31 January 2018

Me and Mine Project - January 2018

Was it just me or did January seem like the longest month ever? After the excitement of Christmas we have had a fairly quiet month getting back into the routine of school and work and also hibernating from the cold, grey days. Like most families we were on the countdown to payday this month so found ourselves at home a lot which has actually been rather lovely, although it's also given me plenty of time to look at all the house projects I want to tackle! We took our photos this month in our living room and had lots of fun with my new tripod that I got for Christmas. It's going to be a game changer in terms of taking photos and my beloved camera will no longer be balanced precariously on fence posts or the buggy! I'm hoping it will mean that I can get a bit more creative with our family photo project this year and already have lots of ideas to capture our family throughout the seasons.

Our family in January 2018

I love stepping back and looking at our family dynamic which is what these monthly photos allow me to do. When I look at this months photo all I can think is how outnumbered Oli looks - totally surrounded by his girls and taking it all in his stride, he's such a brilliant dad and husband and we are really lucky to have him. I also noticed how much our girls have grown and compared to this time last year how much easier life feels in some respects. We are still juggling the same number of children and what feels like a million commitments, but they are getting slightly more independent and most notably we are finally getting more sleep which makes things feel easier even if they are not. We have a weekly routine that is working for us all right now and we all know where we need to be when - most of the time! 

However, with our work and childcare arrangements as they are, we are rarely together as a five and I do feel that regular family time is something I envy when I see other families at weekends. I can't actually imagine what it would be like having every weekend together, it must be lovely! We on average have one/two full weekends off together a month which we look forward to so much but end up having so much to cram in. The girl's social lives are busy with ballet lessons and birthday parties often structuring our weekends and then there are jobs that need doing which can only be done when there is another parent around. There is also a pressure on these family days to be wonderful and special because they are so precious and rare. Inevitably they aren't always and the usual sibling rivalry and conflicts arise, or Oli and I have different ideas about what we want to achieve from the day and are quite frankly exhausted. Then there are family and friends who we like to see together to fit into this equation too, along with time together as a couple and one on one time with each of our children - it's really tricky, in fact it feels like a bit of an impossible puzzle at times trying to get all the pieces to fit. 

We are working hard to balance this by using our annual leave to maximise family time and have five full days together coming up over February Half term. We have already talked about what we would like to do with those days so we can really make the most of them. The benefit of not having as much time together as a five is that we truly value it when we do have it. We just need to communicate, lower our expectations and celebrate the little wins I think -  skills which our six years and a bit of parenting have taught us. Our girls are happy, it's just Oli and I that feel the strain sometimes which again is part and parcel of parenting and part of family life whatever your dynamic.  These family snaps are a little reminder that we are a good team, doing our best and that our home (as well as bursting at the rafters with children and all their stuff!) is filled with so much love.

Me x

24 January 2018

Cosy and Cool Winter Knits from Bernie and the Beanpole

We love to get out and about for an adventure and don’t let the colder weather stop us. However It’s absolutely no fun when the girls get cold and our outing is cut short so I always make sure I wrap them up in warm clothing - as the saying goes, "there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing". The lovely folk at Bernie and the Beanpole kindly sent the girls some items from their gorgeous collection to keep them cosy this winter. We’ve given them a good road test, we’ve even ‘snow tested’ them - and they get a big thumbs up from us ticking both the style and practically boxes for me.

Ellie wearing the Rose Violet Bobble Hat and Snood

One of the things I struggle the most to get the girls to wear is a scarf but it can make a real difference. They really love the Bernie and the Beanpole Snoods, they are easy to put on and comfortable to wear and just keep that extra little bit of heat in. Ellie has been wearing hers to school and she can easily put it on herself and it doesn’t get in the way at playtime.

Lottie wearing the Mint Waffle Bobble Hat and Snood

If you follow me over on Instagram you’ll know that we have quite an extensive bobble hat collection. I love the bright colours of our latest additions. They are amazing quality, fleece lined and super soft and I think the girls look great in them!

Lottie wearing the Mint Waffle Hat and Snood and Phoebe wearing the Rose Violet Bobble Hat

I really like that the designs are simple, yet bold and but aren’t stereotypically girly. Ellie although only 6, is becoming increasingly choosy about what she wants to wear and thinks the headband is fantastic. I think it’s more about her finding her individuality and expressing herself rather than fashion at this stage. I don’t mind what she wears as long as she is warm!

Ellie wearing the Rose Violet Headband and Snood

In terms of other plus points for me they are machine washable which is really important when they are being worn when out and about adventuring -my girls manage quite a bit of velocity with their puddle jumping splashed! The size range is great so they will last a few winters (my girls are wearing M and the snoods are one size) The XL bobble hats will fit an adult if you fancy a bit of twinning!

Phoebe wearing the Rose Violet Bobble Hat

Bernie and the Beanpole have a fab range of accessories including mittens, leg warmers, pjs and comfy loungewear all in really stylish and cool designs. I think I may have to invest in some leg warmers for my girls who are rather fond of skirts and dresses for adventuring in, the 80s child in me wants a pair too! Pop over and take a look at the collection HERE.

Me x

*This is a collaborative post, all thoughts and opinions are my own.*

20 January 2018

Phoebe is Four

To my lovely little Phoebe,

There is a theme running with these letters having just looked over the last two... you are in an awful rush to grow up! As I put you to bed on your birthday you asked me when you would be five! You've been asking for the last 364 days when you will be four! I think you just like a good party and cake, in fact I know you love a good party and cake and who can blame you. I want you not to wish your years away though my sweet girl because right now you are everything that is wonderful about childhood - inquisitive, adventurous, brave innocent and absolutely unapologetic with zest for life that is enviable and which radiates from you. Your imagination is also absolutely beautiful and you are convinced that every time it's frosty or snows that you have made it happen with your 'ice powers'! It certainly makes me smile as i'm scraping ice off the windscreen on the school run.

A letter to my daughter Phoebe on her 4th Birthday

You know your own mind and do not take any nonsense which I really admire because it's taken me almost 34 years to get there! You have a brilliantly unique sense of style which I'm not sure many other people could carry off to be honest. I love how you express yourself with your outfits and request bizarre hairstyles and choose your best party dress for playgroup - because why on earth not?! Your current love is stick on earrings, teamed with a tutu and a top with daisies on which is far too small for you but that you are refusing to relinquish. You are also developing an entrepreneurial spirit, or rather the skill of learning how to negotiate with your parents... and recently charged your daddy 80p to appease Lottie who was having a bit of meltdown because she wanted to wear your flowery pyjamas!

You love going swimming with daddy on Wednesdays just the two of you while your sisters are at school and playschool and I'm really pleased you get that time together. You are particularly proud at the moment because you swam to the edge all by yourself and while you don't like deep water we struggle to keep you above the water in the shallow end as you dive beneath the surface like a little mermaid.

You have a ridiculously sweet tooth and love to bake, mostly to lick the bowl I think and will take any excuse for a hot chocolate or milkshake at our favourite cafe. We've had some of our best chats you and I over a babycino in Waitrose, I love to sit opposite you and share the simple joy of hot bubbly milk sprinkled with chocolate.

You are great company, asking lots of questions and making us laugh and also the biggest instigator of dancing in the kitchen which has become a family favourite. You love your sisters and have such gorgeous relationships with them both, you relish your role as both a little sister and a big sister - looking up to Ellie and showing Lottie the way and I'm really, really proud of you for that.

You love playing with trinkets, your dolls and cutting and sticking and are getting to grips with forming some letters and writing your name. You're really good at aqua beads and sit so patiently putting them all in place. You're learning how to ride your balance bike at the moment having mastered your scooter and I can see how much you love the challenge in your eyes. You balance bike has actually been sat under the stairs since your last birthday pretty much unused but then one day the other week you decided you wanted to ride it and off you went! You do everything on your terms and when you're ready and I totally respect you for that. This year you will be starting school, which given the above will go either one way or another - you will either saunter in with a little smile and a wave over your shoulder or we will have protest on our hands! Either way my darling girl know that I will be there for you whatever.

All my love

Mummy x

You can read previous birthday letters here:

Phoebe is 3
Phoebe is 2

15 January 2018

Siblings Project - January 2018

The photos of my girls this month are ones I took really quickly to capture a moment but they are ones that I already treasure. This month I sold my rocking chair which has been in the nursery for the last six years or so. It was a really special chair and one I've spent many hours in over the last few years but more recently it has just become a bit of dumping station for clothes that need to be put away. After Oli and I carried it downstairs on the morning it was being collected ready for it's new owners I suddenly became quite reflective and asked the girls to all hop in it for a quick photo before it went to it's new home. I hadn't really realised how much it meant to me until I saw them all in it. If you're a regular here you'll know I'm all about the bright colours but this months photos are in black and white for nostalgia's sake!

My girls now 6, almost 4 and 2 all sitting in the rocking chair

When I found out I was pregnant with Ellie and we started planning the nursery I knew I wanted a traditional rocking chair for the room. This chair was one I scoured second hand selling sites for months for, one which Oli drove an hour and a half to collect for me before sanding and waxing it for me and proudly putting it in place. 

Ellie age 6 sitting in the rocking chair

I sat in that chair with Ellie as a bump whilst we were waiting for her to arrive, trying to imagine the cot with an actual baby in it and what it might feel like holding her in my arms. 

Phoebe (almost 4) sitting in the rocking chair

I then sat in that chair to snuggle and feed her and then Phoebe and Lottie when they arrived. I've smiled my biggest smiles in that chair, cried from sheer exhaustion and rocked back and forth in it trying to settle all three of my babies. I've sat it wondering if my babies are asleep enough to put them down in their bed, stood up from it so carefully and slowly thousands of times with a sleeping baby girl in my arms only to sit right back down in it as they promptly woke up! 

Lottie age 2 sitting in the rocking chair

I've read stories in it, comforted poorly children in it and even set up my blog in the middle of the night in it!  There are three times I have sat in that chair much longer than I needed to - the last time I breastfed each of my babies, staring at their sleepy contented faces with a mixture of relief and sadness. It's so much more than just a chair to me but it was time for it to go to a new home. 

All my babies sitting in the rocking chair

When I look at all three of them in that chair I feel proud, proud of myself, proud of each of them and proud of the lovely little trio that they are. They are growing up so quickly, it truly feels like yesterday that they were all tiny babies in my arms in the rocking chair. I am so grateful for them, so grateful they have each other and so grateful for every second, minute and hour that I have spent sitting in the rocking chair with them. 

Me x

7 January 2018

18 Goals for 2018

This time last year I set myself some goals for the year ahead, the focus being goals rather than resolutions. Goals seem better somehow, something to aim for, some guidance, a rough direction for the year ahead. Top of the list in 2017 were family time, me time, time with Oli and home renovation projects and we did pretty well with them.

My goals for 2018

Now that the madness of Christmas is over and we are back to some kind of normality I have begun to think about what the year ahead might hold. This year I've decided to jot down 18 goals for 2018, some are small but important, others are bigger things I'd like to/hope to achieve. Here they are in no particular order:

1. Explore more of the UK

We had two lovely UK holidays last year in Yorkshire and Somerset and absolutely loved exploring these beautiful areas with the girls. There are so many amazing places on our doorstep or within a few hours drive and I'd like to continue discovering some new spots this year.

2. See more of the world

We haven't been abroad for a number of years, mainly due to having three children under 4 and also due to budget. Before we had children Oli and I loved our holidays abroad and had some great adventures in Sri Lanka, Italy and the Maldives to name just a few. Now the girls are getting older I 'd love to show them the world and plan a trip away if possible.

3. See my friends more

Last year life was so busy and I found myself so exhausted that I didn't see my friends very much. I missed them and time with them so am making catching up regularly a top priority this year.

4. Sleep more

Dare I say it... sleep is improving here. After six years of very little sleep we seem to be finally getting some. Lottie is still quite erratic and will wake  in the night and fight bedtime a few nights a week, but Ellie and Phoebe are sleeping well so the end feels in sight! Regardless of improvement I am going to try and go to bed a little earlier each night and improve the quality of my sleep by unwinding more before bed.

5. Eat better

This one is simple. No skipping meals, less high sugar pick me ups, more fruit.

6. Drink more water

Being busy and tired I always default to tea or coffee and then often have a glass of wine in the evening. I definitely NEED to drink more water.

7. Look after my skin

Sometimes by the time I make it upstairs at the end of the day all I want to do is climb into bed - and I often do... without taking my makeup off. Approaching my mid thirties I am becoming more conscious of my skin and need to take care of it better. I have a dressing table full of great products, i just need to actually use them! Phoebe prompted this when she asked how to get lines on her forehead like me?!

8. Read a book

I miss reading. I studied English Literature at University and used to read 3-5 books a week. Since having the girls I haven't made time to read, even if it's 5 minutes before bed I really want to loose myself in a good book again. If anyone has any suggestions I would love to hear them

9. Do some cardio exercise

I stuck to last year's goal and go to yoga every single Wednesday evening. It has been so good for me and I feel stronger for it. Now I'm sat at a desk working three days a week and pounding the pavements less with my double buggy and a baby in a sling I feel like I want to do some cardio. Running is out of the question due to a knee op in my twenties but I feel like spin might work....

10. Make more time for me

I learn this year that you can't pour from a empty cup so I am going to prioritise myself more this year. I will have one Friday morning a month just to myself to do with as I please. In between that goal 8 and 9 count as me time.

11. Make time to do nothing

Yes absolutely nothing. Sitting with a cup of tea (or water!) lying in a hot bubbly bath, watch tv - anything that makes me slow down and quieten my mind.

12. Continue to grow my blog

I love writing my blog, it brings me so much satisfaction and joy and going into my third year of blogging I want to continue to learn more, create useful and interesting content for you all and improve my photography skills.

13. Bake more

I love baking. I find it really relaxing and feel really proud when I create something that looks and tastes delicious. I love the smell in the house when there is a cake in the oven, the time shared with the girls when we bake together and the focus it gives me when I bake on my own. I tend to default to my fail safe recipes but would like to mix it up a little and try some new ones this year.

14. Home renovation projects

I have so many goals when it comes to the house but we have narrowed them down to a couple of things to save for. We would love to replace our front door, tile and paint the hallway and change the carpet on the stairs and landing to the original floorboards and a runner. If we can achieve that this year it would make a big difference to our home and how we feel when we walk in the door at the end of the day. I'm also going to save £100 a month from my wages for next years January sales to do  up the bathroom... I am dreaming of reclining in a roll top bath surrounded by fresh subway tiles!

15. Be in the moment more

In our very digital world it is far to easy to sit at opposite ends of the sofa to your husband both on your phones, or to be checking social media when you're out and about with the children. For me the desire to capture the moment in photographs often means that I not fully present in them. I am going to put my phone and camera to one side more and just enjoy the moment and capture it only in my memory.

16. Declutter

I have made some good headway with decluttering but still have some way to go. Now that the baby days are over it is time to get rid of all our baby bits which will give us so much space back. I'm signing up to a nearly new sale next month so it can all go to a lovely new home and we can make a bit of pocket money to spruce up the girls bedrooms a bit.

17.  Say No more

I can be a bit of a people pleaser and will say yes to things when it might not be what I really want to do, add to my workload and just not be what is best for me or my family and we can end up over diarised. I am going to be more confident at saying no to things and not feel like I have to give an excuse as to why either.

18. Say Yes more

In complete juxtaposition to the above I also want to say yes more! Mainly to the girls, yes to one more story, yes we can do that activity, yes you can go the shops dressed as Elsa! But also to opportunities, for Oli and for me and for the girls, if it's right for us and we can make it happen then the answer is yes!

Phew! 18 goals is rather a lot but if I tick off just one of these then that will be an improvement. Writing all these things down has given me some focus and will give me something to refer back to throughout the year.

Wishing you a happy and healthy new year!

Me x

You can read my Goals from last year HERE.