Thursday, 31 December 2015

Me and Mine December

The end of December means the end of the year which is a scary thing.  Whilst the days are at times long, the years are inevitably short and the end of 2015 means my baby boy isn't the newborn I still see him as anymore.  Our family has grown this year, we have learned, fought, worried, laughed and loved and December's photo had to be taken in front of my parent's Christmas tree as it has been for the past two years.

Every Christmas day we spend there, eating too much, spoiling the boys, playing cards and being a family.  This year was quieter with my little sister out working in France for the winter season but we had a wonderful weekend anyway.

December has been a slower month than I intended, we didn't fit in half of what I had planned and I liked it that way.  There will always be next year, we still had fun and my big boy needed some calm and quiet time to help him cope with the tiredness that comes at the end of your very first term of school.

We have managed another whole year of our monthly photos and it is definitely something I will be continuing into 2016.  I hope even if I do ever stop blogging that this is a tradition we keep up, as our year has been full of beautiful shots (mixed with last minute phone selfies of course).

This month

Mummy is loving the whole Christmas weekend, Yule Log, winning at cards and her new slippers

Daddy is loving the Pacman light he got for Christmas, time off work, the excuse to eat more cheese than usual and his new computer monitor.

Dylan is loving the giant Christmas tree in Covent Garden, the trumpet that Father Christmas brought him, having a pyjama day and learning all about animals with his new book.

Archie is loving  seeing the Snowman, the fart gun his Aunty and Uncle bought him, singing Rudolph the red nose reindeer at the top of his voice and having his big brother home from school.

Finn is loving finally getting his first tooth, alpro yoghurts, wrapping paper and the baubles with bells in them.

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Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016

As we said goodbye to 2014 and entered the new year, my overriding emotion was excitement.  Whilst I am sure we had other things planned, the most immediate and important was welcoming a new person who was still growing inside me.  Our year was always going to start with an adventure and Finn's arrival was certainly memorable.

By the end of February our year was already nothing like the one we had planned.  Our beautiful baby boy was born with a congenital virus and admitted to the Special Care Baby Unit to be looked after.  Our perfect son was fighting a battle and we were told it was one he may not win.  I always think it is amazing what you are capable of when you least expect it, and we all have a strength within that we do not know until we need it.  The three weeks Finn spent in hospital were the hardest of my life, but we all came out of it with a new love for the amazing support network of family and friends who reminded us every day that we could cope and that we were.  They provided childcare, an ear to listen, baked goods to keep us going and relief when we needed it most.  We learnt that as a family we can get through anything and it made every milestone Finn meets, every new skill he learns that bit more amazing.

The month after bringing Finn home from hospital is a bit of a blur still.  Real life was imposed on me rather abruptly and with hospital appointments to take all three children to several times a week, it seemed we didn't have much time to settle into our new life as a family of five.  I couldn't have been prouder of my big boys as they coped so well with the changes, despite the fact Finn was usually the focus of attention and they bonded even more than they already had.  As the appointments slowed down, we settled down too and found our new routine, our new normal.

It was Dylan's last summer before school and the adventures we thought we would have were overshadowed by three cases of Chicken pox and two hospital admissions.  Dylan got his first pair of glasses and when I look back at the early photos from the year, it looks like there is something missing from his face.

September was all about my big boy as he started school and he just loved it from day 1.  He has always been so desperate to learn and school seems to be satisfying his natural curiosity.  I am constantly amazed at how much he is learning, how quickly he is progressing and how keen he is to go in every morning.  The boy who wouldn't go near a pen in August wrote his own letter to Santa this year and I could read at least 80% of it.

Before school started, we managed to fit in two holidays, a long weekend down in Cornwall and a week away in Denmark. We knew school would mean our holidays were dictated so it was lovely to be able to go away without worrying.  I love to travel and having children isn't going to stop me, the boys love going somewhere new, especially if they can pack their own Trunkis.  We took a ferry over to the Isle of Wight as well for a weekend break.

October was an exciting month for Finn and I as we jetted off to Jamaica for the week and I still look back on the photos just desperate to go back.  After spending most of the summer in isolation we loved enjoying some sun (as well as the all inclusive luxury).

The lead up to Christmas seemed to be ever so long this year, but the big day still came around all of a sudden.  Ours was quieter than normal, although with three children it is never that quiet of course.  Family, food and fun were the order of the weekend and I am sure I left my parents house twice the size as when I arrived.

As the end of the year is now here, I am looking back on 2015 with pride.  We handled everything that came our way and emerged the other side stronger.  I won an award for blogging, got to visit two countries I have always wanted to see, welcomed a beautiful third boy into our family and my first baby, the one that made me a mama started school.

I know 2016 will bring its own adventures, life is never that quiet with three under five, but I don't know where it will take us yet. We are going away in January and I can't wait to see some real snow again, watch the boys learning to ski and enjoying the delicious hearty French mountain food.  2016 will see Archie getting his funded hours at nursery and Finn and I having more time together.  Dylan will go into year 1 in September  and before any of that Finn will celebrate his first birthday.  I want to start finding some time for me and am planning on taking up swimming again as I just love being in the water. 

Here are some of the photos from 2015 that really make me smile:

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Thursday, 24 December 2015

A Little Christmas Message

This year is Finn's first Christmas and whilst that is incredibly special, Christmas with a 4 and 2 year old is even more exciting.  Finn will be clueless as to why we are all so jolly, where his stocking appeared from and what is really going on.  Dylan gets it completely now though, he knows the story of baby Jesus, he knows that Father Christmas lives in the North Pole and delivers presents to boys and girls, he knows Christmas is about friendship and giving and family as well as gifts and his excitement is contagious.

Those two big little boys of mine have been patiently counting down with their advent calenders, discussing what they hope Santa will bring, planning what they will eat and dreaming of the man in red and his reindeer.  This year they both 'get it', although at 2, I know it is only going to get more exciting for Archie.

Finn's first Christmas is so special, he will be dressed up, spoiled by family and eat at the table with his paper hat on alongside us (if he hasn't eaten it already), but it is his big brothers that will really make it what it is.

Our Christmas is all about family, and we are fitting in as much of that over the two days as we can.  My uncle is celebrating his 70th birthday on Christmas Day so there is even more to celebrate this year.  We will give modestly, love generously and eat greedily.  

To everyone who reads my online ramblings, who follows our story or who knows us in person, I wish you the merriest Christmas.  I hope your day is special whatever you choose to do, whoever you decide to spend it with.  

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Wednesday, 23 December 2015

A Christmassy Day in London

I love London, especially as Christmas approaches and they go all out on lighting up the city so spectacularly.  I will find any excuse for a day up there with the boys as we can always find something to do, something new to see and an adventure to have.  There is something so magical about the big city and they do everything on a different level to our local towns.

Last weekend we headed up first thing in the morning to go and see the Snowman.  I took Dylan last year and it was just amazing.  I knew it would be something that would become a family tradition and this year all five us turned up at the Peacock Theatre to watch the show.  The Snowman brings the classic book and film to life on stage and is perfectly designed for toddlers and small children.  With two halves, both under an hour it isn't too long to expect them to sit still and with all the magic on stage even Archie coped (the child who doesn't understand the concept of sitting or still).  

The snowman really does fly across the stage and the dancing is spectacular.  The boys loved when all the snowmen meet Father Christmas in the forest and we loved watching their faces light up.  Even Finn seemed amused although he did snooze through at least half of the show.

Once it was all over, we walked over to Covent Gardens which is less than 10 minutes on foot as we had reservations at Jamie Oliver's Italian.  None of us have ever eaten at one of Jamie's restaurants before and we were keen to try the fresh food and check out the kids menu that is more adventurous than your average chicken nuggets and chips.

Jamie's Italian, Jamie Oliver,

The service was fantastic and I loved the choice that the boys had, with titles like 'chicken lollipops', everything sounded really appealing and all the food was fresh.  Our waiter was fantastic with Finn, we struggle sometimes as he is allergic to dairy and egg but he gave us different options and made sure Finn's came straight away so that he could tuck in.  The boys' meals looked delicious, although the salad in a jar wasn't a hit as both are completely scared off as soon as you put lettuce in there. 

The bloke and I ordered starters and mains, and they were all lovely.  The desert definitely stole the show though, the chocolate pudding was soft and exquisite and the salted caramel ice cream had so much flavour and a perfect texture.  The service definitely made the meal that bit more special as every member of staff seemed to go above and beyond what I expect in a restaraunt.

After lunch we took a leisurely stroll back to the centre of Covent Garden as it is my favourite part of London.  It was our second time this season, but the boys were desperate to see the giant Christmas tree again.  Last year we loved the Lego santa's sleigh and this year's Santa Express didn't disappoint.  The queue was pretty small at 4pm and so we didn't have long to wait before the boys could board the train and press the buttons to make the steam come out.  (The sleigh is there until the 29th December).

Lego Santa Express, Lego Covent Garden, giant lego creation

There was plenty to see and do, from street performers to watch and shops to browse to the spectacular lights and trees all around.  It really brought Christmas alive and we came home feeling festive and ready for the big day.

Thank you to Sadler's Wells for our tickets to see The Snowman and to Jamie's Italian for our meal

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Sunday, 20 December 2015

What the Boys Wore - Little Green Radicals

It may feel more like September than December when we step outside, but the school run first thing in the morning is still pretty chilly and Finn likes being wrapped up warm in a snowsuit.  We haven't had to dig out the serious waterproof one we will take skiing, but the lovely people at Little Green Radicals sent us something perfect for this cold weather.

Little green radicals snowsuit, what the boys wore, ethical kidswear, LGR snowsuit

I just love the enchanted wood print and the bluey-green coloured background.  My favourite thing has to be the inside though, which is soft and fluffy made from organic sherpa cotton.  The legs and arms can be folded over to cover little fingers and toes, although my long-legged one can't have his feet inside so we pair it with soft-sole boots.  The kimono style opening makes it really easy to put on and take off and the lack of padding makes it ideal for babywearing.  Finn seems to be snug and warm inside and the fit is great on him.

little green radicals, organic kidswear, enchanted woods snowsuit

I would say it is pretty true to size, Finn is wearing the 6-9 months here, and at 9 months old he is at the top end of most 6-9 clothing now, not quite into 9-12 months yet.  It is only the legs that are getting short, but this is a problem we have quite often.

If you fancy something a little more feminine, this snowsuit also comes in a pink 'birdcage' print that is equally gorgeous, however I think the enchanted castle print would look lovely on a baby girl too.

Little green radicals, snowsuit

I am a big fan of organic clothing, and finding items that are made to be worn, last well and still be passed on and I have no doubt that this snowsuit will see plenty more babies through the winter once Finn has outgrown it.  It has been worn a lot over the past few weeks, washed several times and it still looks and feels as good as new.

This snowsuit is currently priced between £46 and £48 depending on size - I think this is good value considering you are paying for an organic product made with fairtrade cotton and in ethical working conditions.  The snowsuit is really well made and seems pretty durable so far.

 Thank you to Little Green Radicals for keeping Finn warm this winter.  

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Monday, 14 December 2015

Having it All

Now I really believe that we can have it all . . . just not all at the same time. I think there is more pressure than ever to be perfect now, there are pinterest boards full of how to have a beautiful home, and instagram only backs up the fact that everyone else has a tidier house than mine.  There are blogs full of perfectly dressed, well behaved children, facebook shows me craft projects and baking that other parents have done with their children and of course these children are running around outdoors, getting their daily quota of vitamin D and fresh air.

All the while, the parents hold down a job, a marriage, friendships and have hobbies.  It must be easy to have it all, or that is how it can sometimes feel.  

The thing is, there is usually more to it than that.  Those stunning instagram images of breakfast in bed usually have the child who is bouncing on your feet cropped out, as well as the pile of dirty washing.  Well, they do in my house anyway.  I record the things I want to remember, I write a blog so that my children can look back and see the good times, the happy faces, the adventures we had together.  The washing up is real enough every day that I have no desire to record and talk about it online as well.

Last month, we hired a cleaner.  I have always wondered what kind of people have a cleaner and I now know exactly who - real people.  I have three small children, only one of which is old enough for an education, I have a job, and a blog, and a social life and a relationship and all of that (plus a love of Netflix) doesn't really leave any time for scrubbing my bathroom tiles and cleaning out the kitchen cupboards.  The washing baskets are overflowing, there is often crumbs under the dining room table and my boys want to go out and explore.

I admire the mothers who seem to do it so well, and I remember what I am good at.  Art in my house consists of water painting, colouring in and other less messy pastimes.  Baking is not a word the children understand.  They do know adventure though, they know we will always go out, that I would pick the park over painting anyday.  They know they are loved more than anything and really that is the most important thing.  There are many boards on pinterest that I flick straight past, but there are plenty that I use for ideas  and inspiration too.

My house is never going to be tidy, it looks 'lived in' at best, but it is our home regardless.  It is full of our clothes, toys and the remnants of our fun.  It is slowly getting better now though (with the help of a cleaner for a couple of hours on a Tuesday morning!).

I can't have it all, at least not right now, but I can have enough.

Do you have a cleaner?  Would you if you could?
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Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Merino Hospitality

Now that there are 5 of us, we don't always fit neatly in a single hotel room, and with three under the age of five, their bedtime is significantly earlier than ours.  These things combined mean that when we are looking to stay away from home we often have to chose somewhere outside the centre so that we can have some extra space.

It was brilliant to discover that Merino Hospitality offer accommodation perfectly designed for families like mine that is not only spacious, but in an amazing location too.  A couple of weeks ago, we headed up to London for the weekend and arrived at a converted coach house in the Bloomsbury area of London.  With a tube station around two minutes walk from our front door, a shopping centre even closer and our own parking space as well, it seemed too good to be true.

The personal service meant Andres was there when we arrived to give us a quick run down of the apartment and to leave us with a lovely welcome basket that contained snacks and everything we needed for breakfast too.  These little touches make things so much easier when travelling with young children.

It was dark when we arrived, but I wanted to get some pictures of the rooms before 5 people had crashed in the beds and thrown the pillows everywhere so I took some quick phone snaps.  The apartment had two double bedrooms, both with themed walls making you feel somewhere far more exotic than London.  Each room had ample storage and space as well as towels, dressing gowns and jugs of water at the ready.

The bathroom had all the usual toiletries that you expect alongside plenty of things I didn't, like a his and hers shaving kit, a shoe shine box and a bath bag.  

The living area was compact, but with everything we needed and plenty of space for the five of us.  When we booked we had been offered a cot, highchair and buggy and the highchair was set up at the dining table ready for Finn.  I was surprised about how well stocked the kitchen was, with every kind of pan and gadget we could need meaning anything was on the menu if you wanted to cook at home.  The boys loved the fact that there was a full fruit bowl on arrival and they managed to get through quite a lot of it!

The biggest hit had to be the 'den' on the top floor.  A hidden space with coloured lights that can be controlled by the children and stocked full of Lego.  The blackboard wall at the back was mostly neglected by the boys as the Lego was more than enough to entertain them for a few hours.  The bloke and I loved that we could spend a bit longer in bed knowing that they were happy playing, and they are desperate to create something similar at home.

We really enjoyed our stay with Merino Hospitality and I would definitely consider re-booking for a future trip to London as it met all our needs.  The bloke found the mattresses very firm, but that is his only complaint and all three boys made themselves completely at home.  It made all the difference having our own space to stay up once the children were in bed, with a huge TV and our own wifi connection.

Thanks to Merino Hospitality for our fantastic stay.  You can find out more about their properties and options over on their website

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Sunday, 6 December 2015

9 Months

Finn is now nine months, or three quarters of a year.  He has officially been on the outside longer than he was on the inside and he has come so far from that newborn it felt like I had only yesterday.

Nine months in to our journey with three children, and things are getting ready to change again,  Finn isn't particularly mobile yet, although he can spin in a circle, but he is desperate to start crawling and I don't think it will be that long until he is off.  His balance has improved so much and he can now correct himself after reaching for things and he has recently learned to sit up from lying down, although he has only managed it a couple of times.

He has finally found an interest in food and weaning is going well after a slow start,  I was confident we would get there eventually and at 9 months I think we have cracked it (for now).  Rice and blueberries are a favourite (not together) and he isn't too keen on sweet potato, much like his eldest brother.  His fine motor skills are improving as he handles smaller food items and this month we will be giving him more sweetcorn and small vegetables to try and perfect that pincer grip.

Whilst he is eating so much more, he isn't willing to really cut down the milk and he still has around 5 bottles per day, with one of those being in the night.  Sleep has been all over the place recently, mostly terrible but we seem to be back to one wake up a night.  I have a feeling there may be an egg intolerance so I will be cutting that out to see if we can stick to just one wake up per night.

Finn is still in our room and still comfortable in his Snuzpod co-sleeper crib but now that he can sit himself up, I think we need to look at building his cot and getting him somewhere bigger to sleep.  I don't really want to move him out of our room ( it is far too cold to be wandering out in the middle of the night to go and feed him) but I am starting to wonder whether he would sleep better without our noise as we go to bed.

Finn is comfortably in 6-9 month clothes despite a huge weight gain over the last month.  My little chunk is now 18lb 10oz and he looks and feels so much sturdier.

Brothers, Smafolk, three under four, matching brothers

The boys are still so close.  Dylan still clings on to Finn's hand when he comes out of school, Archie still gives him the biggest cuddles with his arms thrown around poor Finn's neck and he is desperate to join in with more of their games.  Dylan loves sharing his food with Finn and he has been brilliant at checking this is ok (we have tried to drum the Dairy Allergy into them) and is constantly sneaking bits from his plate onto Finn's mat.

As we head towards Finn's first Christmas, I am loving watching my littlest guy grow and change, and watching his brothers help him along the way.
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Thursday, 3 December 2015

A Cloud Nursery

Baby Nursery, Cloud theme, grey, white and yellow, neutral nursery theme
Before we even knew if Finn was going to be a boy or a girl, I had started planning his nursery.  I had such fun choosing themes and little details for the other two, I wanted him to have a space that was all his own too, whilst keeping his room simple and light.  It began as a grey white and yellow colour scheme, but evolved as I found more little items that I couldn't resist.  The final nursery isn't as co-ordinated as some, but everything was chosen especially for it, and I love his space.

At nine months, we have decided it is now time for Finn to upgrade the Snuzpod for his big cot and for the last few nights he has been sleeping in here.  He seems happy in his own room (although he still calls out for a visitor and some milk every night).

When we moved into our current house, we were pregnant with Archie, who we thought may be our last child and the bloke and I both had jobs outside the home.  Over the past three years our family has grown by an extra member, and both the bloke and I have changed jobs so that we both work from home.  Combined, this has meant that Finn's nursery is a multi purpose room, and opposite the cot is a desk where we can work during the day.  This isn't a long term solution, but for now the room is big enough and Finn is small enough for it to work.

cloud themed nursery, cloud cushions, unisex nursery ideas
White wooden furniture set - Mamas and Papas
Colourful cloud cushion - Tiger
Grey cloud cushion - Ikea
Fitted cotbed sheet - Etsy

chevrons blanket, unisex nursery ideas, cloud themed nursery
Blanket - Mamas and Papas

Letter bunting - Modern Life

Cloud cushion - Farg and Form at Decobaby
Chevron cushion - Amazon
Camera cushion - Mamas and Papas

mama designs, cloud bunting, nursery bunting, unisex nursery bunting
Cloud bunting - Mama Designs

unisex nursery ideas, grey white and yellow nursery theme
Star bunting - a local folk market
Grey and white chevron toy storage - Minene

we are scamp, unisex nursery, cloud nursery
Dream big mobile - We are Scamp

wooden rainbow, clouds and rainbow themed nursery
Wooden Rainbow - Sainsburys

cloud theme nursery, unisex nursery, babasac
Sleeping bag (Babasac) - Mama Designs
Cot bed Mattress - Little Green Sheep

forever bespoke, personalised birth print
Personalised framed name - Forever Bespoke 

Postcards - This Modern Life

 The lighting isn't great along the back wall, which is why some of the photos look a little less white than others.  I love the calmness of the room, the subtle pops of colour and the little features that make it Finns.  Whilst we paid for most of the items pictures, there are a few things that were sent to us to help complete the nursery and I am very grateful as they are exactly what I was looking for.

I think this theme is completely unisex and as we have kept most of it quite plain, it should be easy to update as Finn grows too.

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Tuesday, 1 December 2015

What the Boys Wore - Lottie and Lysh

One of the best things about blogging, is the opportunities to discover small companies that make amazing children's products.  Lottie and Lysh are one of these finds, and they create beautiful leggings, jackets and bibs in a variety of fun fabrics.  Everything is handmade in the UK (down in Cornwall in fact) by Lottie, a mother of small  children just like mine who need fun practical clothes.

kids fashion blogger, lottie and lysh, ambi toys, baby fox clothing

Foxes seem to be everywhere this season which I love as they look so sweet on kids clothes.  These leggings are a perfect fit on my dinky one, with plenty of stretch as he grows too.  The cotton is thick and soft and he has the matching bib as well.  

Baby Boden Fox, Lottie and Lysh, kids fashion blogger

Lottie and Lysh, handmade leggings, Baby dressed as Fox

These cloud leggings are so bright and wonderful and they go with so much of his wardrobe as well. 

cloud baby leggings, lottie and lysh, baby fashion

All the leggings Lottie and Lysh make are completely unisex and perfect for little babies and active toddlers.  They seem to be hardwearing and incredibly comfortable and Finn's look great after several washes too. Our wishlist seems to be growing daily and the new collection launches this week so make sure you go and check them out!

kids fashion, baby cloud print leggings, rainbow top, Lottie and Lysh, Molo

Thank you to Lottie and Lysh for sending these gorgeous leggings and bibs - we will definitely be buying more!

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