one of the first things I started to research into and shop around for was the best possible co-sleeper on the market and also one that looked stylish enough to not spoil the design of our bedroom.
Basing my choice of the aesthetics of something as fundamental as Little One's crib may seem vain and trivial however bare in mind that James and I have only lived in our current home since May of last year and when we furnished it head to toe in Ikea Hemnes furniture, it was like a dream come true for me. As much as our baby is the most important thing in the world to us, the fact that the Snuzpod2 looks so stylish and the white wood matches our bedroom perfectly makes me one very happy mummy. As you can see from the photos above it also has to sit right next to our chest of drawers and, rather obviously, my bedside table so as someone who cannot stand mismatched wood it pleases me greatly that it all looks seamless and as though it were meant to be together.
The photos also show that there is not a lot of wriggle room in our bedroom anymore, our house is a two bedroom end terrace and although our bedroom is a fair size, the size of our co-sleeper was actually one of the main deciding factors in the end. In these weeks before our new arrival comes, it's against the wall ready to be simply slid across and attached to my side of the bed and it currently fits in snug. As J works unsociable hours and therefore has to sleep during the day extremely often it needs to be transportable in and out of his way. I also need a little bit of room to escape for a loo break during the night or god forbid to get out and handle any poop explosions that the little one may have!
Another fantastic function of the Snuzpod2 is that the top part is actually detachable and can be sat on the floor. The plan at the moment is to have her in her own nursery and in her big cot bed for any naps during the day so that she gets used to having her own space too and hopefully make the transition into there full time when she's 6 months that bit easier. I am, however a realist and know that she may not take to being in such a huge space all on her own so I can either have her in her Snuzpod on the floor in her nursery or bring it downstairs and let her have her naps in the lounge. It's important to our family life that James gets enough quality sleep during the day so she cannot take her naps in our bedroom. I know that to begin with she'll sleep anywhere and everywhere and for the majority of the day but I'm keen to establish a routine whereby she's in her nursery and I can hopefully do a bit of blogging whilst Daddy and Baby bear sleep upstairs.
The storage underneath is an added bonus, at the moment it holds all of the scatter cushions that adorn our bed during the day but I intend to have some spare nappies, bedding and pyjamas under there once she arrives to save me having to stagger about in case of a midnight emergency. One thing I've learnt since assembling her nursery is that there really is no such thing as too much storage as not only does she have a lot of stuff, it all needs to be fairly accessible and not buried underneath each other so having somewhere on hand for things we may need during the night will be super handy.
Obviously I can't comment on its effectiveness with regards to the baby being in it yet so I'll be sure to pop up an extension or new review once we've been using it with her for a few weeks but for now, it sure does make a stylish look cushion holder and I cannot wait to get some bedding to accessorise it with and make it fit for my little Princess' arrival!

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Wednesday, 17 February 2016

New Books from The Book People!

When I found out I was expecting little Sophie, one of the first things I wanted to buy her was books. I don't remember owning many books as a youngster however there were certain "classics" that I was desperate for her to own. Perfect timing was that The Book People started to come to where I work once a month, usually with a nice offering of things for Children. At first she got the Entire Mr Men collection for just £25! But this month I seemed to come home with my arms full after only spending £19 in total, for 14 books! The Book People are also online if you don't happen to know of somewhere near to you that they visit and the have pretty much the same great offers on their website as they seem to bring round to the office. This month Sophie got a nice big book which was "Stories for 1 year olds" I know that it's obviously a year until she'll be 1 but I don't really think there should be an age limit on which books I read to her (admittedly I won't be reciting War and Peace to her from day one but I mean in general). It's full of short stories and poems which will be fantastic for reading to her just as she's nodding off to sleep. The fact that they're all in one book is super handy as well so if she's ever on a sleepover to her Grandparents or my Sister's house she can just take one book and have loads of different stories to choose from! 
Next up was Three Tales of Acorn Wood, I've seen these out and about and I'm not sure if these are exactly the same or if they're shorter stories but these are three of only four of her "board books" that from a certain age she'll be able to turn the pages herself. They're lift the flap so they should be better for when she's a little more awake to interact with her once she's old enough yet the stories are still short enough that she won't get bored. James is already fantastic at ready to her through my belly with different voices but it's something I need to stop being so self conscious about to make the stories come alive!
The last pack was probably the best bargain of them all, I got all of these books for just £10, which is £1 per book! I'll admit there's a few in there that I've never heard of and obviously some look better than others but it's got some great books in there such as "Monkey Puzzle" and "Peace at Last". I was slightly worried that these were a little more for "boys" as it's a lot of reptiles and jungles but I'm sure she'll love them too! Her book collection is basically done now and I may do a post on it in it's entirety soon however it's rather large so bare with me on getting round to photographing it all! I'll be doing a nursery tour soon so if you look closely enough at that you'll see all of the other books I've been purchasing for her!

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Monday, 15 February 2016

Joli Rouge Brilliant Lipsticks

 If there's one thing I've been obsessing over it's lipsticks, I don't seem to be able to get enough of them in my collection and even though I'm 99% certain I've probably got the exact same colour just from a number of different brands, I also can't stop acquiring more! I seemed to go a bit mad for mattes and opaque colours over the winter so when Clarins emailed me the launch of these more I was instantly drawn in to wanting to try more. Although these actually came out on the 10th of January, they're perfect for Spring in my opinion when I prefer a lighter slick of lipstick to bold matte lips. My favourite is Hibiscus (No 26) which is the more coral looking one of the bunch, followed closely by Guava (No3) which is the nude. I'll admit that I was dubious about the deeper colour (Fig No6) however because they're beautifully sheer, the colour payoff isn't too intense to put me off entirely and it just adds a nice sheer yet deep colour to my lips which is great for when I want to look slightly more sophisticated, so it's perfect for work! I imagine more out of familiarity than anything I'll reach for the paler shades more often and I personally cannot wait to get a bit of a tan when I think that Hibiscus will look at it's best! They're £20 each and as I said previously, they've been available on the Clarins counters since the middle of January. As always with Clarins, the packaging is divine and they look just as luxurious as my Chanel and YSL which are £6-£8 more. The gold casing looks beautiful amongst my collection and I love the little lip with the "C" as it just makes them really appear worth the price tag and more. My Clarins Lip Collection is growing more and more and I find myself reaching for them on a day-to-day basis and they're just so easy to wear which let's face it, as someone who is about to have a newborn to look after, that's something that is very important to me!

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Sunday, 14 February 2016

Get Set for Spring with Soigne Nails!

So less than a week after writing my post on how this was no longer a stereotypical beauty blog here I am falling into the trap of pastel colours must mean spring and spring must mean posting on pastel colours! However all through winter I felt as though I couldn't really do my nails as I only have Soigné Nail Polishes as a rule and they don't really do any deep plums that I tend to reach for more throughout the winter months. What Soigné do well however, is pretty pastel shades. I was walking past my Nail Polish collection (yes I have it out and on display at all times, I don't own solely one brand for nothing ya know) when I thought on a whim "I'm going to pick my 5 favourite pastels for spring and share them!". These aren't all from a specific collection from Soigné, although the purple/nude colour is from the Macaron collection. In fact if you were after 5 colours all in one set that was perfect for spring, you wouldn't go far wrong with their Macaron collection and you'd save yourself £17 from buying them individually, however these are my top picks. 
So in clockwise order we have Creme Patisserie, Glacage Bleu, Lavende (from the Macaron collection), Menthe and then Limonade Rose. The pink Limonade Rose is definitely my most worn as it's a really pretty pastel pink shade but I love all five of them and I cannot wait for the sunny spring mornings to inspire me to paint my nails in an array of different colours every week to celebrate the better weather!

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Saturday, 13 February 2016

Blog Sale

1st for the boring bit, the rules.
Buyer to pay via Paypal F&F unless you're covering the fees
First come first serve
I work full time so will post as soon as I can
I'll hold things for 24 hours only, then they'll go back up for sale
Postage is £1.70, then an extra 50p per item
Usage is as shown unless I've stated otherwise.

Sleek Cheek Trio - Californ.i.a - £3
Sleek Cheek Trio - Pink Lemonade - £3
Bourjois Bronzer - £3
NARS Blusher - Unlawful - £10
Sleek Contour Kit - Light - £4
Bourjois Illuminator - Rose Essential - £2
Bourjois Blusher - Peach Bloom - £2

 Elizabeth Grant Supreme Serum - Brand New - £8
Darphin SPF - Brand New - £5
MAC Face & Body - N2 - £12

 L'Oreal Lip Stain - Marilyn - £3
L'Oreal Lip Stain - Romy - £3
Rimmel Apocalips - Celestial - £3
Rimmel Apocalips - Stellar - £3
Maybelline Lip Stain - Blush Essence - £3
Yves Rocher Lipstick - Coral - £3
Xenca Lipstick - Cherry - £3
Revlon Lipstick - Raspberry - £3
Playboy Lipstick - Bubblegum - £2
L'Oreal "Julianne's Nude" - £4
Maybelline Lipstick - Shocking Coral - £3 

 Illamasqua Complement Palette £10
Chanel Les Ombres Palette - Eclosion - £10
NARS Dual Intensity Shadow - Dione - £8
Stila Bronzing Powder - 01 - £4
Makeup Revolution Iconic 3 - Used Three Times Max - £3
Stila Jewel Eyeshadow - Black Diamond - £3

 Clarins Lip Balm - Orange - £8
Clarins Lip Balm - 'My Pink - £8
Clarins Joli Rouge Lipstick - Rosewood - £10
Clarins Joli Rouge Lipstick - Guava - £10
Clarins Joli Rouge Lipstick - Fig - £10
Clarins Joli Rouge Lipstick - Hisbiscus - £10
Topshop Lipstick - Saint - £5
Topshop Lipstick - All about me - £5
Sephora Lipstick - Outrageous Rouge - £8
Clarins Lipstick - Tawny Rose - £10

Clarins Lip Balm Crayon - Creamy Pink - £4
 Xenca Perfection Mascara - Brand New - £5

 Stila Major Major Mascara - Brand New - £5

All Nail Varnishes £4 each or 3 for £10, 
All brand new or swatched once only. 
Maximum 3 per parcel.

Feel free to ask questions but you're probably better off getting me on twitter (@beckabeautyblog) as I check it far more regularly!

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Friday, 12 February 2016

Bravado Body Silk Seamless Maternity and Nursing Bra

 Never did I thought that the day would come where I'd be sharing my underwear on the internet, least of all my most practical rather than my most pretty. I've tried a few different nursing and maternity bras over the last couple of months and found them either unsupportive or uncomfortable when I really need them to be both! When I first received this, James and I exchanged a "oh god.." kind of glance to one another and I was filled with images of me looking like your typical pregnant middle aged mom that you see on the TV. I was however, extremely keen to give it a whirl purely to test out it's comfort as my usual bras are getting smaller and causing me backache and my other maternity bras just aren't supportive enough for my liking at the moment. All I can say is "body silk" was bang on the money, I felt totally supported yet didn't feel like I was wearing a bra at all. It was almost as though I'd got my pre-pregnancy boobs back! I was slightly dubious that it's obviously quite a lot bigger in terms of the amount of fabric than my usual choices that I might feel like I was wearing a sports bra (something I've never found comfortable in the slightest) however I don't notice that at all. I'm not sure if the thicker band at the bottom distributes the pressure across your back more evenly or what but I no longer feel the strain between my shoulder blades.
My next worry? How would it look under clothes. I first wore it on a Sunday when we were having a bit of a slob day and to be honest, you're lucky I was wearing underwear at all but then I decided to brave it at work the next day. Did you ever do that thing where you somehow forget to wear a bra to school and walk around all day convinced people are staring at your chest and must notice a huge difference? I was petrified that I would feel like that and spend all day wrapped up in my fleece desperate to get home to my underwired friends that I was familiar with. But honestly? You cannot notice a difference. The wider straps on shoulders does mean that wearing it with a vest is a no-no but I'm rather partial to a three quarter length striped top these days so it looks like every other bra underneath, just a lot more comfortable.
Obviously I haven't tried out the actual nursing function of it yet but the soft cups means that it rolls down easily and you're not constantly fighting it from springing back up and potentially getting in the way of feeding your baby. I also feel like the fact that it has soft cups means that it will mould to my body's shape as I inevitably change over the next few months. The other nursing bras that I've tried so far have all been on the cheaper side, H&M mainly, as I was thinking that I'd only be using it for a finite amount of time and thus didn't want to invest, however as my third trimester is now well and truly in full swing I've already learnt that this is not a time in my life to put a price on comfortable and practicality. The Bravado Seamless Maternity and Nursing Bra is their latest offering however I'm definitely going to be look to get at least another two, if not of this design then of their Yoga designs as they are worth the £30 price tag and if they keep me comfy all of the way through nursing too, then they're worth a lot more too!

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Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Let's start at the very beginning...

You may have noticed (or you probably haven't) that things have gone a little silent over on my twitter and blog these last few days. I seem to forever go through peaks and troughs with regards to this blog but recently I've felt that no matter how much I try and through myself back into it, I'll never get it back to where it once was. Now I think I'm at a point where I've accepted that and therefore this blog is now solely for me. I was being too strict on myself by saying "only one baby or pregnancy post per week" and giving myself a routine of Mummy Mondays and then beauty on Wednesday and Friday and then a Video on Sunday... It's making my head spin just thinking about it. A routine may have worked for me when I had more time or head space, and a routine may be the "best" thing for readership but the best thing for me is to go with the flow.
I was thinking back the other day to when I was truly happiest with my blog, it was before the stresses of travelling the length and breadth of the country for fear of missing out on events. Before comparing what PR samples my fellow bloggers got sent that I was looked over for and before desperately trying to keep "in" with the latest blogger cliques and chats. Essentially, it was right at the very start. I didn't post on a set day, I posted about whatever took my fancy that day, whether it was a hack on my horse, a new lipstick or even about my tricks for eBay! I had no "blogger friends" (although those that I do now, I truly cherish) and it didn't bother me whether or not I had the latest Gwen Stefani for Urban Decay launch because I had no-one but Tanya Burr to compare myself to.
Don't get me wrong, I have a wonderful relationship with Clarins and not only do I value them as a "contact', I genuinely see them as friends and they were one of the first people in the blogging world who I told about conceiving Sophie! I do lust for the coveted "Blogger Mail" but seeing others get parcels from brands that used to contact me but now don't, doesn't fill be with jealousy anymore. I need to be happy for them and move on. Everyone seems so hung up on "SEO" and "traffic" and "analytics" and "DA scores" and for what? If it's your job then I get that, but for me it's a hobby and I don't have the time nor the inclination to get so invested into what is essentially an online diary. I shouldn't get upset because all of my photos don't have the correct titles or my links aren't all squeaky clean. When did blogging become more about HTML and internet algorithms than people spreading the word about what they love?
The blog needs to, and will, get back to the diary of Becka Shepherd that it started. It was a platform to use my writing skills, a means to an end when I was unemployed and a happy distraction from a pretty crappy home life. I'm not saying that I've gone back to such lows but it needs to follow me and my life. If I want to post 24/7 about Sophie and lists of baby things, then I will. If I want a simple post of a few photos of a day out with my dog, then I shall post one. If I want to purchase and review a new, not so new or down right old lipstick then that's the post I'll write. Either way, this blog needs to go back to being about me and less about everybody else.

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Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Illamasqua Sale Haul

It's that time of year again when the parcels start arriving from all of the sale I've hit and reality kicks in at just how much I must have spent. Usually I pass up buying online, especially for high end make-up and I'll admit that these are my first ever Illamasqua purchases beside their Skincase and Hydraquench. However when someone retweeted onto my timeline about an absolute steal of theirs, I just had to have a little look for myself. If you've never looked at the Illamasqua sale before then I'd recommend it, they go above and way beyond the usual "up to 50% off only the things we've had around for years and probably shouldn't be selling you now anyway" and some things end up with a staggering 70% reduction! I picked up this palette, lipstick and lip liner. If I'm honest I'm not sure I'll be keeping the palette as it was probably an impulse buy more brought on by the reduction than the need for any more eyeshadows however the lipliner is my first dip into the world of high end lip liners so I'm excited to try this out with my latest Chanel and YSL purchases. If you're a fan of this blog then you'll know that High End lipsticks are my "thing" this year and I couldn't pass up the chance to try this Illamasqua version. I'll of course be doing in depth reviews of them all individually to let you know how I get on with them but until then I thought I'd share with you my purchases and just how pretty they are!

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30 Week Bump Update!

I've already actually done this week's bump update but decided to try it out as a video instead! The link is above you there so let me know what you think and which you prefer, I think I'm going to try and alternative between a video and a post every week as I really enjoyed doing the video!

How far along: 30 Weeks + 5 Days
Days until due date: 67 Days!
My bump: Growing! I've got a proper baby bump now and I'm trying to make the most of it. 
Weight changes: 1st 5lbs. I'm not too fussed about my weight gain as I think I'm still under the "recommended" amount and she's measuring fine!
Stretch marks? Only the ones on my legs but they've been there years!
Cravings: Nothing!
Sleep: Not great, the third trimester tiredness seems to be wearing me out enough to stay asleep all night but getting comfortable enough to drop off is becoming a challenge. 
Symptoms: Other than lack of sleep, not a lot. I think my hormones are going a bit crazy and I'm panicking that I need to get everything organised even though I've got ages left. 
Best moment this week: Shopping for the final "big" items and hearing her heartbeat at my midwife appointment. 
Worst moment this week: Still some weight jibes (all in good jest but still painful sometimes!) and the beginning of Braxton Hicks!
Miss anything? Just sleep!
Maternity clothes: I am officially in my maternity clothes. I have four tops now and can still fit in two of my pre pregnancy dresses so my wardrobe is limited but I don't want to spend too much on clothing that I'll only get a few more weeks out of!
Movement: It feels more as though she's turning around than kicking me now, I can also feel her hiccup which is cute!
Gender: It's a girl! 
Belly button in/out: In
Mood: I'm trying my best to stay positive however a lack of sleep, crazed hormones and some thoughtless comments are making it hard! I feel like I'm in quite a negative place at the moment and struggling to stay up beat and happy. 
Looking forward to: Another midwife appointment this week should mean that I can hear her heartbeat again! Also her Tripp Trapp, Snuzpod and Wardrobe should be up and built by this weekend!

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