29 August 2016

Happy Bank Holiday!!

Not much time today as a bank holiday with our family simply means I have an extra 24 hours of breaking up fights between Husband and Boy (aargh, give me strength!)

So, I shall leave you with this photo that I snapped in Debenhams last week whilst shopping for school shirts.

Keeping track of that kid is hard work!!

Best go, they've now moved their argument upstairs...

26 August 2016

London calling...

Another birthday, another valid excuse to visit the big city. This Mama does so hate the country!

Virgin trains were having a seat sale a few weeks ago so Nana and I jumped at the chance and lo, on Monday, the boys were whisked off to London for the day on a pendolino. Here's some things we learned over the course of 8 hours travelling with small children...

Image result for v festival crowds travelling home

1. Choosing to travel to London on the day V festival ends is not wise. You will have to queue to park at Stafford station. You will have to queue to collect your pre-booked tickets. You will have to present said tickets earlier than usual (presumably this was to avoid hundreds of sweaty, hungover yoofs hanging around on the platforms? Whatever it was, it completely threw me and meant I wound up wrestling with a pushchair and searching for tickets when I wasn't ready, thus getting flappy and creating a queue. Boo!) You will then have to share a lift to the platform with hundreds of afore-mentioned grungy types dragging muddy suitcases behind them. Choose another day to travel, that's all I'm saying!

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2. Take more snacks. Count out the amount of snacks you think your children would consume in a normal day, then add 4 more, THEN add 4 more. Being stuck in one seat for 90 minutes does weird things to a small child and apparently the only solution is to throw food their way.

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3. Take note of where the emergency alarms are on all vehicles. They are behind the seats in First Class, in the cafe carriage of Virgin trains, in the TOILETS on Virgin trains and above the disabled seats on certain tube trains. I know this because in just one trip my children managed to press all three. And no, at no point were they subject to an emergency (thank you, Brian, for your kindness and understanding in these matters, we appreciate you not fining us!)

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4. Wear light layers. Thanks to the BBC weather app, I knew we were in for a fairly warm day but didn't want the boys getting chilly on the short walk back to the car later that evening so made them put on a light jumper before we left the house. Naturally, they discarded said jumpers as soon as we boarded the train and left them under the pram for the rest of the day, but at least no-one could accuse me of being unprepared. Also, and this is something I forget every damn time I use the tube, pause for a second and take your own light layer OFF before you descend the escalator holding a Toddler on your hip, carrying a folded up Maclaren, juggling your backpack and encouraging a small Boy not to wander off in a friendly crowd headed towards South Kensington. You will soon get so hot that you want to die. Just sayin'! I'd have used the fan above but I didn't have a spare hand. Such is life...

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5. Plan out the day you would like to do in London if it were just you and another adult. Then factor in 14 toilet breaks and scrap 3 of the places you had planned on visiting because, let's face it, it ain't gonna happen. Linger outside Liberty for as long as you like but DO NOT take them inside. Just don't. Even if one is strapped into the pushchair and the other is having an angelic 10 minutes. Believe me, just don't.

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6. Always visit Oliver Bonas on the way home. I know you can you buy everything from there online, but sometimes it's nice to actually bring something home from a trip, something from somewhere you don't usually visit. Oliver Bonas is that place, even if it's just a tiny place at the train station. Grown up, glam things for your home that make you feel instantly chic and don't cost the earth. After dutifully resisting Liberty, JCrew, Harrods, Selfridges etc... I skipped into Oliver Bonas whilst the boys drank their milkshakes at Euston, bought two bathroom hooks and a weekend tote bag and they made my day!!

Six little tips that might make your own trip a bit more enjoyable. We had a great day and luckily, managed not to feel too rushed (bearing in mind it was such a fleeting visit). Here are some of the few photos I snapped whilst juggling everything else I had to hold...

The day before, Nana had walked up Snowdon! Here they are, waiting for the train. 

An ant on Regent Street!

Buckingham Palace for the first time.

Boy couldn't get over the colour of this statue, in the sun it is incredible!

In his happy place!!

Had such a fun day with him, he asked LOADS of new questions. 5 is going to be BIG adventure!

Always centre stage!!

See you next birthday, London, we love you!!

24 August 2016


...there's no such word!

Who needs TV or an activity suggestion box when you have a furry brother who's having to wear a dog cone of shame? Instant ballerina chic!!

22 August 2016

Birthday Week is here!

Hurrah for birthday celebrations. BFF and her family fly out to Portugal this morning and will miss Boy's 5th birthday on Thursday so we had an early party for him at her house over the weekend. Man, did we eat a lot of food! Boy's Godfather is the BBQ King so naturally, when asked what he would like to eat at the party, Boy answered 'sausages, lots and lots of sausages'!! So that's what we consumed. A truckload of sausages and a LOT of gin.

Here's a few pictures of the happy day...

Opening his cards and presents from BFF and Nanny and Grandad

A little pre-BBQ entertainment from Toddler ;-)

BFF's eldest and our youngest. That tall lanky handsome chap used to be in my Year 1 class. He makes me feel old!

Birthday cake number 1!

Making birthday wishes...

Three squeaky clean babies after making baby soup (eg throwing everyone in the same bath at the same time and just spinning them around until they look clean!)

It was SUCH a fun day, helped by the gin naturally, but no-one fell out, no-one had a temper tantrum, we only lost the smallest dog once! We all came home feeling relaxed, with full tummies and more than ready for our beds. We are so incredibly lucky to have found these friends, they are a massive, important cog in the family we have built around us and our babies and we love them dearly. 

Nana and I are taking the boys down to London today for a little birthday trip so I shall try and take some good photos to share. We're hitting up Wahaca for some lunch (been having serious cravings since our last visit) and someone recommended The Parlour at Fortnum and Mason but apparently you can only get a table at 9am or 6pm...? So we'll be scouring for ice creams elsewhere, somehow I don't think we'll fail!!

Wish me luck on a 90min train journey with the smallest shrieking wonder. As soon as we get home I need to switch gear into party planning mode, and the forecast is rain, eeshk!

Have a great Monday, friends. This time next week we'll all still be in bed!!

19 August 2016

Random product post

Yesterday Boy woke up possessed. I don't even joke. By 10am he was lying on the floor screaming about a perceived injustice and the day pretty much unravelled from there on. It just carried on until bedtime. For the first time in a loooong time I actually text Husband and told him to get home early or there was a good chance I would be arrested for battery (that just shows you how desperate I was as adding Husband's temper into the mix is not usually something I'd advocate...!)

Nothing worked with the kid.  I was calm, I was angry, I carried him upstairs, I ignored him and let him carry on playing in the playroom, I walked away when he was rude, I listened when he was sassy and tried to reason...literally, the kid was INSANE and nothing was going to make the slightest difference other than a good night's sleep and a fresh start.

It's hard to achieve a 'fresh start' as a Mama. When you're 4 years old you go to bed, wake up and poof, as if by magic yesterday's indiscretions are completely behind you and forgotten. As a Mama, you sometimes find yourself feeling guilty/cross/aggrieved by things that happened months ago, were completely out of your control and went unnoticed by anyone other than your critical self. Therefore, if you really want to wake up in a positive mood, you've got to work for it!

With this in mind, at 6.59 pm I kissed my little b*stard good night, turned the bedroom light off, exhaled deeply, poured myself an immense glass of gin and tonic and...well, I cried. I cried about my overreactions, about his inexplicable anger, about the future therapy bills we'd incur...the usual. 

BUT then I began 'project wind down'. This Mama needed a break, a pamper and a de-stress! So last night I ran myself a very deep bath, watched an episode of the Gilmore girls (without dropping the iPad in the bath, winner!), washed my dry-shampoo covered hair and used pretty much every beauty product I own. 

Over the last few weeks I've hardly bought any new clothes for myself but there have been a fair few beauty blog posts popping up and I've been taking note. As someone who can't even be bothered to moisturise when she gets out of the shower, this is strange and uncharted territory for me, but something about all these happy bloggers chatting about their favourite products has spurred me into making a few purchases...

My hair is thick and knotty and pretty dry, but since coming off the pill it turns greasy far too quickly for my liking. Due to the thickness of it, it takes forever to wash, rinse and dry and as such I really hate doing it more than twice a week! I am also trying to grow it out so it's also pretty shapeless and a bit 'between stages'. This shampoo is great. Something about it makes my hair feel really hydrated but it's not looking greasy any faster than usual, which was my fear with an oil based shampoo? Liking this a lot!

Love this stuff. Erica suggested this hair styler on her Instagram stories feed and I really like it. The website gives you the technical low-down but essentially this stuff means you can air-dry your hair without it turning into a huge bouffant affair by lunchtime and for someone who has a) no time to dry her hair properly and b) crazy 80s hair if it's left to its own devices it's a God send. It makes your hair freakishly soft without being flyaway too, genius!

This stuff is essentially a heat spray...which I didn't really understand because if you're using the product above to avoid using a hairdryer/straighteners then why would you need it? But being the marketer's wet dream that I am, Erica said she uses it so I went ahead and got some too. It smells divine. 

Still sticking with the ultimate product in lazy-girl moisturising...

This isn't the exact body scrub I have on the go right now, but I think they're all pretty much the same (correct me if I'm wrong?!) I bloody hate the bits at the bottom of the bath when you rinse it off...but scrubbed legs do look happier when you're done!

I didn't use this last night, obviously, but someone, Clemmie?, said she uses this to hide the dark circles under her eyes so immediately I went out and bought some. It works. I use a LOT of it every day!!

Dawn O'Porter recently mentioned this little gem in a video blog and since my shiny nose drives me CRACKERS I figured I'd better get some too. It's on order so I'll update you when it arrives...

And these things smell amazing. Just lighting one of these bad boys is enough to readjust whatever mental state you're in. Last time I was in Birmingham with a friend I grabbed two. Just choose a scent, it doesn't matter which, they're all incredible!

After all that I felt much much better. Went to bed determined to have a much happier, calmer day with Boy, if he likes it or not! Naturally, with my new sunny demeanour we woke up to pouring rain and period pain but hey, you can't have everything ;-)

Any amazing products you guys know about that I simply must buy straight away? Let me know!! x

17 August 2016

What's Up Wednesday?!

Yo! Apologies for the lateness of this post, I got so far ahead in my scheduled posts that I got sloppy and complacent and lo, Wednesday has almost passed us by with no post. Bad Mama blogger!!

In my defence, we were in Lichfield overnight with Nana yesterday into today and we didn't stop for 5 minutes from the moment we arrived. This list will prove my point...

Eco Mama invited us over for lunch on Tuesday, 

then we had movie night and a sleepover (which didn't involve much sleep, why my mother hasn't embraced blackouts blinds when her eldest grandchild is now almost 5 I do not know but I swear, one day I'm going to address it head on...) 

followed by the oven repair man swinging by, 

Boy setting off on a bike ride, 

meeting Arty Mama in the park, 

lunch out, 

a quick shop, 

donkey rides in the park, 

pedalos on the lake, 

countless ice creams... 

I am shattered and both boys are snoring like middle aged drunks. 

BUT I gotta say, the whole trip was a roaring success!

Here's a quick peak, then I really need to roll into bed...

Poms on Bird Street. Seriously. Go here for lunch. I had never been before and it was a-mazing! And when Arty Mama's Boy spilled his massive glass of squash all over the rustic wooden floor?? They didn't even flinch. We will return!

My Boy and his adventure-loving Nana. She is 65 next summer and had just taken him on a 3 hour bike ride, but as soon as he asked to head to the park she jumped straight back up and carried on. She worships the ground he walks on...which isn't always a good thing (when he's playing up, for example!) But he is so so lucky to have her.

Arty Mama's Boy had requested a donkey ride (which was then used as effective bribery during lunch and a quick shopping trip) and the whole time we were in the queue, Toddler said 'no, errrr no, no thank you, no donkey, no me donkey, no thank you'...As soon as the lady called them forward he skipped up, chose a donkey and was gone. I hear he looked quite the pro but I was too busy wiping my eyes and sneezing after getting close enough to take this one picture. A-choo!

It was a really happy 36 hours. AND we managed to get our heads together to book the huge cottage we need for two big family birthdays next summer. Devon, here we come!

Shall leave you with this nugget of wisdom that I found on Pinterest whilst wearing a Breton top and sitting next to my two stripe-clad children!!

Have a lovely Thursday xx

15 August 2016

Overnight Trip to Liverpool

My little sister lives in Liverpool. She moved there almost immediately after my Dad passed away and for a while she and I would visit each other in turn (it's a 90min trip). Once Boy started school, however, it became infinitely harder for me to squeeze in a visit up north, so she's been doing the majority of the travelling...and boy, have we heard the moans! 

Since we have 8.5 weeks of summer to fill, and since I was clearly too slow to think of a valid excuse last time she asked me to go up and stay overnight, that's where we found ourselves last week. Husband stayed at home to look after Dog (and go to work, I suppose?!) so straight after breakfast the boys and I threw our bags in the car and hit the road, full of excitement.

Only problem is, Auntie's house is rather small and Auntie is rather 'particular' about her space. Maybe it's only having one child, who is a quiet little girl, but I think she finds my children quite hard work from the moment they arrive until the moment they leave. I remember feeling a bit precious about our house when we first moved here, like I didn't want anything touched and resented the mess play dates made in our nice, new, TIDY space, but now the boys are both a bit older and mess is unavoidable, I've tried to be a bit more relaxed about it all? Who knows. Anyway, I tried hard to corral the boys as much as possible but they were so excited to be there, it was pretty hard to quash the glee...!

Uncle has a motorbike which, of course, is the holy grail to these vehicle-daft boys, so this is where they spent their time when he got back from work. I love how Toddler is sitting on the fuel tank because it's the only way he could reach the handlebars!!

After a busy day playing in the garden we fed them all huge bowls of chilli and headed up to bed. Due to space restrictions, I decided to be all gung ho and throw the children in the same room all together. Auntie was quite reluctant since Niece apparently can't sleep if there's any noise in her room AT ALL but we had no other choice, so in they went and we shut the door. The boys are used to sharing a room (albeit not a bed!) so they played around in whispers for 45 minutes or so, but they soon konked out for the night. And Niece? The one who can't settle with noise? She was the first to fall asleep and the last to wake the next morning!! (That's the last bloody time I get made to turn down the TV volume when she goes to bed at our house!)

I was worried these two would wake mega-early with no black-our blinds but luckily that wasn't the case. When they tiptoed into me at 6.45am we snuck downstairs and had a cheeky hot chocolate on the sofa watching Hey Duggee until Niece woke up and came down for breakfast.

As a really naughty treat, Auntie had booked tickets to see Finding Dory at 10am. It was Toddler and Niece's first ever cinema visit and they managed nearly the whole film before starting to wiggle!

And then we just had time for lunch and a quick play before jumping back on the M6 and getting home to Dog. Niece is small for her age and very much not used to rough and tumble boys, but on the whole they play really well together. I find it so hard, Auntie is always reminding them that Niece is a girl and as such needs to be protected and treated gently...and I just want the boys to treat her as an equal. The kid can hold her own but is prone to 'playing up' for a reaction from her mother...it worries me a bit, she'll be an absolute terror when she's a teenager if my sister carries on!

And quick as a flash, we were home again. Laundry to do, Lego to build, a Dog to walk, dinner to make...home comforts. It's nice to go away and visit people, but there's nothing quite like being back at the ranch!

Weston Park with bikes tomorrow followed by a PJ day. Boy wants to spend a whole day in his pyjamas so that's what we're gonna do. Let's see how long I last, my money's on midday!

12 August 2016

Summer Holidays Part 486...

...I jest. I bloody love the summer holidays. I love any holiday and weekend with my children. There are hard work and sometimes I hide in the kitchen cupboards eating Jaffa Cakes in silence but I'd still rather have them here with me than at school!! Someone asked me AGAIN about Toddler starting nursery in September and I almost burned their brain out of their skull with my laser eyes. I mean, seriously?

Anyhoo, we've been busy little bees. Here's a peak...

Random yoga practise. On hardwood floors. As you do...

We take those household rules and just smash 'em in the holidays. No TV at mealtimes? 
Screw you, rules!!

Whenever Goddaughter comes over for a play, people are naked within minutes. If this continues when they're older we're going to need to have serious family meetings...

Waiting for my Daddy. The house has been so noisy today!!

Sent this to a girlfriend, just thought you might enjoy it!!

The longer I have Toddler, the more I fear for his teenage years. Diving off furniture? Temper tantrums about chocolate milk? Passing out on the floor? I'm not strong enough for this shit...

And Aslan came to visit!! Bouffant Boy hair after a swim (during which he almost drowned but, hey ho, he's fine, let's not dwell)

I should have Liverpool photos to share on Monday, I shall try to remember. It's that or details about my smear test and I'm not really sure we're ready for that level of sharing?!

Happy Friday, friends. It's all plain-sailing now... xx

10 August 2016

NCT babies turn 5!!

We're off to Liverpool for an overnight visit this week so here's a scheduled post about our fun day last weekend...

When I was pregnant with our first crazy-ass blond, we signed up for the NCT classes held in a village not far away. Husband was reluctant, I was full of the energetic joy of someone who had recently given up work to dedicate her life to the new life forming inside of her, who had done all the shopping by week 28 and who was possibly now a little bit bored / looking for stuff to fill the hours... you know how it goes.

I know NCT has its supporters and Lord knows it has its critics, this isn't one of these posts (although I will say our teacher in particular was great, she covered all birth options, wasn't derogatory about c-sections or bottle-feeding...we were all quite happy as I remember it, but it was 5 years and 2 children ago..?) This post is about the friendships we made as we sat in that small room.

Our group had 7 couples and contained a wide range of backgrounds, professions, opinions...

I remember sitting next to Lawyer Mama one evening as she spoke so confidently about her plans for her birth and thinking 'What on earth are you doing here? You are a kid. You haven't thought this through AT ALL...' I went home feeling totally panicked and out of my depth. I remember thinking Vet Mama was the most glamorous pregnant person I had ever clapped eyes on and instantly hated my skinny jeans and Converse! All those initial panics aside however, we spent the majority of our maternity leave texting each other and meeting up for coffee and it was invaluable having those Mamas at the end of the phone when I needed them the most (isn't THAT a lesson in not judging people in the first 10 seconds?!)

One by one, they all trickled back to work and when I was the only one left at home with Boy (then Baby!), I suggested we meet up once a month. Life gets so busy that I didn't want our little group to float apart...and as luck would have it, we've managed it for 5 whole years!!

We decided early on that we should celebrate the babies' birthdays all together, on one day in the summer, and do a Secret Santa approach to presents to cut down the costs. Last Saturday five of the families met up at Dudmaston Hall near Bridgnorth to celebrate our first babies turning 5, here are some pics...

It was an amazing day. Sunny and warm but not too hot. We all enjoyed a picnic on the lawn, someone got a bloody nose, someone else got told off for pushing on the adventure playground...a typical day out with 10 children!! 

On a mission to find ice-cream.

Doing whatever it takes to make it round the walk ;-)

NCT babies on a trek through the woods!!

Two big kids and three little siblings looking at the trail sign.

It was such a fun day, really relaxed and enjoyable. We all said, as we say every time, it's incredible really how they all play so nicely together whenever we're together. People have moved away, people are busy with work and family, so some of us only get to see each other twice a year but within ten minutes they were all running around like old friends...which I suppose they are!

Husband and I feel really lucky to know each and every single person we spent the day with, we have literally watched these babies grow. I am fiercely loyal about the group and will continue to organise playdates and parties for as long as I can, there's something quite unique about a group of parents who experienced their first child together? Maybe inexperience binds us, ha ha!! There are a lot of things I would change if I could go back to my first pregnancy, but signing up for NCT classes is one thing I'd definitely do again.