Salcey Forest, Northamptonshire

Now that the beautiful Spring is upon us and the summer gets ever closer, we will be venturing out a lot more and spending days together as a family. Therefore I thought I would use my blog as a way of remembering those days, spreading the word to others and giving a little review on whether it (wherever that may be) is worth the visit!

So for Mother’s Day this year we thought we would keep it really simple and go for a little stroll around Salcey Forest in Northamptonshire. The weather was gorgeous, which made the forest look even prettier with the sun beaming down. I even ended up just sitting in a vest top outside to eat lunch! Bring on the summer!

As with most (all?) of the Forestry Commission sites, there is a Gruffalo Trail which is great for the kids! You download an app onto your phone, follow the trail and then as you take a picture after finding each animal from the Gruffalo story, it superimposes that animal onto the picture. Lyla was still a little bit young to understand what to do so we just followed the trail as it was a good length of walk for her little legs, we didn’t take the photos as we thought we would save that for when she understands, plus she does not smile on demand! She loved the big pictures of the animals which are at each spot though! You can also pay for a little goody bag for the kids (£3) with lots of extra exciting things in such as a magnifying glass, spotters guide, stickers etc in, otherwise it was just the parking which you pay for!

We arrived at about 10.30 and got a parking spot no problem, I had read online beforehand that parking spaces could be hard to come by on a weekend/school holiday so was a bit nervous as we arrived later than planned, but it was fine. When we were leaving, however (about 2pm), it was PACKED. And I mean, cars parked up on verges and along both sides of the main road leading up to the forest, so my top tip is get there early!! Parking was £4, pretty standard I’d say for these places. You can buy a yearly pass, which also gives you discount off Forest Holidays, which I would be tempted to do if it were a little closer to us (it took 45-50 minutes to get there). Well worth it though if you live a bit closer.

As well as the Gruffalo Trail, there are lots of other trails of varying length through the forest for both on foot, or by bike. We will definitely be back with the bikes once Daisy is old enough to go in the trailer! From where we walked and what I saw of the other trails, it is pretty flat, very buggy friendly, just a really nice relaxing walk 🙂 We walked for about 1.5-2 hours and it was so lovely.

One of the other great things about this forest is there is a ‘Tree Top’ way, which, as the name suggests, takes you up to the top of the trees and to a crows nest platform with amazing views over the forest, you can see for miles! It is wheelchair/buggy accessible and you can take the dogs up there too (although ours was not a fan of the steps up to the viewing platform!).

There is a great playground for children, it is described as an ‘adventure’ playground so is aimed at slightly older children than our 2 year old, but she gave it a pretty good go anyway! We took a picnic and set ourselves up on one of the benches (again, this got busy very quickly so aim to get a seat before the lunchtime rush). There is a lovely forest cafe too if you fancied somebody else cooking your lunch!

Finally, there is a ‘Tree Ninja’ course (think Go Ape, but on steroids by the look of it!). If you so desired, and had the suggested 3 hours (!!) to spare, then it looked like A LOT of fun!

So there we have it, Salcey Forest, somewhere I would recommend in a heartbeat to anyone local or visiting. A great day out, with so much to do that is child friendly, we loved it and will definitely go back in the summer. And best of all, its outside! In the fresh air! And you can’t get better than that…

Sian x

Life as we know it…

Hello!

All has been a bit quiet on the western front recently, that’s because life has just kind of, run away with us. Our days all roll into one consisting of play dates, lunches, walks into town, healthcare appointments, running errands, housework and seeing family. I genuinely don’t know where the time is going! So here’s a little update on the Family Knapp and what we’ve been up to; one of my best friends suggested a name for the blog way back when, but I might just use it for these updates – KnappChat (like snapchat, do you get it?!). Anyway…

~ Daisy ~

Daisy turns 7 weeks old today (well, yesterday now). 7 weeks. It only feels like yesterday that I was clinging onto that feeling of having a fresh, newborn baby and never wanting to let go (luckily my immediate urge to have a 3rd child is dissipating…). Even though second time around I have made sure I take every moment in and don’t wish the time away, it still astounds me how fast time goes. How much she changes day by day. And how scary parenting can really be.

There really is nothing better than cooing “Good Morning beautiful” in that funny high-pitched mum voice you find yourself doing, and getting big smiles in return. Heart-melting. She is starting to be awake a lot more now, piling on the pounds, interacting with us, looking at toys, holding onto toys, watching her big sister, getting big sloppy/snotty kisses from said sister, and spoiling us frequently with what we like to call ‘shituations’. Oh the joys of parenthood! It can become a little frustrating being asked “is she a good baby?”. I’d say pretty much every day I am asked this question. But do you know what? I take huge pride in replying “she really is”. I don’t remember Lyla being a difficult baby (apart from the reflux, I will never get those hours back of sitting upright in the night to try and relieve her symptoms), or whether I’m just a lot more relaxed this time (which I really am), but she makes life a lot easier by being a happy, content, easy baby most of the time. A bit more sleep wouldn’t go amiss but I can deal with that! We have had a couple of bumps in the road with breast feeding but that’s a whole different blog post for another day. She feeds, she sleeps, she plays and she will be put down happily, awake or asleep! Hallelujah. 

The fact that this was different this one Sunday (March 5th to be exact) told me that something wasn’t right and we had our first major scare as parents. As soon as she was not in our arms she would act as if she was in pain, become irritable and generally be unhappy with life. She had vomited the night before but nothing that worried me hugely considering she’d been full of cold, so we carried on with that day as normal. She started to not want to feed over the course of the day but I persevered. Callum bathed her that night with Lyla as normal whilst I sorted out outfits for the girls for the following day and had a quick shower myself, and then he brought her through to me. That’s when my maternal instinct went into overdrive and I just knew something was wrong. She was pale, she was mottled, she had a rash over her body, and she continued to not want to feed, she just looked horrendous. To cut a long story short – I immediately took her to A&E and they triaged her straight away. You know that look that people aren’t very good at hiding? The ‘I’m quite worried but I can deal with this’ look? I experienced that for a good few hours that night. Before I knew it they were trying to get lines into her tiny body (which was deteriorating very quickly) and the night turned into fluid boluses, antibiotics, blood tests, lumbar punctures, and a blur of information. 6 days later we were leaving hospital with a pink, much happier, baby who was starting to get her feeding back on track (after having to be tube fed for the duration of our stay), a mummy who was going slightly delirious from sleep deprivation, and with a diagnosis of viral meningitis caused by a bug called enterovirus. In retrospect, I realise that people go through A LOT worse, I see it every day in my job after all. But when you, as a parent, are experiencing it, it is awful. I was an emotional wreck and felt actual heartache for my poor baby girl. But she did us proud and is doing amazingly now, as if it never happened. Which from now on, I’m going to pretend it didn’t. 

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My poorly little poppet

So now as much as I really don’t want to wish the time away, and would be very happy with her staying a 7-week old baby forever, we are very excited for the next few weeks and months to see the little person she develops into, hopefully it will be plain sailing from here out… 

~ Lyla ~

What can I say about Lyla? She is changing before our very eyes every day. Since her little sister came along she seems to have developed at a crazy speed. At first I thought she just looked big in comparison to the tiny baby I now had in my arms but no, she had a major growth spurt resulting in a complete wardrobe overhaul! She has also moved into a bed with no trouble at all! I always said we would wait until she tried to climb out of her cot until making this transition, which two weeks after Daisy arrived she decided to try and do…

I’ve also gone from talking to the health visitor and nursery about being worried about her speech, to being able to understand pretty much everything she is trying to tell me and being gobsmacked daily at the speed she is picking up words! It is amazing. So to the friends who told me not to worry and that ‘one day’ she’ll just click – thank you, you were right. Though in a few months time when she is fully talking, I will really miss her little Lyla language that she is so well known for!

One of the major things that is fascinating to watch is how her relationships with her friends and cousins is developing, watching them play for hours, running around the park, talking to each other, laughing, using their imaginations – it’s just incredible to watch and we are very lucky to have a group of friends and family that allow her to develop on this social side! She really is a little superstar and, touch wood, the toddler tantrums seem to be on hold (although I know it is only a matter of time…).

~ And us? ~

We have welcomed family and friends into our home, smiled at the happiness Daisy and Lyla bring, ‘gone grey’ from the worry of recent events, ran a half marathon (Callum, not me, obvs), celebrated lots of birthdays of the little ones, and said goodbye to another family member taken from this world. Quite a rollercoaster I’d say. We continue to discuss finances daily, whether it be whether to go for the slightly more premium tins of soup, to how much I can drop my hours by on my return to work, what our plan is with cars, or in planning another family holiday to Flo-rida (eek). Oh, and we go to bed ridiculously early in order to grab any second of sleep possible, so that the sleep thieves themselves don’t steal every last bit of our sanity! 

This may all sound pretty boring to you, but we certainly have lots to smile about and to look forward to…

All the love,

Sian x

30 Tips For The First 30 Days

Over these first few weeks of having a newborn I have been putting together a list of ‘tips’ for any new parents, from our experiences with both babies.

In no particular order (how X-Factor/Strictly does that sound?!)…
1. It might sound like such a cliché, but embrace every minute of those first few days, ride high on the adrenaline!

2. After the adrenaline, the baby blues will hit. You will cry. For no reason. You may even ‘grieve’ for your time pre-baby and think “what the hell have we done?!” But give it a couple of days and you’ll soon get over it and love parenting.

3. Stare at your baby as much as possible, they are as amazing as you think they are. Just stare. And kiss them. And smell them. Ok I sound like a weirdo now…

4. As lovely as it is to have visitors, limit it to close family for the first few days as it can be so overwhelming. You MUST make the most of those first days as a family unit.

5. Make a note of your visitors/gifts, you will thank yourself later when it comes to sending thank you cards out!

6. Stock up on tea and coffee (and biscuits). You will make lots of it and drink lots of it!

7. Take all the help that is offered to you, don’t try and be supermum, no-one will think any less of you! I am writing this particular ‘tip’ 10 days post-giving birth and am yet to cook a meal, or in fact even venture into the kitchen.

8. Don’t be afraid to do whatever you need to do to get some sleep, as gimicky as it is! Last time he didn’t work for us, but this time round Ewan the bloody dream sheep is a hero! Oh and ‘Sleepyheads’ are as amazing as everyone says they are…

9. It can take a while for a baby to get their days and nights the right way round, do not stress about this just roll with it! Use sleep cues (we use sleepyhead, bathtime etc) and keep it as dark as you can at night. Be ‘normal’ in the day in terms of making noise, if baby is sleeping don’t tiptoe around. They’ll soon start to associate which is which. And the people who say to you “oh my baby slept through from 2 weeks”? F**k them! People have very different perceptions of what ‘sleeping through’ means anyway… just embrace those extra nocturnal cuddles with your little bundle!

10. This is really annoying but, if it is your first then try and ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’, other things can wait! (See Point 17). If you have other children then this might not be possible (unless you can synchronise nap times of course, and then you really are supermum), so as boring as it is then just go to sleep early! I’ve found with both of mine that the first chunk of sleep at night is the longest and then it goes a bit downhill, so if you can get as much of that bit as possible too then it’s a win.

11. When it comes to feeding, shut yourself off from any pressure you feel, it’s most likely coming from yourself anyway! If breast feeding, just get into a little bubble of you and your baby and forget about the outside world, perseverance is key.

12. Get out of the house! If you are physically able, then as soon as possible get you and your baby out into the fresh air. You will most likely get an elderly person tell you that “in my day we stayed inside for 2 weeks”, just smile politely and move on! You will feel so much better for it, trust me.

13. When you do leave the house – expect to take all of its contents with you! I have learnt to over-prepare, always take more nappies and spare outfits than you think you will need.

14. If you have older children then involve them as much as possible with the baby, not only is it lovely for you to have some ‘help’, but it shows them their importance too at a time of huge change.

15. Take shifts. If you are lucky enough to have a partner then use them. Some nights if the baby won’t settle for me then he takes his turn settling her. If I don’t need him then his job is to look after the toddler if she wakes (a pretty cushty job in our house as that is very rare..). You went into this together – teamwork makes the dream work as they say!

16. …this also includes having a bit of time for yourself, even if it’s only half an hour, the same goes for your partner. Plan it in if you need to, just make sure you get a bit of timeout as, let’s be honest, a newborn is pretty demanding!

17. Look after yourself!! Don’t expect to heal overnight, it could be a longer process than expected so don’t rush.


18. Buy some vanish, just trust me on this one.

19. Learn to accept that other things, like housework, won’t get done when you want them to. I have had to quickly realise this the second time around, and am trying not to let it bother me that the house desperately needs dusting!!

20. Your baby is a newborn, do not worry about ‘bad habits’!! Feeding to sleep, rocking to sleep, sleeping on you, not being able to put them down – they’re not going to rely on these things when they’re 10 years old so don’t worry!! Whatever it takes to survive the first few weeks/months then do it, it can be changed and worked on in the future! Which leads me onto…

21. Mimic the womb. These babas have had a pretty abrupt change to their environment! Snuggle them tight, make shushing noises, rock them – they all work!

22. Don’t try and plan busy, action-packed days, keep things simple and be realistic that things may change/you may arrive very late…

23. This one might take a bit longer than 30 days but don’t worry about friendships at this stage, relationships with your existing friends may/will change but those that matter will stand the test.

24. Once you’re settled, make the effort to make new mummy friends – choose wisely however, these could be lifelong friends for both you, your menfolk/partner, and your child(ren). You are on the same path at the same time and they will be your support network (mine have helped me compile this list – thanks babes!).

25. A 4-week old baby is not going to be in any routine BUT…there is no harm in you doing it if it fits in with an existing routine or just to start sowing the seed. We bath Daisy and get her into her pyjamas and into bed at ‘bedtime’ at the same time as Lyla, it might not make any difference but it gives the rest of the family some structure.

26. Make sure you drink fluids and eat, the post-baby body can be worked on later. What matters most is your sanity and being hydrated!

27. Trust your instincts. Whether you’re a first time mum or a third-timer – your maternal instincts will be right.

28. It’s impossible not to, but try not to compare yourself to other mums/dads. Remember everyone is different and approaches parenting differently.

29. It’s tough, it’s chaotic, it’s very sleep deprived but everybody makes it through the other side and you will soon forget about it and want time to slow down!

30. …Don’t listen to anyone else and their tips (yes, that includes me), just do it your way, how YOU feel comfortable – wing it, totally wing it! Did you notice most of these points involved the phrase ‘don’t worry’?!

One of my favourite phrases that I always think to myself if I’m feeling unsure or worried is

• MOTHER LIKE NO-ONES JUDGING • 

Because even if they are, who cares…

Loads of love and Good Luck!!

Xxx