Monday, 14 August 2017

Time Flies

 I don't think anyone is ever completely prepared for parenthood.
All the planning in the world couldn't possibly prepare you for the range of emotions that having a child brings; it's strange, hard, wonderful, scary and joyful often at the same time!
The first few months are so very new but there's usually much more time to focus your full attention on that little person. We took so many photo's of TJ; smiling, playing, his first taste of food, learning to walk, holidays, Christmas and birthdays. I spend evenings putting a scrapbook together of memories and printing photos out for the albums as I just had more time to do it! 
People said to me that going from one child to two was the most difficult transition but in all honesty I haven't found it to be that hard; I worried a lot about how the one who had be given our complete attention would cope with having to share us but we've been so impressed with how well he's dealt with the changes and now it's like our little E has always been here. The most difficult part of having two children for me has been the time factor. I have to make sure I distribute it as evenly as I can and still fit in time for everything else that needs doing! Although two doesn't seem like a lot our days often pass by in a blur and I'm always wondering by Friday just where the week has got to!
This last year has gone by ridiculously fast; it feels like last week that we brought our second baby boy home from the hospital. As much as I'd like to say that I have managed to record just as many milestones as I did with TJ, I just can't! Thankfully phones have great cameras now and mine is always full of pictures of the boys; but up until recently I've never actually had any photos printed off from his first year...! It really is just getting the time to choose them, go through them checking each one and actually ordering them. I'd never seen something like the Cheerz Baby Memory boxes and instantly loved the idea. The box is designed to hold all of your first year photos (and more), neatly categorised by month and ready to fill with all your favourites. It definitely appeals to my organisational "Monica" side! The best part of this lovely gift though, for me, is that it comes pre-loaded with a code ready to use for your prints. All you have to do is activate it on the site and you can add to your collection anytime throughout the year. 
As I've mentioned before having used the Cheerz site, it is so simple to upload your photos from your computer; you can easily transfer them from Instagram, Facebook or your Google drive and they don't take a lifetime to upload(hooray!)When you sign in your photos are saved so you can keep coming back to them whenever you get time which is  brilliant for busy mums and dads who don't want to lose their precious ones memories to their hard drive.
I had these printed from little E's first year and went for a traditional size and glossy finish; When they arrived I had such a feeling of nostalgia, getting your prints back in their paper wallet, being able to hold them and actually look at them properly! The quality was perfect and they just felt so special; it really means so much to have them to look back on. As well as letting us review their gorgeous boxes Cheerz have kindly given me a code for 10% off any £20 spend on their site 6BJTHL ; you can also use SAL8CR for £4 off anything (I get a referral reward too)
The Cheerz Baby memory Box is beautiful and I know for sure what I'll be gifting the next new mama I know; they're the perfect family keepsake. 

NB post in Collaboration with Cheerz however all opinions are entirely our own


Saturday, 5 August 2017

In The Bag {Ft. Child's Farm}

I don't know about other mum's but leaving the house with two little ones I often feel like I'm carrying everything in my bag but the kitchen sink! To be fair TJ has just turned five so there's a few less things he needs but you can still guarantee he's going to want a drink/tissue/snack/plaster/ random Lego man at some point in the day.
 I did buy myself a lovely baby changing bag just before little E was born but since he started to get on the move I realised I needed something a bit easier to carry and a bit more robust for days out. I picked up my gorgeous Cath Kidston bag (as a birthday treat to me!) a few months ago and I love it. It's really lightweight -which is obviously needed, has plenty of space for a multitude of things and is just so very pretty and flowery. Which I need. Being the only girl in the house.
Although my bag looks pretty it's usually concealing the messy contents of a day with two little guys; mostly soggy muslin cloths, broken biscuits, "treasures" that TJ needs me to look after (i.e flowers and rocks from his travels!), sticky toys and other such delights!
Depending on where we're going that day I tend to pack different things as we might need them like changes of clothes and extra toys but I always carry the essentials wherever we go. Simply because I know we'll need them as we always do. I always make sure I have drinks for both boys as well as a little snack as I know at some point they'll be thirsty, hungry or just grumpy! I always keep a couple of Piccolo pouches in there because they both love them. 
Nappies and wipes are the obvious first check whenever we leave the house; Little E, being a wild one, is in pull-ups now as they're much comfier for him to wriggle about in and there's no way he'd lay down to be changed anymore!
Wipes are a must have in any Mama's bag; they're always needed for a quick nappy change, dirty faces or sticky hands.
 I'm always on the lookout for good wipes for sensitive skin as both boys have skin that irritates quickly, so I was looking forward to giving these from Child's Farm a try. I'm pleased that to say that they didn't disappoint; as well as being really gentle and soft on skin they're also naturally derived and completely biodegradable which is great news for the environment considering the amount of wipes this house gets through! Although one type is unscented, both have Child farm's Happy skin promise™ and are suitable for sensitive and eczema prone skin. Child's Farm have built up a great reputation for being amazing on the most sensitive skin and are trusted by many parents with children who suffer from all different types of skin conditions. 
I really love these bright little packs of wipes; I found them to work really well, smell lovely and fresh and didn't cause any irritation whatsoever to either of our boys skin. They're a perfect essential for our everyday messiness at home and keeping on hand in the bag!
Generally when it comes to the things you'll use everyday, especially when it comes to small people, once you find something that works it tends to stick and I think we'll be sticking with these. There are of course a lot of different and cheaper wipes out there, but if you've got children who get itches and rashes easily from scents and chemicals. you want something you know is safe and won't leave them feeling uncomfortable for hours.
Its the simple things that make life that bit easier and it's one less thing to have to worry about!

What are your essentials for when you're out with little ones?

NB Post in collaboration with Child's Farm however all opinions are entirely our own


Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Our Little Adventures {At the Beach ft. Yippie Yo}


Thursday, 20 July 2017

Boys Time {ft. Airfix }


Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Living Simply {Ft. Pestemal and towel}

Since having children, our home set up has changed a lot. When we first moved in we spent a lot of time collecting things that we needed and then things that we liked to have around; Joe and I have quite different tastes in that he likes modern and I'm more rustic. Between us we managed to collect a lot of furniture and general things for the house that more often than not were just decorative.
I had a habit of rummaging through little vintage stores for treasures and trying to recreate the pages of country living magazines! I'm not going to lie, I still love my Country Living, and stored away on my secret Pinterest boards are my dream home ideas for my future home, but I've come to realise that some things are not always practical when you have small children. You can absolutely have a nice home and nice things, but common sense will tell you that too many trinkets and teacups aren't a good idea once they start toddling! On top of that the general day to day life of a family home demands a certain degree of practical simplicity, something I'm just starting to fully appreciate. 
I started downsizing a few months ago and it's still a work in progress; in all truth it's an ongoing process really as the children grow out of clothes and things get worn out or are not needed anymore.
 I am already seeing a big difference in our home though, and in myself I just don't want so many things in my life! I've definitely been inspired by the simplistic Scandinavian style that is everywhere at the moment; I'm a bit late to the hygge party but it's a wonderful concept that I'm getting more into.
Downsizing, or simplifying your life is more than just that massive clear out we all have after Christmas (!) it's changing your way of life. It takes getting used to and isn't easy, like anything worthwhile; personally I've found having less seems to make me see just how much I do have and really appreciate it. Becoming more simplistic has changed the way I shop now, and I've found myself leaning much more towards things which are clean, practical and simple.
I've feel like become an actual adult over the last couple of years (!) and started repeating phrases I remember my own parents and grandparents saying about buying things that will last and "quality over quantity" ; sayings I understand now rather than just roll my eyes at! (Sorry mum)
Being a parent to two little ones means everyday things need to be easier; easier to carry, to wash, to put away, to find. There's just too many other important things to worry about!
Last week I targeted the bathroom on my simplifying mission and we had a trip to IKEA which further inspired me to adopt a more Scandinavian attitude to house practicality! The same week Pestemal and Towel sent us these beautiful towels to try and I love them. Yes Towels.
 I had been living my life thinking there were only one type of heavy towel that required hours to dry, a big cupboard to store and are a pain to carry home from swimming . When I was thinking about what to say about how lovely they are they fitted right in with this post I was already writing about simplifying; as far as making life easier they really fit the bill. They're light, absorbent, easy to fold or throw into a bag and dry really quickly as they're thinner and made of lighter fabric. They're multi-use as well so perfect to keep in the car for day trips to the beach, as picnic blanket or just as a light cover up if the kids fall asleep in the car. They're going to be fab for using over the summer just to throw on the grass while little E is playing. I never thought I'd have so much to say about towels but I'm a total convert! These are by Pestemal and Towel who have a great range; I love the colourful designs and they're really good quality. They are traditionally from Turkey but are now made just about everywhere; Pestemal and Towel are actually a Greek company and have a really big range of these lovely towels which are all made from natural fibres and are Eco friendly (Good to know!)
After giving the bathroom a good spring clean and clearing out all the extra bits that were just cluttering up the room, it's now so much easier to keep clean and tidy. I'm planning to do each room gradually and then attempt to stop myself collecting any more unnecessaries!
 Then again I can never say no to a nice mug...

Do you have any good habits for keeping things simple at home?

NB Post in Collaboration with Pestemal and Towel however all opinion are entirely my own

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Spaghetti Night {Ft My Little Piccolo}

 Recently I've been trying to get us eating more healthily at mealtimes and give TJ some more responsibility in the kitchen. He is now five and although he usually potters about with me doing bits while I'm making the tea he's starting to get a grasp of doing actual tasks by himself. I've been giving him little jobs like preparing vegetables - with a non sharp knife, standing at the stove, whilst I'm with him of course, and setting the table on his own. I think it's important that kids learn how to use their own judgement and be safe as early as possible; they'll be much less likely to get injured and it'll be a much more natural progression for them to learn cooking skills, in my humble opinion anyway!
I love seeing children involved in the kitchen; unlike other play time activity it really gives them a sense of achievement and importance. They respond so well to being given a task and feeling the expectation to do it well, not in a pressured way, but where they know it's something that everyone will benefit from, so they try. Even simple tasks like setting the table or making a dessert. I never cease to be amazed at how being given a simple job to do can focus even the most wild little ones (like mine!). I think the reason I love cooking and baking is that it doesn't just engage them but lets them express themselves and gives them a finished product that they can be really proud of.
We had a great time at the Morrisons Piccolo event a couple of weeks ago; I was certainly inspired by Alison's talk to get the boys eating much more homemade and fresh foods. In all honesty I  have always encouraged the boys to eat as much fruit and veg as I can get them to; thankfully they're not particularly picky and I can usually get them to at least try most things. They both enjoy most fruit and veg although neither of them will take to salad! As I enjoy cooking I usually do make dinners on an evening but I have noticed though that I could definitely do more to introduce new flavours and cook more meals"from scratch".
One of our family favourites that always goes down well is Spaghetti Bolognese. I usually tend to buy ready made sauces, but in the spirit of trying new things, TJ and I decided to make our own and as it's little E's favourite, we took inspiration from the Sweet Tomato Ricotta Spaghetti Piccolo pouch. As Piccolo is big on getting people into the kitchen, the recipes for all of their pouches are on the website along with other great snack and meal ideas for little ones. TJ and I picked up the ingredients-which were fewer than I anticipated!- in our local Morrisons then headed home for some kitchen time together; he was really excited to be putting the meal together and I decided to let him do as much of it as possible. He did really well and enjoyed preparing the veg( I gave him a butter knife and a pair of children's scissors which proved quite successful) adding everything to a pan, then stirring it while it was cooking. He looked quite the little chef- look out Jamie Oliver.
The whole recipe was very easy to put together and tasted delicious, I was actually pleasantly surprised as I have tried to make sauces before and they've been quite bland! It's a really easy recipe to follow and was extremely well received by everyone at the table; Everyone had seconds and asked for it again! The only thing I changed was the addition of some Quorn Swedish style meatballs which were really good and went perfectly with the sauce.
 I think my favourite part about cooking with him is the quality of our time together, just laughing, talking and enjoying what we're doing. It can be stressful at times as this guy is a bit liberal with his ingredients and we definitely have moments where I wonder why I've started the task but that's what its all about. It's messy, a bit crazy but always worthwhile. I've been working with Piccolo for a while now and although their pouches are lovely, what I really love is their ethos; getting kids to enjoy food and encouraging them to develop healthy eating habits is something I can really get behind as I can see how important it is to start them off on the right foot. They donate ten percent of their profits to the Food Education Foundation which provides information and workshops to help parents from weaning onwards to provide the best nutrition for their children and give them more confidence with introducing a wider variety of healthy foods. I think it's such a wonderful concept; we really have to start at early as possible in order to give our children the best chance of developing healthy eating habits and avoiding the consequences of a poor diet. It's wonderful to see the great work Piccolo are doing and we are definitely enjoying their recipes!

Do you cook with your little ones? What are your favourite recipes?

NB Post in collaboration with Piccolo


Friday, 7 July 2017

Candid Life

Since I kind of fell into blogging It's something that's become part of my life.
As anyone who works from home blogging will tell you that it's not your standard job; 
eventually the lines are blurred and you end up working in some context all through the day or well into the night; answering emails and keeping up with social media accounts are woven into feeding, bathing, nap-times and trips out. What we do is about our daily life so it's not easy keeping them compartmentalised. Sometimes you become so wrapped up in content and followers that you forget to actually just be present. 
On top of that there's the endless comparison that has to be kept a tight rein on; although we might share so much of our daily lives all anyone can really get is a small insight. Behind the pretty pictures there aren't perfect lives or perfect people. While I don't think there's anything wrong with showing the nice pictures, I would never want anyone to look through my instagram and feel like it represents my whole life, it doesn't. Those tiny squares don't show the bickering children, the pile of washing, the messy floor, the exhausted mum, the grumpy mum, the sad mum. These things should go with out saying, and I'm glad so many people are able to see social media for what it really is, but for those who don't, the people like me, the people sometimes who feel like their life is somehow lacking or as though they aren't enough, maybe this little reminder might help.
Look a little deeper; life is not perfect, but it is beautiful even in it's brokenness.
The thing that made me really start blogging was a way of counting my own Blessings instead of comparing myself with other people. And I'm so pleased that I did; because among so many things that have happened over the last few years, this little space of mine is something that has contributed in its own tiny way to changing me. Changing the way I see myself and other people. Seeing them as people not a perfect gallery of perfect lives. Seeing how people capture the beauty in their every day moments, good and bad, made me start looking at my life differently. It's not about having it all, it's about being grateful for what you do have in each moment.
The last few weeks have been hard; I feel exhausted, disorganised, a mess and sometimes just fed up. Taking pictures and posting on social media just hasn't been something I've felt like doing, which is hard when it's what you do; but its also the nature of this work that we can be honest and say when things are sometimes...well crap. Life is hard but it's the hard times that really make us.
So this is me this week.
Messy hair, no make up, tired eyes and feeling like I'm ten years older and have seven more children than I actually have.
But grateful, so very grateful, for this exhausting life.


My Lovely Little Baker {ft. Cheerz}


Sunday, 2 July 2017

Tough Mama Days

Today is one of those days where I could quite happily fall asleep on this desk of my husbands.
Both boys have been poorly all week; the kind where all they want is to be held and cuddled and where the slightest thing sets off a good hour of tears. They're shivery, too hot, sad, grumpy, hungry, feeling sick, bored and watching people unwrap toys on repeat. It's the kind of week there just seems to be no end in sight; in truth they're not often poorly but it seems they've been storing it up until now!
Sometimes I feel like a person split into ten different pieces. Or maybe just ten types of mother. I want to be patient, nurturing, creative, supportive and still present to them both. I want to master cooking up nutritious meals and healthy snacks, fitting in swimming lessons and gymnastics. I want to be fit myself, go running again, tame my hair into some reasonable state, have nails that look at least presentable. I want to blog and take beautiful photos. 
At this moment all I am managing is making sure the people of this house eat food, have clean clothes and the bin actually gets put out.
But maybe that's enough? At this moment in time I can't do everything, but I can make sure the people that mean everything to me come first. The tasks that seem to be the most trivial are generally the most important when you look at the big picture. Although I can't bring myself to feel important at the moment it helps a little to see that I am needed. At 3 in the morning when someone's had a nightmare, when I'm the only person they want; when they need to sleep and only my arms will do; when they're hungry or grumpy or just want to be angry with someone. Something I've leaned since having our first is that with children everything is just a phase, a short period of time in their life. "This too shall pass" really is the truest statement. It's something I find myself repeating to myself a lot at the moment, because although the days seem long I know they're passing all too quickly, and one day they'll be the days I miss the most. Hearing "Mama" called out about ten thousand times a day is exhausting but it's not something I'll ever take for granted...


Saturday, 24 June 2017

The Siblings Project {June}

Ever since I found out we were having another baby I have imagined the seeing our two together;
When we found out we were having a boy I immediately thought of all those memories they'd be making and couldn't wait to capture them growing up together.
Actually seeing them as brothers, playing, laughing, growing has been everything I hoped and more. They already bicker over toys and swipe at each other, but the love is already so evident. 
They make each other laugh like no one else can, they hold hands, play and splash around in the bath every evening. I didn't think I'd get to see these two become best friends so quickly but they are, and I hope they always will be.
 It seems silly to be picking up the Siblings Project again half way through the year but I absolutely love this link up by Dear Beautiful; Lucy's blog is one of the first I ever read and really inspired me when I first started blogging. It's still one of my favourites; I love her gorgeous family snaps!

Hopefully I'll remember to do this every month so we can have these beautiful memories to look back on.

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