Sunday 31 December 2017

Me and Mine at the end of the Year

It is not only the end of the month, but the end of a year, and I am so proud that we have managed our 12 families photos again.  It has been a busy year and a great one and we can't wait to see in 2018 with friends and family by our sides.  This month has been all about Christmas, with shows, parties, celebrations, novelty clothing and plenty of mince pies.  This month has been one for reflection, for planning and for spending time together.

This month I have loved hosting Boxing Day celebrations with Ed's family, getting an extra Christmas in before my sister left for France, living in chunky knit jumpers and taking part in secret santas and shopping for the perfect gifts.

Ed has loved the excuse to eat chocolate everyday, drinking stout, celebrating Christmas with family and starting his garden gnome collection.

Dylan has loved being the Second Shepherd in his school nativity, writing Christmas cards, playing superhero top trumps and having some time off of school.

Archie has loved getting new Pokemon cards for Christmas, playdates with his school friends, a school Christmas party and having his brother around over the holidays.

Finn has loved chocolate coins, opening presents, exploring at the beach and jumping in puddles at every opportunity

Cora has loved her new pram and baby doll, reading her 'that's not my' books, pulling everything off of the Christmas tree and practicing her squats in the kitchen.

And because I can't not think back to the whole year, 

This year I have loved spending more time with Dylan without the little ones around, watching Archie settle in so well at school, hearing Finn's speech come on so much and seeing my last baby grow up.

Ed has loved taking the kids to a music festival, moving into our new house, getting the boys into Pokemon cards and skiing on the red slopes.

Dylan has loved starting year two, reading Horrid Henry books, Pokemon everything and skiing on the blue slopes.

Archie has loved camping with the bears, pokemon everything, making new friends at school and Kinder Eggs.

Finn has loved his first festival, Cora turning into the perfect playmate, spending time with Grandma, Grandpa and Aunty NatNat and Umizoomi.

Cora has loved learning to walk and run, playing with baby dolls, moving into Finn's bedroom and Mummy cuddles.

I can't wait to see what 2018 has in store for us.
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Saturday 30 December 2017


I don't often realise how much has happened in a year until I stop to look back.  I don't notice the children growing when I see them every day, but when I look at photos from this time last year, it seems like much longer than 12 months.  

Dylan has shut up by inches, he is more confident, he is more able, he has learned to ride a bike, to play card games, to assert his choices.

Archie has started school, made new friends and started learning to read and write.  He got his first pair of glasses and he has taken it all in his stride.

Finn's speech has come on so much, he can communicate with us and we are getting to know him more because of it.  He has started nursery a couple of afternoons a week and he is losing his baby features.

Cora has learned to crawl, walk and run.  She has started saying words. she has grown a full head of hair and she has established her place in the family (as the boss of the family).

This year we have travelled, we went skiing in France, visited Hamburg, spent a few days at Centre Parcs in Holland and we loved going back to France with Eurocamp.  We went to our first family festival and camped out and we went glamping at Drayton Manor and at Port Lympne Wildlife reserve.

This year we moved house, we hosted our first family Christmas on Boxing day and we applied for Dylan's junior school. This year I turned 30, this year we made the most of the beach, we visited the zoo, we splashed in puddles and related everything to Pokemon.  This year we made new friends and spent time with old ones.  We watched films and read books, we wrote stories and drew pictures and we grew together.

I have loved looking back over the year, seeing how far we have all come and I can't wait to see what 2018 has in store for us. 
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Friday 29 December 2017

Cora at 18 Months

On the 27th of December, my baby girl turned 18 months.  It is a funny milestone for me as I really need to admit that Cora is definitely a toddler, but that means no more babies.  When Dylan and Finn were 18 months, they had tiny siblings already and I was three months pregnant when Archie hit this milestone.  Cora is the final baby though and she is growing up so fast.

At 18 months she isn't much of a speaker, but she has a few important words mastered including cheese, shoes and more.  I have no concerns about her speech, I think with three big brothers, they often do the speaking for her.  She can walk, run, climb and she is trying so hard to jump now.  She bends her legs and pushes up, usually raising one foot off the floor and she will gallop round the room in this way.  She loves to copy her siblings and I think she will catch up with Finn in regards to many of their physical milestones.

Cora is headstrong and determined.  She knows what she wants and she is not giving in until she gets it.  She isn't a big fan of sleep and only naps every other day now and night time is hit and miss, with her sleeping through some nights but up every couple of hours on others.  She takes a long time to really wake up though, especially after a nap and she wants to be held close for a long time afterwards, getting cross if I pay anyone else attention.

The pushchair isn't getting as much use anymore as my little girl wants to walk everywhere, and she is quite capable most of the time too.  She thinks of herself as one of the boys .  At home though, her favourite toys are her baby doll and pram, and the Duplo.  She loves books and is always bringing me her 'thats not my' books and climbing into my lap to read them.  She plays peekaboo with Finn (usually with the curtains) and they love to lie down together under the dining table pretending to sleep.  They are inseparable when they are at home together and I love watching the ways that they interact and play together.

Cora is still pretty petite and is just starting to move into her 12-18 months clothes.  She is around 77cm tall and weighs roughly 22lb with size 3.5E feet.  She is still breastfed on demand and she is starting to eat a little more although nowhere near as much as her brothers did at the same age.  She has 16 teeth, hair long enough to tie back (when she lets me).

I think the next 6 months are going to be so exciting as she finds her voice and her independence.  This Christmas I don't think she understood very much but I imagine next year will be a different story!

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Friday 15 December 2017

Bathroom Hacks with Aldi Mamia

This last week has taught me just how far my multitasking skills have come.  Two different school plays, two lots of money for two different parties, non uniform days, school Christmas dinner, Christmas cards, after school play dates, costumes for the school play and of course two other small people vying for my attention whilst I try and work it all out.  This is the only year I have just one school to deal with too as Dylan will be off to junior school next September and everything will get even more complicated.

There is multitasking with the little two as well, trying to balance their love of being outdoors with their hatred of wearing warm clothing.  Then there are doctors appointments, naptime, cooking with one child who doesn't like to be put down and trying to stay sane throughout it all.

I don't think people really understand multitasking until they become parents.

Aldi sent us some of their cotton wool pads and they have been one of those items that seems to have so many uses.  As well as cleaning a little bottom during a nasty bout of teething, I have also used them to clean Cora's face with a little bit of coconut oil on as she is going through a very snotty phase.  I use them again with some coconut oil to take off my eye make up and also with nail varnish remover for my nails.  The craft loving six year old thinks they look perfect for making snowman pictures too!

It isn't just the cotton wool pads that are great for multitasking mums and dads, the Mamia baby shampoo as well as cleaning little heads rather well is also brilliant for cleaning make up brushes.  I have to admit that before children I was useless at remembering to clean them.  Now I find it easy to sit and clean my brushes whilst the little ones are splashing about in the bath and it keeps them feeling super soft! Bathing four means I spend a lot of time in the bathroom on bath nights so I also mix some Mamia baby shampoo with a bit of baking soda to clean and polish all the taps and metal surfaces as well as inside the shower! The children are happy and the bathroom looks and smells better at the end!

If you want to see more ways to use your baby buys for everyday purposes check out This Mama Life, Attachment Mummy and Boo, Roo and Tigger Too.

This post is sponsored by Aldi
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Christmas Parties // Hotel Chocolat Wreath

Christmas is the season for parties and gatherings, mulled wine and delicious chocolates and an excuse to get together with old and new friends.  In our old house we were quite stuck for space and we are really enjoying the new place and being able to host friends now.  This year we have Ed's family coming to us on Boxing Day and it will be the first time hosting a family event for us!

With school about to finish, I decided to celebrate the end of Archie's first full term by inviting some of his friends and their parents over after school one day.  The children quickly split off with the school boys going upstairs and the little siblings choosing the playroom.  The living room was for the adults and it was lovely to chat without the rush and distractions of the school run.  

I was sent a Hotel Chocolat Christmas Wreath and it seemed the perfect time to open it.  I left it in the middle of the table as it made a great centerpiece.  Once all the children were occupied, we broke it open and it was absolutely amazing inside! Our favourites include the 'Christmas mess', the 'Bakewell tart' and the champagne truffles, and the selection was brilliant with something for everyone's tastes!  I find that usually when we open a box of chocolates there are the same ones always left at the end but having some left at the end wasn't an issue with the wreath!

The Hotel Chocolat wreath is perfect for Christmas gatherings and I might have to buy one for a Boxing Day treat for the family too.  It is the perfect festive centerpiece and incredibly delicious!  When we have eaten too many roast potatoes and stuffing, I think bite sized sweet snacks will be great to nibble on.

I couldn't easily get pictures of all the children playing but here are a couple of my little two who loved having a house full of friends and playmates (although one still needs to work on sharing his toys with them).

Hotel Chocolat have an amazing Christmas collection to suit all families big and small, so whether you are having a quiet Christmas at home, a few friends over or the whole extended family, check out their amazing Christmas chocolate collection.

This post is sponsored by Hotel Chocolat but all chocolates were eaten exclusively by myself (and my friends)

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Wednesday 13 December 2017

The Sony Xperia XZ1 Review

We were sent the Sony Xperia XZ1 to review recently and I was really excited to try the new smart phone.  For someone who works from her phone and laptop I know very little about technology and I was quite aware that any modern smart phone would meet my basic phone needs (call, text, facebook and instagram).  I wanted to see what made the Sony different though and most importantly, how good the camera was!

The Sony Xperia XZ1 is slim and sleek with a large display.  I have stuck to the same brand of phone for 6 years before this so I wasn't expecting it to be so easy to set up but everything was really intuitive.  The unlock button is on the right hand side, exactly where my thumb sits and the fingerprint unlock is perfect to keep little people from playing with it.  I could download all my favourite apps and use all the usual functions.

Sony Xperia XZ1 review
The 13mp front facing camera takes brilliantly clear images.
Sony are one of the leading camera manufacturers in the UK and they have used their amazing Motion Eye technology in the camera. Most of the photos I take are of my four small people and they are not ones to sit still and pose nicely.  I have to capture them mid movement, mid speech and mid swing and the Sony Xperia XZ1 has several features to help ensure that I never miss a family moment.  I took these photos on a very ordinary Tuesday, nothing special but special to us all the same and I love that I have some of these little moments captured.

Sony Xperia XZ1 review

Sony Xperia XZ1 review

The Autofocus Burst captures a string of images and means you can flick through afterwards to find your favourite ones.  The 19MP camera can capture so many photos in a short space of time and I was really impressed with how clear these were with no motion blur.  You can see in the swings below that both children look incredibly clear and you can't tell that they were actually moving at different speeds .

Sony Xperia XZ1 review

Sony Xperia XZ1 review

The Predictive Capture mode on the Sony Xperia XZ1 means you never miss a moment and this has been my favourite feature.  So many times I have tried to capture the children doing something sweet, but by the time I have pressed the button they have moved on.  The predictive capture mode recognises that the subject is in motion and takes up to three extra shots before you press the shutter button.  So often now I have looked in the gallery and realised half the child's head was out of the shot and then realise that predictive capture has meant the perfect picture is there too, thank goodness!

Sony Xperia XZ1 review

And the third fantastic camera feature on the Sony Xperia XZ1 is the built in slow motion mode on the camera.  I know you can download fancy editing software that will do this for you but I haven't worked out how and it looks very complicated! Not only this, but with your average camera taking nowhere near as many frames per second, it wouldn't even compare in quality.  With this camera, you simply press a large icon on the screen when you want it to start and the phone which can record 960 frames per second, slows the next second of footage down to last for five seconds before resuming the filming again.  I have used this to capture the children playing, someone throwing one in the air and I can imagine there would be some amazing moments to try it, like the finish line of a race.  For normal videos, the steadyshotfeature has 5 axis stabilisation to compensate for shaking movement and keep videos clear and smooth.

As well as the camera there are loads of brilliant features

Sony Xperia XZ1 review
Even in low light the camera takes sharp and bright images
- A longer battery life, which easily lasts me a whole day despite the fact I have a minor addiction to a battery draining app.
- Waterproof, so you can take it out in the rain, take photos in the pool and not panic if you accidentally drop it in the bath.
- Android 8.0 Oreo technology (apparently Oreos are not just a tasty biscuit!)
- Durable exterior, something I have noticed as this may be the longest I have ever gone without cracking my screen!

Sony Xperia XZ1

The Sony Xperia handset has an RRP of £599 and a compact version is available too.

This is a paid collaboration with Sony but all thoughts and opinions are completely my own.

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Thursday 7 December 2017

The Festive Fairground at Dreamland

Situated on the Kent coast, Dreamland is a vintage family theme park full of colour, personality and charm.  Over the coming month they have transformed the Margate park into a festive fairground complete with Santa's Grotto and an ice skating rink and the boys and I (plus my sister) spent last Saturday there for the opening day.

Archie and Dylan are four and six and were a great age to enjoy the park.  I found it was definitely aimed at four years and above (or for children over a metre) and there was plenty that they could both go on but quite a few that Archie at 105cm was too small for as well.  The park has a selection of rides from the iconic Scenic Railway which is the oldest wooden rollercoaster, to the traditional dodgems and carousel.  Entry to the park is free and a wristband gives you unlimited access to all the rides or you can buy seperate tokens if you wish to only ride on a couple.  The children's beehive rollercoaster was a definite favourite for both boys.

We spent about 5 hours at Dreamland and that was the perfect amount of time.  We spent time on the rides as well as enjoying all the open spaces and bright walls.  Dotted around the park are giant letters that spell out Dreamland and we loved spotting them and climbing on them too.

As part of our visit we couldn't resist booking tickets to see Father Christmas.  You have to book ahead on the Dreamland website and you are given a 30 minute slot for your 'Santa experience'.  It is more than your traditional grotto, with two simple craft activities as you prepare to see the big man. The boys loved creating their VIP passes and they are still playing with them days later.  Santa's special Elvis inspired elf stole the show and we were surprised to see a rocking and grooving Santa.  The boys were each given a book as a gift but they are a little old for them at the moment - we would love to see books aimed more at younger readers in the future.

I was nervous about taking the boys ice skating as it doesn't come naturally to me (I like to hold on to a wall the whole time) and they have never been before.  We found the set up was brilliant though and when we turned up for our booked slot there was no queue for boots and the rink was not too crowded.  You can pre-book aids and there were two choices, a standing penguin that the children can hold on to if they want to skate independently, and a seal that the children can sit on to be pushed around.  Archie was happiest sat down and loved it as I raced around with him (I was happiest pushing him as it gave me something to hold on to).  Dylan tried both and really enjoyed giving skating a go with the penguin.  The ice skating was definitely a highlight for all four of us and I would highly recommend booking a slot if you are visiting for the frosted fairground.

The park was quiet in the day, we didn't queue for a single ride and it was so much fun, but the parK really comes alive when it gets dark.  The lit up trees dotted around the park, the dancing lights on the big wheel and the brightness of the fairground were irresistable and I would really recommend staying for at least part of the evening.  

Dreamland is situated less than 5 minutes walk from Margate train station and there are direct links from St Pancras and Victoria station in London.  There is so much to do locally with a brilliant beach opposite the entrance to Dreamland, the Turner art gallery and a row of arcades full of 2p machines. Inside the Dreamland Complex there is a fantastic soft play/imaginative play centre called Octopus Gardens as well as a roller disco. We had a brilliant day out and all left with rosy cheeks and big smiles.

Thank you to Dreamland for our tickets for this fun day out!

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Wednesday 6 December 2017

Potty Training with Huggies Pull-Ups

I have potty trained two children before, but the thought of starting with Finn still makes me nervous. According to Huggies 8 Signs of Readiness, he is showing signs that he is ready to start. He tells us when he has a dirty nappy, asks for a change and seems to be holding his wees. He is also interested in the potty - he watches his brothers using the toilet and wants to copy them.

In all honesty, I think the biggest thing holding us back at the moment is me. Our days seem busy, our schedule is full and unlike when the older two were in this phase, we now have school runs and clubs and things that we have to be on time for. We are working with HUGGIES® Pull-Ups® this time though and they have sent me everything I need to get started.

Finn is now wearing HUGGIES® Pull-Ups® instead of nappies and he is much happier with the independence. Thanks to the ‘I do’ feature, the super stretchy sides means he can pull his pants up and down himself.

To help get Finn ready for this new stage, we have been learning about wet and dry - this has probably been his favourite part of it all as he loves water play! Using sand, water and his little figures, I have been talking with him about the differences between the two sensations to help him understand wet from dry. HUGGIES® Pull-Ups® also feature a wetness indicator. When the Pull-Up is wet, the steering wheel image fades, visually signalling when your LO has had an accident. This forms part of the ‘I see’ feature which further stimulates a feeling of independence. The learning layer briefly mimics the feeling of wetness and enables Finn to ‘I feel’ when he’s had an accident.

I think being consistent day and night might take a little longer. Whilst Archie was dry day and night, there was nearly 2 years for Dylan to master all times of the day. As HUGGIES® Pull-Ups® child psychologist, Dr Heather Wittenberg explains, the nerve pathways between the bladder and the brain must be strong enough to wake your LO from a deep sleep. Therefore, we’ll be taking a more relaxed approach with Finn as accidents during the night are completely normal. HUGGIES® has specifically designed night time Pull-Ups with extra absorbency for overnight protection whilst still maintaining consistency.

So what are the Huggies 6 steps?

1) Check you are both ready by taking a look at the 8 Signs of Potty Training Readiness
2) Say goodbye to nappies and hello to HUGGIES® Pull-Ups®
3) Start practicing and building a routine
4) Learn wet from dry.
5) Be consistent day and night.
6) Keep up the good work!

Do you have any tips to help us on our potty training journey?

To find out more about Huggies Pull-Ups, visit

This post is in collaboration with Huggies Pull-ups

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Tuesday 5 December 2017

What the Boys Wore // Nununu

Now that Cora is easier to leave, I have started getting more time with just my big two babies.  I know Dylan loves having time just him and I, Archie is very much lost without his brother and if I suggest we do something just us, he asks whether Dylan can come too.  We have been going on a few little adventures and it is so nice not having a pushchair or a toddler to chase after and being able to enjoy their company.  Last weekend we visited a local theme park and the boys wore their new trousers from Nununu.

Archie much prefers leggings when given the choice and I chose these skull print ones for him as I knew he would love them.  They look comfy and they are definitely his new favourites.  The print and style of these is great for slightly older children and I think they look great on him at nearly 5.  Dylan's trousers are more of a harem jogger with slim legs.  They look comfy and stylish and match with so much (including his Nununu top).

Margate is covered in bright graffiti, the perfect place for getting some 'cool' shots if these two didn't decide to poke their tongue out in pretty much every one! I think these clothes really match their personalities well and I love how stylish and fun the Nununu collection is from ninja hoodies (which Archie would LOVE) to statement shapes and classic black, grey and pink shades.  I have found the sizing pretty true and both children are wearing the right size for their age here. 

I am really enjoying these days out with my big boys, doing all the things that they miss out on  normally because of the little ones and exploring new places.  We have more adventures planned in the lead up to Christmas and I am hoping to make it a regular thing having a Mummy day with my big pair.

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