Monday, 30 November 2015

Me and Mine - November

You can probably guess by the fact this is a bad quality phone selfie that November has gone by too fast and we have left things until the very last minute.  This was just before we started getting the boys in their pyjamas tonight.  I didn't want to miss a month though, and I realised my camera battery was flat so this is us, this month.

I can't tell you much about what we did in November, but I know that it has been pretty busy.  November is always a bit of an awkward month, with the coldness of winter but not yet the sparkles of Christmas and we have had more illness in the house than ever before (evident in Finn's rather sorry looking eye) . I never seemed to get on top of anything this month (- blogging, the washing, the housework . . .) and there was more time spent on the sofa than any other month.  

This is us, a little blurry, stuck with terrible lighting as there barely seems to be any daylight left and all looking a little tired. 

This month Mummy is loving going on a photography course, watching Prison Break on Netflix, giant Warburtons Crumpets and hiring a cleaner.

Daddy is loving his new computer screen monitor (apparently he needs two), taking the boys to London, Fallout 4 and watching Dylan learning to read so well

Dylan is loving writing sentences for us to read, learning songs for his school Christmas play, playing advent calenders with his toys in preperation for next month and seeing his little brothers at the school gates.

Archie is loving dressing himself every morning (usually in shorts), snuggling under blankets on the sofa, Henry Hugglemonster and calling everyone Booboobutt (The book with no pictures).

Finn is loving raspberries and alpro yoghurts, being able to reach more things without falling over, being in his own bedroom and chewing Duplo bricks.

I can't wait for December although I am not even nearly ready to say goodbye to 2015 yet.
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A Weekend Away in London

We just love getting away and I will never get bored of visiting London.  There is always something new to see and we revisit the same places because they are just magical, especially as Christmas draws closer.  

We drove up to London last weekend after Dylan had finished school and the bloke had finished work and found the gorgeous converted coach-house that we were going to stay in.  Having three children means hotel rooms aren't always practical and Merino Hospitality offer serviced apartments in the very heart of London.

The boys were sleepy, but excited to be somewhere new so they ran around exploring before climbing into their bed.  The bloke and I weren't far behind as we were looking forward to an entire day exploring on the Saturday.

There was a basket of food waiting for us when we woke up alongside the fruit bowl that the boys couldn't leave alone.  One of my favourite things about staying in an apartment is having breakfast at your leisure, usually in your pjs.  We had a blogger event to go to first thing to celebrate the book I had helped create with HP and we so we headed across town.

The event was brilliant with the illustrator Tom Percival reading the book for all the children and little animals for them to see and pet. They loved colouring in and the inflatable lightsabers that they discovered and we all enjoyed some lunch.

After being inside for the morning, the boys were desperate to run around and the event was only metres away from the Diana Memorial Playground.  I have been meaning to visit for so long and it didn't disappoint.  A giant pirate ship set in the biggest sand pit and surrounded by climbing frames and little areas to discover, it was a dream park for the boys.  There was a cafe serving delicious hot chocolate and indoor toilets and changing facilities which made the visit easier too.  It was so much colder than we were expecting, but the boys didn't mind at all with so much to explore.

I love Covent Garden all year round, but there is something so special about Christmas there so we walked that way.  All three boys fell asleep on the journey over - something we don't get very often now so the bloke and I decided to sit down and enjoy some cheesy fries and shakes from Shake Shack.  I can't go to Covent Garden without having their fries and I love sitting in the very centre and watching the world go by.

We let them all have a good rest as we wandered.  I don't normally let Dylan nap for long, but as we only had one full day in London, a good sleep meant we could break the routine and stay out later, enjoying the wonderful sights by night.  We had a wander around a few shops and stalls, and then decided it was time to find somewhere to eat.

What we didn't think about was the fact central London on a Saturday night is pretty busy, and getting a table for five people wouldn't be easy!  We gave in at Pizza Express and decided we would just queue and thankfully it wasn't too long.  The big boys love their pizzas and Finn had some plain pasta to munch on, as having a dairy allergy in a Pizzeria isn't easy!  They were all so well behaved and we had wonderful comments from people on the tables around us.  Dylan spent most of the meal writing sentences for us to read and Finn spent a long time studying the menu!

As the boys had been asleep the entire time we were at Covent Gardens, we went back that way to show them the giant Christmas tree.  It really is spectacular and they were in awe of its size.  They were completely captivated by the street performers and whilst we would normally walk straight past, we stopped to watch two whole shows as they sat on the floor staring up.  

We went inside to look at the giant ivy lights on the roof and to watch more of the street performances and all three were smiling away.  Although it was already past their normal bedtimes, their naps had meant they were coping well and we went window shopping at the Disney Store and the Bear Factory.  Everywhere has such colourful displays and very few shops were still open which made it easier to walk past.

 When we were all getting a bit tired, we decided to head back to the apartment and it was amazing to see it was only a 20 minute walk away.  We could easily have gotten on the tube, but with a double buggy it is often easier to walk and the twenty minutes went fast admiring all the lights along the way.

We arrived back with three tired babies who went straight to bed and we stayed downstairs for a while.  The living area had a huge TV (with Netflix) and it was lovely being away from home and still able to keep the lights on and talk at a normal level even with the boys asleep!

We woke up for another leisurely breakfast on Sunday and the big boys loved playing Lego in the 'den' upstairs. There were no doors between our bed and the den despite them being on different levels and it meant we could lay in bed for an extra hour whilst they entertained themselves up there.

It was so lovely being able to explore London from the centre and we had a tube station only one minute walk from the house as well as a shopping centre practically on our doorstep.  We have never driven into Central London before but it only took around 2 hours to get home.

We are feeling ready to get into the Christmas spirit after all the wonderful lights and sights, although I am refusing to get too festive until at least December 1st.  Thank you to Merino Hospitality for our stay and to HP Instant Ink for putting on a great event.

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Friday, 27 November 2015

What the Boys Wore - Rockin Baby

If you are looking for the perfect clothing based gift for a child this Christmas, then look no further than Rockin Baby.  Their colourful baby clothes are full of personality and with four different collections there is something for every taste, whether you like bright and colourful or something more subtle.  Rockin Baby is a company with a heart so what makes shopping with them even better, is knowing that for every item of clothing you buy, they will donate one to a mother or child who needs it.  At the end of each season they will donate the same quantity of clothes as they had sales to children that really need them in West Africa and China.

Rockin baby, circus baby clothes, ethical baby clothes

We chose to review some pieces from the Circus collection as I found it difficult to choose and we were sent a vest, trousers, top and romper for Finn.  The all in one is really sweet with a skinny fit all over.  I imagine it would be really practical for a crawling baby (although my little lazy one isn't quite there yet) as everything will stay in place.  I love the bright colours and the little star detail on the chest and we have been using this both as daywear and for sleeping in as it seems to nice to keep just for bed!  (This is size 9-12 months and I would suggest sizing up)

Rockin baby, Circus baby clothes, circus vest

This vest is probably my favourite and I want to get Finn a little top hat to go with it (and maybe a stick on moustache).  The printed on buttons down the front give it such character and I can imagine it looking smart with little trousers and braces. (size 6-9 months we find this quite true to size)

rockin baby, stripy crawlers

These trousers are a great fit, these are 9-12 on my long legged one, and the cuffs are folded over very far.  I love cuffed trousers like this as it means they grow with baby and fit well whatever their size.  The waistband is soft and stretchy and the red and white stripes are perfect for Christmas outfits too.

rockin baby, ciircus baby clothes

Finn's top has a stripy back and a Ringmaster picture on the front.  I love the outfit together as it is so playful and comfy and soft clothes make it easy to layer up with snowsuits as the weather gets cold.

The quality is brilliant and I love the ethics behind Rockin Baby.    Their clothes are timeless and I am looking forward to seeing their spring summer collection in the new year, it is definitely somewhere I will shop for Finn again.

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Thursday, 26 November 2015

Weaning Two Months In (Giveaway)

We have now been weaning for two months and Finn seems to be getting keener on food. He started off very tentatively, but I see his excitement now when I show him his dinner is ready. Those little eyes light up, his legs start kicking and he uses all his strength to propel himself towards the spoon.

We have worked out that he likes his food cold (out the fridge is preferable) and that with puree a slightly thicker consistency is best, although we haven't tried lumps yet. The vegetable puree that SMA® Nutrition had challenged us to make was a complete hit and the combination of sweet potato, parsnip and butternut squash worked really well.

Celebrity mum Sheree Murphy runs through the recipe that we tried in the video below.


Finn really liked this mix and ate it well. We gave him one portion and froze the others so that we could get them when we need them. He liked having the sticks of steamed veg to hold as well, although these didn't make it into his mouth so often (they did get bashed into the highchair and thrown all over the floor though!).

At the moment Finn's diet consists mostly of fruit, vegetables and of course formula milk, but over the coming months we will be introducing more meat and other flavours. Whilst we were away last month, he decided not to eat anything for a few days (I think the heat and jet lag meant he favoured the comfort of milk), so we haven't been progressing so fast as I thought we would, but knowing that he is getting so much nutrition from his formula milk at the moment is very comforting. I know he will get there in his own time and until then I am making meals perfectly suited to him.

I am running an amazing giveaway with SMA Nutrition, so for your chance to win £100 of fresh food vouchers, hop over to my facebook page and share a photo of your little one trying out one of these recipes or something else you have made for them. (Giveaway ends 6th Decmeber 2015 at 11:59pm, UK entrants only, one entry per person and all entrants must be over 18).

Disclaimer : In Collaboration with SMA Nutrition
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Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Ready for Advent with Playmobil

If you are looking for an alternative to the chocolate advent calenders, then check out Playmobil.  They have a choice for older children  (recommended for age 4/5 upwards) as well as one in the '1,2,3' collection which is designed for children 1.5 - 5 years and therefore perfect for my little ones.  Everyday a new piece is uncovered which means by Christmas day you have a whole play set.

I sneaked open the back of the packaging to take a look at it all, and the boys got to 'test' the toys before they were put away ready for December 1st.  We know already how fantastic the quality of playmobil is, how well it endures, how it encourages imagination and how it is the perfect toy for me to leave Dylan and Archie with if I want to spend some time with Finn as they get lost in their play.

These pictures also contain another Christmas set that features a simple nativity, also from the 1,2,3 range.

Yes, Mary is riding on the reindeer, straight after Father Christmas had brought baby Jesus a dinosaur present.

We were sent these products as part of our role as Playologists.  Be quick if you want to get one before Christmas!
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Sunday, 22 November 2015

What the Boys Wore - Bobux Shoes

Whilst I used to collect high heels as a teenager and display them on bookcases lining my bedroom, I now look for the perfect shoes for three little boys who like to have lots of adventures.  They don't have nearly as many as I had back then and I am far more fussy about how good for their feet they are than I was about looking after my own.

Bobux are a brand known for their barefoot designs.  Their shoes are made so that children walk more naturally, are more aware of what is going on under their feet and with the aim of promoting healthy foot development.  Archie is a runner and a climber and he is also pretty clumsy and after getting used to the new soles, he didn't seem to fall over quite so much.  It did take a couple of wears before he found his balance in them though, as they are different to what he was wearing before.

Bobux boots, bobux eskimo boots,winter boots

I chose him some beautiful blue 'eskimo' boots which are lined with wool on the inside and made from leather on the outside.  They fit well (definitely don't size up with Bobux) and they look great with pretty much everything he owns.  

Bobux boots, Bobux eskimo boots, trendy toddler

Whilst Finn has been happy either barefoot or with some socks, the time has come to think about his little feet over winter, and so his first pair of shoes are these soft sole Bobux boots.  Until he is confidentally walking around outside (which I hope to have at least a few months until this happens), he doesn't need anything solid under his feet and these soft sole 'winter boots' allow his feet to develop naturally whilst keeping them toasty warm with a fleece lining and leather outer.

Bobux baby shoes, Bobux boots

They go perfectly over his leggings or under some of his wider legged clothing and the stretch makes them easy to put on and easy to keep on.

Bobux boots, Bobux shoes, soft sole feet

Bobux shoes are a great investment, in quality shoes and in your child's feet and I love the way their choices are set out in stages so you can buy the ideal support for your child's development.   Archie's shoes are from the 'i-walk' section for confident walkers and retail at £48 and Finn's are from the soft sole collection for developing feet and cost £30.  

Thank you for Bobux for sending us these gorgeous boots that I know will last both boys all winter.

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Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Ski vs Snowboard : Team Ski

I was always told that Skiing was one of those things that you either love or just don't get.  That first trip will either be the first and last time you jet off to the alps, or the reason you go back as often as you can and for us it was definitely a case of Love.

Our first ski trip was last year and we set off having never even been on the dry slopes before.  My Aunty owns a ski and snowboard shop and she had helped kit us out, describing the different layers we may need and showing us those handy sun-cream tubes with a lip-balm attached.  We arrived in France looking the part but with no idea what we were doing.  

I had spoken to family and friends that have skied about whether we should try skiing or snowboarding, and the overwhelming majority suggested skiing was the best way to start out on the snow so we signed up for daily lessons.

I think that the moment you become a parent, a cautiousness appears that may never have existed before.  I have jumped out of planes and gone white water rafting down class 4 drops without a second thought, but stepping onto the snow after leaving my two boys in the creche was terrifying.  Skiing is so different to anything I had done before and I was nervous about how I would manage and made a goal to confidently handle the nursery slopes by the end of the week.

It turns out skiing was hard work physically, but amazing fun.  It only took a couple of days before we attempted the easiest runs and by day 5 the bloke and I were zooming down the green and blue runs without any assistance.  Our tuition was fantastic and with two skis to balance on we felt like we had mastered the slopes.  Being 26 I worried that I was too old to learn, but after our week I don't believe there is a 'too old' to try something new.  We are heading back out to the Alps in January and I can't wait to see my biggest two little ones don some skis and have a go too.

I think there is definitely something appealing about snowboarding.  Much as a teenager on a skateboard looks more cool than one on roller blades, snowboarding seems to be seen as the trendier version of skiing.  Having never been the 'cool kid', I am more than happy to stick to having both feet working independently (so that I can snowplow down anything that scares me).  As a nervous adult learner, I felt secure on skis and I knew how to control my speed.  I can't imagine it being as easy on a snowboard and most of the snowboarders we saw were zooming past us at quite a speed!  

I never had an interest in watching the winter Olympics but after our experiences on the snow, I love watching competitive skiing.  I think because it is something I can relate to (the bloke and I are more than a little competitive too) I would always watch the skiing over the snowboarding.  Being nervous on the snow means I wasn't keen to try anything that meant my feet came off the ground, but the bloke had a couple of rather disastrous attempts at the mini jumps.  Watching the professional skiers zoom through the air is terrifying and exciting in equal measures and I can't look away.

 I would definitely recommend skiing as the best way to start on the slopes.   It was so much easier to learn than I expected and if you have good tuition then it is really easy to pick up.  Most companies offer private lessons and Neilson have Mountain Experts that offer free top up sessions to help you get the most out of your time too.  I can't wait to see my big two little ones try it out and we have started looking for salopettes and goggles that will fit them.  After everything I have heard and seen I think skiing is the better of the two to learn and hopefully easier for children as well as adults.

Skiing holidays for us are about more than just the slopes though.  It is a chance to get away with our family, to enjoy something different - hot chocolate around the fire, beautiful accomodation with breathtaking views out of every window, shared experiences and new skills.  It is watching Archie make snowballs, marvelling at Dylan gaining physical confidence and this coming winter we will be giving Finn his first experience of snow. Neilson offer a great variety of family friendly packages for people of all abilities.

Where do you stand on the Ski vs Snowboard debate?  Has anyone tried both? I stand firmly in the team ski camp.

Disclaimer:  Collaborative Post
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