Tuesday, 7 March 2023

Our Family Ski Holiday 2023

Every year we think about booking somewhere different for a family ski holiday and every year we end up going back with Snowbizz. Why? Well the formula just works so well for us.  The resort is small enough that we know it well and the children can have a little freedom.  The 'pink ladies' childcare team are so much fun that my children want to spend time with them, meaning we get a bit of time as a couple. The snow is great and there are plenty of runs suitable for all of us, and it is easy to get to with a coach transfer from Turin airport.

family ski holiday, snowbizz


This was our first year skiing as a family of seven but Rex was booked into the creche (run by English speaking, fully qualified nannies) so we knew we would be able to enjoy some time on the pistes.  The creche is open 9am -5pm and Rex did various hours between these times each day.  There is a babysitting service available in the evenings too but we didn't use it during our stay.

family ski holiday, snowbizz


The big four were all dropped at ski school in the morning where they had time to play either indoors or out in the snow with the pink ladies before their two hour ski lessons.  My children love making holiday friends and this is where the bonds were made.  The lessons were split on ability and they are happy to move children around if a different lesson would suit their skills better.  Each child moved up a level during their week and got the next badge which they were so excited to be presented with at the awards night.

family ski holiday, snowbizz

family ski holiday, snowbizz

family ski holiday, snowbizz



Ed and I could head up the mountain each morning to do our favourite runs, stop at one of the mountain cafes for a refreshing drink and have some much needed child free time knowing the whole gang was happy.  In the afternoons we swapped between sledging, skiing with just the bigger two or taking all four out on the slopes whilst Rex played in the creche.  The resort has a sledging area and small kids playground and the creche has sledges you can borrow for free if you want to play.  

Each evening there was a different kids club, from treasure hunts, winter olympics and crepe and games night.  The big four wanted to do every single one of course, which meant making them dinner in our apartment before hand and then getting to go out for a quiet meal in the evening (with Rex still).  They loved catching up with their friends and the talent show was a big hit.

family ski holiday, snowbizz

family ski holiday, snowbizz

family ski holiday, snowbizz

Learning to ski as a family is such a special experience and we leave every year desperate to book our next trip.  I can't recommend skiing as a family holiday enough.

I have written a lot about family skiing with Snowbizz so if you want to know more then here are a few of my previous posts:










family ski holiday, snowbizz

family ski holiday, snowbizz




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Friday, 24 February 2023

Tomorrow You Are Eight

It is the eve of your eighth birthday, although it feels like you are already eight, we have been talking about this for so long.  This year it is all about football and Arsenal in particular and I think you are going to love your Saka shirt in the morning.  You have been looking forward to this birthday and counting down for months and I hope it is as special as you are.
 



It feels like you have really grown up a lot as a seven year old.  Whilst impulse control is never going to be your strong point, you have definitely matured in your emotions and communication and you are lucky to have such wonderful and supportive friends.  You have started junior school and absolutely love it. After a tricky end to Infants, I think the new challenges of a new school are exactly what you needed and I hope you continue to thrive there as an eight year old.

You seem to have moved away from the rainbows but definitely still like being bright, although anything with a gaming slogan or football gear is now what you pick from your wardrobe.  You still love a disco jacket though which makes me happy.

You are intelligent, capable, determined and so completely yourself.  You are vibrant, so incredibly loud and you are loving.  You frustrate me, push all my limits and bring me such intense pride and I can't imagine life without you.  


We have a climbing party with your friends tomorrow and then a family party which means lots of cake and lots of excitement and you can't wait!

Happy Birthday baby boy, Happy Birthday Finn.  You are loved more than I ever knew you could be
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Wednesday, 22 February 2023

Safe Skiing with Piste X Code

We first went skiing in 2014 and it has become one of our favourite things to do as a family ever since.  All four children now ski when we go away, with lessons in the morning and out with us in the afternoon and I love watching the pride they have in themselves as they progress.  It is still a couple of years until Rex can put on skis, but he has four mini teachers excited to help him out when he does.  Cora and Finn are still cautious and happiest on green runs (the easiest and flattest) whilst Dylan and Archie are more confident on the blues (next stage up) and love adding in little jumps and off piste sections. 




Learning the basics of a new sport is tricky and with skiing, it isn't just yourself you have to think of, it is everyone else on the slopes.  During a run we will inevitably come across people much faster than us, hurtling past and also people much slower who are still new to skiing and lessons taking place. Knowing how to navigate all that is so important and if the children are old enough to ski, then they are old enough to learn about safety.  This is where the Piste X Code comes in - a simple way to teach children (and remind adults) how to stay safe and respect others on the slopes.  In this video BBC Ski Sunday Presenter Ed Leigh introduces the code.


                 

Thankfully, we haven't yet had an accident on the piste but we do stick to the important rules and ski with respect for both the terrain and other people.  It won't be long until the children over take me with their skills and want to ski the runs beyond my ability so reinforcing the message regularly is so important.  I will be writing more about our family ski holiday this week so if you are considering booking a family ski trip then make sure you check back!




This post is for the Ski Safe Blogger Campaign by Alikats Mountain Holidays and Piste X Code. Find out more here
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Thursday, 16 February 2023

Before You Turn Ten

Ten sounds so much bigger than nine, but then you are so much bigger.  You are growing up and it is only in looking back that I realise how far you have come.  In little ways you are becoming more independent and getting new freedoms and I feel immense pride watching you grow. 

You are an introvert, hard to get to know (a battle I think we will have with each new teacher) but wonderful when you do.  With those that know you, you are playful and loving, loyal and kind.  You come alive when you are skiing, you are bold and confident and so full of joy that I want to move to the mountains with you. When you are passionate about something it radiates from you and is impossible to ignore.


You don't want to cuddle as much now you are growing up.  You are comfortable setting boundaries and you are confident in your own beliefs.  You are still happiest snuggled up in a blanket with a gaming device in your hand.  You feel injustice strongly and are certain that you will make good decisions as you hit the teenage years - let's see if that happens! 

In some ways you are still the easiest child - not old enough to be asserting too much independence and not young enough to need too much help but I don't want you to ever feel lost in the middle.  Being part of a bigger family has its pros and cons and I hope you always feel special and unique.  You still absolutely adore your baby brother (even if you could take or leave the rest of the gang) and you love teaching him new skills and celebrating his milestones.  You are so protective of him - something I should have expected as you have always been kind and loyal.  




I like to re read all your birthday posts on the night before and see how much you have changed but also how much you have stayed the same, completely true to who you are. You are an amazing person and I am so lucky to be your Mum.

Before you turn ten, as I kiss you for the last time as a nine year old, I want you to know how truly loved you are.



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Monday, 23 January 2023

A Winter Getaway to Vilnius, Lithuania

I wanted to get away for a Christmas market trip over December and after looking at a few options, it was Vilnius in Lithuania that I was drawn to.  As well as a Christmas market for shopping, there was a new country to explore and the flights were very reasonable for the dates we wanted.  I had initially planned to go with just Rex but I ended going with four friends as well.

Vilnius at Christmas, Lithuania mini break



We found flights for £45 return, leaving Friday and coming back on the Monday and we booked a beautiful apartment right by the old town which worked out £60 each for the three nights.  Vilnius airport is very small and it cost us seven Euros for a large taxi from the airport to our apartment (slightly less for a standard sized car).

In December Lithuania is slightly colder than the UK and temperatures ranged between-5 and -15 during our trip.  There was a brief flurry of snow one evening and if you got away from the town centre there was snow on the ground and trees still. We came prepared with warm layers, thick socks and thermals and the cold didn't feel nearly as biting as the UK in my opinion.

Vilnius at Christmas, Lithuania mini break



There were two Christmas markets on whilst we were there, the first one was just for a weekend and was an international market in the town hall which was mostly tables run by different embassies.  The second one was in the Cathedral square and centered around the huge Christmas tree.  Every year there is a different theme to the tree and 2022 looked like a three tiered cake.  It was spectacular day and night, however the market was quite limited.  We did get mulled wine and some Lithuanian candy but bought more from other stalls around the old town rather than the market here.

Vilnius at Christmas, Lithuania mini break

Vilnius at Christmas, Lithuania mini break



Whilst the market was disappointing, the mini break certainly wasn't and I adored Vilnius.  The architecture is incredible and the old town with its cobbled streets, beautiful coffee shops and Christmas lights was pretty special.  There were so many buildings which had gone big with their Christmas decorations and made the whole town feel so warm. 

Here are some of the places we visited during our stay

1) Uzupis is a self declared republic within Vilnius and a short walk from the old town.  You can find their constitution in 23 languages written on the wall which contains statements such as 'everyone has the right to cry'.  The area is full of fun street art, interesting boutiques and a tourist office where you can stamp your passport.

Vilnius at Christmas, Lithuania mini break, Uzupis

Vilnius at Christmas, Lithuania mini break, Uzupis

Vilnius at Christmas, Lithuania mini break, Uzupis



2)Lukiškės Prison is situated in the centre of Vilnius and was closed as a working prison in 2019.  Over the winter there was an ice skating rink in the central courtyard and you can go for tours around this prison (where scenes in Stranger Things season 4 were shot). It was really interesting to walk around and we found a fun bar inside the prison where you could get drinks and snacks.

Vilnius at Christmas, Lithuania mini break, Lukiskes prison

Vilnius at Christmas, Lithuania mini break, Lukiskes prison



3) There is a Christmas train that drives around the old town at night, all lit up with fairy lights.  It is 2 euros per ticket and a fun activity to get out of the cold for a little while and see the beautiful city.

Vilnius at Christmas, Lithuania mini break



4) Food was an important part of our trip.  We had a delicious brunch at Backstage cafe who also did great coffee. Rosehip Vegan was incredible - make sure you book a table as they do get busy. Etno Dvaras is a chain doing reasonably priced traditional food.  Hales Market is fun for a wander and you can grab smoothies, pastries and the traditional Lithuanian cakes there.

Vilnius at Christmas, Lithuania mini break, vegan lithuania



5) Other members of the group visited Vilnius' MO Museum of Modern Art and really enjoyed it.  (Rex was not in the mood).  If you are interested in art then they recommend it.

6) Sky Bar is located on the 22nd floor of the Radisson and we booked a table on the day we wanted to visit.  With views out over Vilnius it is a great spot to drink a cocktail and there were hundreds on the menu as well as staff happy to make something up based on our likes. Children are allowed in the bar until 10pm, although we didn't see any other than Rex. Cocktails were around 9-10 Euros each.  

Vilnius at Christmas, Lithuania mini break



Rex was 12 months old when we visited and was so easy. He was happy in the stroller or sling as we explored and I made time to find empty coffee shops for him to explore or took him back to the apartment for a crawl around when he needed it. The bars we visited (sky bar and the prison bar) were both happy to have a baby in and the city was stroller friendly.  Vilnius is a beautiful city to visit, small enough that you can see a lot in a couple of days and it felt very festive in early December.

Vilnius at Christmas, Lithuania mini break

Vilnius at Christmas, Lithuania mini break


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Tuesday, 8 November 2022

48 Hours in Singapore - Our Family Travel Itinerary

Due to some last minute flight cancellations, we ended up with only just over 48 hours in Singapore.  We had never planned to spend too long there as after Thailand and Vietnam we knew it would be expensive, but we had hoped for a little more time to explore.  Singapore was the last country we visited before heading home so we were all getting tired and there is so much more to see and do that we had to just pick a couple of things and be content with that. If you want to catch up on the first parts of our trip, this is our Thailand Itinerary and our Vietnam Itinerary.

Singapore with children, 48 hour singapore itinerary

We arrived in the evening and left the airport to find our hotel.  After we had settled in, we went for a walk around the local area and to find some dinner.  We stayed at five/6 Splendour Hotel in the Geylang district and were delighted to have safe flat pavements after the crazy Vietnamese streets.  The hotel was unfortunately 3x as expensive as what we were used to and nowhere near as nice, but this is what we had expected from Singapore.

For our full day in Singapore (which also happened to be my birthday), we headed over to colourful Chinatown to check out the world's cheapest Michelin Starred food at Hawker Chan.  The children were really excited to try it, although none were that enamoured by it in reality.  Definitely something to tick off the bucket list though!

Singapore with children, 48 hour singapore itinerary

Singapore with children, 48 hour singapore itinerary


After lunch, we wanted to explore Gardens by The Bay and we decided to walk there so we could take in more of Singapore.  You can really see a city when you walk through it and the buildings had incorporated trees and nature in so many amazing ways, it was fascinating to see such a built up city trying to be green.  Singapore feels like such a safe place to walk around and I wish we had more time to explore on foot.

Singapore with children, 48 hour singapore itinerary



Gardens by the Bay is a huge area of nature and art.  Much of it is free to enjoy including the children's gardens and splash zone and the Supertree Grove, but there are areas you can pay to go in as well.  We bought tickets for the flower dome and the cloud forest and both were incredible to explore.  The iconic structures are full of colour and nature in engaging and beautiful ways and we loved the man made waterfall in the centre of the cloud forest as well as the walkways high up.  The closest I can think to describe it is Singapore's version of the Eden Project. 

Singapore with children, 48 hour singapore itinerary

Singapore with children, 48 hour singapore itinerary

Singapore with children, 48 hour singapore itinerary


We spent all afternoon exploring and as the evening set in, there was a light and music show in the 
supertree grove celebrating the multicultural aspect of Singapore's history.  It was fantastic to watch and completely free with the famous Marina Bay Sands hotel in the background. To leave the gardens we actually ended up walking through MBS and we headed to a Singaporean restaurant for a birthday meal.

Singapore with children, 48 hour singapore itinerary


Our final day in Singapore was also the final day of our Asian Adventure and I wanted to get to the Haig Street Hawker Market.  Hawker markets are the cheapest way to eat in Singapore, they are like a huge food court full of individual vendors and I had watched an episode of a street food documentary on Netflix about a stall selling the traditional dessert of Putu Piring. We headed over there to get some lunch and try the dessert before heading back to the airport to check in our luggage.  We still had many hours until our flight but one thing on our holiday list that we didn't want to miss out on was the Jewel centre in Singapore's Changi Airport.

Singapore has one of the most incredible airports and we all wanted to see the waterfall in the centre.  Not only is there a climbing nets centre, a cinema and a swimming pool in the airport, there are also so many interactive exhibits and so much to see and do.  Our top priority was the Pokemon Centre where there were exclusive games to play and limited edition merchandise to buy. It did not disappoint and was one of the highlights of the children's trip.  We spent all afternoon exploring the airport, eating at the food court downstairs and watching the light show on the waterfall.  As we had already checked in our suitcases, we could enjoy the Changi airport until an hour before our 11pm flight home.

Singapore with children, 48 hour singapore itinerary

Singapore with children, 48 hour singapore itinerary

It was a very quick stop in Singapore and I found it so hard to choose what to spend our time on.  I would have loved to do the Night Safari, visit Universal Studios or the water park over on Sentosa Island, spend more time walking the colourful and quirky streets and have a Singapore Sling at Raffles hotel.  It was a great way to end our adventure and hopefully we can visit again in the future.
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Saturday, 5 November 2022

One in The Morning

It feels like you have only just arrived, I still think of you as a little baby in most ways, but life without you seems so distant a memory too.  You are the baby we didn't know we needed to complete our family and tomorrow my tiny boy, you turn one.

You may have no idea what a birthday is but your siblings definitely do.  Cora told everyone we saw in the supermarket today when we were out buying party food that it was your birthday tomorrow.  The boys ask about what you want, who your friends are and whether you will be allowed some cake and every one is is getting excited whilst you remain oblivious.  Being the youngest of five means there are a lot of people delighted about your milestones.


A year ago I had no idea you were about to arrive, I thought I had a few more days still. You were born on Saturday evening after a very quick labour and you were just perfect.  7lb 13oz of healthy baby boy, you looked like all your siblings and completely unique at the same time.  You were alert, you took me in as I memorised every part of you and I remembered how quickly a heart can grow.

This year you have changed from that tiny baby who just needed to be held to a much bigger baby who still needs to be held.  You feel safest in my arms and we still haven't spent more than about 3 hours apart.  You still rely heavily on breastmilk and you have no intention of sleeping anywhere other than in my bed for the foreseeable future. You are a complete Mummy's boy, although your love for music means Daddy is becoming much more interesting.  You press all the buttons on the speakers to let us know you want a tune and then bounce up and down dancing in delight when we turn something on.  You are inquisitive, cheeky and determined. 


I thought you would be early to walk as you were crawling and cruising by 9 months old but you have no interest in taking unaided steps yet.  You are much more interested in crawling up the stairs as fast as you can, giggling all the way and making sure someone is chasing you up.  You say Dadada and Mamama and something that sounds a lot like no.  You love music with your Daddy but with me you love books (two very happy parents if this continues).  You have 8 teeth and the dribbling is starting back up again so I am sure there are more to come.

As your birthday falls on a weekend, we are having a party on the day.  After your siblings have helped you explore your birthday gifts, we will head to the same hall where Archie and Finn had their first birthday and we will share cake with the people that love you.  I can't wait to celebrate what a little boy you are becoming, but before that moment I need to stop and take in everything you are now. The tiny boy curled up beside me as I write this is only going to get bigger, smarter and more independent and whilst the days might seem long at times, I know how lucky I am to get to spend them with you in my arms.  On your last night as an 11 month old, I want to give you an extra cuddle, a bonus kiss and let you know how loved you are.

Tomorrow my tiny boy, you will be one! 




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