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Flutterbydreams Photography: My best ranked Photographer in the North West

Photographs, the perfect way to capture a perfect moment forever, these days you can capture them on your phone, devices and professional cameras are even affordable.

But like any profession, you can’t quite get it perfect if you don’t have the training, photography isn’t just about clicking a button, it’s about having a vision and being able to make those perfect moments happen and capture them at the right second.

The best way to make sure you have those memories to treasure forever is to hire the right photographer for the job.

Since Jack has been a baby, I’ve been going to the same person for our professional pictures, Danielle at Flutterbydreams.

My first photo shoot with her was actually supposed to be a pregnancy-bump shoot when I was pregnant with Jack at 30 weeks, but he was born at 29+5 so that didn’t happen!

But she came to do his newborn shoot, the day after his due date so he was 11 weeks old but only 5lbs! She came for around 09:30am in the morning when we had agreed and she stayed for around 5 hours! The photo shoot was in the comfort of our own home and she was so gentle and patient with Jack! He peed on her three times and she didn’t bat an eyelid.

As Jack was so premature I was extremely nervous about anyone handling him, but Danielle explained she had been specially trained to handle and pose newborns for photo shoots, I didn’t actually know you needed special training, but she explained to me how important it was that she had this training for Jack’s safety.

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It was obvious that she cared deeply about the babies and families she photographs, she has this great vision and wonderful ideas for poses and she made us feel completely at ease. We were her only clients that day and you could feel that she wasn’t rushing us at all, she took the time to rock Jack to sleep to get the perfect pictures.

My only regret is that after Mikey was born I didn’t get his pictures done, I always meant to get round to it, but we had literally just moved house and it was always on our list of things to do, I know that Danielle would have done a fabulous job photographing Mikey.

When we got married, there isn’t anyone else I would have gone to for the photography, Danielle was our first choice and she came along with another professional photographer Lauren and had the cheapest price of all the quotes I’d seen! She stayed from Bridal Prep all the way through to the First Dance and brought along a backdrop so we could do a photo booth. She wasn’t just a photographer on the day, she was a friend, nothing was too much to ask.

She waited until we were ready for our posed pictures and captured so many beautiful moments, you wouldn’t have even known she was there taking them, I received my photos within a month and there were over 600!! I’ve heard the biggest regret you can have on your big day is having a bad photographer, well we are so lucky we had Danielle, it isn’t just a job to her, you can tell she puts her heart and soul into getting the perfect pictures to treasure for a lifetime.

Shortly after our wedding I had our third baby Nicole and as you can imagine a selfie of the 5 of us together wasn’t easy to capture and getting a picture by anyone else just wasn’t cutting it, so we thought why not get Nicole’s baby pictures and a family portrait at the same time! I booked in with Danielle and she gave us a great price and the same as with Jack three years earlier she stayed for hours and waited patiently to get the perfect pictures.

As you can imagine getting a family picture with two toddlers and baby is near impossible, I wasn’t expecting any miracles, don’t get me wrong Danielle is a fab photographer but I knew my kids and how difficult they’d be to sit still and smile…well she proved me wrong.

She didn’t just get one but she got numerous pictures of us together all smiling and looking at the camera, the kids love her! At this time Mikey wasn’t speaking or making any eye contact and she managed to get him to come out of himself, it was amazing to see and even though I knew the shoot had gone well but I still couldn’t believe how perfect the pictures were when I saw them and all my friends with kids were amazed at how she’d managed to get a picture of us all looking at the camera and smiling.

I’ll continue going to Danielle at Flutterbydreams anytime I need a photographer in the future, I can’t recommend her enough! She’s everything you need in a Photographer:

✔ Professional

✔Qualified Photographer

✔Qualified in handling and posing newborns

✔Great with kids

✔Great prices

✔Patience and takes the time to capture perfect moments

✔Experience

✔High quality pictures

Check out the page and message Danielle for a quote: Flutterbydreams Photography

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Holidaying as a family: Maintaining your health and your sanity.

Holidaying as a family: Maintaining your health and your sanity.

Life with little ones is hectic at the best of times, I should know I’ve had three in three years! Leaving the house is a daily battle, you almost need a military operation to pull it off and coming out the other end can leave you with some post-traumatic stress. It might just seem like a trip to ASDA, but to my kids it’s a defiant battle with three main targets, how to:

A) Give mum a heart attack thinking they are missing/been kidnapped

B) Find the most valuable and breakable item in the store and destroy beyond all recognition, making sure Mummy has to pay for the damage they’ve caused

C) Scream, Swear or just plain whine enough to make an entire store of strangers glare at mum like she’s raising the Antichrist.

That is just a trip to the shops, so how are we going to pull off a holiday? I mean all of us, leaving the house, for longer than a few hours and all coming back alive and unscathed…is that even a possibility?

Let’s be honest, we go on holidays to relax, unwind and escape reality, when you’ve got kids it can be really difficult to achieve that, especially in an unfamiliar place that you are spending your hard-earned money on. The average family go on one holiday a year, so that’s a lot of built up anticipation and expectations, you need to make sure it’s going to be worth it and that you actually unwind, relax and maintain your mental health whilst having your kids with you.

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Here are some tips on how to ensure you stay healthy, well and relaxed on holiday:

#1 Plan

Some prep before hand is essential to have a relaxing time, I don’t mean organised activities from hour to hour, I mean…DO YOUR RESEARCH.

Questions

First things first, your accommodation:

Does it have a travel cot?

Does it have a safe deposit box?

Stair gates?

Washing machine or nearby launderette?

Important factors you need to be aware of. The last thing you need is to arrive and realise there is nowhere for you to keep your expensive belongings or money safe and that your toddler or baby has to starfish in between you and your partner every night, because it’s either that or the floor when the hotel have no travel cots…I don’t know about you but I don’t find a swift kick in the face very relaxing and that is the reality of bed sharing with a toddler.

If you’re in a villa then is the pool gated?

If you’re in a hotel is there a crèche? Is it safe and governed? Or is there a creche nearby if you want to stay in a villa? 

Are there real reviews?

Check it all out, the key to a successfully relaxing holiday is peace of mind.

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Activities

OK so I know I said no activities, you don’t want to be rushing from place to place to get somewhere for a certain time, but it is handy to know what is going on in and around where you are staying.

If you know there is a certain show or activity you were interested on from say 1pm it might be nice for you to make your way over there in plenty of time, but if it gets a couple of days in and your on Google searching for where to go and what to do because the kids are getting restless, it just means more time wasted on that, that could be spent relaxing.

Have a little look on trip advisor before your holiday, find out where has the best reviews and save your self the disappointment of getting food poisoning from the 0 star restaurant you could have avoided.

2# Indulge and Hydrate

Drink, drink and drink some more…water!

If we’re talking about a summer holiday, especially abroad, staying hydrated is a no-brainer. I mean it’s a great idea to stay hydrated every day of your life, but when you are in an environment where you will become dehydrated rapidly, it’s important not only for your health but for your enjoyment to make sure you drink plenty.

You don’t want to risk causing yourself damage and ruining your holiday just because you forgot to drink, I mean you’ll get thirsty so you’ll more than likely drink, but it’s important to drink bottled water and be healthy. Even if you aren’t usually a “healthy” person, you are out of your usual environment so therefore are more at risk if you do dehydrate.

Little ones will have no idea they have to keep themselves topped up with water, they might tell you they are thirsty but don’t wait for that, make sure you remind them to drink plenty. It’s only a small detail that won’t even seem like a big deal, carrying water around with you, but it could be the difference between your holiday being relaxing and healthy or ruined by being unwell due to dehydration.

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Eat safe

Also make sure you eat plenty, if you’re planning on a busy holiday with lots to do, then don’t forget to eat and eat well! You are in an unfamiliar place so look at your surroundings, look at how hygienic the area is that you are eating in, if you don’t feel something is quite right then don’t eat it, but don’t stop your self indulging, you’re on holiday after all! It’s important to stay healthy but holidaying is a time of enjoyment so scoff the cake and for that week or two don’t worry too much about your waistline, a bit of indulging never killed anybody.

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3# Book Smart

Be realistic

When booking your holiday, you flick through the brochures and watch the adverts of the couple clinking their wine glasses together, snuggled in a shawl, watching the sunset. That’s great there’s no reason that can’t happen, but be realistic! If you are taking little ones with you, then book into a family friendly place, DO NOT book into a couples paradise.

Pandora’s Box

It’s all well and good thinking your kids are well-behaved, but when all the couples are cooing at each other over a candlelit dinner and you’re trying to contain Pandora’s box (a.k.a your kids) it isn’t that relaxing.

If junior decided to catapult meatballs across the room at a family friendly restaurant, then the waiter will no doubt duck without batting an eyelid because he will have become a master of dodging little people food fights and Freddie his new best friend with will be in fits of giggles at the other side of the room.

Whereas if Junior pie faces the guy who is about to change his girlfriend’s life by getting down on one knee, you won’t get the smirking glance from a fellow mum who knows what you are going through, you’ll get the laser stare of the ice queen who spent three hours doing her hair that your child has just streaked with spaghetti.

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Family Friendly

Trust me…just visit family friendly areas and restaurants! For your peace and tranquillity, even if there are kids running around, you can relax, because everyone’s in the same boat, your kids are running around too, there’ll probably be a crèche or some activities where you can leave the kids so you can get some one on one time. You don’t want to spend the entire trip red-faced or trying to contain a pack of wild beasts, set them free in the right environment, sit back and chill whilst watching the carnage unfold.

4# Open invite

I’m not saying invite the world on your holiday (1. Impossible and 2. Unrealistic) but it’s becoming an increasing trend to holiday with other families or even with a large number of your own relatives. If you don’t have friends (or you can’t stand the ones you have) and your extended family are the reason you need a holiday than this option may not be for you.

Multi-generational

But if Nana and Grandad need a holiday and love watching the little ones, it means you get lifetime memories with a larger portion of your family and let’s face it you’ve got ready-made, trustworthy babysitters whilst you clink the champagne glasses, cuddle up and watch the sunset (see, I told you it is possible).

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Bring your bestie

If your best mate has a family of their own, why not go together? Share a villa (half the cost for each other) you’ve got ready-made playmates for your little ones and you can take it in turns watching the brood of kids from both families while you clink, cuddle and watch the sunset (becoming more realistic now, isn’t it).

Basically, you are making your holiday cheaper (in theory), more relaxing (trusted babysitters & playmates) and more enjoyable (spending time with people you like). There’s every reason to expand the number of people coming on your holiday, for your enjoyment and also for your peace both physically and mentally.

#5 Where to go

Thinking of where to go? Think relaxing, beautiful sunsets, stunning scenery and an air of elegance…Tuscany is a region in central Italy, it is full of character and the perfect place for a relaxing family holiday.

If you’re like me and have a brood of kids, that make the thought of staying in hotel fill you with dread, then a villa is the place to go. No worries about disturbing guests or irritating staff with your kid’s wacky ways.

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Here’s the best place to rent a villa https://www.to-tuscany.com/

They have over 350 positive reviews on Feefo reviews and are a trusted merchant on there too: Feefo

They are also highly commended on thegoodwebguide.co.uk

Check out the To-Tuscany pages:

Facebook Twitter G+ Pinterest To Tuscany Blog Flickr Youtube Instagram Flipboard  To-Tuscany Newsletter

#6 Remember why you’re going

You want to enjoy your holiday, relax and rejuvenate. Make sure you don’t over do activities, booze or just not taking care of yourself. You don’t want to come home feeling like you need a holiday to get over your holiday.

Keep reminding yourself why you’re there and if something is stressing you out or making you unwell then don’t do it. Just remember these three key facts which sum up all the yammering I’ve done above:

  1. Stay healthy (Eat right & drink plenty)
  2. Make it easy (Do whatever gives you mental peace)
  3. Enjoy (Lay down, walk, dance, sleep..if it makes you happy then do it)

    BE HAPPY

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We’re the lucky ones

Watching Coronation Street tonight brought back dreadful memories and gut wrenching feelings of when I went into premature labour at 25 weeks and 5 days of pregnancy with Jack.

We’d had heartbreak already in our first two pregnancies, first with a Molar Pregnancy and then with a Miscarriage. Jack was our rainbow baby, our ray of sunshine, once I got past 12 weeks I breathed a sigh of relief, but more heartbreak was yet to come.

At 25+5 weeks I felt a trickle, not like the usual discharge you get in pregnancy, this felt different. I didn’t think much of it, I’d never been this far in a pregnancy before, it was my first successful pregnancy, so maybe this is what happens…I thought to my self. Then I stopped feeling him move as much and something within me just told me to go and get checked.

So I rang the Maternity Assessment Unit and arranged to go in, they gave me an icy glass of water and Jack was back to his wriggling ways, by that point it was very busy on the unit so I did feel like a time waster. I got a rather stressed and huffy midwife who told me she had to do a test because I said I’d felt a trickle but that I’d been “the fourth lady with leaky waters today” that it’d be nothing, just some discharge, so I didn’t even ask what the test entailed I just let her to the uncomfortable swab and started to get my belongings together, ready to go home.

The midwife returned with a very different expression on her face, she suddenly turned very pale and before she opened her mouth a consultant walked in and said “Okay, so what time did your waters go?”….What?

After all the grief we’d been through losing two babies, I never thought the feeling of your heart sinking could get any worse, I was wrong.

The next few days were a blur of needles, swabs and doctors…but what mattered, he wasn’t born. All I can remember is being sat with Paul, cuddling, praying that he stayed put. The fact is the health staff intervened, if they hadn’t Jack would not be here today.

With their support and monitoring, Jack stayed in my womb until 29+5 weeks and then was in NICU for 6 weeks after being born at 3.5lbs. Fast forward 3 years and he’s a happy, bubbly, clever little boy, it’s easy to forget the terrifying experience we went through in his pregnancy and after his birth, but watching what Michelle went through on Coronation Street brought back those feelings and memories.

We are so lucky, we were over the 24 week mark in my pregnancy and our baby boy survived. Kym Marsh went through exactly what her character did in Corrie, who better to act it than someone who has been through it? I don’t know how she found the strength but she’s a strong lady who has done justice for every woman who has gone into premature labour.

Watching her go through that just reminds me what could of been, I know the feeling of being told you are in premature labour, I know the feeling of knowing your child might die, but I am the most grateful and lucky person in the world to not know what it feels like to lose your child, for the hope to be gone.

The episode really highlighted a lot of issues with the way couples are treated in that situation. When I suffered both my Miscarriage and Molar Pregnancy I was put in a room of happy couples who were cooing over their scan pictures of healthy babies, during their ordeal on Corrie, Steve and Michelle had to listen to newborn babies crying, it’s heartbreaking that it is the case that couples aren’t given the privacy and proper setting to grieve and go through this heartbreaking experience and even if the health staff wanted to give that to them, the sad fact is there probably isn’t the facilities.

I never thought I’d feel lucky looking back on what we went through when Jack was born, it was heartbreaking and I wish we never had to go through it, but in reality it is a memory, a story we can tell that ends in success, our baby boy is here and he is healthy, a lot of people don’t have that, their’s ends with grief and that is why…we are the lucky ones.

 

 

 

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Day 1: The 365 Day Activity Challenge

January 1st 2017

Day 1 of my 365 day activity challenge, it’s story time Sunday!

To kick start my 365 day activity challenge we’ve used our imagination and made up a story about a bunny. It’s a story my Nanny told my Mum and my Mum told to me and now I’m telling my babies.

Jack loves Christmas so much he was happy to hear this Christmas story about a little bunny called Jack, who loves to play but one day rips his trousers and gets very upset because he thinks Santa won’t bring him any presents, but his little bunny friends help him stitch his trousers and they all get lots of presents from Santa at the end of the story.

Jack loves stories using our imagination where he doesn’t necessarily have to look at pictures and turn the pages, I like to ask him what Jack rabbit looks like and what colour his clothes were, so Jack can make up the details of his story and use his imagination.

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Looking back on 2016

For me, December is a time to look back on the year you’ve had an assess what you want from the year to come.

So what has happened for me in 2016? Where do I start?!

I got married!

I had a baby (my first girl).

Jack turned three.

Mikey has turned two..

I’ve started blogging again!

Getting married at 28 weeks pregnant was…an experience! Only joking, I loved it! Everyone thought I was mad and that it would be their worst nightmare to be pregnant on their wedding day, but I loved it! I am completely not a part animal, I love the comfortable life, sitting down, taking everything in and that I did, followed by a couple days in health spa with my new hubby…just what we needed especially before the imminent arrival of our new little one.

Before we knew it she was here, our little baby GIRL Nicole! I still can’t quite believe I have a daughter. Don’t get me wrong I love my boys and I was fully expecting a third boy which I was over the moon with, I had the name picked and everything, but having the experience to have a daughter as well as a son made me feel extremely lucky. She is beautiful and more perfect than I can ever imagine, plus she’s been exclusively breastfeeding from day dot, which has always been a personal goal for me, 14 weeks so far and there’s no sign of stopping! Wahoo!

My little three pound preemie Jack turned three, loves nursery and isn’t sad to be away from mummy (imagine me doing a sad face) I joke! He started three hours of nursery in April and is now up to 6 hours a week and no longer breaks his heart when I leave him, which I love but also makes me say “Awww my baby is growing up”, but I’m so proud of him, he is being praised constantly for his amazing speech and confidence.

My baby moo moo bear Mikey turned two, he has had a progressive year. His speech hasn’t progressed but his personality has, he is a little daredevil, basically the more you scare him the more you like him, so there’s a lot of rough and tumble, he’s a real man’s man. He’s starting speech therapy and portage to help him with his speech and social skills in the new year which I’m very pleased about, I’m a great believer in therapies.

2015 was a year when my Depression took hold a little bit and I stopped writing, which I really missed. I love blogging and I missed it. Don’t get me wrong I have a very full life and love my family, friends, husband and kids but blogging is something that is just for me and I know now even when I am feeling down I need it in my life, it’s like my diary that I share with the world, but I love it,

So it has been a very happy, memorable but manic year! There has been non-stop planning and organising throughout, so it’s safe to say there has been a lot of stress but also a lot of enjoyable times with family and friends.

There are lots of reasons 2016 has been a positive year for me, even though I’d like 2017 to be the complete opposite in the way of craziness, this year holds a lot of fond memories for me.

So now I look forward to a comfortable and quiet 2017 spending lots of enjoyable unorganised time with my family of five.

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The Last Baby

I always knew I wanted a big family, I wasn’t sure how many kids maybe four or five. I didn’t predict the difficulties I’d have in pregnancy due to my Bicornuate Uterus…how could I? So fast forward to full fledged family life I have three kids, am married and have had two Cesareans, which means I can have one more baby and it will have to be a Cesarean the doctors say.

If you’d have asked me a few years ago if I’d like to stop at three children, I’d of said absolutely not! I love them when they are babies and as toddlers and as little people. Even though it’s tough and hard work, I love it, I feel like it is what I was made to do. I’m not looking forward to the time my house is quiet and not overrun by little dictators.

But due to the health problems and risks I have in pregnancy and the practical side of having three kids, I have nowhere, literally nowhere to put a fourth baby when I go out means I’m toying with the idea of this being the point where I stop. I know I could wait a few years and have another one when these three are in school, but then I love the fact these are all close together and I just keep getting the feeling I am done.

There is a feeling of sadness with your last baby, don’t get me wrong I am so full of love, there is so much love in my heart I am overwhelmed, but there is an end of an era like finishing your years of child bearing….which is OK. People tell you, that you should be happy with your lot, well I am, I have three beautiful children and wouldn’t change them. They have given me the best experiences of my life so far and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life loving them, but knowing you won’t go through a pregnancy, birth and newborn, toddler and preschool age again is a little sad. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, it’s just that you’ve loved that part of life so much it’s a bit upsetting when that ends.

When you have the feeling this is your last baby, you hold them a little closer and stare at them a little longer, not because you love them anymore but because your older children have taught you how fast it goes, you wouldn’t change the amazing, hilarious and beautiful people they turn into, but you find yourself telling people it only seems like yesterday they were tiny and you take it for granted amongst the piles of nappies and sleepless nights time seems to pass in a blur, so of course it’s different when you’re holding your last child, your older children have taught you to cherish these tiny cuddly moments, because before we know it the sleepless nights just wanting 5 minutes peace from our newborn will turn into sleepless nights worrying about our teenagers.

So I never thought I’d say it, but Nicole could be my last baby. Not because she’s a girl after two boys, me and Paul had this conversation during my pregnancy when I thought she was a boy. Only time will tell, but to be honest I feel like the luckiest person in the world to have three beautiful babies that are all healthy and I am content with the possibility family is complete.

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Why I won’t label my son

Why I won’t label my son.

For some time now there has been an Autistic question mark looming over my son’s head, I wrote a blog post a few weeks ago about how people and services were suspecting my son was “on the autistic spectrum”, I have since been told everyone is on the Autistic spectrum, just varying degrees, I don’t know if this is true, but I’ve decided…not to care.

I don’t care what my son is labelled as, we are going through all the motions now to start the appropriate therapies to make his life and learning easier. But if we walk into a pediatrician’s office and he gives my son a label, he’s not going to walk out a different child, he will still be my Mikey. I understand that services have to give it a name so they can do referrals and arrange the correct support, but that means the label is for them not for me or my son. The same as me being an “O positive blood group” doctors need to know that, but it isn’t how I introduce myself to others.

I’m not saying Autism isn’t real or that we shouldn’t recognise, quite the opposite really. It frustrates me that as soon as I mention to someone, that Mikey is going through tests for Autism, that they change their behaviour around him, before I tell them that, they say he’s funny, cute and clever, if I mention Autism they give me a sympathetic “Awww but it’s ok though, he’ll be ok”. They reassure me like my son has a death sentence, he’s different…but isn’t everyone?

His older brother Jack goes to a mainstream nursery, which I’m planning on sending Mikey to if he manages going to it without any problems, so if Mikey needs other support it just means they have different learning needs. There are a lot of intelligent successful people in the world who have autism and there are a lot of intelligent successful people who don’t have it.

I’d like to live in a world where it’s not a terrifying, upsetting time for parents when their child is diagnosed with Autism, where they get the support needed for their own needs, because let’s face it not one person is the same and it isn’t a one size fits all scenario.

So when I say I don’t care, it doesn’t mean I don’t care about my son, I love my children more than anything in the world, but he is perfect the way he is. A diagnosis isn’t going to change the way I look at him, I wouldn’t change one part of him.

As a parent it is my job to support him and make sure he gets any help he needs, so we’re going to start Speech Therapy and Portage in January. I am a great believer in therapies, let’s face it, people pay good money for therapies just to make their life more peaceful and happier, so if my son is having therapies at 2 years old is that really such a bad thing?

To me he will always be my little Mikey Moo, everyone who meets him adores him, he has special little quirks that make him extra special, but that’s why we love him, his name is Michael and a label of Autism will never change that.

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