Thursday, 16 January 2020

The Ordinary Moments - Sparkle

Finn has never been shy, but he was quiet and content as a baby, slower to walk and talk than his brothers and curious about the world around him.  As a toddler he was headstrong, determined, wild and adventurous and we always knew we had him.  He is on the cusp of turning five now and he is still all the things he was as a toddler but more loving, caring and able than before.  He loves choosing his clothes and is drawn to anything bright.  His red Lycra unicorn leggings go straight back on the moment they come and the wash and he likes to pair them with his rainbow striped jumper just to make sure you really can't miss him.

Father Christmas understood his sparkly personality and chose him a sequin zip up top as his 'something to wear' and I wish I had captured the moment he put it on and first looked in the mirror.  He slowly turned, admiring himself from each angle with the biggest smile on his face.  He did a little boogie to watch the way it sparkled and looked absolutely delighted.

As he was enjoying his new present, the sun came out from behind and came flooding through the window, making the whole room light up with the reflections and his face was magical.  I wanted to capture that love and amazement as he realised he was a walking disco ball.  These photos weren't taken on Christmas morning but at the weekend as he was getting ready for a friend's birthday party.  There is no better excuse to wear a sequin jacket and he loved jumping around on my bed first admiring his impact.

This is a boy who knows his own mind, what makes him happy and he isn't afraid to go and get it and dressing up in your best sequin jacket is just an everyday moment in his life.

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Thursday, 9 January 2020

My Achievements in 2019

It is my first post of 2020 and I wanted to look back at the last year because when I think about it, it was a pretty big one for me! I want to write down five of the biggest things that I did last year, not as a family necessarily, not even as a mother but as me because I feel like 2019 was the year I started to rediscover my own identity a bit more.

For eight years I have had a baby at home and last September Finn joined his brothers at school and Cora started nursery part time and suddenly I have two days a week where I can do whatever I choose.  The freedom is wonderful although the reality is that the 5 hours or so goes pretty quickly and is mostly taken up by work or running errands, but still.

So here are my five achievements from the past year

1) In March I decided to start running and I could barely manage half a kilometre before having to stop and walk.  I kept going though, pushing myself each time and in September I ran a half marathon in Bristol.  I remember the sensation as I crossed the finish line feeling simultaneously like I could conquer the world and pass out on the spot but I am so proud that I kept at it, I didn't stop and I ran 13.1 miles.

2) I had only left Cora overnight until September but this year I managed to go away twice without the children, once for a weekend with some friends and once for four nights with my Mum and Sister.  It was so lovely to be able to get away and really relax and recover, coming back to real life with a little more energy.  It feels like an achievement to have got this far and the children be secure enough that they don't mind and I really felt like it did me a lot of good.

3) Having a little bit of free time made me decide to volunteer as a school governor this year.  I am still learning the ropes and I think there is always going to be more to learn about but it feels great to have some focus and it is fascinating seeing how the education system runs from inside it.  

4)I took my first driving lesson on my 17th birthday and finally, many years later, I got my pink driving licence.  I didn't tell anyone I was learning as I didn't want the pressure, especially having failed my test when I was learning before and I sobbed so much when the examiner told me I had passed.  It seemed much harder to do as a proper adult but I love the freedom it has given me and I am making plans for 2020 to maybe drive a little further out than the 20 minutes from home which is currently the longest drive I have done!

5)Visiting new places is always on my to-do list and last year I visited three new countries, Croatia in the summer ( which is one of the most breathtaking countries I have ever been to), Greece in October where we spent a wonderful week in Crete and then Tunisia in November which was pure luxury.  I loved discovering new places and I feel so lucky to be able to travel through my blog sometimes. 

I honestly can't see myself accomplishing as much in 2020 but I have set myself some goals, one of which is to read 52 books this year as reading is something I have always loved and has fallen to the side a bit since I have had children.  I also want to get more creative with my photography and try new things.

What are you most proud of achieving in 2019?
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Sunday, 15 December 2019

The Ordinary Moments - At the Park

I have fallen behind a bit in documenting our lives on here, sharing the photos I take and those moments I want to look back on.  Instagram is so easy to use but one picture never seems enough and I love taking my camera out and taking some proper photographs.  I want to start sharing a post each week (possibly each fortnight) with more photos, more ordinary moments again. 

This series is from a Sunday walk to the park after a lazy morning watching TV and snuggling under blankets.  These two needed a walk and were desperate to test out their new (gifted) Reima boots which are both waterproof and machine washable (a very good thing as these are messy children!).  They insisted they didn't need proper coats and they wanted to match again (both are wearing all Little Green Radicals clothing, some gifted, some bought), their favourite thing at the moment.  We live so close to the park that it is easy to pop over to and it really helps wake me up when I am feeling lazy and wears them out.  The wooden obstacle course has finally been reopened after a few weeks being out of action and they are both getting so confident hopping along the stepping stones and walking along the balance beams.  

The sun was getting low in the sky even though it wasn't even 3pm when we arrived and the sun shone through the park keeping us a bit warmer.  The park was empty most of the time we were in there, other children probably doing nice warm festive things but for us it felt the perfect balance to the indoor activities and Christmas fun.  We had already opened advent calenders and written cards that morning and now they needed to run off some of the energy. The day felt much more balanced and there were lots of giggles.

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Monday, 2 December 2019

The First Term of School

The first term of school will be over soon and the Christmas chaos/countdown will begin.  It has been the first time I have had all the children in school/nursery and it has been a real change for us all.

Finn had a slow start to school and there were a few days where he did everything to delay going through his classroom doors but it didn't take long for that to change and he now runs in each day happily.  He loves learning to read and spending time with his friends every day and it honestly feels like he has been there longer.  He spent three days a week at nursery so it is only an extra two but it was definitely the right time for us and I enjoy the weekends more with him.

Cora loved nursery from the moment she started and she has made lots of friends.  I was worried that she would struggle as she has always been quite clingy with me, but she is so confident and I love the way she whispers 'You are my best friend Mummy' in my ear as I pick her up.  She does two school days and one morning and it feels like a great mix of time with her friends and time at home with me.

And as for me, I haven't found it nearly as hard as I thought I might, in fact I have come to realise that the school day isn't that long! It is nearly 9.30 before I get home from the triple school run and I have to leave at 2.45 to start picking them all up again.  I have two days of freedom though and I have loved spending more time with friends, spending more time reading my books and getting some work done during the day rather than staying up late each evening.  I am still scared at the prospect of full time school for all four of them in September but this slow transition has made me cherish the weekends more and I love watching how much they are growing and learning at school and nursery.

It feels like a whole new chapter in my life is starting, where they each become a little more independent, they need me a little bit less for the everyday things and it is so bittersweet watching them become little people.  After eight years of having a baby or small toddler at home full time though I feel like it is my time to have some more freedom for me and it has made me even more certain that four children is enough! I don't think I could go back to having a baby at home after tasting those few hours every week where each child is at school or nursery!

These photos are from an afternoon out with just the little two.  The bigger boys love having a day at home at the weekend but these two still need to run off their energy every afternoon and we spent a chilly few hours at the beach and having hot chocolate.  Cora's dress and both of their sherpa fleece jackets were gifted to us from Little Green Radicals.

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Sunday, 24 November 2019

A Child-Free Trip to Tunisia

It is often written about how mothers these days are tired to the point of exhaustion and I totally feel that, so when I was offered the chance to get away for a few days I was pretty excited.  I was nervous about leaving the children of course, until recently I had only left Cora overnight once and Ed isn't used to doing the school runs but I knew they would all be OK and the thought of some winter sun and cocktails on a beach was too much to keep me here.

After a night in an airport Premier Inn, my mum, sister and I boarded a flight to Tunis, Tunisia and left the cold, wet UK behind.  We had booked into Les Orangers bungalows and villas, a five star all inclusive hotel but we were still amazed when we arrived at the most beautiful reception in a large gated resort.  It was luxury from the moment we stepped through the front doors to be greeted with cocktails and our rooms were huge with large balconies overlooking the gardens and sea.

We spent 4 nights in Tunisia and it was amazing.  The resort was stunning and so quiet as it was heading towards the end of season.  The staff were always there for anything we needed, the food was fresh and there was so much choice and there was always someone offering me a cocktail.  We tried out the spa, the indoor and outdoor pools and spent our evenings listening to the live music in the bars.  We explored a little around the local area and got a taxi for a day to see the capital Tunis, the historic ruins of Carthage and a lovely town called Sidi Bou Said where everything is painted white and blue.

I felt like I could really relax, I had naps, I read books and I swam.  I missed my family of course, but I loved having some time for me too and I came back feeling refreshed and with my vitamin D topped up!  I would highly recommend the resort we stayed at as a great base in Hammamet for a child-free trip. 

Tunisia was such a fascinating place to visit and I would love to go back and see more, especially the Sahara desert. It is such a culturally different and wonderfully colourful country and gave us a little taste of Africa.  I didn't take my camera but of course my phone was always with me for taking pictures!

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Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Freedom // Frugi

All clothing featured was gifted by Frugi

At the grand age of 32 I finally passed my driving test.  I started learning 15 years ago on my 17th birthday and after many, many lessons and several tests, I eventually gave up.  I had my last lesson a couple of weeks before Dylan was born and once he arrived the idea of leaving him to get back in the learner car wasn't appealing.  The years carried on and I had no desire to drive.  I didn't feel like I needed it in my life and we have a wonderful public transport system.

Finn was born in 2015 and he and I spent many weeks in hospital, with Ed bringing the bigger boys over on the bus each day to visit us.  This is what inspired him to finally learn and by the end of that summer he had a licence and we had a car.  He gave up working in an office to work from home and for the past few years there has been a car sat on the driveway, pretty much unused during the week.

For my 30th birthday he got me lessons but it took until February this year for me to decide it was something I actually wanted to do and to send off for a provisional licence.  I then had to retake my theory test and start at the beginning again with learning.  It was scary and I was petrified but I wanted to do it this time and I was determined to keep going.  I still wasn't expecting the examiner to turn to me with a smile though, and tell me I had finally, finally passed.  

I have been driving for a few weeks now and whilst I still feel nervous sometimes and a little hesitant, it is starting to feel more natural and I have been taking the children out on my own.  It has opened up the world a bit and I love the freedom we have to go to new places and leave whenever we want.

Frugi sent the children all some clothes that will be perfect for a Christmas or Boxing day outfit as well as some of their colourful wellies and we headed to a local-ish nature reserve that I have never been to before as it just isn't that easy without a car.  There were dinosaur trails to follow, fairy doors to find and plenty of sticks around that made amazing magic wands for budding witches and wizards.

We love Frugi for its colourful designs, soft organic cotton and how well things last and all three boys were amazed at how soft the cords were.  I like how Cora's dress matches Dylan's shirt and how easy everything is to pass down when they outgrow it.  All four are wearing their usual sizes here and most things fit well, although I would probably size up in the dress.  We will definitely bringing these outfits back out for Christmas! 

And when we were done, our wellies were covered in mud, fingers grubby and stomachs growling we could hop back in the car and drive straight home.  I took so many photos and I am awful at editing which ones stay . . . 

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