Wednesday 28 February 2018

My Family in February

The end of Febuary has crept up on us and despite multiple opportunities to get a family photo, I have ended up bribing the boys after school today to get this one and I was only allowed one shot.  February has been dominated by birthdays with Archie turning 5 and Finn 3 and we had a week off for half term in the middle which was very much needed.  The end of the month has been all about the 'Beast from the East' although the reality down here is about 2cm of snow laying over night that was gone by lunchtime the next day.

February has meant the start of shopping for summer clothes despite the fact the weather is only getting colder (real feel -12 degrees as I type this) and I am starting to daydream about afternoons spent at the beach with ice cream.  I like winter well enough but by the end of February I am feeling desperate for a glimpse of Spring.

So here is our one shot family photo for the month and surprisingly everyone is looking, although I can't do anything about the terrible glare on the glasses. And of course a round up of our month by listing what made it special for us.

I loved going to the Greatest Showman singalong at the cinema, shopping for summer dresses and dreaming of sunshine, finishing Grey's Anatomy so that I have a bit more free time and Creme Eggs being so readily available again.

Ed loved a new computer game he has been playing (and winning), hiring a cleaner and freshly baked bread every lunchtime.

Dylan loved having a day out with Archie and I, watching the snow fall, having his best friend to sleep over, watching Early Man at the cinema over half term and the new park we visited.

Archie loved getting all sorts of Pokemon presents for his birthday, winning lots of pennies at the arcades, playing barefoot on the beach on one of the warmer days and going bowling on our Mummy and the boys day.

Finn loved having a birthday party with all his friends, the big balloon Aunty NatNat sent in the post, choosing his own clothes in the morning somedays and telling everyone he is three now.

Cora loved having all her brothers around for half term, watching Blaze and the Monster Machines now that she has finally noticed the TV, watching videos of herself and pointing at 'baby' and the word  'MEEEE'
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Tuesday 27 February 2018

Does it get easier? Four aged four and under, an update

When Cora was born, Dylan was still four and I had six weeks of four children aged four and under.  I had two babies as Finn at 16 months old was still two months away from his first steps and it was logistically tricky as well as completely exhausting having two children up in the night. As the children have got a bit bigger I have had lots of comments about 'having my hands full' as well as questions about whether it is getting easier.

And the truth is that it is, and it isn't.  The baby stage will always be my favourite, I love having a newborn and I find there is something so comforting about knowing that they stay exactly where you put them.  When Cora was little she would nap most of the day and Finn was still having an afternoon sleep too.  They both sat happily in a pushchair or a sling when we were out and I had my hands free for the bigger boys.  

Of course it was tricky as newborns want to feed a lot and I was often pinned to the sofa whilst a baby, a toddler and a 4 year old wanted my attention and help.  I was juggling twice as many children as I had arms on very minimal sleep and I couldn't leave the house without taking a giant bag and a pushchair and a sling.  

Now the children are 6,5, 3 and 20 months and things have changed a lot.  There is only one that still wakes up in the night and I am trying to convince myself that we are on the verge of sleeping through.  They can all walk, they can all run and they can all play without needing me.  I spend more time sat on the sofa with a hot cup of tea than ever as they are old enough to entertain each other, to play independently and having four means there is always a playmate.  Even if they start to squabble, they can switch up and things remain calm.  

On the flip side, they can all walk and run, which means they often do so, in the opposite direction from one another.  They are not so content to stay in a pushchair, but the little two are not always very compliant when we are out and I am often seen herding them in the right direction.  Finn doesn't nap very often and Cora's are sporadic and unpredictable and instead of napping the pair of them can often be found causing mischief and plotting to take over the world.  

These four are noisier and messier than they were but we have settled in and adjusted to the new dynamics and worked out how to be a six.  It is easier, with the big two at school and the little two able to occupy themselves but it is definitely trickier at times too! 

Ask me again when I have four teenagers and I am sure I will long for the days of four little ones!

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Monday 26 February 2018

Dinosaurs in the Wild Review

If you have children that love dinosaurs, then you may have seen that Dinosaurs in the Wild has arrived at London Greenwich and it offers an interactive experience to see 'real' dinosaurs up close.  The boys and I visited in half term and it was one of our highlights of the week.

The Dinosaurs in the Wild experience is close to Greenwich tube station and a short walk from the O2 arena and it was easy to find thanks to plenty of signposts starting in the tube station.  You are split into small groups as you enter which are the perfect size to mean you are never queueing or stuck behind someone too tall.  You enter a time travel machine and are transported back 67 million years to a time when Tyrannosaurus Rex and Ankylosaurus ruled the earth.  

Dinosaurs in the wild, London Dinosaur experience,

It is a fast paced show which sees you spending between 5 and 10 minutes in each room and with a 4 year old that doesn't have the longest concentration span I found this ideal.  We never got bored or impatient for the next part, but we had enough time to properly explore where we were before being ushered into the next room.  The boys got to handle dinosaur poo (through gloves), take a look at a t-rex arm, watch eggs hatching with tiny triceratops inside and learned about how dinosaurs laid the eggs and how they looked after their babies.  Everything was interactive and fun and accesible on every level so that the adults took away as much as the children.  

Dinosaurs in the wild, London Dinosaur experience,

After the Dinosaurs in the Wild show we got to chat to the men behind it all including the paleontologist Darren Naish who ensured everything stayed factually correct.  Children may not spot their favourite dinosaurs featured because the dinosaur period was so long, they may not have co-existed at this time.  The information is all based on their knowledge of which animals lived where and when and how they lived together.  There are no cartoon green dinosaurs, but instead they have the specs and patterns that were most likely true.  We spoke to Tim Haines too who created the award winning series 'Walking with Dinosaurs' and was the creative director behind this project.  He told us how he wanted to make something that wasn't just for children but something that would entertain all ages and he definitely succeeded.

Dinosaurs in the wild, London Dinosaur experience,

At the end, we were taken up to the lookout tower which was a big room with four giant windows.  With our 3D glasses on we could see the dinosaurs moving around us and everything up to this point was so convincing for my boys that when the T-rex started to come towards us they did get scared.  The experience is so real but the staff were brilliant at looking after the children and making sure they were reassured.  As the experience finished our group was taken back up to the time machine to head back to 2018 and the gift shop.

Dinosaurs in the wild, London Dinosaur experience,

The Dinosaurs in the wild experience isn't cheap considering it was around 70 minutes long and the gift shop was equally as expensive.  It was fantastic though, and I would highly recommend visiting, especially if you can go off peak.  We had an amazing time and I would consider going back and taking Finn as well as at 3 I think the pace would suit him (It is open until 31st July so this may well happen).  All three of us learned a lot and came out smiling.  The boys have talked about it lots since and have asked to revisit.  

Dinosaurs in the wild, London Dinosaur experience,

We were given complimentary tickets to the experience
 but all thoughts and opinions are completely my own.
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Saturday 24 February 2018

Tomorrow You are Three

It was just after 2:30am that you entered the world and you felt like a little secret because everyone was still sleeping.  We didn't want to wake them to share the news, we didn't want to post anything on facebook yet so we just sat and adored you for those first perfect hours.  By the time the rest of the world was rising from their slumber, alarm bells were starting to go off in the heads of doctors and nurses in the midwife unit and everything got a bit more complicated after that.

I can still remember that perfect stillness though when three years ago it was just us and you were so tiny.  I imagine the nurses and doctors would be amazed to see you now as you charge headfirst into life as a three year old without looking over your shoulder once.  All those things we were told you may never do have been done and so many milestones have been met. Two to three was the year you got louder, clearer, more articulate and more able.  This year you learned to count higher and recognise numbers written down.  This year you started nursery and you do six hours a week, running in and leaving with a big grin on your face.  This year you fell in love with scooting and you are rarely seen without one in your hands and this year you realised truly what an amazing playmate you have in your little sister, and how much more trouble you can cause when you are together.

I said last year in my letter before you turned two that every family has different parts that make it whole, every member brings something unique and indispensible and you, Finn, are our smile.  This still describes you completely.  You have the most expressive face and your smile lights up everyone around you.  Your laughter and enthusiasm is infectious and everyone you meet falls in love with you the same way we do.  You know how to show love and your reaction when I return after just a trip to the shop makes my heart burst.

Of course you are coming out of the terrible twos and heading into what appears to be the threenager stage.  You took the term terrible two and ran with it and you have lived up to every stereotype.  You are difficult, impulsive, determined and not afraid of consequences.  If we serve up a dinner you don't fancy then you walk away, refusing to take a bite and let's not even start on the glasses (which you need to wear full time and won't even allow near your face at the moment).  You are the hardest work out of all your siblings and you challenge us every single day.  I can't pretend it has been the easiest year with you, but we have loved watching you grow up, learn and play.  

You adore your little sister and your bond is so special.  You play your own little games, you cuddle up on the sofa to watch Blaze and the Monster Machines and you love to feed each other yoghurts.  If she isn't there you look for her and she hates when you go to nursery.  You are always up to mischief together and I worry that she will make you look like an easy two year old!

You are going to challenge anything that gets in your way, you are going to move mountains and you are going to change the world one way or another.

Happy Birthday baby boy, Happy Birthday Finn.  You are loved more than I ever knew you could be

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Friday 23 February 2018

What Cora Wore // Kite Clothing

Is there anything cuter than a baby in dungarees? (yes, I am still calling her a baby).  We were sent this beautiful pair of Kite dungarees from Growing Needs and I love the pretty print, the great fit and the soft organic cotton.

Cora is a climber an explorer, a risk taker and incredibly cheeky and these dungarees are perfect for her as she can move freely, they look comfy and they have poppers on the shoulders as well as around the legs to make nappy changing easier.  I took a few photos whilst she was playing and I love how they capture her cheeky grin, her little pigtails and the way she always squats to play.

Kite dungarees from Growing Needs,

Growing Needs sells lots of our favourite brands and she has lots of Kite organic clothing including some other dungaree designs!  Cora is wearing the 12-18 month size here which she is normally just growing into and she has plenty of growing room so I would say they are quite true to size and a great style for long legged babies.

Kite dungarees from Growing Needs,
Kite dungarees from Growing Needs,

Expect to see lots more pictures of Cora in these adorable dungarees over the coming weeks!

Kite dungarees from Growing Needs,

Kite dungarees from Growing Needs,

Kite dungarees from Growing Needs,

Kite dungarees from Growing Needs,

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Thursday 22 February 2018

Creating a Child Friendly Bathroom

I have decided it is time to make adjustments to the family bathroom to ensure it is safe for the children to use alone. Although I would really like to fully redecorate the room unfortunately we are too busy for the room to be out of action so I will be focusing on what I think is the most important part to change, which is the shower.

The current shower in the family bathroom is prone to being freezing then boiling as soon as I turn the notch what feels like 1mm. I know part of the reason for this is because of my impatience whist waiting for the boiler to work. I was still keen to buy a shower with a temperature block so the water would never come out too hot for the children.

Knowing that I did not want to spend an absolute fortune on a new shower mixer but wanted to buy high quality products led me to search for highly esteemed brands such as Grohe and Hansgrohe. The main reason for this is because they have automatic temperature locks that prevent the temperature ever exceeding 38 degrees. Meaning the kids can use the shower safely without risking burning themselves with really hot water.

Another great way of creating a bathroom space that the kids will take more pride in using and looking after is by assigning each child a named towel hook. I have found that by having their own personally named place to hang their towels after use they are more willing to return their towel on the hook and not the bathroom floor or in the bedroom. I think this is due to the personal touch giving them a sense of responsibility early on.

I would love to hear your tips on how you have created a family friendly space in the bathroom.

Collaborative Post
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Friday 16 February 2018

Before You Turn Five

You have reminded me all day that you won't be any different tomorrow, just a bit bigger but tomorrow you turn 5 and today as we ventured into London I was reminded of the little changes that will bring.  It was the last day you will travel for free on public transport because tomorrow you will be counted as a child rather than an infant.  As with everything, you are taking it all in your stride though and you told me 'kid tickets are only a pound Mummy, don't worry'.

Four was the year you started school and you have grown and thrived.  You settled in so easily, making friends, learning lots and finding your place.  You are neither desperate to go or reluctant, you have just accepted school and you enjoy it.  Four was the year you got glasses and you accepted them easily too, after picking just the right pair (and dismissing the other 100 as 'not cool enough').  They have Avengers on the side and we now have three pairs the same dotted around the house.

I have been reading the letter I wrote to you this time last year and it still describes you completely.  You are still exactly the same, unapologetically you, determined, loyal, loving and wild.  You are happiest with company and you and Dylan are definitely a pair, playing so amazingly together, sharing imaginations and scrapping constantly of course too.  You still adore your baby sister and you play with Finn as a last resort, but when you do give in, you play so lovely together.

You make us laugh every day,  you burst into song when we least expect it and you are still naked at any possible opportunity.  You love Pokemon, scooting, cheesestrings and family and we all love you. 

Never stop being you.

Before you turn five, as I kiss you for the last time as a four year old, I just want you to know how truly loved you are.
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Tuesday 13 February 2018

An Ordinary Half Term Day

It is half term which means a week off of school and nursery and we have a week full of little plans rather than big ones.  The weather is set to get wetter as it gets on, so we made sure we got outside whilst we could.  It was one of those rare winter days where the sun blinded us as we drove over to a seafront park and it warmer our faces as we explored the ruins of an old castle built right on the cliff top.

The playground next door had a castle theme and the children loved it.  Some of our local ones are a bit of a struggle for Cora's little legs but this one was perfectly designed for children of all ages and I could sit back and relax as they ran around.  The cafe served fresh cake and hot coffee and it felt like half term got off to a great start.

Of course there were tantrums as we had to leave, a child who refused to eat any of his lunch and the day certainly wasn't perfect - it very rarely is, but we had fun and I took a few photos that I wanted to share to look back on.  I know that one day they won't all be so content with a seesaw and roundabout but for now, this is their perfect start to half term.

There they are, my baby girl with a fringe that just won't stay out of her eyes, my toddler boy who goes one way whilst we all go the other, my four year old whose tongue can't help but poke out his mouth when he is concentrating and my big boy who looks so grown up with his two front teeth missing.

It was just an ordinary half term moment, but it was just as worthy of recording as the big moments.

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Friday 9 February 2018

Why We Travel

It wasn't until I became an adult that  found my passion for travelling and it has only grown since having children.  We didn't let one child stop us exploring and we aren't going to let four either.  We travel for us, for them and because there is a whole world out there to be seen and experienced.

We travel to explore

We want new experiences, whether those are new skills, trying a new sport, tasting a new dish or seeing new creatures.  We love the novelty of something new and filling our children  with wonder and experience.

We travel to escape.

We want time off work, off of school, off of laundry and cleaning and cooking every day.  We want to sit back and relax and not worry about everyday things.  We want to escape and enjoy being away.

We travel to reconnect.

With school and work, preschool and playgroups, going away gives us a chance to be all together without distractions.  We love watching how our children interact with each other and how our relationships with them change.

We travel for luxury

Let's be honest, who doesn't want to get into a freshly made bed that you didn't make yourself! We want to wake up somewhere beautiful, go swimming every day and feel looked after for a few days.

We travel to learn.

A new language, a new way of doing things, a new skill, a new culture.  Every holiday is a learning experience, sometimes big, sometimes small but we always come away having learned something new.

Simpsons Travel are looking for bloggers and we would love to try out one of their stunning destinations.  As a larger family we know self catering villas are perfect for us and their holidays look perfect for us with a mixture of sun, sand, sea and family.
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