Oh my biggest boy, what an absolute joy it is to be your Mummy. I can't believe you're four, we always joked that when you were born you looked like a four year old, given your weight but now to be sitting here with your fourth birthday being merely a week behind us. I can't think were the time has gone. This year has seen you grow up more than any other, you've morphed into my friend and the best one at that. You're courageous, curious and kind, I don't think I could ask for more redeeming qualities in a child. I would think I'm bias, but everyone else around us agrees and that makes me the proudest Mummy of all.


A bike for Christmas is almost a right of passage isn't it? Both me and John can pinpoint those exact Christmas days in our own childhoods, when your Mum or Dad wandered in at the end of present opening 'I think Santas forgotten something outside', queue the rush to the back door to find out what on earth it could be. Well, Noah is a lucky boy because his birthday happens to fall merely weeks before the big day meaning he unwrapped this beauty of a bike on the day he turned four. It's all he could talk about for the rest of the day, and is there any wonder?


I'm quite traditional, I love the idea of Christmas at home, around our comforts and if I'm honest, it's all I've ever known. We love travel as a family, we certainly couldn't live the year without venturing out of the country, but I'd never let the idea cross my mind that maybe a Christmas getaway would be the perfect time. Winter is seriously dark and dreary, and especially on the other side of Christmas I think we all lack that little bit of Vitamin D don't we? The dark mornings and dark evenings leave a lot to be desired, so why on earth have I never thought of breaking away for some winter sun before?


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. About time too, I find each year more and more people shun you for getting excited about Christmas if it's even a week before the big day. I'm a sucker for the Christmas magic, I really am, especially now we've got the boys I think it's the perfect excuse to go that little bit over the top. We've done a Christmas Eve box for the past two years as it's a sure fire way to keep those restless souls busy for the day, it adds to excitement and it's just a super sweet idea.


When we think about the things we want for Christmas, we start perusing the shops or searching online, we look through catalogues or even scour gift guides, constantly searching for that perfect 'thing' to pop under the tree. But what if the ultimate gift isn't something you can wrap up, in pretty craft paper with a lovely red bow. What if it's something that means a bit more than a bath bomb or a bottle of gin? Of course those gifts are pretty damn important too, but I think we all have those 'things' we want, that simply can't be wrapped into a neat package and quite often because they're not physical we don't ask for them, except this year, I just might.


I am surrounded by Men in my family. I have two brothers, two sons, a other half, a dad, brother-in-law, you catch the drift. The ratio of men to women is pretty one sided but I'm ok with that. I seem to have finally mastered the art of buying, though the men in my family range from 1 to 50. I'm slowly but surely finding men easier to buy for, now that doesn't mean I'm saying it is easy completely, but I'd like to think I'm a little bit better at it than I was four years ago.


This year I've loved buying for my boys, I really have. Especially Noah who is four, he's at an age were he definitely has his 'style' of toy, he loves construction, tractors and vehicles but he really enjoys puzzles too and learning games. Four is a wonderful age because he really appreciates the things he opens, you get the wow factor and the excitement as they unwrap the paper. It's my favourite age so far and I can't wait for him to see what he has for Christmas this year. Children are definitely amongst the easiest to buy for, so I'm sharing what I think will make fantastic presents this year.


This year is the first year in a long time that I've really had to think hard about what I would like for Christmas. It's tricky when you become a parent, I get far more enjoyment from buying things, or receiving gifts for the boys than I do myself. In fact, I loathe picking things up for me in comparison to shopping for them. Everything is just a little more exciting in mini version, right? But, as it does every year the inevitable 'What do you want for Christmas?' question has been shot at me numerous times and because I've genuinely not had time to sit and think for a moment, I've found myself giving the mundane reply of 'I don't really know to be honest'. It's not a lie, because there isn't anything I desperately need and long gone are the days when I had time to search endlessly online or dedicate an evening to flicking through the boots gift guide.


The past few months have been manic, as though life is blitzing by at some sort of double rate. Half of me doesn't want to stop to catch my breath, because I'm frightened I'll miss so much in those small moments. I think it's natural that this time of year is a little bit more hectic, please tell me that's the case for everyone? I feel like one of those ducks that's bobbing along on the surface but ferociously pedalling my feet away underneath. I know things will slow when I finish work, and I'll be completely honest in that I'm counting down the days. We're out of the house for most of the week and the time in the evening when we can all sit down and relax seems so fleeting - I just really can't wait for Christmas, when time for us to unwind will be aplenty.


Babies and toddlers are tricky people to buy for, they're so fickle and unless they're crazy about some tv character at this age, then you're really playing a guessing game. My theory is to always get something that will last them a while, they grow out of things so quickly and that immediately crosses a lot off my list. All of the toys with age limits on really don't work, plus when you've got two or more children, the likelihood is that they'll play with each others toys, or if they're anything like my two - all they will want is each others things.


I have that feeling when approaching the festive months, that a Mother has with their newborn baby, all the want to talk about is the baby, even if nobody cares, or no one is listening, it's baby, baby, baby. So if we substitute baby for Christmas - you have me! What better excuse for that, than twenty questions about the exact thing I am so desperate to discuss. Christmas means many things to many people, and that's why I find these sort of things super interesting. So, if you want to have a nosy through my Christmas thoughts, though I think I've made them pretty clear up till now. Keep reading.


It's the most wonderful time of the year! It really is, and my absolute favourite. I've been so excited to get stuck into these guides as during the festive period I am always searching blogs high and low to see what things they would recommend, especially this year as I've found a lot of my family really hard to buy for. Everybody is at that age in their lives where if they want something, they buy it so it's definitely tricky. In my life there are a lot of boys and me, so as you can imagine I don't get to think much about what to buy for women, but these pieces I've definitely thought carefully over. Here's to the first gift guide of the season and I can't wait to show you what else is in store.


Life at the moment is a little bit crazy, I feel completely consumed by tiredness most of the time. In fact, I don't really recall the last time I didn't feel tired. I'm sure that's a standard for most parents, but it's engulfing me lately and I can't see a way out from the tiredness cloud that hangs over me every single day. I work 32 hours a week, I'm a mother of two and I blog in all of my spare time, that's probably a good indication of why I'm so tired but none of those things are going to stop, so what does that say for this permanent state of exhaustion?


I think Autumns yellow coats, are the summers inflatable flamingo trend - are you really a blogger if you haven't captured a snap of yourself in one? I don't think I can scroll through my instagram feed without a flash of yellow, usually accompanied by the breton strip inner. I'm not complaining, I love a good trend and I'm definitely a sucker for them so as a standard of course I have a yellow coat, as do both my children. I feel that I miss out a little bit on the whole twinning situation due to the fact I have two sons, Next even rub salt into the wound by ensuring Mums and Daughters can have matching pyjamas and swimwear, whilst the mothers of boys are cast a side a little. However, I've become imaginative - you have too and by taking our accessorises such as hats, shoes, coats, I've slowly but surely found a way to be 'that' mother who matches with her children. And am I ashamed? Absolutely not.


I hadn't ever thought about reintroducing dairy to Patrick, certainly not this soon after we took him off it altogether. I knew he had an intolerance but I'd never really thought about the fact that the intolerance could be temporary, only when speaking to other people who had been through similar did I start to believe this was exactly what had happened to Patrick. He had been poorly with a bug, and this could have more likely than not, triggered his intolerance to dairy, he needed it out of his system before he could properly recover. Simple enough, though it caused weeks of hell for everyone. Now that Patrick has been well for some considerable time, it's time to bring back the dairy.


I've spoken about Instagram a lot on here over the years, it's definitely my favourite form of social media and I liken it to a teenage relationship, one moment I'm immersed in it and can't get enough of it and the next I don't want to even see it for five days. It's frustrating, it's hard work and it isn't always fun, I guess for an ordinary user it probably is and the problem is more so with me than with Instagram itself, but my word has it driven me up the wall lately.


I love travelling, it's always been a huge part of my childhood with my parents insisting that we left the country every year to explore the world. In my youth, there wasn't much I hated more than being dragged on those coach trips in countries a bit nearer to the equator, with less than desirable air conditioning to visit a monument or wonder of the world that I couldn't have cared less about at the time. But in hindsight, it was invaluable, I'm a firm believer that travel broadens the mind and whether you're heading to your local seaside resort, the lake district or half way across the world on a plane, each place you visit always learns you something new.


I love being a blogger, it was a complete hobby move and the reality that it's now turned into an income is still astonishing to me. It's never something I'm complacent about and I'm more than aware that the income stream could slip away at any point - that's one of the downsides of being a blogger. One of many, just like any other job there are things that happen that I really, really wish didn't and in those jobs you generally just have to keep quiet and plod on as to not put your workplace into disrepute. However with blogging it works a little different doesn't it? I can quite openly express every little thing that really grinds my gears in the word of blog and I'm sure I wont be the first or last to encounter these issues.


Sometimes it feels that  we don't spend any actual time together as a family, in the midst of having two children, running a household, and working 72 hours a week is it any wonder? Life is so busy, and our week truly is spent in a rush. We're out of the house for almost twelve hours every day and the whole working week passes by sometimes with the feeling that we haven't actually spent any substantial time together. By the time we're home from work, the children need tea, bathing and bed and then we do what we need to around the house before winding down ourselves. The morning never leaves time for anything does it, in fact our morning routine leaves a lot to be desired as it's always a scramble with us never actually leaving the house any earlier even though we swear we will every single day.


Toy shopping is in full swing in this household, with Noah's birthday and Christmas coming up, we're definitely scouring the shelves to see what we can snap up. Though if I'm honest we have got quite bored of seeing the same toys, in every single store. The prices can fluctuate but we've noticed most stores really stocking the same things and it's made present buying that little bit more difficult this year, especially if your children are like ours and aren't into one big tv show character, or a specific type of toy.


Autumn is my favourite season, but it's one I know a lot of people tend to get a little disheartened about. The sun is rising later and setting sooner, the days are undoubtedly getting shorter meaning we tend to have less time to do things. Gone are the evenings in the park just before bed, and in comes the morning wake up's when it still looks like the middle of the night. I spoke myself about the reasons that autumn does suck a little.  I had a little think to myself and realised just how much we can actually do in Autumn though. The weather isn't always amazing, but it's still often quite warm, and so I've compiled a list of twenty five activities you can do this Autumn with your little one.


This blog, Babies and Beauty began over four years ago now, though under a total different name it initially started as a way to document a pregnancy. A pretty boring textbook pregnancy if I'm honest. I remember reading the beginnings of blogs like Lucies and Roms and feeling inspired and intrigued by other peoples pregnancy updates, I knew nobody in my life who was expecting and so it felt nice to relate to other women online - thus Babies and Beauty began. Quite quickly after it all started, Noah entered the world and I suddenly realised what a fantastic space my blog actually was. Within months I began to look back and feel grateful for capturing those moments that might have otherwise be gone forever.


I love Autumn / Winter for boys clothing, it's the season that it really shines as if I'm honest a lot of the other seasons are a little bit bleh. I've been waiting for the plaid shirts and cable knit jumpers to hit the stores for what feels like months and thank goodness it's here because I need to see my boys in them. Colder weather (I'll refrain from saying Winter) has hit us a bit early this year, well, sort of. Come morning, when I'm deciding what to dress my sons in for the day, it's cold, wet and miserable, barely reaching 6 degrees yet by lunchtime it's almost a job for sun cream and sunhats. It plays havoc with my emotions because I just want to feel autumnal now.


Every month me and Noah have our mummy and Noah days, they're something I look forward too as much as he does. I think it dawned on me over the summer that this time next year, he'll actually be in full time school and no matter how much I want to, I wont be able to just keep him off for a day together like I have done in the past with nursery. Of course we'll have the summer holidays, but so will half the county and it takes away the element of our days feeling that bit more special. That being said, school is just around the corner and with him starting part time in January - the perks of a December birthday, it means we've both taken much more of an interest in ensuring he is where he needs to be in terms of academia.


We had a lovely weekend last week, all suited and booted in our matching yellow coats we headed off to our much awaited Pumpkin Patch visit. We'd only picked pumpkins for the first time just last year, but it's easily one of my favourite memories of Autumn and Winter. Patrick was only three months old and we'd just ploughed through a really hard September with both boys catching the dreaded chicken pox, visiting the Pumpkin farm was our first taste of the outside world in a few weeks and it felt great. This year, with two boys wanting to whizz in different directions, it was tricky at times but still just as magical.


If you caught my recent post, you'll know that our feet are well and truly on British soil again now, quite muddy and wet soil if I'm honest. We had such a lovely time and it was more than needed, me and John haven't had any real time away together since we had two children, even before Patrick was born we'd only had an odd night here or there in the whole three years. Without the everyday stresses of work, children and household chores it was very relaxing and I thoroughly recommend it to any couple. Of course we missed the boys, that much is obvious but I had certainly missed full nights of sleep, laying in till silly o'clock and not arguing over who's turn it was to wake up with the boys.


Halloween hasn't ever been a huge thing here in the UK really has it? Well at least I don't remember it ever being. I have some really vivid memories from trick-or-treating as a child, and though they are fond moments to reflect on, the idea of letting my children knock onto strangers doors and accept sweets seems to alien to me now. After all, we spend so much of our time telling children not to talk to strangers and all of the warnings that come along with that. That doesn't mean I wont be dishing out a tonne of sweets to all of the locals in our village. Last year we popped a sign on the door after 7:30pm asking nobody to ring the bell as not to wake the boys, but simply help themselves, I was pleasantly surprised the next morning to notice there were sweets left - what an honest village we live in. I'm not sure younger me and my siblings would have such restraint as not to take the majority of the bowl.


I love thinking about baby names, more so when you don't have an actual baby to name yourself because there is no pressure, you can throw names about and it's all in jest. Which is why I've loved the recent baby names tag floating around Youtube, I'm yet to see it on an actual blog so I thought I'd bring it this way myself. The questions are interesting and goes a little deeper than the generic 'You're favourite baby names that you love but wont use'. Just to give you a head start, the questions instruct you to go from this baby names list for boys and this for girls, both from the year 2015.


I can't quite believe both how quick and slow that time has gone, I can still remember the evening before my first day back like it was yesterday yet maternity leave feels an absolute age ago. So much has changed in such a short space of time, my baby is a baby no more and Noah is in his final year at nursery before he begins school next year. I remember my first six months back to work after having Noah, feeling so nervous and it taking some time to find my feet - this time around life feels to have gone a lot smoother in the work place, I'm content, tired but content and actually looking forward to what the next six months will bring.


We're back, we've landed, unpacked the suitcase and cracked open the duty free choccies we bought. Ahh is it good to be home, I think sometimes you need a break away just to appreciate home that little bit more. They say your home is wherever you feel most comfortable and that is definitely our house for me. Reuniting with my babies was the best feeling, I know in the grand scheme of things that four nights isn't much, but we've never spent more than one away from each other so for us it felt like a pretty huge deal. By bedtime I'm sure I'll be ready to jump back onto that plane and whizz off into the skies but for now, I'm so glad to be home with my boys.


Patrick is dairy intolerant, it came a little out of left field but wasn't completely unsurprising given his history the past few months. I'm glad that we've got an answer to all of his health concerns and hopefully it means we're on the road to wellness again. Seeing your baby constantly poorly is never going to be an experience you take on the chin, it has been really hard and I'm so happy to wave goodbye to those times now. But, it means we're on a new journey and it's one without dairy. Now I'm an 'allergy mum' it only feels right to document the highs and lows on here, it isn't all plain sailing and whilst you might hear of allergies much more in today's society, they still aren't wholly catered for which did shock me a little, hence why I wanted to share everything with you guys. I've sought a lot of support amongst mothers and fathers of children with allergies, and some of them even helped me get answers to Patricks sickness, which I'm forever grateful for. So if I can shed some light onto things for someone else, I'm more than happy to document our updates over here in my little corner.


Holidaying alone, just me and John was something I had firmly waved goodbye to as soon as we realised I was carrying Noah. I expected the next time we boarded a plane, sans children would be well into our forties. Yet here we are, four years down the line just moments away from that exact holiday and though it seems unpopular to admit it, I'm really looking forward to it. Travelling abroad with children in a lot of aspects isn't exactly a holiday, especially when you have more than one child, it's hard, really, really hard. I spoke about some of our struggles in a previous post, after we returned from our family holiday in May, though I love letting our sons explore the world half of me needed another break when we returned just to recover.


Don't be fooled by the title, Autumn is by far my most favourite season as it technically stretches until December 21st, which means it's generally filled with festive excitement, cosy sweaters and duvet snuggles. However like most things in life, Autumn being no different, there are some things that I'd like to leave behind and quite honestly dread every time September rolls around again. I'm not letting my brain fully sink into Autumnal mode just yet, as we have a little sneaky summer getaway planned for the end of the month.


I'm a sucker for a beauty tool just as much now as I was before I became a parent. I've always been really into hair and beauty, even if I'm absolutely pants at it and just a simple Insta hashtag search of the latest trends puts me to absolute shame - I still love it. I wont lie though, I'm quite stubborn when it comes to trying new things, I like to sit firmly in my comfort zone. When it comes to hair tools I thought I'd found my ultimate life product in ghd's, I wasn't far wrong, they are flippin amazing and having owned a pair for eleven years now, I don't think that will change. However, there is room for more, I mean come on there is always room for more right? I often turn down the option to review new hair tools as they don't really suit what I want from a product, but when I caught a glimpse of the Xtava 5-in-1 curling wand, there was no way, I could say no.


I think most parents of weaning aged children have heard about Organix. They're an amazing baby food brand that pride themselves on having great taste, with zero junk. They've become a staple in our household, especially since Patrick became dairy intolerant, as Organix have been one of the only brands we've found that use dairy sparingly. Which of course is great for us as it means he gets to enjoy the same treats he always has, and doesn't miss out.


I know along the way of parenthood for me, I've documented which products I love, those I couldn't live without and the ones I most certainly didn't need. They're usually pretty relative to what stage my sons have been at, which is great but doesn't exactly give a true reflection of my all time 'must haves' as a parent. I am a mum of two, so I've tried and tested my fair share of baby products, by no means am I an expert or anything close to but I have a blog and I'm a parent, so of course I'm going to share with you the things that I think will make life a whole lot easier if you're raising your own Brady bunch.


Over the last few months, Patricks health appears to have deteriorated. Don't panic, this isn't anything too traumatic, but it has been a seriously worrying and stressful time of late. Hence, you may have noticed small absences across my blog because when you have a poorly baby without a shadow of a doubt he's come first and ultimately that means my little corner of the internet has been on the back foot. I wanted to write about this as the situation unfolded, but we had no resolution, I didn't want to put the problem out there without solving it. However, we're here now a full five months later and I think, I really do think, we're so close to finding out exactly what it is that has made our baby boy so poorly.


Autumn is my favourite season, it's mild, crisp and cosy. I love everything about it, from the warm knitted jumpers, darker evenings, hot chocolates and pumpkin picking to crunchy leaves underfoot and bonfire night. There's a lot that happens during Autumn and the build up to Christmas slowly looms. This Autumn is no different to last, and I have a set list in my head of things I want to do as a family. Last year Autumn was amazing for us, my blog really started to hit the ground running, my health fears over Patrick slowly drifted away and we really got into our grove as a family of four.


The kitchen is said to be the heart of the home, and it's a stance I completely agree with as it's probably the reason my heart was definitely in our current house, until now. I hated our kitchen, I really did. Stupidly I never took a 'before' photo, as I detested it too much to photograph, but with it's beech wood cupboards, magnolia walls and horrible tiles, it was as far away from my pinterest dreams that you could get. I knew I had to change things up and after pinning till my hearts content without actually converting my inspirations into reality, we decided to redecorate the kitchen.


Parent and child parking spaces, always a bit of a controversial topic aren't they. Who are they designed for? Who should get to use them and should people who misuse them, be penalised? They're aimed so generically that it makes it hard to determine who should be favoured to use them and even when they are abused, are the rules ever enforced? I don't think I've seen someone yet be confronted by a store for taking advantage of their parent and child bays. After conducting a poll across twitter it seems that seeing someone without children in those spaces irks more of you (a whopping 70%) than it doesn't.


Instagram, the platform I love to hate. It would be without a doubt my most favourite social media platform, if I wasn't a blogger. But I am, and from day one bloggers are drilled with growth, growth, growth. It's not a numbers game, but if you don't have X amount of followers we wont work with you, after all who wants to work with a micro-influencer that doesn't really have any influence. It's become more apparent now that if you're hosting big numbers on Instagram, you can be bringing in the big bucks too and from the outside it looks like a quick and easy way to riches, you just post a picture to your masses, reap in the interaction and therefore the cash - right? Wrong. But it doesn't stop people aiming for that, so with more people than ever playing the unfollow game, is Instagram even fun anymore?


Naming baby girls is something I like vicariously through others for as being a boy mama means I haven't had chance to experience it. Nor do I think I ever will as more children is definitely off the cards for us for the foreseeable. Which means, I can share with you all the would be names that we had in mind for the daughters that never were. Typically for us, baby girl names seemed that little bit easier to think of and agree on, not that it mattered too much as John is more than aware that I have the final say.


Unless you're hiding under a social media rock lately, you'll have seen the huge scandal that erupted after Clarks released their new school shoes with quite obviously sexist names to suit. The boys range were named 'Leader' whilst the girls seemed to appear quite inferior by being called 'Dolly babe'. And whilst I wholeheartedly agree that both of those are terrible names, they are sexist and give very unjust gender stereotypes. I can't help but feel a little miffed that all of the other glaringly obvious negative connotations towards little boys, appear to get overlooked?


Ikea is the place of dreams. Cheap, cheerful and child friendly furniture what more could parents want? Well to shop in peace without children would be a start right? Ikea have tried, they really have, there are so many nooks and crannies for little ones to get a similar enjoyment from the store as we do as adults, but it just doesn't cut the mustard. I could lose hours in Ikea, much to my other half's dismay. Just recently after attempting and failing to palm the children off on my parents, we did the unthinkable and headed there with both children in tow. Now it wouldn't be such a big deal if our local Ikea was actually local but it's about an hour away on a good day - this trip had to be worthwhile.


When you're pregnant every woman and their mother wants to fill you in on the products that you most definitely need. You hear never ending stories of what baby swings worked miracles and the things that got their child sleeping through from the day they were evacuated from the womb. In hindsight it's super obvious that what works for one wont for another, as with us adults, we all have our preferences and in reality, babies are absolutely no different. In the same respect what you love one day, you can loathe the next. Parenthood is very fickle. What I did find out however, was that nobody really talks about the products that were a huge waste of money. I sure as hell spent a tonne of money on things that didn't have the tag ripped off or that sat in their nursery till this day. Ah yes, the nursery, you know that room that just had to be finished before the baby came but still sat there untouched until they reached half a year.


Terrible twos, threenagers, fearsome fours. I thought it was all a load of rubbish if I'm honest. I was in charge in this household and no mini-me would run me down. Ha, fucking ha. We seemed to breeze through Noah being a two year old, he's always been a bit wiser than his years and with his speech second to none, we communicated well and escaped relatively tantrum free. I was smug, too smug perhaps and karma decided to pay me a visit in the form of a threenager.


The kitchen in our house has always been my least favourite room. When I looked into decorating it, it felt like a huge job because there wasn't really any of it that I liked - minus the size as it's quite a large kitchen / diner. It seemed to be one of those tasks that I just didn't know where to start, but now we've lived here just over two years I've managed to give it the overhaul it needed within a couple of weeks and I can't describe the level of content it's brought.


Very late to the party on this one, but I absolutely love reading these blog posts and watching these youtube videos. I don't even know why, we don't plan to have anymore children but I still enjoy hearing peoples suggestions for baby names. I think baby names give you a little bit of insight into peoples lives, do they like the most obscure and uncommon names? Are they more down the traditional route? Are they modern and stylish?


We love Little Dish over here, their meals are some of my favourite to give the boys when I'm not serving up a home cooked meal as honestly, as a working family we just don't have oodles of time each evening to cook. Plus, my boys both have serious appetites and they don't want to hang around for too long with a rumbly tummy. It's about this point when Little Dish save the day. We've loved Little Dish since the very beginning, we worked with them when they initially started out and they've been staples in our kitchen cupboard since that very day. Convenient, delicious and at least one of their five a day - I can't really ask for much more.


A year ago I was just beginning my life as a mum of two, I was nervous, unsure of myself and a little overwhelmed. Two children under the age of three hasn't been easy, I'd be really lying if I said that we've all breezed through this past year and I'm already wanting to pop out another. Quite the contrary, the thought literally makes me want to whizz John off to the snip clinic and never see him return. But, it has been amazing. I know for now that the hardest parts are over, and day by day life gets that little easier with two little boys under my belt.