My Preemie on World Prematurity Day

Our First Cuddle

Our First Cuddle

28 weeks pregnant to the day, that’s the day it all started to go downhill, the day my waters broke and i let someone tell me different, the day i should have followed my gut instinct. From that day till 7 days later i gradually became more poorly developing an infection (due to my waters breaking) and losing more fluids.  I will never forget that seventh day, lying in bed early hours knowing that the pain i was having was in fact contractions. Around 6 or 7 hours later Freya was born.  My teeny preemie, in fact she wasn’t all that teeny, she was 3lb 5oz and i’m told thats actually a good weight for the gestation.

Day 1 - Off to Intensive Care

Day 1 – Off to Intensive Care

Whisked away on her own to Intensive Care at RVI Newcastle all swollen and bruised, it wasn’t until the next day i was able to hold her.  God i remember feeling like i would break her, like she was made of glass, there were so many wires and so many alarms sounding. That’s the day my little trance began and my only focus was willing for Freya to get better, to not contract any infections, for her lungs to get stronger, to take my breast milk (well actually for my milk to come through, i was supposed to have another 12 weeks to develop it), for her alarms to stop sounding and just to go home.  I was lost in my own world and it stayed like that for around 6 weeks until we finally got to take our little girl and introduce her to her real home.

We are Home

We are Home

I pretty much spent all day every day in hospital for those 6 weeks, so much so that i became really friendly with the nurses, i thank them so much for breaking up my days.

From bringing Freya home we had numerous appointments with different consultants, right up until she was 2 years old.  Thankfully they all resulted in what we wanted to hear, that she was developing well and was a healthy little girl.

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2 1/2 years later Freya can talk in sentences, she would like a green horse, a peppa pig jigsaw and some choc from Santa Claus, she can count to 15, demand everything in sight and throw tantrums until she’s sick.  Yep, she’s just the same as every other toddler.

Someone isn't Happy

Someone isn’t Happy

We did have worries that she may be behind with her development and it was only really a worry as we didn’t want her to feel different to children her own age.  I know all kids develop at different rates whether they were born early or not.  But actually, she’s doing just fine.

We Love a Family Holiday

We Love a Family Holiday

Freya does get a little poorly when the weather changes and has been in hospital a couple of times with coughing.  In fact the first time we realised it was due to being allergic to dairy.  We cut it out and the chesty cough vanished! This time it’s most definitely a poorly cough.  I do wonder if it is because her lungs weren’t properly developed when she decided to come meet us a few months early.  Other than that we have a healthy happy little girl.

Perfect

Perfect

 

I think on days like World Prematurity Day it’s important to remember how far our preemie has come and be thankful that we got to take her home, some parents were not as lucky as we were.

Daddy's Girl

Daddy’s Girl

Freya is the most loving and funny little girl who adores her big brother more than anything.  She has a huge personality and is so independent that it adds on at least an hour to every day.  We wouldn’t change her for the World and thank our lucky stars every day for our gorgeous little family.

Our Family

Our Family

 

Love Michelle xx

P.S. If you have just had a premature baby and would like to read about our journey in the first few weeks, here’s our first ever blog Freya’s Story

Our visit to Ramside Hall – Pemberton Carvery (kids inc!)

Pemberton Carvery- Ramside Hall Hotel

Pemberton Carvery- Ramside Hall Hotel

Seriously, i could eat my Sunday lunch every day of the week.  I love it, it’s so tasty, there are so many flavours and textures and add a covering of gravy and well, job done, happy Michelle! But sometimes on a Sunday, day of rest, i just want someone to cook it for me with no cleaning up afterwards. So this week we decided to try out Ramside Hall’s Carvery, it’s literally 5 minutes from our house so i was hoping for good things.

Free parking is always a bonus and there were many spaces to choose from.  The carvery serves food from 7.30am until 10pm, although the ‘help yourself’ carvery is from 12pm until 10pm every day, so no waiting til Sunday.  Another big tick for me!

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On arrival at the Pemberton Carvery, we were greeted by live music at the grand piano and plenty of guests, although still many tables vacant.  The decor in my opinion is very traditional and old school, but the actual building itself is very old. Having said this, it was clean and comfortable and the guests were a total mix including young children.

Live background music

Live background music

We chose a booth as it’s easier when you have a toddler who wants to sit near Mammy and Daddy.  We all visited the food bar where we were presented with a choice of meats including turkey, beef, chicken or pork plus a large bowl of crackling…guilteeeee!!!

Freya & Daddy

Freya & Daddy

I asked if children’s portions were available as it wasn’t made clear on the menu, however i was given a small bowl for Freya and a yorkshire pudding which was probably the size of her head along with some succulent looking turkey.  I opted for the beef which showed signs of minimal fat, there’s nothing worse than chewy beef.

We helped ourselves to greens, carrots, mashed potatoes and gravy.  There wasn’t a huge selection of vegetables, and the one thing that was missing for us was some roast potatoes.  Although it was our first time so possibly we missed them.

Yummy

Yummy

Mark and Liam heaped their plates and by that i mean you couldn’t have fit another pea onto it. When we got to the checkout to pay, they didn’t charge us for Freya’s meal which i thought was great, in the cashiers words ‘oh don’t worry about that one, we won’t charge’. I thought it a very nice touch. The adult meals were £9.95 each which seamed very reasonable.

All four of us ate it all, the food was tasty, it wasn’t piping hot but actually, since we had Freya, that was a bonus.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed but the children’s meals tend to come hotter than the sun and by the time you’ve cooled it down, your own food is tepid at best, so we were all able to eat together.

Duo cheesecake with icecream

Duo cheesecake with icecream

The kiddies finished off with a duo cheesecake and ice cream and a rocky rode, there were some lovely fresh cakes on offer.

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In a nutshell, we’ll be back.  It’s quick and easy, it tastes great, enough choice, reasonably priced, it’s family friendly, no booking required, they had a little live music on which was not too loud at all and the little details such as not charging for a kids meal. It’s a thumbs up from us.

We'll be back!

We’ll be back!

 

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My Top Ten Beauty Products for the Thirty Plus Mum’s

Dirty Thirties

Dirty Thirties

So it’s no great secret that once you hit thirty, those little tell tale signs start to appear. Faint lines around your eyes, hair a little dryer, skin a little duller, wow i’m starting to depress myself! But with the wonders of modern science there are lots of products out there to banish those bloody awful tell tale signs and make you look as glamorous and youthful as those darn twenties.

Being in the modelling industry for many years i’ve tried my fair share of products but there’s certain products i go back to every time because they just can’t be beaten.  If they can help you lovely lot then my work here is done 🙂

1. Waterwipes

Water Wipes

Water Wipes

Let’s face it, people see your face first so it’s important to have that healthy, clear complexion. I won’t lie, i tend to use babywipes quite a lot to take off my make up as soap products can be quite harsh and babywipes, theoretically, should be quite kind to the skin.  Waterwipes are one of my favourites as that’s exactly what they are, wipes with water and a little seed extract. You can even use them on eczema and they take every last bit of make up off!

2. Perfectly Clean by Estee Lauder

Perfectly Clear

Perfectly Clear

This facewash is gentle, it foams up into a luscious lather and most importantly, doesn’t dry out your skin.  Yet it makes your skin feel fantastically clean and fresh.  It even doubles up as a purifying mask, win win.

3. Daywear by Estee Lauder

Day Wear

Day Wear

You’d think i was being paid to write up an Estee Lauder review but i promise i’m not.  My face moisturiser is a very important product.  I need my skin to feel completely clean and fresh and fully moisturised without it feeling heavy clogging all of my pores.  Daywear is a rich yet light cream and i feel like my skin is actually moisturised all day long, even when i have no make up on. It’s great used as a primer too and the great thing is a tiny bit goes a long way.

4. Clarins Pure & Radiant Mask

Face Mask

Face Mask

So it’s hump day, you’ve ran yourself a fabulous bubble bath and maybe even a cheeky glass of wine.  Ok so you’ve brought up the bottle and popped it in a wine cooler, it’s been a tough week and needs must.  Pop on this Clarins mask and feel that clay get to work, sucking that nastiness out of those pores and closing them bad boys up.  But seriously, from the first application, you will see your pores minimised, it’s fab.  One downside, because it brings all the nastiness out, you may end up with one or two spots just in time for the weekend.

5. Bodybrush by Body Shop

Body Brush

Body Brush

I read in a magazine about a certain celeb using a bodybrush to get rid of cellulite and thought, hmm she looks quite good, i think i’ll give it a go. Now i don’t have a huge amount of cellulite but around my bottom and thighs the orange peel effect is most definitely visible. I used it each day before i showered.  Starting from the knees up using a dry brush and circular upward movements, i spent around 5 minutes before i showered.  After a few days i was little gutted that i looked no different.  However after a couple of weeks of doing it out of habit and not really checking, i was pleasantly surprised that my skin was so much smoother and the orange peel was almost gone.  I now do it a few times each week but not only does it reduce the signs of cellulite but it’s a great exfoliator, my skin has never felt so soft and smooth.

6. Coconut Shower Cream by Body Shop

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So i think most people know The Body Shop don’t test on animals which is great but they also don’t have soap in their soap products.  I promise you still feel clean but without any of the drying effect.  I love the coconut as it leaves a subtle scent all over your skin which is totally maximised but not over powering when you add a touch of Coconut Body Milk by The Body Shop to moisturise your lovely exfoliated skin. Be warned, it may cause partners to sit extremely close and even kiss your skin all over, it smells so delicious!!!!!!

7. Mythic Oil by Loreal

Mythic Oil

Mythic Oil

Ok so you can’t tell in most of my photos but i have the hair from hell, hate it.  It’s neither curly nor straight but if a drop of rain hits it, wowzers, it looks like i’m recreating the Monica humidity scene from Friends. The reason you can’t tell on my photos is because i use this little life saver.  I put it on damp hair before i blow dry it, i use it as a serum after i straighten it, i use it when i wake up in the morning and can’t be bothered to wash it or i run it through my curls after i’ve scrunch dried it.  I don’t think i can live without it.  As it’s an oil you really only need a tiny bit and it will last FOREVER.

8. Hocus Focus by Soap & Glory

Hocus Focus

Hocus Focus

Make up, i’m not a huge fan of the matte foundation look i love a youthful glow.  I tend to think the matte look makes all of your wrinkles…sorry, fine lines stand out more and your skin dry and dull.  Either a few drops of this illuminator across the cheek bones, brow and the temples, on it’s own or mixed with your foundation, gives your skin that youthful dewey glow that i love so much.

9. Nuts

Seriously, ask my beautician, if i’m on a health kick eating lots of nuts and flax seeds my hair grows like wild fire as well as my nails and unfortunately my brows.  My nails and hair feel stronger and thicker.  Your diet really does make a difference to how you look and feel. But i still live by the rule ‘a little of what you love’.  Does a glass of wine every night count??

10. H20

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Water water water, my goodness, this may be my favourite drink and i can’t get enough.  I may drink around 2 or 3 litres every day.  However if i have a busy week and my water intake is reduced to a few glasses per day, my skin looks dull, i get dark circles around my eyes and generally feel YAK.  I honestly believe that water is a key ingredient to looking and feeling great.  Stock up the fridge, buy a new fruit infused bottle but ensure that you are drinking lots of this magic ingredient every single day.

Click on any of the images to take you to the website to read more on each of the products.

Michelle xx

If you enjoyed reading my blog and are interested in beauty tips, fashion advice, healthy recipes and more, follow my new instagram profile @thismodelmummy

Mammy & Daddy Do Vegas

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When an opportunity arose last year for a trip to Vegas to attend our friends wedding, it didn’t take much persuading for either myself or Mark to jump onboard. There was never any doubt that the kids were staying at home, it was Mammy and Daddy’s time to let their hair down and to do it together.

Now i don’t know about other mum’s but anytime it gets close to leaving the kids, i get a huge knot in my stomach and could quite easily say ‘i’m not going’ but each time i make the decision to go without them, i realise, actually, i need them more than they need me. Fun with the grandparents and being spoilt the whole time, Freya didn’t even want to speak to us, she was far too concerned with Peppa Pig on TV. That made me happy as Mammy and Daddy could totally relax, drinking as many beers by the pool as we wanted, taking naps whenever the hell we felt like it and obviously, Vegas, gambling away our hard earned cash…we loved it!!!!!

Freya Lillie

Freya Lillie

With a short flight to London and then a 10 hour flight to Vegas with BA, the beers were flowing and we felt like teenagers about to embark on a naughty weekend, it was great. You get so consumed with everyday life, wake up, get dressed, go to work or look after the kids, come home, grab some dinner together, couple hours of mummy and daddy time on the couch before bed and then repeat it all again. These little trips away, mummy and daddy become Mark and Michelle, laughing, talking and planning the future, i forgot how much i loved them.

The Hotel

The MGM

The MGM

We stayed in the Signature at MGM Grand, the Deluxe Suite was modern and clean complete with widescreen TV, jacuzzi bath, shower, seating area with couches and even a kitchen. We thought we hit lucky on check in when they announced we had been upgraded to a balcony room…so did everyone in our party. Damn it!

The wanderers

The Signature was great, it had several smaller pools which were used by families and those who aren’t big fans of 45 degrees of intense sunshine. Myself and Mark however headed straight for the Grand Pool, music, atmosphere, people whom were all shapes, sizes, nationalities. Everyone was so friendly and the frozen cocktails WOW!! This may have actually been my favourite part of Vegas or is that just the knackered Mum in me that wants to lie down and do nothing while i can…maybe.

A relaxed mummy

A relaxed mummy

 

The one common theme in all hotels is the amount of slot machines, roulette tables and other gambling devices and it never sleeps.  But you don’t have to be into gambling to enjoy Vegas.

By Day

There is so much to do in Vegas as every hotel is so big you could spend hours just wandering. With shopping centres in most of them, aquariums, fair ground rides, famous folk (part of our party had a meet and greet with Mike Tyson, by all accounts it wasn’t all that), cafes, restaurants, bars and more. There’s so much to see and do and one thing we didn’t see at all were any drunken idiots, we were actually quite surprised at just how many families were holidaying in Vegas.
By Night

Omnia

Omnia

Now i’m at a bit of a mumsy age where i just love to go and relax in a pub and chat all night with good company so when the hen party was organised to party at Omnia nightclub which is part of Caeser’s Palace, i was a little apprehensive but my love for Calvin Harris who was playing that night sealed the deal. When we arrived the que was huge, luckily we had booked our tickets online $100 which included a $100 bar card so wasn’t too bad at all. Unfortunately for males the price was $150, wowzers!

The club itself was awesome, VIP areas had perfect access to views over Calvin (starting to sound a bit stalkerish aren’t I). There was a little mishap of becoming lost in the club and having a slight moment of panic, what the hell do i do? However the hen was also lost and luckily we bumped into each other and found the best part of the club, the roof top terrace. Cool, trendy with fab views, we were like giggly school girls. Calvin came on around 1am and we danced like no one was watching until we were asked to leave and not because of our totally awesome dancing but because we actually danced away until closing time!

The Roof Top

The Roof Top

So even with a mix of jet lag/time difference and my love for sleep, i crept back into our hotel room at around 5.30am after having such an amazing night. Calvin was fab, the club was fantastic and company was great and after only 3 hours sleep, i was actually still half human 🙂

Gambling

A gambling expert!

A gambling expert!

So it wasn’t my first trip to Vegas but i hadn’t even used a slot machine never mind visit one of the tables. When Mark suggested i gamble $100 on the roulette tables i thought i’d give it a go. Total novice, no idea what to do, Mark explained exactly what to do and the guy working the table was pretty nice too.  We picked a table with a minimum bet of $10 and the fun began.  An hour later i had $240 in front of me and thought i’d give Mark a shot at the fun.  The thing we loved was that the drinks we ordered from the lovely bar staff who visit you whilst sat at the tables gambling, were actually free.  They’re not daft are they? Unfortunately after a short period of time Mark realised he wasn’t going to win more than $20 (hehehe) and we headed to the Bellagio for fountains and more drinks. Be prepared for the pricey drinks in Vegas too!

Bellagio Fountains

Bellagio Fountains

Overall i had far more fun than i anticipated, the wedding was beautiful and not remotely tacky let’s go get married by Elvis, it was on a roof top terrace with a full wedding dress, it is certainly one that will be remembered. Just like Mammy & Daddy’s trip which is now such a good memory, life is just too short to miss out on opportunities.  I’m certain that when we’re sat in our rocking chairs with our slippers many years from now (OK in a few), we’ll remember the trip.  Life is a journey and it’s what you do along the way that counts…now get booked for Vegas 🙂

 

Michelle xx

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It’s For The Last Time…

He'll always be my baby boy

He’ll always be my baby boy

I’ve spent the last week with a little knot in my tummy and slight sadness in my heart, no one prepared me for how i would feel this week.  You see, this week is the last week my baby boy is a school pupil.  I know this doesn’t really mean much to you but it was the last time, like the VERY last time, i topped up his dinner money account, the last time his school shirts were ironed, the last time his bus ticket was purchased and tomorrow will be his very last day at school with his last GCSE.

First day at big school

First day at big school

Where has that time gone? In my head it’s still his first day at secondary school with a blazer way too big but a big cheesy grin, feeling all grown up ready for big school. He’s 17 this year and can learn to drive and although i’m excited to see what he does with his life and so proud of the man he is turning into it still makes me sad that in the click of a switch those years have gone. Why didn’t I see it coming?

building snowmen

building snowmen

For those that know me, they know that Liam, my son, is the one constant in my life, from teenage single mum to now living in our very own dream home with our gorgeous family and i won’t lie, there were some turbulent times, but he is the one person that lived those with me and actually, pretty much watch me grow up.

Perfection right there!

Perfection right there!

As a teenage mum i didn’t have the choice whether to work full time or not, i worked full time and studied at college too for 8 years.  I could have spent more time with Liam and not studied at college but i wanted a better life for him and actually, i wanted it for me too. So there was always that guilt as i’m sure many many other mum’s have, that they don’t spend enough time with the kids.  If i’m honest, i think whatever choices us mum’s make, whether to spend more time at home, or work more hours to be able to have those holidays and luxuries,  the ‘i wonder what if…’ scenarios will always cross our minds. There really is no wrong or right, just choices we have to make.

My happy boy

My happy boy

When i look at Liam, i see someone who always has a smile on his face (providing it’s after 11am), he is loved by his family and many friends, he has a very bright future ahead of him and i really couldn’t ask for more from a son.  So actually, i did a bloody good job and instead of sat here in my little world of sorrow i’m going to take my own advice and be happy, live for today and just stop every once in a while to appreciate everything.

Love x

Love x

The glass is half full people!!!

Just make sure you really think about those words ‘you only live once’ because you really do only get one shot at life, make it count.

Michelle xx

Leavers 2016 (he's the one on his knees!)

Leavers 2016 (he’s the one on his knees!)

 

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How to Potty Train in 5 Easy Steps

Freya Lillie

Freya Lillie

OK so i’m not going to lie, the thought of potty training did not bring me a sense of excitement like many other milestones of parenting, 14 years since the last time i endured it and my lack of memories meant either A) it was so bad i blocked it from my memory or B) actually it was OK so nothing major to remember.  I was praying it was the latter! Only 2 weeks later and with a fully potty trained 2 year old, what was i so worried about?

Freya had been showing signs since before she was 2, going for her own clean nappy and lying down on the floor to be changed.  We knew we couldn’t really potty train before the age of 2 as her muscles hadn’t fully developed, just like all other 1 year olds, so she wouldn’t be able to ‘hold on’ and we didn’t want to set her back before her journey had begun.  We still introduced the potty and she was very familiar with it and would often sit on it, so it wasn’t some alien object when the time came to use it for real.

We knew it was time and didn’t want to wait until nearer 3 as i had several friends struggling with strong minded threenagers.

There is no correct age or correct way to potty train, but if these steps i followed help others, happy days.

Me & My Mummy

Me & My Mummy

Step 1 – Plan ahead

We chose the Easter holidays and blocked out 3 full days in which i would stay home all day with Freya during which time she would be pretty much naked morning til night. Meaning we could quickly get to the potty which we placed in the living room and there was no safety net in the form of a nappy! It took some persuading for Freya to sit and use the potty for the first time but when she realised she had to go, well she had to go and then it quickly became the norm.

Step 2 – Nappy Fairy

Our nappies were always placed in a cupboard and Freya knew where and could easily grab whenever she liked.  We removed all the nappies and left an empty packet, she’s pretty smart, she knew no nappies meant she had to use the potty. If she knew there were still nappies she would have screamed until she had one on.

Step 3 – Big Girl Pants

Freya wore pull ups for the first few days and for our first outings and although she did pull them down to use the potty, she also got lazy at times and didn’t bother. This only really happened a couple of times but we didn’t want her to rely on that safety net so decided to make the next step to big girls pants to see how she handled it.  We made a big deal of purchasing her new big girl pants and she chose which ones she wanted, happy with her purchase showing the whole of the shopping centre, Freya then demanded to put them on as soon as we were home. This was a good move, much easier to pull down and she knew she couldn’t just have a wee wee.

Step 4 – Praise and Treats

Chocolate Lover

Chocolate Lover

Ok so using the potty for the first time may have included bribery in the form of ‘ if you have a wee wee on the potty Freya, you can have some choc’.  This worked great until she started sitting on the potty for fun and claiming she had ‘done a wee wee’. But hey whatever works! She was also showered in kisses and cuddles, i think she preferred the choc 🙂

Step 5 – Supper Time

Part of Freya’s bedtime routine has or had always included a drink of milk but we knew that eventually she would have to be potty trained at night too so these drinks would have to be stopped or brought forward.  Freya started to wake during the night and shout ‘wee wee’ after around a week so we knew she was ready to lose the pull ups at night too.  We moved her bedtime drink of milk from 6.30pm to 5pm and when she requested it we offered her alternatives such as berries or toast which she thought was great, she now very rarely asks for her milk on an evening.

I’m sure Freya will have the odd accident which is very normal.  Our biggest challenge was to get her to use an actual toilet, she was a little scared of them at first but with a little persuading and after being caught short at trampoline lessons and knew she had no option, we tackled the scary toilet syndrome.  It’s important to say that after the first time on a toilet she then began an obsession which involves trying every public toilet she can, Mummy hates public toilets.

Over to you, good luck!!!!!

Michelle xx

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5 STEPS TO

Mummy’s Preemie Turns 2 by Freya Lillie (aka Mummy’s Preemie)

Mummy’s Preemie Turns 2 by Freya Lillie (aka Mummy’s preemie)

Me & My Mummy

Me & My Mummy

My mummy is a bit busy at the moment (i think she thinks i haven’t noticed) she’s working on a new clothing range named after me, Freya Lillie, so i’ve decided to help her out and write a blog because it’s nearly my birthday.

Mummy says it’s important that our followers are kept up to date with what’s going on and to try and give them something interesting to read every now and then. For some reason she thinks people are interested in me, i suppose i am quite cute but i think it’s maybe more about my journey since it started 11 weeks early!

Me...doing great!

Me…doing great!

People always ask mummy ‘so how’s she doing?’ and mummy always responds ‘she’s doing great’ because mummy and daddy think i’m pretty brilliant, they don’t compare me to anyone else and they always look so amazed every time i say a new word or put puzzles together myself. I can even count to six now, you should see mummy, i think she thinks i’m a child genius and she cuddles me and claps and kisses me all over. I won’t even mention how excited she got when i started putting 2 and 3 words together, wow!

Only a few weeks old, learning to suck, breathe and swallow

Only a few weeks old, learning to suck, breathe and swallow

The difference between an 11 week preemie and a regular 2 year old, hmmm i’m not sure, i just feel the same and act the same, i’m a little bit naughty sometimes too. The thing i hate most and makes me upset is going to see the lady at the hospital every now and then with mummy. She makes me play with toys and asks mummy lots of questions, i even have to have my head measured and then take all of my clothes off to get weighed and measured. I really don’t like this and it makes me cry lots, so mummy has to get on the scales with me and cuddle me. I’m in aged 2 clothing so i think i’m growing ok. Mummy says it’s a good job she has a stock room full of clothing because i keep on growing, i think she’s happy about that though. They said if i’m doing well at my next appointment this year i won’t have to go back until i’m 5!

Me nearly 2!

Me nearly 2!

Mummy and daddy always seem to worry a lot in the cold weather, they think because my lungs weren’t developed properly it causes me to get a poorly cough a lot and it makes me sick and sometimes it’s a bit harder to breath, so mummy puts so many clothes on me when we go out i can hardly walk, silly mummy!

Mummy says this rocking chair was a god send

Mummy says this rocking chair was a god send

I still don’t sleep through the night and i think mummy and daddy are really tired now but mummy says if i need a cuddle or my milk during the night then i can have it because i’m only a baby for such a short time that she doesn’t mind sitting on the rocking chair reading a book or singing a song to get me back to sleep, i think she quite likes it. It makes me feel all safe and secure and i go straight back to sleep.

Me at the top of the Burj in Dubai eating sandwiches...i was hungry!

Me at the top of the Burj in Dubai eating sandwiches…i was hungry!

Mummy says my development in the last year has been pretty amazing and i’ve come on leaps and bounds, i don’t know what this means but i think it’s a good thing. I’ve even got friends now at nursery and we play together with the dollies but i like playing outside the most and reading books, i read to mummy all of the time and i’m not sure why but she sits and smiles at me while i’m reading to her.

Love my Daddy

Love my Daddy

My mummy and daddy love me lots and even my big brother Leelee (his name is Liam but i like Leelee)

My Leelee

My Leelee

I’m sorry mummy for making you so worried when i was born, for sitting by my cot for 6 weeks solid, for you having to leave me and go home each night without me, for still having to get up in the night to express milk even though i wasn’t there with you, for making you panic when i kept forgetting to breathe, but you never needed to worry because i’m made up of one part you and one part daddy so i was always going to be made of something strong.

Love x

Love Freya xx

Teenage Mum to Mumpreneur…never let anyone dull your sparkle!

From teenage mum to mumpreneur…never let anyone dull your sparkle

Mumpreneur, victoria beckham

Mumpreneur

I read an article quite recently which talked about a famous mum as a role model AKA Posh Spice and how women in business should be a little bit more realistic when setting their goals and dreams.

I could totally see what they were saying and why they were saying it, but this really saddened me. I don’t want to be realistic with my dreams, i want to dream big, reach for the stars and believe i can achieve whatever i desire. My dreams motivate me everyday and yes in the back of my head i may have a little bit of a resounding doubt that maybe i won’t make millions and be super successful…but maybe, just maybe i actually will.

Victoria Beckham may have limitless pots of money, people falling at her feet plus a slightly handsome husband 🙂 But she was once normal like you and I, she has been knocked off her pedestal many times for singing credentials, clothing choices and then when she started her own brand, she wasn’t taken seriously and mocked. She did all of this in the public eye and each time got back up and started again, she didn’t give up and today she is a highly respected designer making a pretty penny too. Some of us daren’t even put a video on social media never mind every step monitored and discussed, so to me, actually, she’s a pretty good role model. Plus i would do pretty much anything for a VB handbag!

Barack Obama

He Had A Dream

I wonder what might have happened if someone had said those same things to Barack Obama, first African American president who grew up herding goats in a Kenyan village with a school with a little tin roof (www.history.co.uk) I think you may agree that becoming president may have been an unrealistic dream some may say, but he dreamed big and believed he could do anything, put in a lot of work and achieved his dream.

When i left school at 16, i had very few GCSE’s and by the age of 17 i was living in a council house on my own with a newborn baby boy (whom might i add, is 17 himself this year eeeeek) and i had no qualifications. I came to the realisation that i was responsible for this tiny life and i wanted to be the best mum i could be and be someone he respected, a role model. As well as have nice things and to go to nice places.

My Everything

My Everything

I dreamed big but took small steps, i worked full time and i studied pretty much non stop for 8 years. I knew there were no quick fixes and it would take time and effort. After 8 years had passed i graduated with not only a BA Hons Degree in Business with a decent 2:1 but a PGCE teaching qualification too. I bought my first home with my son with no help or handouts from anyone else. All of those things were a huge dream to someone that at times had to feed her son rather than herself, and in the beginning wasn’t sure if i would achieve my dreams, but i was going to try my damned hardest…and i did. It’s not really on the same scale as first African American President or Designer Extrodinare.
But my point is that everyone starts somewhere, as long as you understand that it will take hard work, drive and small steps to start, the World is your oyster.

Inspiring Quote

 

Success comes in many shapes and forms and only you will know when you’ve reached it, if you are happy and in a place where you want to be, then i’d say that’s pretty successful!

I now have my own business www.freya-lillie.com which i love so much and is continuing to grow, i am helping other mum’s on the road to their dreams and even looking at business number 2.

I am aiming for Victoria Beckham status in the world of entrepreneurism and i won’t be allowing anyone to dull my sparkle! Even the word impossible has the words i’m possible 🙂

Go chase your dreams!

Michelle x

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How To Increase Your Facebook Reach…For Free!

IMG_00349 Steps to Increase Facebook Reach & Engagement

Worldwide, there are over 1.55 billion monthly active Facebook users (MAUs) which is a 14 percent increase year over year. 1.01 billion people log onto Facebook daily  and there are 1.39 billion mobile active users (Zephoria.com)with these statistics you can not ignore the fact Facebook is an essential tool for your brand and to let the world know you exist. It’s all good and well having a very pretty website, but if there’s no path that leads to it 🙁

The problem that occurs is that it’s sometimes like banging your head off a brick wall trying to increase your reach or engagement. I don’t for a second believe anyone has the magic answer or that each and every post is super successful, it’s all about measuring what works for you and trial and error. You won’t always get it spot on, but that’s OK. Don’t keep doing what you are doing if it’s not working, try to think outside of the box and ask yourself, who are your followers and what are their interests?

Sometimes your reach may be fabulous but you have very few likes but that’s great as people have seen your logo and your brand awareness has increased. The amount of people when i attend fairs who have said ‘Oh i’ve seen your logo somewhere’ and then have stopped to chat and look is great, so it’s not just about direct sales from posts (although they are very satisfying!)

Anyway, I’m hoping these helpful tips will improve your reach and engagement!

  1. Create visual posts that people will notice, even if you are asking a question, try canva.com free software with hundreds of free images and editing tools…it’s addictive!!! You can even create magazines/brochures and download a PDF
  2. It may make you feel a bit awkward but if your not feeling awkward and uncomfortable your not challenging yourself…posting video clips which include you!! Even Mr Zuckerberg has said that the future is very much video heavy (wired.com) so we need to get into it and quick. What short clips could you post? If you see any video’s on Facebook, save them and create a bank to use in future posts.
  3. Plan your content for the week…but not all of it. Leave room for any new trends, stories, articles that you can post, i find these are often the ones with the highest reach. If you’re one of the first to post, it will be shared hundreds if not thousands of times (make sure you are following pages who offer this information to you). Go one step further and rewrite it in your own words with your own branding (Reference your source to authenticate your info!).
  4. Think outside of the box for your content. I run an online shop selling baby and children’s clothing. I know that my customers are 25+ females (i use my insights to find this info). I have shared nostalgic posts, car seat safety videos, saving ideas and each of those have reached over 50,000 people with only 3000 followers.
  5. Not too many sales post – if Facebook recognise that you are selling they will not show it to your audience or to a very limited audience as they want to give their followers value. Sell without selling, for me flatlays of outfits or customers in outfits work great. Don’t let people forget what you do but don’t post so much of the same thing that people scroll past and ignore you.
  6. Branding – make sure your logo and website is visible. Ideally have your logo as your profile picture for brand awareness so when you are reaching thousands of people they are unconsciously seeing your logo which will stick in their brains!
  7. Facebook tools are there to help so use them. Use insights to see who your fans are so when you boost any posts you can target those who are interested and visit your page. Each week or even month if time is limited, look at your insights and find out which of your posts have worked. Use this information to make notes of similar posts you can post when planning your content, try posting them at different times to analyse if it is the post or the time you posted that caused the interaction.
  8. People sell to people – add in some posts about yourself, the face and personality behind the brand.
  9. In your insights add similar pages to your own to watch, if they are interacting well and have great results, what are they doing? Don’t copy, just get a few tips! Are they asking questions, have great images or videos, maybe competitions. How often are they posting and when?

Don’t forget that although having a business’s is 80% marketing and 20% running it, you can’t be everywhere in all social media platforms all of the time. Find out which 2 platforms work best for you and interact with them daily (10 minutes morning coffee, lunch and watching the soaps) then use your lovely planners that I know you’ll all have to pencil in time to spend on other platforms keeping them upto date and interacting, even if it’s only once per week.

Remember, there’s no secret ingredient, but if you find one…let me know 🙂

Good luck

Michelle x

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How to be a Mumpreneur…and not get stressed!!!

How to be a mumpreneur…and not get stressed!

I love sitting in the car...really!

I love sitting in the car…really!

So the grey hairs have quadrupled, i’m not yet a millionaire and neither have i achieved world domination, but all good things come to those that wait…WRONG!!!!! All good things come to those that work hard, make sacrifices, make mistakes but get back up and try even harder.

I know, i’m not really selling the whole mumpreneur thing am i? Honestly, it’s bloody hard work but i get up every morning so motivated, my brain instantly switches on, well after one large latte that is, but then i’m raring to go. Move over Richard Branson (well you have to dream big).

Mumpreneurs generated over £7bn last year according to the Telegraph as well as supporting over 200,000 jobs, that’s pretty fantastic. Mum’s up and down the country just like you and I, had and have a dream along with a want and desire to be home more for their families. To do the school run, attend sports day and have something they could call their own. Sound familiar?

My first fair showcasing Freya-Lillie

My first fair showcasing Freya-Lillie

Mum to a teen and a toddler plus a 36 year old male who requires attention, a housewife, a cook, a cleaner, general dogsbody, an assessor and lecturer in business 2 days per week oh and i forgot to mention a mumpreneur trying to run a successful online clothing business and all that goes with it. The secret…time management! I know, sounds boring but it really is that simple.

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The lecturer in me sets my yearly goals making sure they are realistic, achievable and i can measure them to see how i’m progressing. These are then broken down into smaller more manageable tasks and added to my weekly/monthly business to do’s which i store in my beautiful planner (i’m a stationary addict, sad i know). At the end of the week i review what has been done, what needs work and then plan for the following week. For me this is the most productive way of working, i know exactly what needs to be done and when. Tasks have even got an estimated time attached so i know when i can fit it in. It helps with direction, efficiency and productivity.

It means sometimes you have to put down the phone and ignore social media for a short while, we all know you can lose hours lost in the world that is social media. If social media plays a large part in your business, finish the task at hand and then take some time to interact/answer questions etc but don’t get lost in something that isn’t going to bring you any value. You can still be effective on social media and not spend every waking hour checking your phone, i promise!

Both of my babies

Both of my babies

So when do i get time for working on world domination? The one thing i don’t do is work through the day as it’s not fair on my little lady, she’s only little once and i won’t get that time back. Maybe a little social media updating but even that’s limited now nap time is becoming shorter. So basically it’s a couple of hours on an evening Monday to Thursday after the bedtime stories have been read and the mouths have been fed. Friday, Saturdays and Sundays are my nights off to spend with the better half, sampling a vino or two and reconnecting whilst working our way through a good box set. Then while daddy and kiddies spend some time together on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, i get time to work on my world domination. I could do more and may not get where i want to be as fast as other mum’s starting out at the same time as me. But that’s ok, it’s all about the balance.

If opportunity doesn't knock,build a door!

The morale of the story, if you are a mum with a business idea but just waiting for that eureka moment and unsure how to fit it in…stop waiting, do it now! There’s so much help out there, all you need to start is the idea and to believe in yourself. If you don’t go out and follow your dream, someone else will pay you to help build theirs.

Michelle xx

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Adults Only! Mammy & Daddy Visit Edinburgh Christmas Market

Just Us Two!

Just Us Two!

My favourite time of the year, Christmas. A time to eat more, drink more, spend more and basically, just be merry. This year Christmas is kind of passing me by with the responsibility of Freya-Lillie.com, selling toys to mums and dads up and down the country.

But the one thing that stays the same year after year is the annual Christmas shopping trip to Edinburgh for mammy and daddy. I am such a fan of a good Christmas market, wrapping up warm, visiting the brightly lit stalls and the sound of Mariah Carey, All i Want For Christmas sounding out in the background, everyone is so happy and it just feels festive and full of cheer.

It's all about the notes

It’s all about the notes

More importantly it’s time for me and my other half to reconnect. I don’t know about other families but sometimes you just become ships that pass by in the night. Bathing the kids, cooking the tea, sending work emails…the list is endless. Where did that quality time to chat and cuddle go? Time? Sorry, what is that again?

Smile

Smile

Each and every year we follow the same plan, train up to Edinburgh planning who and what gifts we need to buy and making notes in our phones (can’t live without my iphone notes!). Arrive in Edinburgh around lunch time and head to Harvey Nics for a Fourth Floor Smash cocktail, yummy! It’s like this new found freedom, we can do what we want and when we want, it’s fab. Don’t get me wrong, Freya is pinned to my side 24/7 so I’m already missing her before i’ve even left, that horrible feeling in the pit of my tummy, it’s enough not to go at all. But i know she’ll have lots of fun with nana and mummy and daddy will have some much needed quality time together to laugh, chat and drink so much we talk about such rubbish like ‘can you remember when we…’.

Fourth Floor Smash

Fourth Floor Smash

Friday is a shopping day for us, mummy and daddy, new purchases and the odd pit stop at a wine bar or pub for some refuelling. I love it!!! This year we visited The Honours restaurant for a ‘posh’ meal, a treat to ourselves. Posh meals or meals of any kind don’t tend to happen very often, so we like to make the effort to dress up and dine out somewhere nice. I won’t lie though, i do prefer my skinny jeans, flats and a winter coat. Oh no, when did i become OLD!

Oysters in Pink Champagne

Oysters in Pink Champagne

The restaurant was welcoming, the staff very friendly and helpful and the food…WOW! Oysters in pink champagne followed by poached lemon sole was out of this world. It was a little pricey but the flavours were immense. Mark had a steak fillet and at £38 i was hoping it was the size of his plate, it was unfortunately not. However, Mark’s face said it all, so juicy and tender and according to Mark, well worth the money. Most definitely a thumbs up from us!

The Dome, another Christmassy venue...be prepared to get squashed!

The Dome, another Christmassy venue…be prepared to get squashed!

We tried a new bar afterwards which has become my new favourite, Copper & Blossom is situated just off George Street and it’s cosy, trendy, welcoming and you guessed it…full of copper and blossom. It was very busy and during the day is seating only so no standing around having a drink. I could have quite happily spent a full day relaxing, snacking and drinking in that bar, loved it and so did Mark.

Afterwards was the very trendy yet a little pricey Tiger Lily bar, i love the cocktails, the decor and how trendy it is in this bar. We were lucky enough to stay here one Christmas trip weekend, it was ideal and the room, although a little small, was right up our street. We do like to be central and make it our mission to visit a different hotel every year…but that’s a different blog!

Saturday is all systems go, operation Christmas shopping in one day begins. We have our list, we have our route, lets go shop, but first…a full Scottish breakfast please, yum yum. This seriously does set me up for a good day of shopping, that and a comfy pair of shoes.

Edinburgh Christmas Market (and Mark)

Edinburgh Christmas Market (and Mark)

Edinburgh is fab, you have your designer stores, high street stores and little boutique style shops for when you need something ‘a little different’ and when we can’t take anymore it’s time to drop off the bags and head out for the best part of the trip…the Christmas market.

Hot Beer...Yum!

Hot Beer…Yum!

It’s dark and cold, everyone wrapped up warm and cosy. The fairground rides and wooden stalls are brightly lit and the sound of Christmas music is everywhere. That’s when it hits me, that warm and happy feeling that Christmas brings. Last year i gave hot beer a try, i won’t lie, it was actually quite nice, but this year i opted for a hot chocolate complete with a proper mug, you just drop it back off later. I may have also had a shot of baileys added to it just to make it taste a little creamier, honest.

We Love it here x

We Love it here x

When you take a moment to look around, everyone is so happy and full of joy, you can’t help but smile and cuddle in, sipping drinks and listening to the Christmas music and getting excited to do it all again next year.

Michelle xx

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Post Natal Depression & My Best Friend

 

Best friends sipping champers at the races

Best friends sipping champers at the races

A fear installed in many mum’s to be, what if it happens to me. For my best friend Sarah, that was a reality, she went to hell and back but made it through to the other end. Sarah and I have worked together on this blog as we feel it’s important to make other mum’s aware that they aren’t alone and to give an honest account of Sarah’s experience of PND and how she dealt with it.

Riley Robinson!

Riley Robinson!

The gorgeous Master Riley is just over 3 years of age and anyone who knows him will agree, he has the biggest personality and is a little too clever for his age and most definitely a mummy’s boy. This was Sarah’s first child, Sarah suffered PND after having Riley and found it hard to bond with him in the beginning as well as suffering panic attacks but had no idea she was suffering with PND. It is only looking back she has realised.

The Happy Couple

The Happy Couple

Sarah and Paul (AKA Daddy) had wanted a brother or sister for Riley for a while, they had suffered a miscarriage in the past and when they finally received the news they were expecting again they were over the moon and the planning and shopping began. The pregnancy was not an easy one with Sarah and Paul pretty much on edge for 9 whole months. But beautiful Scarlett was born healthy and perfect with all ten fingers and all ten toes.

In The Beginning

Scarlett Rose Robinson

Scarlett Rose Robinson

Sarah was initially fine but after a couple of weeks, started to feel a little down in the dumps and one day received a call from Paul who had been in a car accident, luckily he was fine even though his car had been wrapped around a lamp post. Sarah believes this was the trigger that tipped her over the edge, she was supposed to be in the car with the kids but luckily was not. The very next day Sarah had a serious panic attack, shortness of breath, uncontrollable crying, heart beating out of her chest, she knew something was not right and called her Mam to come and help.

They immediately called the health visitor who came straight to the house and referred Sarah for an emergency appointment with the doctor that day. In the doctors surgery Sarah suffered yet another panic attack and the doctor prescribed her anti depressants, at that time Sarah was willing to try anything as she was desperate for the horrible feelings and thoughts to leave her alone. She had no control over them and they would continue to keep on coming over the next few weeks.

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Sarah described the daily feeling of ‘living under a black cloud’ she could try and act normal, do normal things but would always have this horrible feeling in the pit of her stomach that wouldn’t leave. She would argue with her own thoughts and most days she didn’t want to get out of bed or get dressed and missed many meals. Everything was a huge chore and Sarah had to force herself to make all of these small steps that most people do without thinking everyday.

Her health visitor had mentioned to her the Crisis Team, the group of people who decide if your kids are safe to be with you. Sarah had known this was a possibility by contacting them and letting them know how she was, but Sarah had remembered how bad she had been with Riley and how bad she was feeling at that point and the fact that she needed help, she didn’t want to do it on her own. She would be closely monitored with frequent visits from her health visitor but Sarah was surrounded by friends and family that love her very much.

When Things Were Bad

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Sarah admitted that she had thought about her Mam taking Scarlett to look after and thinking it would be best if she wasn’t around as everyone was so worried. To make her family and friends feel better and to worry that little bit less she would post photos on social media to show that she was ok, but she wasn’t,far from it. She admitted that in her deepest darkest thoughts she’d question why she had even had another baby because she just couldn’t cope with how she was feeling. But then as soon as she was having a period where she was feeling a little like her normal self, Sarah couldn’t believe she had actually thought those things and absolutely loved the bones off her kids and couldn’t live without them. Anyone that knows Sarah knows that her kids come first every time and everything she does is for them.

Good Times

Good Times

Sarah was messaging me a lot and i was doing my best to reassure her everything would be ok, i researched different articles and gave information such as certain foods to avoid and things to try. I knew these weren’t going to do much but i felt helpless and that’s all i could do, how could i possibly know what she was going through or even try to understand. I asked Sarah to bring the kids over one night for a sleep over and we’d have a girls night in where we could either talk about what she was going through or watch chick flicks and eat chocolate and try and be normal.

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Sarah forced herself to leave the house like she did every day, Paul had to come with her, he was going out with friends that evening but was very worried about leaving her. Sarah needed to know that if she panicked she could jump in the car and go home but also needed Paul to help her come over, she didn’t want to be on her own at any time. That’s when i knew how bad it was, she was at her best friends house, the place she usually just kicks of her shoes and gets comfy on the couch, instead she was on edge and wouldn’t sit down and just burst out crying saying ‘i just can’t help it, i don’t know why’.

I had never given thought to mental health and people who suffer from depression as i’d never really had too, if i’m honest i think i just thought it was just people feeling down and never thought of it as a real illness. That is until now.

It took Sarah a little while to settle and we ended up talking all night and Sarah felt , well, as happy as she could with a black cloud over her. The next morning whilst making breakfast she broke down again, i could tell she was just so fed up but had no control over it. She phoned Paul who got ready and came straight over for her.

The Crazy Kids!

The Crazy Kids!

Paul had been her rock, Paul and Sarah fit together like a glove, they are a little bit crackers, up for a laugh and everyone loves them. One thing they aren’t is overly affectionate in public, it’s just not them. But Paul changed this, cuddles and kisses and texts of reassurance and they made a huge difference. One text he sent while Sarah was sleeping over (sorry Paul) just told her he loved her, he was there for her and they would get through it together. I’m filling up now just reliving it, we were obviously both in tears. Sarah needed Paul to be her rock and although he didn’t understand either he just made sure that she knew he loved her and he wasn’t going anywhere and however long it took, it would get better and they could do it.

What Helped

Sarah was given the contact details for Talking Changes who are a group of trained counsellors who are just at the end of the phone to listen and help. Sarah spoke to these on several occasions. She also received help from her health visitors as they visited on a regular basis.

Big Brotherly Love

Big Brotherly Love

Sarah said there were a few things that helped her through, she actually stopped the anti depressants after a few days in fear she may start to rely on them and wanted to try alternative methods.

Sarah received private baby massage classes which you can ask your health visitor about, a lady comes to your house and it helps you bond with your baby. She was also told to keep looking into Scarletts eyes. Sarah said it all sounds silly but it did actually help her to bond more and feel better.

Sarah would lie in bed and hearing crying even though Scarlett was asleep. She would panic incase Scarlett would wake up and she couldn’t get her to stop crying. To deal with it Sarah put all of these thoughts into boat and sailed them down the river. I think Sarah has become a firm believer in brain training and it was definitely a factor in her recovery.

She had said that she had been told not to look into the future or in the past and just the day your living in. One small step at a time!

When We Were Young...Much younger!

When We Were Young…Much younger!

Sarah being Sarah, thinking she is superwoman gave in and asked for help, family and friends would babysit and help with household chores. This eased the pressure from Sarah. I think other mum’s suffer from ‘superwoman syndrome’ too, being a mum is non stop never mind those who work too. The dust will still be there tomorrow, but your babies won’t always be babies tomorrow.

Sarah forced herself to go to baby classes such as Song & Rhyme, visiting friends, doing ‘normal’ things. She was determined not to let this illness beat her and although it took every bit of strength and lots of tears, she pushed through until it eventually started to get a little more bearable.

Everyday i would text ‘So how are you doing today?’ and each day i would receive the same response ‘i’m ok but i had an episode…’ then one day her response had changed ‘i feel OK, i haven’t had any episodes, i feel like i have won the lottery Shell, i feel happy’.  It had been so bad that to have a day where the black cloud was lifted and she felt OK, to Sarah no amount of money could have been better than that feeling. Those texts continued over the next few days, although Sarah wasn’t and still isn’t 100% she has figured out how to control it.

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Sarah’s Baby Shower

I can’t tell you how proud i am of my best friend, she tackled her illness head on, didn’t hide it from friends and family and now wants to be able to help others if she can. Please don’t sit in silence as you really aren’t alone, if you don’t feel comfortable speaking to professionals then Sarah would be happy just to chat as Sarah understands sometimes it’s better to talk to someone who has been through it too. Email michelle@freya-lillie.com and your details will be passed to Sarah.

Please share this blog with anyone that maybe going through something similar or that has just had a baby. They don’t have to sit silently with this awful illness and they certainly shouldn’t be ashamed, it could happen to anyone.

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Me & He…The Afterbirth

Date Night

Date Night

Ah the good old days, remembering our lengthy evening chats on future goals, our ambitions, places we wanted to travel too, our next weekend away together or family holiday. I say the good old days, but that was only a year ago! Conversations these days include ‘you should have seen Freya’s funny face she pulled this morning’ or ‘ you’ll never guess, Freya slept for a full 2 hours this morning, i got lots of housework done’.

Now i’m not saying this is a negative change, it’s just a change, things are a little different now.

I’ll be honest, i can’t say i thought about how our relationship may change after a baby or how frustrated i may sometimes get over little things like washing my hair! I know how ridiculous that sounds but new mum’s know exactly what i’m talking about.

Baby Carrier

Snuggles

I was lucky enough to have 10 months maternity leave and only return to work 2 days per week. Now i don’t know about you lot but trying to look after a baby all day, get myself ready, get the baby ready, eat, prepare food, do some washing, get the shopping, have a little clean, make meals, well i’m tired just even thinking about it. It’s not a 9 to 5 job, it’s a 24/7 job with you as primary carer and it’s nice to have that recognised. My 2 days at work is sometimes like a little break, at least i can get a cup of coffee hot or eat my lunch with both hands if needed, i can even have adult conversations. But i won’t lie, i do miss her cheeky face when i’m not with her.

Cheeky

Cheeky

Now i may get annoyed with my beloved other half more than i used too, but as far as daddy’s and partners go, well i have to admit, i do have a good one. He helps with the housework, we’ve always took turns in night feeds and he does make me feel very loved. However, we are far from perfect, although i am slightly more perfect than he is. I always say an argument every now and then shows the passion in a relationship and how much you care, on the plus side the making up is great. If you had no disagreements, well, that’s just boring and maybe even says that you’re just not that bothered?

So what are the changes and disagreements about you may ask, well, read on…

Wear a hat, it's easier!

Wear a hat, it’s easier!

How do i look?
How many of you find it impossible to shower, do your hair (like actually clean it), put on some make up and get ready all in one go whilst having a baby with you? Wouldn’t you love to just wash your hair, maybe even paint your nails or stick on some fake tan to give yourself a little boost but the opportunity never really appears as there is always something that needs doing.

Putting the kids to bed, making the tea, finishing some work or whether in fact you’re just so blooming tired you want to lie on the couch with a cup of tea or glass of wine and don’t even care your legs need shaving and are starting to resemble something from Planet of the Apes! It’s even more frustrating when your other half hasn’t really got a clue, he’s showered and ready in ten minutes, child free and if on the off chance you do have the opportunity, within 20 minutes your presented with ‘how long do you think you’ll be’…roll on argument number 1

Helping me get ready

Helping me get ready

Intimacy
So, you’ve just given birth only weeks ago, you haven’t had a slap of make up on since, you have a bit of a wobbly baby belly, maybe carrying a little extra weight, prickly legs, emotions flying all over the place and the thought of being naked does not make you feel sexy, plus you are just so blooming tired. The last thing that is even crossing your mind is a little slap and tickle, you’d rather do nothing at all because that very rarely happens too. But we do have to think about it at some point, it is important when you are feeling a little more used to things, getting yourself organised and on top of things, you take the time to stick that make up on, buy some new underwear and get that intimacy back. Feel close and connected and just to remember how god damn sexy you are!

Kisses for Mummy

Kisses for Mummy

Affection
When a tiny little bundle comes into your life and your just bursting with love, they do consume a lot of your affection. Now i’m not saying i’m an ice queen but…!

Freya is showered with kisses and cuddles all day long and if i’m honest, i sometimes neglect my other half, bless him. That’s why it’s so important for date night, to spend some time with just each other, who cares if the conversation does revolve around babies and teenagers, just to have that time away from the distractions of TV’s, housework and everything else, it’s just the 2 of you. It’s sometimes like a big effort for date night to happen but it’s totally worth it when you come home laughing, hand in hand and just remembering why you fell in love with him.

How do i?
Now i don’t think there’s a qualification in having a baby but i do think men assume you have achieved one of these qualifications asking many many questions such as ‘what clothes shall i put on her today’ ‘what can i give her for dinner’ ‘is this bath too hot’, you get the picture. I don’t know whether it’s down to;

  1. Easier for them to ask without thinking
  2. They’re scared of doing something wrong
  3. They’re scared of being told off for doing something wrong

How many times have they done something without asking and possibly been told they’ve done it wrong? We do have a tendency to put them right for doing things wrong and i do give Mark a funny look when i see Freya in clashing prints in a ‘what were you thinking’ sort of way.

Loves him x

Loves him x

My advice, embrace the changes, talk to each other and don’t assume he knows what’s wrong because let’s be honest, they really aren’t very good at that game!!

Remember you made something precious together

Remember you made something precious together

Love Michelle xx

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Drum Role Please…My Last 3 Clean Eating Recipes

Frozen Yoghurt Slices

Frozen Yoghurt Slices

So, we’ve covered eggs for breakfast and pizza for lunch now it’s time for sweet treats, my favourite. But I thought I’d give you the last 3 recipes together in one easy place!
Today’s delights consist of yoghurt slices, a super duper clean and totally healthy dinner and a yummy smoothie.

My Scrummy Prawn Pizza

My Scrummy Prawn Pizza

I’ve only been clean eating a few weeks and although I have added extra exercise in too, I feel healthier, slimmer, less bloated, more awake by the afternoon (usually need match sticks to keep my eyes open) and more tight and toned. I won’t lie, it feels good to feel like this. How long will I keep it up? Well who know’s, I know I’m certainly going to enjoy myself on holiday and not think about what I am eating, but I am finding that I enjoy this diet and it’s not really a chore like some diets can be. I suppose it’s more of a way of life rather than a diet.
I find myself getting all excited when I find new recipes and I’ll start explaining them to Mark (my other half) and bless him, his response Is always ‘that’s sounds nice’. Ok, I get the picture Mark, you’re not that fussed what’s for dinner tonight as long as it tastes good! So far so good though, no complaining.

Spinach & Mushroom Muffins

Spinach & Mushroom Muffins – Brekkie

We all like a sweet treat and it’s been a tough one experimenting with sweet treats that actually hit the spot but are relatively healthy, clean and easy to make. The yoghurt slices I really enjoy and so does Freya, plus there’s no need to feel guilty. If you’re looking for a quick fix frozen yoghurt is always the better option over ice cream.
Ingredients
1 cup of your favourite white yoghurt
1 tbsp of rice syrup or honey or any other sweetener
1 tsp of vanilla extract if you have it, don’t worry if you don’t.
2 handfuls of raspberries
Handful of white choc chips
Handful of desiccated coconut
(If you want to use dark choc chips or different fruit, go ahead!)

Method
If you mix the yoghurt, sweetener and vanilla together. Line a freezer safe dish with some tin foil and pour in the mixture.
Top it off with your chocolate, raspberries and coconut and freeze for around 2 to 3 hours.
Remove from the freezer and leave for a few minutes before slicing and eating. They can last for up to 4 weeks in the freezer
Your guilty free sweet treat!!

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TIP – If you are trying to lose weight, use an app such as MyFitnessPal to track how many calories you are eating per day, it will help you take notice of those little things such as coffees, that add up and make the difference.

Next on the agenda…a tasty dinner.
For when us mum’s have 20 minutes to whip up a healthy meal for dinner, this is it, I know I am biased because I love it so much, but really, quick and easy and totally clean and healthy.

Courgetti spaghetti and if you like cauliflower, there's even a cous cous

Courgetti spaghetti and if you like cauliflower, there’s even a cous cous

Did you know that Tesco have even got into the whole clean eating trend and when time is tight you can buy what’s called courgette spaghetti and carrot spaghetti, there’s no pasta involved it’s all veg! You can make it from scratch if you have the time but I won’t lie, I did buy it in a packet from Tesco but it’s still totally clean.
The only ingredients required are salmon filets (or a piece of red meat if you prefer) a packet of courgette spaghetti and carrot spaghetti. The salmon are usually baked for approx. 20 minutes in the oven wrapped in tin foil to keep them moist and the vegetable spaghetti is popped into a wok and stir fried for 4 minutes. That’s it, that’s all that is needed and the kids will love the super long pieces of vegetables (well hopefully).
One of my other clean eating healthy dinners is sweet potato wedges, mushrooms and a piece of red meat with maybe a little asparagus on the side. I make the wedges from scratch and use only a light oil spray such as flora for the wedges and mushrooms and red meat. Basically heat the oven to around 200 degrees Celsius, scrub the potatoes and cut into wedges. Spray with the light oil and season with salt and pepper, pop into the oven for around 40 minutes. Fry your mushrooms and meat using the light oil too. Super tasty!

TIP – If you go to a restaurant for your dinner, make sure you ask for your dressings on the side, these are usually packed with calories.

One of my delicious nutri bullet smoothies - packed full of goodness

One of my delicious nutri bullet smoothies – packed full of goodness

And finally, for a mid afternoon treat or to complement your exercise and help with recovery is a tasty smoothie. If you haven’t already got a device such as the nutribullet, GET ONE!!! I can’t recommend them enough, I was worried it would be a fad for me but I’ve had it for a fair few months now and use it almost every day. Now I’m not condoning the use of alcohol but I have heard it can also make some pretty mean cocktails ☺

Ingredients
Handful of spinach or kale (I promise you can’t taste it at all)
1 banana (fresh or frozen)
Handful of blueberries (fresh or frozen)
Handful of mango (fresh or frozen)
Sprinkling of almonds
Unsweetened almond milk
Ice
Add protein powder if needed but you’ve already got a protein boost with what’s already been added.
You can also add superfoods and extras such as goji berries, flax seeds, chia seeds, the list goes on.
The great thing about smoothies are they actually fill you up, they are tasty, super healthy and you can experiment with whatever you like. Plus babies like them too, Freya makes sure she has some if I make one, how better to get fruit and veg and goodness into little ones.
Well, that’s my 5 clean eating, healthy recipes complete. If you didn’t see my egg muffins or homemade pizza, check out my earlier blogs on how to make them.
I’m going to continue to experiment with healthy and quick recipes so if you have enjoyed these then let me know and I will post more or sign up to our newsletter which you can do via our facebook page (click on more) or through our website.

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Michelle x

Clean Eating – Day 2 of 5 Clean Eating Recipes

Day 2 of our 5 day clean eating blogs, if you are reading this chances are your egg muffins were actually ok, didn’t take long to prepare and tasted like little mini omelettes. Well done!!

My Scrummy Prawn Pizza

My Scrummy Prawn Pizza

Now we have covered breakfast (see my previous post for quick and easy egg muffins), what’s for lunch i hear you ask? How about a nice healthy pizza? YES, you heard right, healthy with minimum calories.

Not bad for a first attempt

Not bad for a first attempt

When i made these pizzas for lunch the smell even managed to drag Liam (teenage son) from out of his pit as it smelled totally delicious. I won’t lie even i thought it was super tasty, made even better with the thought it wasn’t full of fat and unhealthy ingredients.

Takeaway Pizza

Takeaway Pizza

I don’t mind a take away pizza at the weekend, although i prefer the ‘do it yourself’ pizzas from Sainsbury’s. When the takeaway pizza arrives and you can almost see the cheese swimming, well, that’s not very appealing to me but the smell is delicious. So now i have my healthy pizza, i’m happy as Larry.

TIP – Try drinking plenty of water with ice during the day, because the water is so cold, your body burns more calories trying to regulate it’s temperature.

Ingredients
Wholewheat tortillas or pittas ( make sure you read the ingredients on the packs, there should be around 5 ingredients and not 25!) You can also use pittas if you prefer.

Tin of tomatoes
Clove of garlic
Basil
Salt & Pepper
Mozarella

Toppings – for mine i chose spinach and prawns but feel free to experiment with your own choice of toppings.

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I used a pizza tray which we cook our pizzas on usually and it worked well as they have small holes in, they can be quite soggy in the middle so these trays help crisp them up a bit better. I sprayed a little oil on to make sure the pizza didn’t stick.

So, i mixed the tomatoes, basil, garlic and salt and pepper together before spreading on the tortilla. Leave about 1/2 inch round the edge. I then sprinkled on my cheese and added the prawns before cooking in the fan oven at 200 degrees celsius for approx 11 minutes. When you see the cheese bubbling and the edges turning brown your done. Plate up and enjoy your non guilty yet tasty pizza!

TIP – If they do turn out a little soggy, which mine have in the past, they also taste great folded over as a calzone. Although freya prefers her homemade pizza cut into fingers.

Tune in tomorrow for a sweet treat!

Love Michelle x

Clean Eating – Day 1 of 5 Recipes

So, before i start i just want to make it clear, qualified nutritionist or fitness expert i am definitely not, but i have done my research, using various reliable websites and books, in which i have adapted recipes to fit my preferences.

The Goal – to feel healthier, find food my whole family will enjoy(there’s even one recipe i’ll show you later that my teenage son loved, now i feel successful), lose a few pounds (have a bikini to fit into) and not have to starve myself!

The Problem – i’m addicted to food, usually the unhealthy variety of sweets and crisps. I have limited time to prepare complex meals and i need something that a 1 year old will also eat.

Hello Clean Eating…

Natural Wholesome Food

Natural Wholesome Food

If i am totally honest i didn’t really know what clean eating was all about, but it’s exactly what it says on the tin, clean wholesome foods which are natural and not processed and filled full of chemicals. It’s actually quite alarming when i read some ingredients of even things such as wholewheat tortillas, or a packet of ham, my naivety led me to think ham was ham.

Now it’s important to say i don’t follow clean eating religiously, i can’t go a weekend without crisps and chocolate and i don’t want to either. During the week, this is when i am good, i don’t starve or do without snacks. Most of us know, if you cut food out of your diet and become so hungry and unhappy, you end up caving in and eating twice as much, epic fail! I have found the key is making swaps, if you are hungry at 10am and again in the afternoon, eat something, but not junk food because if you have yourself a chocolate bar, once the sugar is processed you will be craving another in around an hour or so, you’re fighting a losing battle.

Firstly you need to get prepared, anyone that knows me, knows of my obsession with stationary, notepad for literally everything, i can’t help it, i love it. But i found a great notepad in Wilkinson’s which plans out your meals for the week, a space for your shopping list on the side and it even has a magnet on the back to stick to the fridge. This allows your teenage son to get all of his twisting out of the way in one go when he sees the meals for the week. But it’s great for you to plan out your healthy meals and snacks and go to the shops and buy those ingredients and nothing more until the weekend, when you may have a cheat day. Add exercise into the mix a few times a week, even if it’s just long walks, and you won’t know yourself, your energy surges may cause you to do things like go out dancing or in my case, clean out the kitchen cupboards.

So, 5 days, 5 recipes, all clean eating. I’m going to cover breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks and hopefully add in a few helpful tips along the way.

First up…egg muffins for breakfast. These are quick and easy, packed full of goodness, you can store them in your fridge in an airtight container for a few days. So when time is limited on a morning, grab a couple, microwave for a short time and your done, quicker than toast.

Spinach & Mushroom Muffins

Spinach & Mushroom Muffins

TIP – Don’t ever skip breakfast, this kick starts your metabolism on a morning and helps with weight loss.

Ingredients (this will give you 12 muffins)
4 eggs
4 egg whites
salt & pepper to season
spinach
mushrooms (it’s up to you what you want to put in your muffins, i chose spinach and mushrooms but you could have peppers, tuna and cheese, asparagus. Experiment and go crazy!)

Use a measuring jug if you have one as it’s easier to pour the mix into the tray and creates less mess. Add 4 eggs and 4 eggs whites with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and whisk together. You could add a touch of garlic to give it an extra kick.

Chop the spinach and mushrooms and heat a frying pan to a medium heat before adding a light oil spray such as flora. Cook for a couple of minutes and add to the egg mixture.

I used a silicon muffin tray so poured the mixture straight into it. If you don’t have a silicon tray make sure you spray some of the oil in first.

Make sure your fan oven is at 160 degrees celsius and cook the muffins for 20 minutes. If you use a fork or knife to stick into the muffins when done to see if they are cooked thoroughly, the fork or knife should come out clean.

Not bad for a first attempt

Not bad for a first attempt

Leave to cool for a couple minutes, grab a cuppa and enjoy your healthy breakfast.

TIP – If you want to up your healthy game, swap your coffee/tea for hot water and lemon. Make sure it isn’t boiling hot and use only fresh lemons. I usually squeeze half a lemon into my water each day. It helps flush out all of the toxins in your body, has been proven to help with weight loss and sets you up to make the right choices for your diet that day.

When the muffins are fully cooled transfer to an airtight container and pop them in the fridge.

And just so you know, these have around 40 calories each and are high in protein. I think they are great as i have no need for my 10am snack when i eat these, because they are high in protein they curb any hunger pains, brilliant!

So, no excuses, everyone has eggs in their fridge, start now and reap the rewards when you are feeling full of energy and losing the pounds!

Stay tuned for round 2 tomorrow.

Good luck x

Teen Mum v Thirty Something

 

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Me and my boy, all grown up

Stereotype – if you look up this word in the dictionary you will see a photo of me, well many years ago anyway. An intelligent and friendly girl, top sets for most subjects, 3 years into senior school, I found boys, popularity and became bored with school. At the age of 17 I had my little boy Liam and I was living on my own in a tiny little council house with quite frankly, rubbish GCSE’s.

I loved being pregnant, I also loved being a mum. One thing I realised quite quickly was I didn’t want this life for my son or for me, waiting each week for the ‘dole’ cheque to be posted. So I did something about it and applied for an apprenticeship and started fairly soon after.

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My desire to succeed and want to learn more was quickly noticed and I was offered a job as a receptionist and then promoted to Sales Secretary. At the age of 19 I applied for my first mortgage (at a time when 100% mortgages were possible!) and me and my gorgeous little boy moved into our own house, it was such a proud moment for me, i’d done it on my own, little old me.

My baby boy

My baby boy

I worked full time and Liam was in childcare, i also studied part time at college. He was such a happy little boy, well behaved, and very social. I think I was probably quite a strict mum following routines, but I had to be as there was only me. As a result Liam always went to bed at 7pm and I think that’s why he’s so well behaved. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not raising an angel!
Liam drank formula milk and ate a lot of baby food from a jar. I had no idea about healthy eating or the benefits of breastfeeding, I was probably horrified of the thought! But he was healthy and happy and developing well, he could say the full alphabet by the age of 2, he was so clever.

Any spare money i had was spent on clothes or toys for Liam, i started Christmas shopping half way through the year, so i could make sure i could shower him with gifts.

My 2 men

My 2 men, Sunset Strip, Ibiza, about to watch Fatboy Slim perform

At the age of 32 i became pregnant again, i wasn’t sure if i would have any more kids as i had never been the most maternal of people, but getting a little older i felt like i wanted to be a mum again and my partner, although he took on the role of daddy to Liam at the age of 9, didn’t have any of his own.

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Being pregnant this time round, although i still loved being pregnant, there was such worry and anxiousness, although justified when she came 11 weeks early.

My outlook with Freya compared to Liam is very different, i won’t lie, she is very spoilt with affection and time , Liam was in childcare all week every week, Freya is only there 2 days per week. Freya does have her bedtime routine which we stick to religiously, i’m all about the routines! Being a little older I am a lot more clued up on eating healthy and looking at what is in food and what foods to include in her diet and making sure it’s not all processed and there’s plenty of homemade.

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Liam received sweets as treats all of the time, and as a young mum i thought i was just being nice, not thinking of the damage on his little teeth. Freya isn’t even allowed fruit juice, although she is given the odd sweet treat and I won’t lie, she does loves skip crisps.
Freya has a variety of fruit and veg every day and there was no hesitation in breast feeding Freya.

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Looking back I loved my gorgeous boy enough for a mum and dad, he always had a smile on his face and we’ll share a bond that’s always special, he’s been with me through everything. Liam is predicted A’s and A*’s in his GCSE’s, he is a popular, friendly teenager, is part of a football team and he absolutely adores his little sister.

My Two Babies

My Two Babies

As an older mum i feel a lot more maternal and have a lot more patience, i miss the naivety of being a teenage mum as worry is my middle name now and it can take over sometimes. I also love being a young mum that Liam can relate too, i wont lie, i’m not looking forward to being 50 when Freya turns 18!

Teen mum’s do get a lot of stick, sometimes it’s not always justified. I’ve always had this desire to succeed and achieve, spurred on by having my baby boy at 17 and wanting to give him the best of everything. As a result i studied at college part time for around 8 years, as well as working full time and being a single mum, achieving a 2:1 in my Business Degree and achieving a PGCE so i could Lecture in colleges and of course, i now have my little business Freya Lillie.

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If i had said to someone 15 year ago sat in my little council house that one day i would have my own business, i would be lecturing in college with a few qualifications under my belt, they probably would have thought i was dreaming and i would have agreed. My point is that i had a dream, i was willing to put in the effort and work and knew it would take time, and that dream is now my reality.

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Would i do it different if i could do it all again…probably not, i can honestly say, although it’s hard work sometimes, i love my life and the journey i have been on and i can’t wait for the next chapter. Anything is possible, just believe in yourself and work, work, work!

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