Sunday, 24 September 2017

These Two

These two, only 16 months apart, are much like a double act.  Where one goes, the other follows.  I worried about having them so close together as Finn's first year was far from trouble free and at 16 months he was still very much a baby.  Until she arrived he was still cuddled to sleep curled up in my arms, carried around the house as he wasn't yet walking and treated in most ways like a baby.  Cora came along and changed everything, yet he never got jealous.  He loved her from the beginning and as she has become more able and more mobile their relationship has grown and changed.

jojo-maman-bebe, fox-clothing-for-toddlers

They squabble, he pushes her and she bites him, but most of the time, they can be found together.  They sit and play so well, he tries to teach her colours and show her how to do things properly.  They cook meals together at their play kitchen, stack bobbins in their bedroom and take it in turns to push each other round in the Little Tikes car in the garden.  If things go quiet then you can usually find them in the bathroom, Finn squeezing toothpaste everywhere whilst Cora dutifully holds the toothbrush in place.

jojo-maman-bebe, fox-clothing-for-toddlers

jojo-maman-bebe, fox-clothing-for-toddlers

When we go out, just the three of us, Finn wants her to chase him and she does it giggling as she goes.  He tries to hold her hand to help her walk  and most of the time she won't let him but when she does, he is full of smiles.


These two are so much fun to watch and I think those 16 months will only shrink from now on as Cora tries to catch up with her brothers.  

jojo-maman-bebe, fox-clothing-for-toddlers

jojo-maman-bebe, fox-clothing-for-toddlers

These two were sent these gorgeous outfits from JoJo Maman Bebe and I just love the co-ordination.  The dress is made of the softest cord and the trousers look so comfy and are soft and lined.  The stripy tops are going to be Autumn/Winter staples as they go with everything too.  Cora is in 12-18 and Finn is in 2-3 and both have a lot of growing room (but both are quite petite for their ages).

jojo-maman-bebe, fox-clothing-for-toddlers, 16-month-age-gap




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Thursday, 21 September 2017

Back to School with Panasonic.

The transition back from summer holiday freedom to early morning school runs has been tough and it hasn't helped that Archie is still on half days for another week and a half.  The freedom to wake, eat and sleep when we wanted to has gone and now I can guarantee that at 3:15 on the dot two little voices are declaring that they are 'so hungry'.

We have been working with Panasonic and Daniel from The Naked Nutritionist to solve our back to school food problems and he came up with three delicious recipes for us.  Both boys have school lunches and whilst I know that they have to follow certain guidelines, I also don't know what they are eating at school so I want to make sure I get as much fresh and healthy food into them as possible when they are at home.



My children always come out of school hungry so my first question was about after school snacks that will give them the energy to get through the rest of the day without making them too full up for their dinner.  Daniel created a green juice recipe that would help get some vegetables into them and was a great way to get them involved too.  We used a Panasonic MJ-L500 juicer which slowly presses and crushes the food with its stainless steel screw to keep more nutrition in.  The children loved getting involved and feeding the vegetables into the juicer and I love how easy it is to clean afterwards as you can take it apart and pop it in the dishwasher! 

I wanted some ideas for dinner times too as we always resort to the same vegetables which we know they will eat (peas, carrots and sweetcorn). Daniel came up with two brilliant recipes to get the children eating fresh and more variety.  The cauliflower mash is perfect for the days when they are not that hungry as it is lighter than mashed potato and we loved it with cream cheese added as well. The Panasonic MK-F800SXE food processer whizzed through the steamed cauliflower in seconds creating a creamy mash.



The boys ask for a pudding every evening and so Daniel taught me how to make a chocolate and avacado mousse that was sweet and delicious but full of hidden avacado which is such a great food for getting all the right vitamins to keep their brains working well.  The food processor has 33 functions and we have made so many different things with it by swapping the attachments.  (Next up is our own nut butter!).  Along with the classic hiding veg in a pasta sauce, I think hiding avacado in a chocolate pudding works great!

The recipes for all three of these are available on the ideas kitchen website and if you want to see Daniel and I cooking them then check out the facebook live we made on Panasonic's facebook page.

I have no excuse not to serve up something fresh and nutritious to the ravenous school boys at 3:15 each afternoon now!

In collaboration with Panasonic.





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Sunday, 17 September 2017

What Dylan Wore // Frugi

My biggest boy doesn't feature so often on the blog anymore, partly because he is now at school 5 days a week and partly because he often wants to be bribed to take part in any photos.  I have been wanting to talk about dressing him though, because as he is getting older I am aware that his style needs to grow with him.

Frugi, The Mummy Adventure, Frugi for older boys

Dylan is 6 and he is far from a toddler.  Some of the bright prints that I love for Finn no longer suit him, yet often I find clothes in his size are plain and grown up and don't reflect the colourful boy I know.  It took me 2 days to find a coat for school that I felt fit the middle ground for us.  Frugi is a brand I have bought for the children in their baby and toddler years and then forgotten about, but when they asked us to pick something for Dylan instead of one of the younger children it gave me a chance to really check out their older ranges.

Frugi, The Mummy Adventure, Frugi for older boys

As it turns out, this is where I should have been shopping for him all along! We chose a pair of jeans and a hoody as winter is fast approaching and as with all the Frugi clothing, these are designed in the UK and made of ethically sourced organic fabric.  The jeans have just the right amount of stretch, an adjustable waist and a lightening bolt print on the inside that makes them more than just your average jeans.  We are so impressed with the quality and the fit and I loved the playful touch.  Dylan finds them really comfy and will reach for them over his other jeans.

Frugi, The Mummy Adventure, Frugi for older boys
No amount of bribery could persuade him to wear shoes of course.

I chose the campervan hoody as I thought that the blue and grey colours would go with everything, but the rainbow stripes on the campervan make it stand out and instantly look more colourful.  The hoody looks really comfy and Dylan loves wearing it.  We went for both items in age 6-7 knowing that Frugi come up big an they fit perfectly even on my very tall 6 year old (he is roughly 128cm tall).

Frugi, The Mummy Adventure, Frugi for older boys

Frugi is a brand that we know and love for the little ones but it was great fun discovering their older children's range too.  They sell clothes for children up to 10 years old, you can find it all on the Frugi website
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Friday, 15 September 2017

Our Autumn Family Bucketlist

At the beginning of the summer I wrote a list of all the fun things we wanted to do as a family, from eating ice creams at the beach to camping underneath the stars.  We slowly but surely ticked off most of them and suddenly Autumn is just around the corner and I want to continue the fun.  I have written our Autumn family bucketlist with some of the fun activities we want to do as the seasons change.  

I love Autumn for the colours, the rich golds and browns of the leaves falling off the trees and I want to spend as much time as we can watching the world change around us.  I started the list with my favourite one, raking up all the leaves and jumping right in the middle.  We have our own garden now so we have no excuse not to play in the falling leaves and the park next door is full of trees that are already shedding their summer greenery.

Autumn family bucket list, Autumn bucket list, fall bucketlist, Autumn family activities

The boys love everything Halloween related so as well as dressing up for the big day, I want to pick and carve our own pumpkins, make toffee apples with the ones already growing on our trees an go trick or treating around our neighbours.

I am still feeling a little reluctant to let go of the summer, my sandals won't be getting packed away anytime soon anyway, but I am getting excited for Autumn and all the fun it will hopefully bring.
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Saturday, 9 September 2017

Shopping with Children at Ashford Designer Outlet

We have been in our new house now for two weeks but we are still living in a pile of boxes.  We need new furniture or different furniture in some rooms to fill the space better and I am having fun decorating a different home.  I have bought so much online but sometimes I want to go to a real shop instead - I want to see colours up close, feel textures and walk away with my items that day.

Last week we were invited to visit Ashford Designer Outlet and I was interested to see how it had changed and what we could tick off on our 'New house shopping list'.  Last time I visited was a few years ago and I knew there had been lots of changes.

Ashford designer outlet, McArthurGlen outlet, Ashford, shopping with kids

We took all four children with us as it was the very end of the school holidays and their moaning about shopping soon stopped when they discovered the huge playground by the entrance.  It worked as the perfect bribe and meant they happily walked around some shops with us knowing they would get time to run and climb afterwards.


There is a huge selection of shops ranging from high street classics like Marks and Spencers and Gap, sports shops like Nike and higher end designers too.  My favourite of the new additions is the Cath Kidston store and I bought an adorable robots sleepsuit for Cora.  The main thing we wanted to buy on our visit was some new crockery and we had a choice of stores, picking some beautiful blue stoneware from ProCook in the end and saving over 50% off of the RRP.  

Ashford designer outlet, shopping with kids

Over the summer there were lots of activities on and there was a small pool with water walkers that looked so much fun. Outside Clarks there were a series of beach huts designed for children to get their feet measured in which made the store much easier to navigate inside.  With the back to school rush it seemed like the perfect time to expand outdoors.


Last time I visited there was a selection of fast food choices in the food court, but since then two restaurants have joined the outlet, Wagamama and Pizza Express and we had a delicious meal at Pizza Express with excellent service. Over the summer the outlet is open from 9am - 8pm and 10-6 on Sundays.

ashford designer outlet, McArthurGlen Ashford

The enclosed shopping centre is so well designed with the shops presented in an oval shape and covered by tents with a car park in the middle.  You don't get wet when it rains, but you don't get that stuffy feeling from being inside too long either.  It cost us £1 to park for up to 4 hours and everything was well signposted.  



Thank you to McArthurGlen designer outlet for inviting us to visit, we had a brilliant time and we will definitely be back soon!



This post is in collaboration with McArthurGlen Designer Outlet in Ashford




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Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Reading Eggs Review

Dylan is back at school tomorrow and Archie won't be long behind him, although their school waits another week and a half before the reception class begins.  We then have two weeks of part time hours and it will be October before I have two boys in full time school.  Archie is so ready for it, his brain and his body need something more and he can't wait to queue up outside the purple class door.

We discovered Reading Eggs at the beginning of the summer, but it is now as we prepare the boys to stimulate their minds in different ways again that we are really making the most of it.  The website is aimed at children from 2 to 13 years and consists of fun activities that help them learn.  The boys aren't allowed on the tablets or laptops often so they consider anything on there a treat and they have been really enjoying the reading eggs challenges.


Archie has started the 3-7 year old program on lesson 1 as we haven't really don't much phonics with him yet.  He is hurtling through these early levels though, picking up skills as he goes and it has been great to watch his concentration grow as sitting still is something he really struggles with.  The levels are just the right length that he can concentrate for one and then he needs a run around. The program is easy for him to follow without my help as everything is read aloud and it works really well on my touch screen laptop.


Dylan took a proficiency test at the beginning as he has just turned six and already has a good base of knowledge.  He started just a couple of lessons short of finishing the 3-7 year old section and is now ready to begin the next stage. The lessons are challenging him without being too difficult and are perfect for him to do independently.  Being that little bit older he can do two in a row with ease and he has been enjoying doing something academic before diving in to year two on Wednesday. 


As a parent, I like how Reading Eggs fits in perfectly with what they are learning at school, and it is used in many schools all over the country.  I can see their 'reading age' and offer them a fun way to learn alongside school and during the holidays.  I want the children to enjoy being at home and I like the fact their small school doesn't really give out homework, but this is a fun game for them and I don't think they really notice how much they are learning at the same time.


I think once Dylan and Archie are both at school, we will try out the toddler section with Finn as he hasn't really used technology much before and I think he will enjoy something different.  


 You can currently get a 5 week free trial (if you join before the end of September) and you don't have to put in any credit card details either.  If you want to test out the junior edition then click here instead
 .  We are really impresssed with it and I am hoping it keeps Archie occupied for the long two month ahead before he starts school full time.


Collaborative post
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Sunday, 3 September 2017

What Cora Wore // aden + anais

The beach is our summer happy place.  It is where we go when we don't know what else to do, where we go on playdates with friends, where we walk when we need to get out energy and most importantly where we eat ice cream.  It has felt like we haven't spent as much time there this year with holidays, festivals and moving house changing our usual August plans.  

I am not ready to pack away our beach gear yet and I am hoping we get some September sunshine so that the smaller two and I can enjoy the deserted sands whilst the bigger two are at school.  Cora was sent some goodies from aden+ anais and the swaddle blankets have become a summer staple.

aden+anais swaddles

This one is part of a pack of three and I always have one in my changing bag for impromptu trips out.  We use it as a summer blanket, to sit on and most often as a little towel to cover shoulders and dry sandy toes.  I fold it in half and it wraps perfectly around Cora's shoulders and she prances around happily in it.

aden+anais swaddles

The delicate pinks and white are certainly not what I would have bought before she was born, but we love light colours on the hot days and the little gold details make them look so pretty.

aden+anais swaddle

Cora was sent a little nappy cover too in white and gold with sweet little ruffles on the bum.  I think this would look much better over a disposable nappy as it looks much prettier and is perfect under summer dresses or as beach wear on its own.  It didn't sit quite right over her cloth nappy as it is quite big already.

aden+anais pants, aden and anais clothing

 Our summer days seem to be numbered now and the sunshine is broken up with bouts of rain and colder winds, but we are holding out hope that there are more beach days to come over the next month.

aden+anais swaddle

And despite Cora now being 14 months (how did that happen?) we certainly won't be packing our aden + anais swaddle blankets away yet.

aden+anais, swaddle blankets
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Friday, 1 September 2017

Festival Camping with Children

Our recent weekend at Wilderness festival was not only our first family festival, but our first timing camping with children too.  We were apprehensive about having four children under six in a tent for four days but we had a brilliant time and the children loved camping.

We arrived later in the day than we were hoping to and there wasn't long before the sun would be gone, but a kind stranger helped us get our tent up (trying to pitch it whilst keeping the children together was a struggle).  We were sent the Eurohike Rydall 600 6 person tent from Blacks and it was perfect for our first festival experience.  It had one large bedroom that could easily be seperated into two and both halves accomodated a queen sized airbed with plenty of space.  The living area was spacious and had both a big entrance and a smaller one so it could be as open as you liked.

festival camping, camping with children, Wilderness festival, Eurohike rydall 600 6 man tent

It rained on and off throughout the four days but it didn't dampen our spirits and we were well prepared with full waterproofs for the children and wellies for all of us.  We quickly realised what were our camping essentials and what we could have left at home.  Here are our top 5 camping with kids essentials

festival camping, camping with children, Wilderness festival, polarn o pyret

1) Full waterproofs.  

There isn't much to do inside a tent so we were relying on the children being outdoors pretty much all day.  A full set of waterproofs meant that whatever the weather they were prepared.  It was an extra layer to keep them warm in the colder mornings and meant there was nothing to stop them rolling around and jumping in every muddy puddle they could find.

festival camping, camping with children, Wilderness festival

2) A big bucket

I brought a big plastic tesco containter with me and it was perfect as a welly holder.  We all took off our boots as we entered the tent and the bucket could fit all 6 pairs in there.  It meant we didn't tread mud through our living space.  We also gave it a good wash and used it as a makeshift bath for the children outdoors and I filled it up for them to splash and play in when they needed a bit more entertainment one day.

festival camping, camping with children, Wilderness festival, Eurohike rydall 600 6 man tent

3) A good tent

We hadn't been camping before and weren't really sure what we were looking for in a tent but this one ticked all our boxes.  It was spacious enough for the six of us, easy enough to put up and take down and it felt secure for the whole weekend.  We liked the flexibility with the two entrances and the built in groundsheet was essential.

festival camping, camping with children, Wilderness festival, Eurohike rydall 600 6 man tent

4) Your sense of humour

Everyone we spoke to recommended bringing a portable potty with us incase we didn't fancy taking the boys to the toilets in the small hours.  It was working brilliantly until we awoke to find the little two splashing in it one morning.  If you don't have toddlers (or you are going to keep them in travel cots) then a portable potty can be brilliant.

festival camping, camping with children, Wilderness festival, Crotec wagon

5)  A Wagon

This was invaluable during our weekend, we used it to carry the tent, mattresses and sleeping bags from the car to the campsire and then we used it every day to cart around tired children, coats and belongings.  All four napped in there at some point in the day and we had all four in there together on ocassions too.  We put fairy lights on to make it fun and easy to spot in the evening and the hood meant we could keep the sun out too.  (I bought this from Amazon and it says Crotec on the side).


We loved our first festival camping experience with children and we are definitely planning on taking them to another festival next summer - it will be even easier now we have all the gear!




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Thursday, 31 August 2017

Me and Mine August

August has been the busiest month of the year by a long way.  This month we have had all four at home every day, we have been camping together at our first family festival, Dylan turned 6, I turned 30 and we moved house.  We ending the month absolutely exhausted but with lots of brilliant memories.  Thankfully the lovely Hannah at Childcare Adventures offered to take a photo of us all whilst we were at Wilderness as we have completely forgotten to take any others this month!



This month Mummy has been loving planning how the new house will look, a birthday evening out with friends, dressing Cora in little dresses now that she is walking and sunny afternoons at the beach.

Daddy has been loving folk week festivities, seeing Two Door Cinema Club at Wilderness, having space for a home office and Jack Daniels cider

Dylan has been loving turning 6, picking apples from the garden, reading Horrid Henry books and ice cream.

Archie has been loving having a big garden to play in, bouncing on the world's biggest bouncy castle, riding his balance bike everywhere and kinder surprises.

Finn has been loving playing chase with Cora, the excuse to be naked whilst it is warm and summer still, dancing to the music at Wilderness and chips and nuggets.

Cora has been loving walking everywhere, carrying shoes around everywhere she goes, her new water bottle and playing with the ice cream truck toy.


We are hoping September is quieter as I will be sending two boys into school.  I am not ready to say goodbye to the summer just yet though.
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Monday, 28 August 2017

Our New Home

We have been in our new home for one week now.  It was never the plan to move just yet, I thought we had a couple more years in our old house, but somehow the desire for somewhere a bit bigger got to us and we ended up with a moving date right in the middle of the summer holidays.  In some ways it has been great as the disruption of moving, the lack of structure for those couple of days and the lack of curtains for a couple more haven't affected the children as much.  In other ways it has been twice as stressful as there is very little that can be done whilst occupying four small people.


We still haven't quite finished moving everything and there is a lot of unpacking to be done still.  I am waiting on furniture deliveries and I think there will be cardboard boxes lining the walls for at least a couple more weeks.  We need to paint Cora and Finn's bedroom before we can move them in and our room is still in need of curtains ( there is a duvet cover hanging in the window at the moment in an effort to keep the light out).

Moving has been challenging for us all.  The boys have coped amazingly on the outside with it all, revelling in the extra space and the fact we now have a garden.  On the inside they have been more emotional, more challenging and we can see that they need time to adjust.  Cora has taken it all in her stride, but she is waking up much more than usual through the night.

We haven't had wi-fi all week and so I haven't been online as much and I haven't taken as many photos as usual, but there are a few here, to document the early days in our new home.  With it being the end of August, the children have been making the most of their new garden and they are often out there from the moment they get up until it is time to bring them in for bed.  They helped Daddy to mow the lawn and we got out the paddling pool (that I had bought to be a birthing pool but never used) in the later half of the week.

We discovered that our garden has apple and pear trees as well as blackberry bushes, and it also has a friendly cat that likes to come and hang out with us.  We have named her 'fluffy fish' and all four love following her around.  We get foxes in the garden too which they are all quite fascinated by.

It has been a busy week but this empty shell of a house is slowly starting to feel like our home.  I can't wait to decorate it more, arrange our possessions and create a space that we love to be in.

















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