Memories: Reykjavik, Iceland

Memories-Iceland-Reykjavik-Mountain-Cold-snow-Northern-lights_pregnant-solo-traveller-bucket-list

This week Facebook kindly reminded me that two years ago I spent 4 days exploring Iceland, as a solo traveller! Well, I say a solo traveller, Pumpkin was slowly beginning to grow inside me and was I was about seven weeks pregnant!

So, let’s rewind eighteen months before that adventure, I was determined to tick something off my bucket list and on the spur of the moment booked myself on a break to Reykjavik, this was with the hope to see the Northern lights! I have no problems or fear in travelling solo, I have been to Australia, America, Tunisia and Greece before on my own and have had some fantastic times and made wonderful memories!

Should I stay or should I go?

Between the time of booking the holiday and actually going, I met the man who is now my fiancé and the very proud Dad to Pumpkin! We looked at all the ways in which he could come on this holiday too, but it just was not possible, so this was going to be my last solo adventure! However, shortly before heading off on my adventure, we discovered that I was pregnant…this raised all sorts of questions to whether I should still go, did I want to go?, could I still go?, and all sorts of things ran through my head! Anyway, I decided that I was still going to go, as I had already bought all the thermals, hats, gloves, boots and a winter coat that would keep me warm on the coldest of Icelandic days! Yes, I could have returned these items, but do you know what, I really wanted to go.

A little panic…

Memories: Iceland This week Facebook kindly reminded me that two years ago I spent 4 days exploring Iceland, as a solo traveller! Well, I say a solo traveller, Pumpkin was slowly beginning to grow inside me and was I was about seven weeks pregnant! So, let’s rewind eighteen months before that adventure, I was determined to tick something off my bucket list and on the spur of the moment booked myself on a break to Reykjavik, this was with the hope to see the Northern lights! I have no problems or fear in travelling solo, I have been to Australia, America, Tunisia and Greece before on my own and have had some fantastic times and made wonderful memories! Between the time of booking the holiday and actually going, I met the man who is now my fiancé and the very proud Dad to Pumpkin! We looked at all the ways in which he could come on this holiday too, but it just was not possible, so this was going to be my last solo adventure! However, shortly before heading off on my adventure, we discovered that I was pregnant...this raised all sorts of questions to whether I should still go, did I want to go?, could I still go?, and all sorts of things ran through my head! Anyway, I decided that I was still going to go, as I had already bought all the thermals, hats, gloves, boots and a winter coat that would keep me warm on the coldest of Icelandic days! Yes, I could have returned these items, but do you know what, I really wanted to go. When I arrived in Reykjavik, I immediately remembered that I get scared when walking in the snow and ice - I somehow loose my ability to walk properly and all of a sudden I was gripped in fear of falling over and hurting myself and my little growing Pumpkin. No, this had not at any time come into my thought process during my wonderfully brave spur of the moment booking, or dreams of the Northern Lights in the preceding eighteen months! I felt silly, what had I done! So I sat on my bed (in my little single hotel room) and gave myself a little talking too! I remembered that the people in North Face, assured me my boots were fine for the weather and terrain, and that I had also packed some extra grippy ice clamp things to put on my boots make me feel better/more confident. Which did the trick (and “I will be fine” also became my little mantra for the next four days), and went off to explore! I got to see some wonderful places over the next four days, frozen waterfalls, mountain ranges, National Parks, and Geysers. Whilst I mention Geysers, despite the boiling water shooting up into the sky, this hits the ground and turns into ice rather quickly, so if your pregnant and visiting this, watch out for the very, very slippery ice. However, it does also double up as a good place to take a step back and people watch (from a distance, as you can still see the Geyser) and oh it does make great comical viewing! One of my favourite places that I visited, was the Blue Lagoon, it was absolute pure bliss. Before I went, I did my research, and I could go into the pools; but being pregnant; I just had to be aware of the water temperatures and how long I was in the pool for at any one time. I enjoyed wallowing in the pools, having a face mask and feeling the cold Icelandic air around me. The careful walk from the changing room to the pools and back again was rather bracing, but that was part of the fun, I think (I must admit, it was at this point, I did wish I hired one of the lovely fluffy bath robes!). Of course one of the biggest lures to Iceland in winter are the Northern Lights and like many of the other people staying in my hotel, I was eager to see them too! Many of the excursions that go off in search of the Aurora Borealis, will often take you out each night of your stay until you get to see them. On my third night, I was lucky enough to catch to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights and it was beautiful. I chose to watch them and enjoy them with my eyes, rather than through a camera lens, so apologies for no photographs! Iceland is famous for its local delicacies; most of which I couldn’t sample being pregnant. Now, I don’t know whether or not this was a good or bad thing really! I was really careful what I ate, and I felt that this did somewhat limit what I could have and where I could go and eat. However, I did find some lovely restaurants/cafes) near to the hotel which I visited throughout my stay. However, what really helped me during my stay and calmed my sickness, was hot chocolate! Weirdly, hot chocolate was the only thing that helped my morning sickness during the early stages of pregnancy, and I took advantage of this and took numerous hot chocolate stops around Reykjavik to warm up! What didn’t help much on the food side of things, was I went off a whole host of foods and the blander the food, the better. I had completely gone off fish, and the smell of fish and anything fishy induced waves of nausea; so, as you can imagine this was rather problematic in Iceland! I did have a lovely time, and Iceland was a beautiful country; Reykjavik was and felt a safe city for a solo female traveller. I must admit, I was constantly aware of the ice and snow, and worried about slipping, which I probably wouldn’t have been so bothered about if I wasn’t pregnant; but for those braver than me in the snow, it really wouldn’t put you off having a lovely and adventurous time! Would I go back? Yes, but I would like to go back in the summer and hire a car to be able to have a driving holiday, to be able to explore more than where the coach excursions are able to get to!

When I arrived in Reykjavik, I immediately remembered that I get scared when walking in the snow and ice – I somehow loose my ability to walk properly and all of a sudden I was gripped in fear of falling over and hurting myself and my little growing Pumpkin. No, this had not at any time come into my thought process during my wonderfully brave spur of the moment booking, or dreams of the Northern Lights in the preceding eighteen months! I felt silly, what had I done! So I sat on my bed (in my little single hotel room) and gave myself a little talking too! I remembered that the people in North Face, assured me my boots were fine for the weather and terrain, and that I had also packed some extra grippy ice clamp things to put on my boots make me feel better/more confident. Which did the trick (and “I will be fine” also became my little mantra for the next four days), and went off to explore!

Exploring!

I got to see some wonderful places over the next four days, frozen waterfalls, mountain ranges, National Parks, and Geysers. Whilst I mention Geysers, despite the boiling water shooting up into the sky, this hits the ground and turns into ice rather quickly, so if your pregnant and visiting this, watch out for the very, very slippery ice. However, it does also double up as a good place to take a step back and people watch (from a distance, as you can still see the Geyser) and oh it does make great comical viewing!

One of my favourite places that I visited, was the Blue Lagoon, it was absolute pure bliss. Before I went, I did my research, and I could go into the pools; but being pregnant; I just had to be aware of the water temperatures and how long I was in the pool for at any one time. I enjoyed wallowing in the pools, having a face mask and feeling the cold Icelandic air around me. The careful walk from the changing room to the pools and back again was rather bracing, but that was part of the fun, I think (I must admit, it was at this point, I did wish I hired one of the lovely fluffy bath robes!).

Memories-Iceland-Reykjavik-Mountain-Cold-snow-Northern-lights_pregnant-solo-traveller-bucket-list

Of course one of the biggest lures to Iceland in winter are the Northern Lights and like many of the other people staying in my hotel, I was eager to see them too! Many of the excursions that go off in search of the Aurora Borealis, will often take you out each night of your stay until you get to see them. On my third night, I was lucky enough to catch to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights and it was beautiful. I chose to watch them and enjoy them with my eyes, rather than through a camera lens, so apologies for no photographs!

Being pregnant and local Icelandic delicacies

Iceland is famous for its local delicacies; most of which I couldn’t sample being pregnant. Now, I don’t know whether or not this was a good or bad thing really! I was really careful what I ate, and I felt that this did somewhat limit what I could have and where I could go and eat. However, I did find some lovely restaurants/cafes) near to the hotel which I visited throughout my stay. However, what really helped me during my stay and calmed my sickness, was hot chocolate! Weirdly, hot chocolate was the only thing that helped my morning sickness during the early stages of pregnancy, and I took advantage of this and took numerous hot chocolate stops around Reykjavik to warm up! What didn’t help much on the food side of things, was I went off a whole host of foods and the blander the food, the better. I had completely gone off fish, and the smell of fish and anything fishy induced waves of nausea; so, as you can imagine this was rather problematic in Iceland!

My thoughts:

Memories-Iceland-Reykjavik-Mountain-Cold-snow-Northern-lights_pregnant-solo-traveller-bucket-list

I did have a lovely time, and Iceland was a beautiful country; Reykjavik was and felt a safe city for a solo female traveller. I must admit, I was constantly aware of the ice and snow, and worried about slipping, which I probably wouldn’t have been so bothered about if I wasn’t pregnant; but for those braver than me in the snow, it really wouldn’t put you off having a lovely and adventurous time! Would I go back? Yes, but I would like to go back in the summer and hire a car to be able to have a driving holiday, to be able to explore more than where the coach excursions are able to get to!

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

Valentines-gift-guide-book-star-map-bath-bomb-cake-stand-matching-personalised-t-shirts-paws-with-opulence-dog-collar-ID-tags-book-love-valentines-personal-special-gifts

Valentine’s Day will be here before you know it, which for many of us means thinking about getting something special for our loved ones. Over the last few weeks, I have had some fun working alongside some fabulous companies to put together a rather special Valentine’s Day gift guide, which will hopefully give you some ideas and take away some of the stress in finding the perfect gift!

To be honest, I always get a little bit stumped when it comes to Valentine’s Day, I like to try and find something a little bit different, yet something personal and thoughtful too; and I think the following gift ideas certainly tick all three of those points!

Personalised Star Map – Under Lucky Stars

Under Lucky Stars is a company that creates personalised Star Map’s, which shows the alignment of the stars, where you are, at a moment in time special to you. All you have to do is visit their website and start creating and I challenge you to try and narrow your special moments down to just one! Or, you can do what I did, and get lost in stargazing for well over a hour!

When I designed a Star Map, I thought about all the special moments my fiancé and I have had together and I thought about our last weekend as a couple (before Pumpkin). We had planned a romantic weekend together and “surprise surprise” Pumpkin decided to make an early appearance and share the weekend with us! So, I chose our Star Map to reflect the moment our little star said hello! The result? See for yourself, it’s really beautiful and is a constant reminder of when our lives changed forever!

Valentines-Day-Gift-Guide-Star-Map-under-lucky-stars-beautiful-memories-special-to-us-celebration-to-us-only-star-gazing

Star Maps start from $55

A New Map of Love – Abi Oliver

To me, a book is a really personal present, as it shows the person who has gifted it has taken time to think about the recipient; their likes, dislikes, their humour and also taken the time to have a sneaky peek at their book shelf to get an idea of the kinds of books they like to read!

Since becoming a Mummy, I have not been able to read any where near as much as I would like and to be given a book for Valentine’s would be wonderful, although I would also be telling my fiancé to expect to see me with my nose stuck firmly in the book every evening until it’s finished too! Perhaps, not quite so romantic, but such a gift of a “little bit of me time” though!.

A New Map of Love is such heart warming read about a gentleman called George Baxter and the journey into his new life following the loss of his wife of twenty-six years. It’s a novel about second chances in love and do you know what?, that is all I am going to say about it as I don’t want to spoil the book for you! Yes, I know that’s rather mean of me, but, I loved it and savoured every reading moment and I want everyone else to have that experience too! Plus, there is the little issue that I have passed the book on to my mum, who no doubt will be reading this and will not have finished the book yet and will be cross at any “spoilers”.

Valentines-gift-guide-A-new-map-of-love-Abi-Oliver-journey-into-his-new-life-heartfelt-heartwarming-love-book-hardback-paperback-reading-love-valentinesday

Couple’s Personalised T-Shirts – Genie Gadgets

Personalised couple’s T-shirts are a big thing and Genie Gadgets have some amazing ones to brighten up any couple’s wardrobe! Whether you and your partner are “Sweet Peas” or “Huggy Bears”, you are sure to find a T-shirt to personalised to suit and reflect your personalities! These are such a fun idea, the only problem you will have is choosing what ones to get, will you be matching or will you be independent personalities?

When I showed my fiancé, he wasn’t to sure whether I was joking or serious about them! I don’t think he could even disguise the look of pure terror on his face when the T-shirts arrived, perfectly cuddled up together in their packaging! Terror was replaced with relief when I assured him I wouldn’t make him wear it out, although I can guarantee the one day he does wear it to take the bins out, he will be caught by the neighbours and stuck chatting for ages! I shall enjoy that moment (and promise to update this post with photographic evidence)!

Valentines-day-gift-guide-his-and-hers-matching-personalised-t-shirts-funny-kookie-would-i-wear-it-in-public-cute-old-and-new-relationship-love-valentinesday

Personalised T-Shirts £12.99 each

Cupcake Bath-Bombs 

I love bath bombs, especially if they come with the promise of a disturbance-free bath! Is it just me, or whenever I get in the bath or shower after my son has gone to bed, I can mysteriously hear him cry and when I go to check, he is actually snoring away! If I dare to have a bath whilst he is awake, I will hear a knock at the door, followed by “mamma mamma” – which gets increasingly louder until an ear piercing cry is about to be let loose in the hallway!  So, bathing, always comes with a big “do not disturb sign” and Daddy is on duty during this time!

These Cupcake Bath Bombs, are just so pretty and come packaged as a Little Box of Love! There are Six Bathbombs in total: Chic & Cheerful, Love Buds, Kiss Me Quick, Rosebud Buttercup, Feel The Love, Urban Rose.

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Cupcake Bath-Bombs £9.99 – as an added bonus, you can get 10% of all orders, use the discount code LUPSIE218 at the checkout!

Luxury Dog Collar ID Tags – Paws With Opulence

Dog’s are important members of the family and why should they be forgotten about on Valentine’s Day? This is where Paws With Opulence comes to the rescue with these incredibly beautiful broken heart dog collar ID tags!

Valentines-Gift-Guide-Paws-with-opulence-9ctgold-dog-tag-ID-broken-heart-valentines-dog-present-best-buddies-posh-pets-valentines-spoil-our-pets-love

They are available in Sterling Silver, 9ct Gold and 9ct White Gold, and also available in 2 other different designs, with hand-engraving available too. All of Paws with Opulence’s products are all handmade using the finest quality materials, so you can be certain your dog is going to be well and truly spoilt!

Whilst your choosing your dog collar ID Tags, why not have a look at Paws with Opulence’s collars, leads and accessories and I dare you not to fall in love with their gorgeous range and spoil your dog a little bit more!

Valentines-Gift-Guide-Paws-with-opulence-9ctgold-dog-tag-ID-broken-heart-valentines-dog-present-best-buddies-posh-pets-valentines-spoil-our-pets-love

Broken Heart Luxury Dog Collar ID Tags: Sterling Silver £89 9ct Gold £229
9ct White Gold £289

Wooden Toy Two Tier Cake Stand & Cakes

I have covered presents for pretty much everyone in this gift guide, except for the important little people in our lives. When I was a nanny in the USA, I was surprised at just how big Valentine’s was! It was also a day for friends and family members too! So, it would be rude not to include the little ones too!

Pumpkin enjoys making everyone imaginary cups of tea at the moment and would absolutely love these toy cakes and cake stand, to make it a proper tea party! Plus, its wooden, so it will withstand some of the rigorous testing that only toddler can give it!

Valentines-day-gift-guide-his-and-hers-matching-personalised-t-shirts-funny-kookie-would-i-wear-it-in-public-cute-old-and-new-relationship-love-valentinesday

Two tier cake stand and cakes – £19.99 – to get 10% of all orders, use the discount code LUPSIE218 at the checkout.

I hope you like the gift guide, below are links to the retails main websites, where you’ll find a wide range of other gift ideas too!

Under Lucky Stars

Abi Oliver – A New Map of Love

Genie Gadgets

Paws with Opulence

What2buy4kids – Don’t forget if you use the discount code LUPSIE218 you will receive 10% of your order!

Disclaimer: Some items were gifted for the purpose of this gift guide, all opinions are my own.
Contains affiliate links.

Dear Google, (Other search engines are available)

Dear Google

Over the past year you have become a good friend to me, there for me in my times of need, moments of panic, and pure baby related paranoia. You never once laughed at the random things I searched, questioned my parenting abilities, or mocked my already growing worry that I was failing as a Mummy. As for in that brief moment that I confided in you, it felt like I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.

Here are some of my searches I have made over the past year (I am hanging my head in shame/embarrassment right now):

1. What are the black wiggly things in my baby’s pooey nappy? (Yes, google images were also required for this). Worry not, Pumpkin had not been infected with a biological disease, it was the aftermath of eating a banana for the first time.

2. Is it normal for a baby to….feel/do/smell/look? Believe me, I probably asked this at least 5 times a day. Just thinking about it now makes me cringe!!

3. What does teething really look like? Followed by are Amber Bracelets just a load of hippyguff? (Sorry to the believers out there). Pumpkin didn’t cut his first tooth until he was 11 months old, I thought he was teething at 5 months!!

4. Too much information warning!!! How long am I going to bleed for, as this does not feel normal and seriously don’t you think my body has gone through enough as it is?

5. What is the difference between baby blues and Postnatal Depression/Anxiety? I love Pumpkin more than anything in the world, so why did I feel like I wanted to cry one minute and the laugh hysterically the next or at the other extreme not go out?

6. What consistency should food purées be? Believe me…I made purées ranging in consistency between water and wall paper paste; and I am still unsure what was right for which stage of weaning, but still Pumpkin loved them all (or at least pretended he did)!

7. What jobs can I do working from home? I found my self searching this almost daily for the first four months of Pumpkins life, as I couldn’t imagine life away from him; it just broke my heart. Then I realised, that as Pumpkin got more mobile, there was no way on this earth was I going to be able to work at home and have him playing at my feet happily and contented. The reality would be far from the romanticised view I had after he was born…I would have a trashed home, a little boy with arms reaching up for cuddles and big blue eyes that would look at me and give me immediate mummy guilt for not paying him enough attention.

8. How can I make bath time safe? Pumpkin turns into Houdini at bath time, so far, he has managed to break/escape out of 3 bath seats and triumphantly stand in the bath whilst shouting “I do” at us. Sadly, my dear friend Google has failed on this point and therefore bath time for the foreseeable future is a two man job!

9. Where has my baby learnt the skills of a poo ninja when it comes to changing a nappy? I feel like I have lost all control of Pumpkin when it comes to a dirty nappy; he has mastered stealth moves which means he can flip out of a half-off nappy (taking half the contents with it) whilst fighting off all my attempts to catch him and turn him back over. Again, a Google fail in terms of advice…short of early potty training (I don’t think I can handle that quite yet), I have to sometimes, OK, who am I kidding, quite frequently turn to YouTubeKids, to distract Pumpkin long enough to clean him up.

10. Am I wasting my Doctors time if…? I quickly learnt the quick answer to this is NO! If you are worried, your parenting instinct has kicked in and you need to get your baby checked over. Who cares if you have made a fuss over nothing and your baby smiles contentedly at you and the Dr (Thank you, Pumpkin for that one!!). It’s always best and safer to get them checked out, after all not all of us have medicine degrees to give us that ability to rule out the worry that every cough, cry and scream that comes out of our baby, isn’t a serious illness.

Over the past few months, my searches have changed and seen me look up fun things like birthday cake ideas, tricycles and things to do in Somerset. Like old friends, Google, our relationship has changed; always dependable, we pick up where we left off and there are always good laughs to be had – after all when you your trapped in a chair with a toddler asleep on you, the searches can become a bit random…like conversations with a best friend after one to many Ciders/Gins/Wines/Vodkas/Coffees/Proseccos.

Thank you for being there!

The Lupie Mummy x

*please drink and use Google wisely.
**or like me, liken the feeling of being drunk to being sleep deprived and googling random stuff to keep awake, so not to wake the baby (before they are in a deep enough sleep) with the sound of heavy duty snoring that only a person with sleep deprivation can do when sleep finally washes over them!!
***This blog has not been sponsored by Google, it is just my own personal choice of search engine…others are available, I think!

 

Pumpkin is One

One year ago, I was in Labour, which wasn’t supposed to happen as I was booked in to have an elective C Section 4 days later, at a set time, with no, I repeat, no labour pains! However, no matter how much I was repeating the mantra “this is not how it is supposed to happen” to myself, I was reminded every 3 minutes for the next 18 hours, that I was well and truly in labour and Pumpkin was going to come out sooner than planned. It was at this point, I wished that I had paid more attention in the ante-natal class about other birth plans/pain relief. In the end, I had an emergency C Section, my surgical team were amazing and all was fine.

Roll on a year, one of the most magical, life changing years of our lives. A year ago, we became parents to the most adventurous, mischievous and comical little boy, who everyday without fail, makes us laugh and feel extremely lucky. I can’t lie, sometimes the realisation of the responsibility of being a parent to Pumpkin can be overwhelming. Frequently wondering if we are doing things right: are we feeding him the right foods, is he warm/cool enough etc. Then, all we have to do, is look at Pumpkin, he is thriving, happy and learning so much, so quickly; and then we fall in love with him even more than we already have.

Tomorrow, Pumpkin will wake up to his family celebrating his birthday, will he understand what is happening? The lovely scrunchy wrapping paper, the new toys and books, the bright birthday banner across the wall and the sugar loaded cake which he will have as a special treat for his pudding? I don’t know how much he will understand, but it’s his special day and we are going to make it as special as the day he arrived screaming into the world and our arms; the day our lives changed for ever.

For us, we are celebrating a year of surviving as parents and a stronger relationship as a result. This year has been amazing and really hard work; there has been laughter, tears, pure exhaustion, some bickering (again, usually down to pure exhaustion) and a love never experienced before for a little person completely dependent upon us. So, think of us tomorrow evening, eating left-over Birthday cake and then wishing we hadn’t, when we are desperately trying to fall asleep, but can’t because we are on a sugar high at 10.00pm (for those without children…that is a late night, when your little one likes to wake up at 5.00am!).
Happy Birthday 1st Birthday Pumpkin xx

I need a little time…for me.

I have toyed with the idea of writing about the adventures of becoming a mummy to our wonderful little pumpkin and living with Lupus; which likes to rear its ugly head when I least expect and want it to.

However, time has flown by for the past 11 and a half months and I have never quite found some time to sit down and write.  As there is always a nappy to change, better still a cuddle to be had, a lullaby to be sung or at its worse a blood test to be arranged. Oh, and now the The Great British Bake Off is on, so let’s throw another challenge into the mix and while we are at it, and I should just admit it, just by watching the GBBO I get serious cake cravings, so therefore, I’m playing my part increasing M&S’ cake sale profits, as I just don’t have time to bake at the moment – the Domestic Goddess is out of the office until further notice!

Despite all these hurdles, I wouldn’t change a single thing, I absolutely love my little family and everyday I am learning to live with Lupus and embrace it as part of my life too.
I have finally realised that I need a bit of ‘me’ time in this busy hectic thing called motherhood and did I mention we are also in the middle of relocating from Kent to Somerset, stressed? Me??!  Therefore, I am regaining some “me” time by writing a blog amongst all this chaos.

I am hoping that by writing about the day to day happenings in our family life, it will be therapeutic to me (taking away some of the stresses of packing/being surrounded by boxes), to perhaps become a journal to share with Pumpkin later on (I may have to be selective at times) and hopefully be a support to others in similar situations to myself.

So, pour a mug of coffee, grab a cake and join me on this blogging adventure. In reality, that should read…So, while you are enjoying a cold sip of coffee and left over Colin the caterpillar cake, enjoy this insight into my life.