Sunday, 30 April 2017

Planning A Christening

We are having Lilian christened in a couple of weeks time so I thought I'd share a little of the planning process with you. Although we're not overly religious the church is the backbone of our village and we appreciate the values and community it provides. Having Lily christened also feels like a lovely way of tying our family together because not only did our vicar marry us six years ago, she also led Aneurin's funeral. She was an incredible support to us after he died; we found a lot of comfort in her guidance and it feels right for her to welcome Lily into the church community. 

It's been a bit of a strange thing for me planning her christening because I'm very conscious of the fact that the only thing I will have ever planned for our first born is his funeral. If I'm honest I think my struggling with my emotions surrounding that is the reason I've been dragging my feet a little bit. Although I've managed to get everything together in time I did leave a lot to the last minute. I flit between feeling sad that I never had the chance to do this for Aneurin and feeling excited that I'm able to do this for Lily, not to mention the guilt that comes with both of those emotions. In the last week or so though something has shifted a bit, I'm able to feel more of the excitement and actually, feels lovely to plan a day in celebration of our daughter. 

A christening, baptism or naming ceremony can be whatever you want it to be. It can be as simple as the service and nothing else or it can be a huge celebration if you wish. We're going for somewhere in between. Neither mine nor Mr D's family live locally therefore don't get to see each other very often so we thought it would be a lovely opportunity to get together after the service, have some food and raise a glass to celebrate our little lioness. 

Whatever you choose to do there are a few things you can do to make the process a little easier. Here are five things I've learnt during planning. 

1. If you're offering food afterwards, shop around. We are hiring the church hall so have to provide food ourselves. For a while I couldn't decide between wanting to do it all myself (because despite the fact I barely have time to wee I'd definitely be able to do that?!), hiring caterers and ordering from somewhere like M&S. After comparing prices I found that the M&S option ended up being much cheaper per person which surprised me. I'll probably manage to cobble together a few bits myself to save some more pennies and pad it out a bit. Cheese and pineapple hedgehog, anyone?! 

2. Sort out mum and dads' outfits well in advance. This is advice I should have taken myself because we're two weeks away and I still have no idea what I'm wearing. Fortunately for the dads options are a bit more limited; a formal outfit or a more casual choice. Mr D has gone with the latter and chosen a pair of chinos, a fancy shirt and his favourite brogues. As much as I hate to admit it he's so good at knowing what looks good together, more so than I do! However, I have ordered a couple of bits for me that I'm hoping I can cobble a breastfeeding friendly outfit from. If not I'll be going in my pyjamas! 

3. Leave baby's outfit until the last minute. This might sound like a silly thing to do but when babies grow as quickly as they do if you buy something in advance it may not end up fitting them at the time. At 8 months Lily has only just gone into 6-9 month clothes after a quick, unexpected growth spurt so I could potentially have bought a beautiful outfit in 3-6 months and it never been used. Also, think about how practical your baby's outfit is. I had always envisioned Lily in a beautiful long gown but it's just not realistic when she is constantly on the move. She'd get frustrated and it'd get filthy so instead we're opting for something a little more understated. 

4. Utilise godparents! Get them practising their supportive roles and delegate jobs to them. I've roped one of Lily's godmothers into helping with the food (growing up in a pub means she's a dab hand at a buffet!) and I'm going to get them to help me set up the hall on the day. If any of your godparents have specific skills that might be of use like cake making, graphic design for the invitations or photography, use them and (hopefully!) it will save a bit too. 

5. A few simple decorations can go a long way. Church halls are usually full of brightly coloured posters and children's artwork which although lovely, doesn't look very elegant. Rather than trying to decorate the entire church hall I'm going to focus on the cake display to add a little personal touch. I decided to go with pastel colours to match the invitations so I've ordered a few confetti balloons, table confetti (which I'll chuck on all the tables), a tassle garland from one of my favourite IG shops, The Indigo Zebra and I've made a few tissue paper pom poms to hang. All in all it's cost me less than £30 but hopefully it'll look bloody lovely!

Have you or are you planning on having a christening or naming ceremony for your little one? Share any tips in the comments!

Mrs D x


Saturday, 29 April 2017

Turtle Tots Northamptonshire Review

This week saw the start of our third term of baby swimming classes with Turtle Tots and I thought it was about time I shared our love for them.

Swimming classes were one thing I knew I definitely wanted to do when I was pregnant with both of my babies. My love for swimming started at a really young age and it's something I get a lot of joy from, whether I'm swimming laps or floating around atop the water like a glorious manatee! I have fond memories of doing classes as a small child and Sunday morning swims with my dad and big brother and I couldn't wait to recreate that love with my children. Luckily for me Lily loves the water as much as I do. Even when she was tucked away in my tummy she seemed to enjoy a good splash, rolling around and kicking like crazy whenever I went swimming or swooshed about in the bath. And out of my tummy she is exactly the same.

We started with Turtle Tots when Lily was 11 weeks old. I wondered whether she was too little but a quick read on their website told me the earlier they get used to the water the better. New environments and activities are always going to take a little bit of time to get used to with a tiny human but I was surprised at how quickly Lily took to it. The first week she managed 20 minutes before she cried so much I had to get her out and flop my boob out of my cossie and into her gob but by the third lesson there were no tears and we lasted the whole half an hour! Two terms later and as soon as she realises where we are she waves her arms and legs around with glee and the second she's in that warm water she splashes and shrieks with joy! It is amazing to see and never fails to make me laugh. 

For classes Lily wears a Huggies Little Swimmers swim nappy under a Turtle Tots neoprene nappy cover. This just gives a bit of extra security should there be any poo related incidents because as brilliant as swim nappies are, I don't have a lot of faith in them beyond a quick wee! We started with a Splash About Nappy Costume which has a built in nappy cover but Lily grew out of it during Level 2. Now she's wearing a gorgeous parrot print suit from Next which I really wish came in grown up sizes!

First Level 1 class vs. first Level 2 class!

Underwater swimming is an exciting, fun and important part of the class. Almost everyone I've told about Turtle Tots has gasped at the fact that Lily goes under the water which makes me chuckle because although the first few times are a bit nerve wracking for the parents the babies barely bat an eyelid! It sounds scary but one of the big benefits of starting classes when babies are young is that they still have their breath-holding reflex. This means that the soft tissue at the back of their throat seals the windpipe when they're underwater so if any water does go into their mouths it's directed into their tummy. Even though this reflex diminishes as they get older they quickly relearn it. From the very first lesson we started practicing a cue to prepare them for their first underwater swim a couple of weeks in. Even at Level 3 we still do it a couple of times at the beginning of the lesson before their underwater swim and we do it at home during bath time. Practice definitely makes perfect because after a few weeks Lily started preparing herself and now when she hears her cue she grins like a loon, close her eyes and scrunches her face up ready! Turtle Tots also run underwater photoshoots every term which produce wonderful photos. We haven't managed to get to one yet but I'm hoping we will this term.

A post shared by Elena Davies (@elenalucie) on

Aside from swimming being a lovely bonding experience with your baby, it's such an important life skill to have. The half an hour of fun activities that make up the class are designed to teach babies the skill of swimming whilst being safe and secure in the water. For example one of the exercise we do teaches babies to turn around in the water and hold on to the side so, god forbid, they ever fall into water they know how to manoeuvre themselves round to find something secure to hold onto. The underwater swimming plays an important role in teaching babies to be confident in water so again, should anything ever happen, they know how to hold their breath until they reach the surface. The classes are also designed with mums in mind; incorporating toning exercises gentle for postpartum bodies and as baby gets bigger the act of supporting them in the water, lifting them and swooshing them around certainly gets your muscles going!

The social aspect is a big bonus too. We went along with a couple of mum and baby friends we have but have met many more. The cake, tea and catch up afterwards is always really lovely and helps to breathe a bit of life into me if I've spent a few days at home with no grown up interaction!

If you want to get your little one in the water I highly recommend Turtle Tots (the post swim naps alone are worth it!). They have over 44 licensed teachers across the UK and Ireland so chances are there will be a class near you. You can check their website or search for them on Facebook (search for Turtle Tots + your location, eg. Turtle Tots Northamptonshire) where they often run joining offers as well as competitions. Classes start from newborn right through to toddler and all teachers are qualified to the highest level so your precious babies are safe in their hands. We absolutely love our instructor, Sally, she is a large part of what makes our lessons so fun and it's clear to see how passionate she is about what she does. She makes such an effort with each baby and it's lovely to see how well the babies respond to her. We definitely lucked out with Sally!

I'm so glad we joined Turtle Tots and I can't wait to see what Level 3 brings! 

Mrs D x
*This is a sponsored post and contains affiliate links.
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