2015 Top Reads

Since becoming a parent, I have a new appreciation of time. Mainly because, no matter how hard I try, I have very little of it.

Before I was a Mama, I used to read books by the dozen. Back in the day, I demolished the Hunger Games trilogy in about nine days and I used to actually enjoy the two hour train commute to Slough (occasionally) as it was two hours of pure reading time.

Then I fell pregnant and my shelves turned into a baby and parenting library. And as I got more and more into blogging, I spent more time reading other blogs and online articles than books.

So in January, I said to myself read just one book this year. Cover to cover. An honest to god fiction book with characters and a plot.

Guess what; I read two. Sadly for me, neither were very good. Better luck next year…

However! I thought I’d take this opportunity to provide you with a list of reading material I have enjoyed this year. If you enjoy Finding Our Feet, hopefully you’ll think these guys are pretty special and worth a moment of your time too.

On that note – thank you to all my readers. With time in such short supply, I am very grateful you should use some of your precious moments with me and my family on our blog. Hopefully see you in 2016 too.

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A fellow twenty-something Mama (though she’s a Bournemouth Beach-B/Mum rather than a City Mouse) to adorable Amelia. Alice & Amelia (previously ‘New Young Mum’) began after Alice unexpectedly found out she was pregnant three years ago. Since then she has shared their life together, baking, crafting and splashing in waves in wellies.

Two posts that particularly stood out for me this year were Where’s My Daddy | a letter to my daughter and Chickpea Sensory Play.

Also, definitely check out Alice’s Instagram account @newyoungmum. Her beach fun photos and Amelia’s cheeky face never fail to make me smile.

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Fellow Londoner and good friend Natasha of Mama Duck Quacks is mum to lovely three year old, ‘S’. She documents life as a single mum, encouraging others to ‘parent gently’ and to travel with their children as much as possible. (Natasha and S are constantly jetting between London, Sri Lanka, here, there and everywhere thanks to a very multicultural family set up!) She writes some very thought provoking posts on parenting and responses to current trending articles and events.

A particular favourite of mine this year was her piece on Raising Independant Boys, looking at how traditionally patriarcal Indian culture has shifted to empower young girls to dream big and reach for the stars, but how the boys have been left behind as a result.

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Running in Lavender can only described as simply ‘lovely’. Written with such warmth, it’s filled with laughter, love and happiness. Heledd, her hubby and their two girls (soon to be three!) live in Surrey and always seem to be having a whale of a time together, whether that’s baking, visiting the Teletubbies or indeed, running in the lavender fields near their house.

Heledd also runs the weekly links #mycapturedmoment which I thoroughly enjoy joining (almost) every week.

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Looking at life from the other perspective, Dave is a stay at home Dad (or, ‘House Husband,’ if you will) to Toddler L and hubby to ‘The Missus’. With a somewhat blunt and honest style, The DADventurer is a refreshing look at parenting and told with a knowing smile. Highly recommended.

He can also usually be found on Twitter (@dadventurer) with pithy parenting banter.

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I recently discovered this  insanely inspiring kids craft and activity blog as Little Miss became a fully fledged toddler. I’ve turned to The Imagination Tree for ideas for counting, reading, colours, crafts and more.

The Imagination Tree is also home to the Kindness Elves, which I very much look forward to introducing next year when Little Miss is old enough to understand.

Anna is a primary school teacher and mum of three with apparently no end to her imagination.

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Another recent discovery; fellow twenty-something-unexpectant-Mama, Maddy, over at The Speed Bump always makes me laugh whether discussing Speed Bump’s first Comicon (their equivalent of a first Holy Communion) or how tobattle the will of a toddler. She has a great writing style, managing to find the humour in the darkest of parenting moments while also studying for and graduating from her Masters. Kudos Maddy!

Two posts that particularly caught my attention this year were A Toddler’s Personal Statement (this even got the OH laughing and he’s a tough audience when it comes to parenting chatter!) and Stigma Is Alive And Well, discussing the issues us mums still sadly face.

#LittleMissAdvent all wrapped up

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Day 2: Helping Nina put up her tree, Little Miss spotted a familiar face… (see the video here)

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Day 3: Christmas stories and Santa socks

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Day 4: Christmas pjs!

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Day 5: Christmas jumper cookie decorating

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Day 6: first shoes hanging from the tree

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Day 7: who can resist getting in their sack!?

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Day 8: writing Christmas cards

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Day 9: showing Nina her twinkle lights

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Day 10: our tree in all it’s glory

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Day 11: making Christmas cards

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Day 12: Date Night at Backyard Cinema Club seeing Die Hard 2

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Day 13: Little Miss decorating her own felt tree over and over and over and over…

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Day 14: snowman butt

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Day 15: early presents from Nana

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Day 16: Nursery Christmas Party

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Day 17: it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

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Day 18: headed home for Fakemas weekend with Nina

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Day 19: Fakemas Eve

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Day 20: Fakemas morning!

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Day 21: a Christmas movie and story day as we recover from flu

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Day 22: Little Miss’ last day at her nursery (she’s not returning after Xmas)

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Day 23: packing for our week away over Christmas. I hope Little Miss approves of my choices, we all know how particular [fussy] this Fashionista can be…

Don’t forget to check out the final #LittleMissAdvent later on this evening for our Christmas Eve instalment. Find the #LittleMissAdvent photo collection on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feed. Just search the hashtag.

Merry Christmas!

See more Finding Our Feet photography on our Instagram feed, @findingourfeet.

This post is part of the My Captured Moment linky from Running In Lavender

How To: Make a Felt Christmas Tree (for the Uncrafty Mama!)

  I feel a bit of a fraud writing this blog post. I’m not artsy, I can’t sew (back in the day, my textiles teacher actually asked me not to consider Textiles GCSE!) and although I enjoy ‘crafts’, I wouldn’t say I’m exactly a natural…

I’m usually more one of those featured in the Pinterest ‘#nailedit’ category than the ‘you were repinned a trillion times for your awesomeness’ category.

But the other day I posted a photo on Facebook and Instagram of a felt Christmas tree I had made for Little Miss and turns out it was really popular, people even asking where I got my felt. So I thought I’d share my new (and probably fleeting) crafty Mama skills!

But before I start, for any non-crafty Mamas out there or nay-sayers; I haven’t seen Little Miss this enamoured with a toy, possibly ever. She played with it for nearly an hour on Sunday before dinner, then again before bed and on Monday morning she ran straight to it ready to start all over again. So with regards to ROI on your time and resources, I think this is the most successful anything I’ve ever done for Little Miss – crafty or otherwise.

You will need: 

  • 1 metre tree coloured felt -recommend dark green, in case that wasn’t obvious! (I used this felt at £5.10 per metre.)
  • Approximately five to eight A4 sheets of felt in a selection of colours (I used this pack for £4.44)
  • Scissors (preferably fabric scissors; if not, just make sure they’re sharp)
  • Either glue or a needle and thread (NB: you don’t need anything as flashy as a glue gun but prittstick isn’t going to cut it. You’ll need a squeezey bottle of glue.)
  • Any extras you like; bells, buttons, even glitter if you’re feeling brave!

The great thing about this, is it could probably be pulled together during a nap time if you glue rather than sew and go for ‘basic baubles’ (ie, just coloured circles) rather than all singing, all dancing decorated baubles and lights.

 Then, you need to:

  1. Cut your green felt into a triangle. It should be a metre high rather than a metre wide.
  2. Use your A4 sheets of coloured felt to create the decorations and lights. (This is the time consuming bit.) don’t forget a star or an angel for the top.
  3. For the lights, I cut a template out of card and cut round it so my lights all looked vaguely similar. For the little top hat, I did the same but on the black felt then stuck them together. (I started off sewing but this took way too long for a crafty novice like me.)
  4. I sewed bells to our tree too, to give that extra little sensory experience (and it was extra Christmassy). You could also use these to dangle actual decorations off if you wanted too, but I think that would just end in a ripped tree in our house! (Little Miss doesn’t really understand ‘gentle’.)

Hang it up and voila! You have a felt Christmas tree for your little one to decorate to their heart’s content.


With thanks to Pepper Design Blog who gave me the idea. 

18m-2y Sleep Regression turned sleep deprivation

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Desperately trying to show Little Miss how to sleep…

In September, Little Miss turned 18 months. It felt quite the milestone. What we didn’t know then, was that this milestone also brought with it another sleep regression.

Earlier in the Summer, The Wonder Weeks had come to an end, and to be honest, somewhat naively / hopefully, I had thought perhaps that was the end of these dreadful episodes of developmental leaps and lack of sleep.

Oh Amie. How wrong can one Mama be…

It started off slow, as it always does. A few extra night wakings here and there, needing a little pat to get back to sleep. Totally manageable.

Little Miss hates bed covers, she always has. Even as a newborn she would wail if we swaddled her. And around her first birthday, she figured out how to get out of her sleeping bag and throw it out of the cot. So after a month or so of battling, we gave up and started just snuggling her in a blanket after she’d fallen asleep.

Image 5But the nights were getting cooler, and unfortunately, with the extra wakings, there was more opportunity for her to kick off the blanket and have a strop. So we introduced a 4 tog temperature control duvet in hope that this would be too heavy to kick off but allow her the room to wriggle she craved.

While she liked her big girl bedding, on the whole, three months on we still have to wait until she’s asleep to place the duvet over her. But at least it’s too heavy for her to throw out of the cot.

In early October, we visited my in-laws in Surrey for the weekend. We were having a particularly arduous bedtime. I was stood outside her room, doing the usual, ‘pat pat shush shush, walk away, wait a few minutes, pat pat…’ when suddenly everything went quiet. After a minute, I turned to peek round the door to be met by a little face peering up at me. To be honest, Little Miss looked as surprised as me.

‘Ooh,’ she was clearly thinking, ‘I didn’t know I could do that…’

She managed to climb out of the cot later that evening too only this time, she didn’t quite nail the dismount and thumped head first onto the wooden floor, resulting in mild pandemonium and what I’m pretty sure was a mild concussion.

Luckily, she hasn’t climbed out of the cot since then. Perhaps the purple lump on her forehead put her off a bit…

But slowly and surely, the last two months have seen me and the OH reach breaking point. The wakings have increased from needing a pat and readjusting the duvet to full on two hours of screaming through the night.

In November, she had Hand, Foot & Mouth, requiring paracetamol and cuddles through the night. And last week she had a bad cough and a cold, resulting in more cuddles.

But the week before, with no illness in sight, she woke at 3am and didn’t go back to sleep until nap time at midday. How she was able to function I will never know. Because lord knows I was struggling. A few days later, she woke at 2am and didn’t go back to sleep until nearly 6am.

We’ve tried everything from our usual ‘pat pat shush shush’ to even bringing her into our bed on occasion. But we learnt very quickly that doesn’t work for Little Miss. Apparently our bed is a trampoline…

I started looking for answers.

The Baby Sleep Site explained that the 18 month sleep regression is the most difficult one to date. Between teething, an increased sense of separation anxiety and a need to exercise their new found independence – “I do it!” – the 18m regression is a doozey. But what really takes the biscuit is the fact that your toddler is not yet old enough to reason with.

We’ve been enjoying the fact Little Miss can communicate more than ever. At night, if we can get her to calm down, she’s usually able to tell us what’s wrong – hungry, cold, hurt, cuddle… But the problem at this age is there isn’t always a reason. During the previous regressions, they didn’t have the ability to be defiant. Now, Little Miss definitely does.

My Baby Sleep Guide also spoke about the The Age of Great Resistance between 14 and 24 months. This lasts at least six months, bringing with it, self-assertion, testing behaviour and protesting.

It’s no wonder sleep often goes downhill during this stage… Kids start to resist more and parents start to give in. And then a tiredness cycle sets in and things just keep getting tougher…

All of this rings true for us. We’ve had numerous nights where Little Miss will only sleep in our arms – just like a year ago during her 8/9/10 month regression. (Only she’s a lot heavier this time round!)

At the same time, she has point blank refused dinner many nights in the past few weeks, meaning she wakes up hungry at 2am. What do we do? Leave her to be hungry until 6am to ‘teach her she can’t refuse dinner’? Or give her a snack so we can all get some sleep and risk perpetuating the behaviour? We still don’t have an answer to this one. The same goes for sleeping in our arms.

And basically, this is where we are at the moment. Grumpy and delirious going round and round in circles in the dead of night.

A few have said she might be ready to move into a bed, but that just strikes terror into our hearts. Little Miss is so active and head-strong, we just don’t think she’d stay in bed and then we’d spend our nights chasing her round the apartment…

Perhaps she’s teething. Perhaps we’ve cuddled her too much. Others have said she’s not getting enough sleep… (no shit Sherlock!)

All in all, we’re reaching breaking point. And I don’t have a solution for you yet. Just a very large pot of coffee.

What about your little ones? Are they experiencing the 18m-2y sleep regression? Do you have any tips? (Please!) 

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Christmas 2.0 {The Wonderful Ordinary 14}

This year is our second Christmas with Little Miss. And while we’re still finding our feet (ha ha ha, see what I did there) with family traditions and what Christmas is to us, there’s one tradition that we started last year without even realising…

Last year, we were all hit with a sick bug the weekend we planned to put up our Christmas tree and so we weren’t able to hit up the Christmas market to buy a little something to sparkle on the top of our tree. So in our sickly state we placed a hedgehog finger puppet on top instead. As you do.

This year, in many ways, not much has changed. With me still unemployed, times are tighter than ever, so our teeny tiny £5 tree is still going strong (though we’ve managed more than six decorations this year!) and Little Miss is still infatuated with twinkly lights and confused by ‘crackers’ that aren’t actually ‘crackers’.

But we no longer have a hedgehog on top of our tree. No, no. This year, we have a little angel… of sorts…

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The ridiculousness of having a hedgehog atop our tree last year has spawned our first family tradition. Each year, Little Miss gets to choose a toy to have a tree stuck up their bum.

We started off with Minnie Mouse, but Little Miss got so upset at the prospect of Minnie on top of the tree that we swapped her for Upsy Daisy. This appeased Little Miss and there she’s sat ever since.

Another family tradition from my childhood is that each year we get a new decoration to represent the year. This is a tradition very close to my heart that creates a wonderful ‘family tree’ over the years. And I’m very, very happy to say that our little family Christmas tree is slowly starting to take shape, starting with a decoration from the Christmas I was pregnant, a baby’s first Christmas decoration from last year and this year, Little Miss’ first pair of shoes are hanging from the branches.

What Christmas traditions are close to your family’s heart?

See more Finding Our Feet photography on our Instagram feed, @findingourfeet.

See more Finding Our Feet The Wonderful Ordinary posts. 

This post is part of the My Captured Moment linky from Running In Lavender

photo of photo of Parragon Books' The The Night Before Christmas book Harriet Muncaster

Twas the night before Christmas… {Little Bookworm 3}

Last week, Little Miss received her first ever Advent box. We decided to give her everything on the 1st rather than staggered throughout Advent, mainly to ensure we got the use out of things across the festive season.

Of course, books were a large part of her box – it’s no secret Little Miss is a fan! Two of the books included were courtesy of Parragon Books, arriving just in time for the 1st.

Image 6-4This month, we received Jingle, Jingle, Little Reindeer, (£4.50 on Amazon) a finger puppet board book. My colleagues bought us three of these finger puppet books when I went on Mat Leave and they have been solid winners with Little Miss since she was born. So when I opened the package and found a Christmas themed one, I knew it would go down a storm.

The pages are filled with brightly coloured snowy scenes of elves packing the sleigh, rabbits (Little Miss’ favourite) jumping through the snow and snowmen pointing the way as the Little Reindeer makes his way to help Santa deliver presents on Christmas Eve.

The book is also the perfect size to throw in your handbag so you always have something with you to keep little ones entertained – in our case, on long tube journeys crossing London en route to Nina’s house!

IMG_0716A few days later, another padded envelope landed on our door matt. When I opened the package to find a second book, I though there must be some mistake. This was a beautifully illustrated copy of Clement C. Moore’s classic poem, The Night Before Christmas (£2 on Amazon or The Works).

Harriet Munroe creates her unusual world out of paper and fabric then photographs them to produce her illustrations. The effect is bold and enchanting and has had Little Miss completely enrapt every night before bed since she pulled the book out of her Advent box. She collects this book from the shelf each night then settles down in the arm chair beside us with her bottle and Mog (the bunny), ready and waiting.

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We’re not really sure why, but Little Miss insists calling anyone in a book wearing a hat ‘Daddy’. The OH doesn’t really wear hats, so we’re really not sure where this has come from, but this means that Santa is ‘Daddy’… I suppose it’s quite apt in a way?

Visit Parragon.com for more information or follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Don’t forget, you can keep up to date with our Christmas antics on our social channels using #LittleMissAdvent. Find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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FINDINGOURFEET.CO.UK IS A MEMBER OF THE PARRAGON BOOKS #BOOKBUDDIES CLUB. PARRAGON BOOKS SENDS US A NEW BOOK (OR TWO) EVERY MONTH FOR LITTLE MISS TO ENJOY AND REVIEW. BUT AS ALWAYS, THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN THIS REVIEW ARE INDEPENDENT AND MY OWN.

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#LittleMissAdvent

Last Christmas, Little Miss was nine months old and didn’t have much idea what was going on. She had a Christmas jumper, Pjs and some books, but all in all, it was just a bit overwhelming for her.

But this year, she’s 21 months and we are raring to go. As her first Proper Christmas, we (I) wanted to introduce the festive season to Little Miss in a special way and start to establish some family traditions.

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And so, on Tuesday, Little Miss received her first ever Advent box. Complete with;

  • Christmas jumper (John Lewis, £17)
  • Penguin bobble hat – this went down a storm! (Gap Kids, £10)
  • Snuggly socks (John Lewis, £5)
  • Red polka dot festive pjs (Gap Kids, £17)
  • A red bus Christmas table mat – living in London, she’s big into red buses (John Lewis, £3)
  • Three Christmas books; The Night Before Christmas (The Works, £3) and Jingle, Jingle Little Reindeer (Amazon, £4.50) both courtesy of Parragon books (read our Book Buddies review here) and Eight Jolly Reindeer (Foyles, £5.99) to encourage Little Miss’ counting. (She’s clearly a creative soul; colours she’s mastered super quick, numbers, not so much…)
  • Countdown to Christmas chalkboard I found in last year’s January Sale (£2).
  • 1994 Vintage Advent Calendar (more commonly known as my Advent Calendar that has served me well for 22 years without a hint of chocolate in site).

toddler advent box I’m still job hunting, so things are tight again this Christmas. But this just meant I was a bit more savvy with my shopping (hello Black November!) and leaned towards the practical, such as a ‘Wintery’ jumper, red ‘festive’ pjs and a penguin hat rather than a full on Christmas Special to ensure we get the wear out of everything. But perhaps this is a positive and perhaps our self-imposed austerity measures will encourage us to get back to what Christmas is really about.

I’ve also bought lots of Christmas stickers, felt, coloured card, pom poms and buttons for Christmas crafts, but I decided to keep these hidden and bring them out over the month to stagger the fun. (The OH is really looking forward to this bit, you can imagine…)

To celebrate Christmas on the blog, I’m sharing a different photo or video of Little Miss and our Christmas fun on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram throughout December using #LittleMissAdvent.

(My mom, ever the Christmas Fairy – I learnt from the best – has also surprised the OH and I with our own 12 Days of Christmas, so we can feel like the kids again in some small way. So no doubt there’ll be some snaps of us opening some presents each morning as well. Thanks Mama, x.)