29 Jul 2016

The Motherhood Manual

The nuts and bolts of motherhood are strange little things. A once tight coiled spring of togetherness is starting to unwind, not that you'd notice and some days it's tighter than others but sometimes it loses a little bit of tension. My first born can happily leave my side and venture off without so much as a look behind to see if I'm still there. It smarts occasionally and a different coil tightens but it's natural, it's what I'm doing it all for. She needs to be free.

A bolt of love that I managed to screw so tightly in the beginning when I was all she needed is slackened with age. Again it's not visibly to the naked eye but there is a slight wobble where once it held fast. It's allowing other bolts to take some of the pressure and share the loads. It's understandable as there is so much love surrounding it, that it's only fair. 

A washer of jealousy spins ever so slightly when I'm not the first to be noticed, when she prefers the glint of her daddy's love. I try hard to stop it showing  and it's a very minor part but if over looked it can unhinge another seemingly strong area. It's something I need to protect, just as unassumingly as possible.

The thread of tiredness sometimes slips as it gets wound and over tightened. Some days it feels the same one gets pushed to its limits only for it, the next day, to slide effortlessly and grip on all the right ideas. Those moments I live for and know I'm doing the right things.

But I've got to remember, I'm building a strong structure, I have built a future of brightness and I'll continue to work on the areas that need it. So far so good, I've followed the instructions and created a good foundation, now just got to make sure she's happy to stand alone every now and again.


25 Jul 2016

My dream holiday - Staying Stylish in Spain

#styleyourwaytospain - our diary entry for the week of my dreams with a Clickstay villa


Day One...

The sunlight is streaming though the curtains and I can happily hear the kids on the veranda chattering away all excited. I'm almost ready and just need to throw my kaftan over my swim suit, grab my hat and get myself involved...the light breeze is blowing the aroma of pine trees and eucalyptus into the room as I pick up my hat. This feels like we could be in heaven right now.

I'm not the most style conscious of mothers and this is the first time we've been abroad as a family so I've had to start from the beginning. I decided on a capsule wardrobe and I chose some beautiful bits, the swim suit is so flattering and don't get me started on the sunglasses...I feel like a movie star when I've got them on. I got the approval from Bubba "Mummy I like your shoes and hat...can I have them?"

I love a kaftan so that is my essential throw over to protect my modesty and my skin as I meander down to the garden room. The path is so pretty and as Bubba skips in front of me I stop and take a photograph of her, watching her relaxed and happy, seeing more freckles appear each day its the stuff of dreams.

Day two....

Walking down to the pool, the sun warming our backs, my bag is bulging with pool toys, arm bands and sun lotion. We stop against one of the pretty pink walls to have a family selfie, framed by tropical flowers. Even the hubster is getting into all this selfie lark - mainly after I kept going on that we didn't have enough photographs of us all together!

The kids are too eager to get in the crystal clear blue water. I'm ready to settle down to read in the shade and watch my family splashing around but its a tough decision wondering which sun lounger to choose...

Cub loves the water, way more than the rest of us, he is getting good a jumping in now - no fear what so ever and I must admit my nerves are a little shredded although it's great seeing his confidence growing.

Day three...

It's easy in the sunshine to keep the children kitted out and happy. Running to the table for a spot of lunch it's hard not to snap a photo for Instagram of their big smiles and freckles - so far we've chosen a different terrace each day (there are three to choose from). The kids bright t-shirts highlighting their tanned limbs, for them it's easy, fun and interchangeable bits, things that they can relax in and keep cool. I got them some really cool bits before we left home, bubba swans around like she is off to her next photo shoot - demanding that I take her photo as she poses by the pool, at the beach or by the bunk beds in her room!!!...(she now wants bunk beds at home too).

When the sunshine gets too much or in the lull before we decide to go out for an early dinner it's nice to laze around in the cool. The view is stunning and it's hard not to get side tracked and stare out dreamily or take endless photos, we will take some lovely memories home with us.

p.s. the tower you can see to the left of the picture has a wonderful spiral staircase that leads to our master bedroom. It's amazing to watch the stars at night from the balcony area, I'll miss it when we go home.

Day four....

Tonight we've decided to travel to the local village and have an early dinner. It's only a 10 minute walk but the kids are beside themselves with excitement at the prospect of going out walking at night. It's still lovely and humid out and yet again I've decided to keep things simple, this capsule wardrobe idea is really working out for me at the moment.

I've gone for a tribal feel, keeping in trend and its fun with bright colours and a few pom poms, I'm still using my beach bag as it's so handy to store all the kids bottles and toys to keep them busy whilst we hopefully enjoy a family dinner and a few cocktails. I'll have to be careful climbing up these stairs tonight though, although my wedges should make me a bit more stable!!! Bubba uses these stairs as a catwalk and is often demanding that I take her pictures or video at least 10 times a day, she'll miss this villa once we get home.

Day five...

Well I can safely say that I need to up my game in the cocktail stakes! I only managed a few and I've had to spend most of the morning here on the porch nursing my hangover. Hubby and the kids went to the shop and brought an ice cream back for me which was needed. Bubba tried to steal my camera to take photo's of me but honestly I think I may have broken the camera today, shocking...glad we don't have to share this space with anyone who doesn't know me!!!

Hubby decided that he was going to cook us all pizza for lunch in the outside stove in the kitchen area, it's really lovely and a really nice place to sit and eat or just take a break from the sunshine. I think I need to go on a diet when I get home, all this relaxing with food and wine is making my wonderful new clothes a bit snug already!

We've had an amazing week so far and the weather has been so nice,  none of us want to leave now and we have lots of shells from the beach to take home for our memory jar. The kids have spent so much time out in the fresh air, Bubba had perfected her swimming and cub's hair has gone so blonde and sun kissed. I don't think I've ever seen hubby so relaxed either, a much needed break for us all.

I can't wait to show you all our photographs, honestly I've literally taken millions, my poor mum and dad having to look through all of them when we get back!

If you want to know where we stayed, it's here...Villa La Sirena


This is my entry into the Clickstay blogger competition to #styleyourwaytospain

If you want to stay somewhere amazing, check out the reader competition and you could also win £500 villa voucher and a brand new suitcase from Samsonite.

To see more entries visit: https://www.clickstay.com/blog/style-your-way-to-spain

Image credits: Nerja - Dailymail; Villa - Clickstay; outfits - My outfits are Net-a-porter and the kids are Next

22 Jul 2016

Lazy Days - Summer Swings **Update**

***update; we are still loving this swing and both children love being on it together. It's lovely to watch and we are still so grateful for being able to watch them play in the garden on this swing***

I look back on my childhood with a nostalgic wistfulness. I can remember long, lazy summers in the garden, whiling away the hours playing. We had an old metal, single swing under a tree and it provided my brother and I with endless hours of fun. It's every child's dream and one of life's simple pleasures.

So when we had the opportunity to get a swing for Bubba, I jumped at the chance. She already has a slide which we got for her birthday so I chose a double swing set to complement it.

When the box arrived (with a picture on the side which gave it away) Bubba could hardly contain her excitement. She had an on the spot tantrum because I wouldn't go out in the rain and put the swing together, she swiftly followed this with another tantrum because I said she also could not go out and make up the swing on her own!

With the arrival of a gorgeous sunny Saturday, I sent hubby into the garden to put the set together (with her help!!).

All parts were numbered and seemingly easy to put together and quickly she was able to swing to her hearts content.
It's a lovely sturdy piece of equipment and although I little too big for our girl to get on and off alone (we knew this beforehand) it's something that will hopefully be used by her and her brother as they get older.

It's got adjustable swing ropes and the see-saw will also provide great entertainment for when they are bored of swinging (as if, it's one of lifes simple pleasures). At the moment I can't see her tiring of swinging as we've been on it every day so far.

In the words of Bubba "it's like a playground at our house every day"

She also spent ages playing in the empty box and pretending to be posted to different places which was an added (quiet time) bonus...

In future I would definitely look for more garden toys from Asda. Their range is great and we were impressed with the quality of the swing.

PR Collaboration


20 Jul 2016

Get Kids Reading more over the Summer - Competition

I've written about my children's love of reading lots and also how reading reduces for many when they hit the summer holidays. It's easy to do and we even found ourselves saying just this week that it was a relief we didn't have to write in Bubba's home book and read her story. I'm not going to force the issue every week but we will make a conscious decision to practice her reading over the summer holidays. I recently wrote about ways to get children reading.

So to help this along and because I want to change the world one book at a time, I have put together a fantastic competition on my facebook page. For younger children (2-6yrs) I am asking them to colour in a cute kitten picture and get parents to engage with what is their favourite book and why and perhaps practice reading.

For older children (7+ yrs), I'd like children to design their own book title and cover and really explore what it is that they love reading and what they would perhaps like to read.

So if you have children, please do visit my page on Facebook: Babble books as you just need to print them off and then post a picture on my page or send me a direct message with the documents in. 

There are two books up for grabs for the best in each category.

I'm also running a Lucky Squares game for adults - Pick a number (that hasn't been taken) between 1-50 and send £2 and you could win £50 of Usborne books of your choice and then £50 will be donated to Save the Children Uk. More details can be found on my facebook page...

Save the Children have a fantastic initiative 'FAST' - Families and Schools Together, which aims to bring the two together to improve children's literacy in schools. A shocking 1in 5 primary school children leave school without adequate reading skills and in more impoverished areas this changes to 1 in 3children. Some children do not get access to books or enough support at home or at school to read better. I really want to help others and if you do too I would be grateful for any help you can give (plus if you do not want or need the books yourself, you could donate them to a local worthy charity).


18 Jul 2016

Easy Meals - Chunky Beef Tacos

I love comfort food and even more I love it when a meal is easy to make and tastes naughtier than it actually is. So here is one that ticks all the boxes for me. 

Slow Cooked Chunky Beef Tacos


First I browned the diced beef in the slow cooker (oh did I mention it's also a one pot meal), then I added a chopped onion, red kidney beans and a taco seasoning (which I've written about before...here's the link

Give it all a stir and leave for four to eight hours...I always leave it longer as we don't eat until later in the evening and I go out early...Oh the joys of a slow cooker.

Then voila.... we serve with cheese and also sometimes a tomato/spring onion salsa - depends how we feel. I wish I could make this a longer blog post but that would do it a disservice as it really is as simple as that.


14 Jul 2016

Growing up...'but I want to be a baby again'

It's not often my girl is unwell, so when she is you REALLY know about it! Hopefully it's nothing bad but she keeps getting a spiked temperature and then it levels out.

So we had one of those days, I stayed home from work and she lay in a princess bed on the floor. I got so much work done and even 15 mins on the exercise bike...all before we had to get her brother at midday.

Anyway I showed her a lovely cute video of children growing up. It had made me cry and she'd wanted to know why I was crying...so I showed her this.

It made her cry too and she kept saying she didn't want to grow up and wanted to stay a baby.

I scooped her up and we talked about why she didn't want to grow up. She wants to stay a baby so that I love her more and concentrate on her more. It made my heart lurch and as I held her tight I told her that she's always, always going to be my baby girl.

I wish she'd stay my baby forever...but she won't and will grow and be and do...

When she does I'll be proud to watch and know that growing up is the best thing she can do for both of us.


11 Jul 2016

Reading - How to get Children Interested in Reading more

We've always read to our children and I think that is because I've always loved books myself and seek them out wherever possible. I had a saturday job in my local library and then in my 20's I worked in Waterstones part time (after doing a full days work in London) in the evenings for a while just to be around books more. I love books and so as a result so do my children but I hadn't realised that this isn't the case for every family out there. Now I also sell children's books I come across lots of parents who would rather spend money on sweets, tell me their children aren't interested in books, walk straight past my stall without a glance.

With summer fast approaching and the holidays looming, children's reading habits are usually the first thing to slip. The literacy society report that year on year, the number of children reading is decreasing. More boys than girls are loosing interest quicker at an earlier age and often this can be down to our technological advancements. When children stop reading outside of school for fun (sticking only to the books they have to read or study), mixed with time poor parents and lots of competing influences such as television and tablets, its the books that suffer.

So what can we do as parents?

Reading to or with your children is the greatest influence in helping them to develop a love of reading, this is alongside seeing you as a reader too. It's the first place they learn about reading and what it can do for their future, if parents read then the child thinks nothing of picking up a book.

  • Make it fun; put on voices if reading to a child, act out the scene and make it come to life.
  • Get them reading anything and everything; from following instructions or following a recipe and even when you are out and about, street signs and driving signs are a good start.
  • You need to engage your child, find something that ignites their passion so perhaps a specialist subject.
  •  Set a summer challenge for them with an incentive at the end of it, do a sponsored read and they can go somewhere fun at the end of it.
  •  Play board games and put them in charge of reading the cards or explaining the instructions.

Anything that changes their attitude to reading is a must, once the teen years hit, girls begin to see reading as uncool. Other influences like celebrities, boys and make up become more important. So it's finding a subject that really interests them and make them want to read more about it.

I put together a little video with a few more ideas here: https://www.facebook.com/183235138446805/videos/716198838483763/

Reading is such an integral part of our lives and opens so many doors in our futures that it is important to get involved with your child's reading habits this summer.

8 Jul 2016

The IKEA Makeover - my boy the star

Well it was a normal day and I was browsing through Facebook and saw a friend had liked the IKEA uk page and there was a competition...so I liked the page and knew whose room could do with being our best room.

"What if your box room was the best room"

So I went and took a picture of Cubs room, it's a box room and badly in need of updating. Sadly it is a room that would have to join the back of the queue as we have other rooms with real issues and we had decorated (sort of) when we moved in. I entered saying I wanted a room fit for a growing 2yr old who was transitioning to a bed and to show off his developing personality.

I checked back a few times over the week and dreamed about what it could look like, there were lots of entries so I wasn't expecting much.Until I logged on one evening to find this...

I checked with hubby, danced around the room a bit and called my mum. A few days later the team got in contact with us, a conference call was set up, I explained what cub liked and a designer was dispatched the next day to look at the room. A date was set and then we were sent the design ideas...this all happened in the space of two weeks...it was a whirlwind.

One night we were sent lots of bags of Ikea goods, a flat pack bed and desk and the cutest little chair I've ever seen. We didn't peak in the bags as it would have spoilt the surprise and put the bags in our summerhouse so the kids didn't get rummaging either.

The Monday arrived and hubby and I both took the day off and the kids were at nursery and school. At 8am (they were waiting outside in the van from about 7.15am) they descended on us. Cameras were set up, rooms taken over and catering set up in the kitchen.

We removed ourselves from the house but managed to take a few of these first...and went for a quiet coffee where we managed to plan out our next stage of our lives, cub getting older, how I'd fit work and family commitments around his ability to soon have 15 hours free childcare (well early next year).

It was chaotic at times and challenging trying to stay away with two small children when all you want to do is go home. We came home at 5pm, with two grumpy and hot kids and found the transformation complete but we had to wait another hour before we got to view the end results and have our photo session in the room. So we spent an hour in the garden running around and playing, apprehensive as to how the next hour or so would pan out.

It was magical, the team were lovely to have around and the designer Reli did a wonderful job for us, there wasn't one bit of it we didn't like. Cub got straight to work at his desk and playing with all the toys and new things in his room. It was staggering, the attention to detail and the many many things we had gifted upon us that it was hard to take it all in (to be honest I still now go in and just look around, thanking our lucky stars that we were chosen).

And that wallpaper...it's amazing and our boy just stares up at it as he drifts off to sleep every night.

Before the makeover I was apprehensive that he would be moving to a big boy bed but he was more than ready. He's only fallen out once (so far) and two weeks in he still loves it, as do we.

The kids now play together and separately in his room and it's lovely to watch them and to sit in his room. We got very lucky and it's wonderful to watch the video and my gorgeous little man.

Our Thank you's...we are so grateful to...
Our designer Reli, please go over and check out his website: www.aurelienfarjon.com
The Ikea team who made this happen we thank you once again


4 Jul 2016

Confessions of a Summer Parent

I love my kids and I love the idea of long lazy summer holidays but reality is sometimes different....

There are cries of "I'm bored!" "What can we do now?" and the one that gives me chills..."can we get the craft box out?"

Everything happens in minutes and lasts seconds! By 8.30am we've often exhausted all options.

It's days like this that I break out my secret weapon play. It's water play but...it last ages, the kids think they are on to a winner and I get some jobs done...by then!

Let me introduce you to my washing up session. 

I give them a bowl of washing up bubbles, some sponges and bits that need cleaning...and then let them free.

Sometimes I even let them wash the toys that have been left out in the garden...I know...super mum eh!

The best bit is that this keeps them busy for about 20 minutes, they have fun and I get to sit down with a coffee and watch and take photos of them in the process.

This post is an entry for BritMums Confessions of a Summer Parent Challenge, sponsored by Anchor
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