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31.12.12

What Goes Up Must Come Down

Yesterday we decided to take our tree down. Normally it's down on Boxing Day or the 28th so this is late for us.
We had become quite attached to our tree this year. We bought a real one due to our artificial one only lasting 2/3 years! Buying the tree the first weekend in December we expected it to wilt and drop its needles and just look completely sorry for itself come Christmas Day but after admiring it one more time before we stripped it bear we both commented on how it had kept its shape and barely shed any needles.
He was prickly, and earned himself the name Mr Prickles (polite name) or Prickly Bast*rd (impolite name).

Yesterday we saw my sister in law and her husband and it was the last day of exchanging gifts. Had they not been coming round we may have taken the tree down sooner.
None of us were feeling particularly Christmassy anymore and Charles was getting confused. Added to this was my temptation to go out and buy yet more decorations for it!
The tree replaced our coffee table, which was temporarily living in the already cramped playroom and constantly a climbing frame for the boys, not ideal at all!

Charles was sad when we said we needed to take the decorations down so we suggested that maybe he could help, which he was really excited about.
As he took the decorations down he said "oh! Christmas is ruined now".
Now before you think I'm a cruel mummy he clearly didn't mean it and didn't really know what he was saying. We burst out laughing as it was so cute and funny.

It was really sad to see our lounge without the tree and I felt as though we had only had it up for 2 weeks. Christmas seemed to go so fast!

We have promised Charles that next year we will go to the farm and pick a new tree and that he can help us.

We're now getting used to what seems like a bigger lounge (which is odd!) And pleasantly surprised at the lack of new bulky toys the boys have. We chose carefully this year, as did most other people (following instructions), as we neither have the room or need for lots of plastic piling up.

Mr Prickles is currently laying down in the garden awaiting his fate as he will most likely be heading to the tip tomorrow.

I am going to miss that Prickly Bast*rd.

Goals For 2013

Last year, on this date, I posted my goals for 2012. Looking back over that list I was really pleased with how I did.
I find that "resolutions" always seem to carry a lot of pressure, and I've just always felt are quite throw away and not very serious.
Goals, aspirations, ambitions, targets, objectives, whatever you choose to call them, are now going to play a big part in my life at the start of a new year. Sometimes life can become to routine, too similar and it can become quite frustrating. I rarely get time to be me, to switch off from being mummy, even as I write this, at 10:30 on Wednesday, my shoulders are tense and my ears pricked up waiting for Harry to wake up.
My craft projects, which I completed last year gave me a release. I was Lauren as I pinned the cushion together, as I sewed the binding onto the binding, and as I cut out every 2p sized circle of felt for our Christmas trees.
As I attempted to make sausage rolls, mince pies and Salmon quiche I was excited at the end result, achieving something I had always wanted to, even though it's only food and not a make or break promotion with a big company.
I digress.
So, 2013 will involve simple yet achievable goals.

For years, since I have attempted and failed at a photo a day project.
I'm not giving up in my quest to one day succeed with this task. So for 2013 I will try once more BUT I won't put pressure on myself to upload everyday, or set up another blog. The logical way of doing it seems to be the same way Lucy (Dear Beautiful) runs her project, that being an "Our Week In Photos" style set up. I see this as being a relaxed yet organised and structured way to do the project.
So once again: Complete a 365 Project.

I'd like to keep up with the craft work I have started and  would like to make a lot more, for us and other people. Homemade gifts seem to really be appreciated by our mum's at least so I will make a real effort to make birthday and Christmas gifts. I'd also like to concentrate on decorating and updating our bedroom. I want to do this as much as I can by making things myself with photo items, cushions, wall art and other decorative items.
Keep up with crafts: redecorate bedroom using items made by me and make presents for birthdays and Christmas.

Following on from last year, I would still like to make my own jam and chutney. This may even link well with my second goal of homemade presents. A hamper of jams and chutney made by my own fair hands, what a lovely present that would be.
Make chutney and jams.

To get me out of the house, away from being mummy/wife for just an hour, I would really love to learn a new skill, or at least attempt one. I won't even put pressure on myself to join the college or similar, even a one off workshop would count.
Learn a new skill and/or attend a workshop.

I also want to set myself some short term goals too. Whereas with the others I have all year to do them but with these I am only giving myself until the end of April.

Go for a walk (not including the walk to Preschool) once a week.
Take the boys to the park twice a month (might not sound like much but it's a big step for me as I have a real phobia of the park)

30.12.12

Looking Back at 2012: The Final Three Months

So my series of looking back at 2012 comes to an end with this post, looking back at the last three months.
I was kind of dreading this one as I know we haven't really done much as a family. Charles started preschool, we've been ill, my husband has been working a lot and the weather has been pants. I'm expecting this to be a short, boring and somewhat depressing post. But at the same time, hoping it can give me the encouragement to start 2013 by doing some exciting things, no matter what the weather decides to do.

October:
My obsession with fabric started with my first trip to the fabric shop in town.
I had one of the best days of the year and met up with some bloggers in London. I wrote about meeting Jenny as one of my entries for Flashback Friday.
We stayed at an amazing hotel during our weekend break to London.
I shared our journey to London with a serious of photos, most taken by Charles.
I posted about our trip to a farm back in July after discovering the photos on an SD card.
I called 999 for the first time and the boys got to see a Fire Engine close up.
We discovered the beautiful colours of autumn during a walk to preschool.

November:
I made a Table Top Christmas Tree.
I shared the day Charles had me bursting with pride.
I was interviewed LIVE on SKY NEWS!!
I wrote about stolen moments between me and Charles.

December:
I fell deeper in love with Harry.
Charles showed off his potential as a future radio presenter.
I faced my wimpy fears and went on a Segway course.
Charles sang/sung/sang his own version of Jingle Bells.
We visited the garden centre in an attempt to feel more Christmassy.
We had our yearly Christmas visit to Adnams in Southwold.
We bought a couple of beautiful decorations which we will treasure forever.
We celebrated our 10 year "meeting" anniversary.


Silent Sunday {1}


Silent Sunday

29.12.12

Anniversaries

On the 27th we celebrated the anniversary of when we first met, our first date. We have always said this was the date we got together, although it wasn't until a month or so later that we became "official".
We have always celebrated this date, with a meal out or trip to the cinema.
There seemed to be an attitude of this date not really being significant, or important enough to warrant a celebration. I guess due to the fact that we are married and therefore have our set anniversary every year.
We don t go overboard and exchange cards and gifts. Its simply about recognising the date and acknowledging it, and it's a great excuse for a date night.

This year we got my mum to babysit and booked a table at Prezzo in Aldeburgh. We've been there twice before and loved it.
We had a really delicious meal. I went for a £19.95 deal choosing Calamari to start, the Zilli Meat pizza for main and bread and butter pudding for dessert.
Every part of the meal was amazing. I think it was the best pizza I have ever eaten in fact!
All washed down with 2 glasses of Rose wine and a glass of beautifully chilled Limoncello.

To us it's still a date to celebrate, it's still an anniversary, us being married doesn't make the date we first met any less special.

28.12.12

Looking Back at 2012: Months 7, 8 and 9

Looking back at 2012 I kept feeling like we didn't really do much. There were a few things that stood out in my head but it still felt slightly uneventful...until I looked back on my blog.
I had such a big list of things for these three months that I've had to really cut it back. So maybe this year wasn't so boring afterall!

July
We had a really really lovely weekend due to some last minute plans. Even now, looking back at this post, I can't help but to smile.
Despite windy weather and rain due any minute we went out and took advantage of what felt like our own private beach.
My little baby turned one, and as well as writing about his development and how amazing he is, I also blogged about how we celebrated his birthday.
In addition to my Charles loves post from June I also posted Harry Aged 1 Loves... and my own Lauren Aged 26 Loves...
Despite it supposedly being summer the weather was wet and horrid. We went out anyway and explored a nearby field.
We had a really lovely, albeit wet day at the Heveningham Country Fayre. I love events like this and would really like to go to more next year.
I recieved a lot of support from other mums who sympathesised with my Unnoticed post.I had an unreasonable meltdown about our old travel system, which still makes me feel slightly teary.
And talked big changes in a certain little boys life, Charles' New Adventures.

August:
We discovered one of our most favourite places ever. We loved it so much that I was able to make 3 blog posts out of one days visit!  Castle Acre Castle,  Castle Acre Priory, and another post about Castle Acre Priory.
We enjoyed a few family evenings out at the Stock Car and Banger Car Racing.
The boys really enjoyed a visit to the local Maize Maze for a friends sons birthday. It was so hot so once we got home we cooled down with a water fight and fun in the paddling pool.
I also spent a lot of the month preparing for preschool.
We had two more amazing days out, this place again, and somewhere I didn't particularly expect to enjoy, A Radar Museum.

September:
One of my favourite moments of the Summer was unplanned and last minute. I really felt like I was able to let go and despite being soaking wet and covering my car in sand and wetting the seats it was well worth it.
Charles started preschool.
September is my birthday month and my husband treated me to a beautiful early birthday present.
My birthday this year was full of lots of surprises. It was truely lovely.
We took advantage of the walk home from preschool.
I started to prepare myself for a meet up with some virtual friends.
The boys relationship continued to grow and their special bond really shown through.


Looking Back at 2012 {Flashback Friday}

With this being the last Friday of 2012 myself and Jenny thought it would be good to set the theme of looking back at 2012 for this weeks Flashback Friday.
Of course it's nice to look back at highlights but the lowtimes can also be significant and may have been more important or taken over the majority of 2012, so don't feel that you can't share the lows as well.
I've already started posts looking back at 2012. You can find them here and here, so I thought I would instead go back to a post of mine from December 31st 2011, entitled Goals for 2012.

I said:
I have given myself goals which I feel are a bit more achievable. And more of a challenge I guess.
Here is a look at how I got on:

Complete a Photo a Day Project- FAIL! 
This started with very good intentions but with no laptop/a very unreliable laptop there was no surprise that I would struggle to get my photos uploaded and organised.
I will one day succeed with this.

Cooking: Succeeded.
I'd set myself the challenge to make/bake:
* Pie
* Sausage Rolls
* Mince Pies
* Chutneys and Pickles
* Pate
I made sausage rolls, mince pies (two different kinds following my own recipe each time) and also made quiche which wasn't on the list but was something I had always wanted to do.
After a very successful Christmas dinner, including the most amazing stuffing balls, cooked by only me I think this year was successful.

Homemade Crafts: Succeeded!
My inner Kirstie Allsopp was on fire this year! Towards the end at least. I made bunting for Charles' room, two lots of bunting for Harry's room, Christmas bunting for us, a cushion for Harry (from scratch not following a template) and a stocking for myself, again from scratch not following a template and simply making it up as I went along.
I also made two felt Christmas tree's for our table centrepiece and two fabric wreaths.
We've also made some lovely pieces for the boys bedrooms, and some gifts I was really pleased to give as Christmas presents to our mums. 

Looking back at these goals I'm pleased with what I have achieved. 

This weeks Flashback Friday theme is "Looking Back at 2012"
Share your favourite post from 2012, share your achievements, highs, lows, etc.
Remember a flashback can be from any time whether it be yesterday, last week, last month, last year or yesteryear! It can be a flashback of your own, your children, your partner or your friends. And if you don't want to write a post, then just link up a photo with a date. If you don't have time to write a new post, no problem simply link up a post you have already posted.


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27.12.12

10 Years Ago Today...

*This isn't the day we met. I don't have a photo from around then.

23.12.12

It's Never Too Late...

...to buy new decorations for the tree.
Despite Christmas almost being over we visited the garden centre again today so I could purchase a new bauble for Harry. Yesterday Charles decided to grab Harrys little snowglobe from the tree and pass it to Harry. It was all done innocently of course, he was trying to show Harry how beautiful the snowglobe was but predictably the snowglobe ended up smashed and left a lovely watery glittery mess on our sofa!
I was quite upset as this was Harry's first personal bauble, and my mum bought it for him to celebrate his first Christmas, so I immediately wanted to find a replacement, even if it wasn't going to be identical.
Typically all of the "Harry's" had gone and despite there being other personalised baubles around, none featured his name or even his initial.
I wasn't leaving the garden centre without a replacement of some kind for the smashed bauble and fell in love with an adorable donkey standing on a bauble.
I decided that I would use lead piping I had at home to write Harry's name on the bauble.
Sorted.
I also fell in love with a really cute Reindeer holding on to a glittery W. I am a sucker for anything with our surname initial so had to by it.
Both look very at home on our beautiful tree.


22.12.12

Christmas Isn't Christmas Without.....

There are certain places which are essential to visit around Christmas. Particular garden centres, shopping malls, Santas Grotto, switching on of town or village lights.
For us, a tradition for the past 4 years, is to visit the Adnams store in Southwold.
My husband is a huge fan of their ales and as well as buying a case of Broadside and Spindrift we also buy other pieces so I can create hampers for family members. As a result my dad has become quite the fan of their various chutneys and sauces.
Broadside marmalade becomes a regular visitor to our fridge, mainly at Christmas, and it doesn't last long!

Last year when we visited we took along both boys and my mother in law. We stocked up on the various bottles of beers and ales but beforehand had a bite to eat at the kitchens. It was a cold, drizzly day so I couldn't resist the Stew with Dumplings. And a great choice it was. So great that this year, when I had a "date afternoon" with my husband involving a trip to Southwold and a trip to a farm to buy our Christmas tree, we made sure to visit the kitchens again for lunch and both went for the stew and dumplings.
To be perfectly honest, I was very tempted to order a 2nd bowl!

My husband couldn't give in to temptation and finished his stash of Spindrift before Christmas so another trip was required.
We took the boys with us and with it being quiet in the kitchens, decided to stop and have a hot drink, it was a bit miserable outside after all and we needed warming up.
Charles and my husband went for hot chocolate with mini marshmallows and I went for a Mocha (which was accidently served with mini marshmallows and I was grateful for the accident, it was lovely!). They also have a lovely range of fruit juices and fizzy drinks, and of course the option to have a glass of wine or bottle of beer!
The boys also shared a chocolate biscuit, which I pinched a crumb of, for quality control...obviously.

The staff throughout the Cellar and Kitchens are always welcoming, and helpful. Even the boys are welcome and we've never felt like we shouldn't be in there with them, despite the fact that there is A LOT of stuff about which they could smash.

I always find myself feeling extra Christmassy when we leave there, it almost feels as though it's Christmas Eve.

Our motto is "Christmas isn't Christmas without a visit or three to Adnams".


Christmas and Religion

I've said before that I am open minded about religion.
My nan and aunty are Jehovahs Witnesses, I was Christened when I was a baby as were my boys.
I can comfortably visit church without feeling I don't belong, although not believing may make me hypocritical. The thing is I am interested in the bible, be the stories within it: real or not, I also agree with a lot of (but not all) Christian morals.
I will teach my sons stories from the bible, in fact some we will learn together, as I think whether or not the stories are true, they are simply lovely stories. I think they help common-sense and everyday knowledge and at times am pretty ashamed that I don't know that much about the bible.

Most importantly, and a fact I think the majority of non-believers don't consider, is the fact that without religion we wouldn't have Christmas. (or Easter)
I remember when we were having Charles Christened. It was planned for the beginning of December so Advent was incorporated into the service. We had 2 meetings previous to the Christening, one with the Reverend and one with her husband. During a conversation with her husband he told us of a time when they were walking through a village around Easter time and a Christian book shop had a banner outside promoting Easter celebrations. He told us of a couple who walked past him and his Reverend wife, the man said to his partner "Bloody Christians. They have to make everything about God don't they?!"
Does this not show just how stupid and ignorant we are when it comes to religion.
Easter is a religious celebration.
Christmas is a religious celebration.
Without religion, we would not have these celebrations.

Christmas is NOT about Father Christmas.
Easter is NOT about chocolate and bunnies.

I'm not saying we all need to toast to Baby Jesus, attend Midnight Mass or Christingle and pray before we eat our feast.
But consideration of the true meaning, and no tutting at religious carols our children have learnt at school and no huffing when Songs of Praise comes on with a swift clutch of the remote and a change to the Coronation Street Special whilst mumbling "I'm not watching that rubbish" should be expected and followed through by us all.

In my opinion, you don't have to worship or believe to celebrate Christmas, to sing the lovely carols about Baby Jesus, but you do have to consider the roots of the celebrations. The fact that there are people who are celebrating it for what it really is.
If it wasn't for Christianity we wouldn't have Christmas. That's a fact.

21.12.12

Cranberry Sauce {Flashback Friday}

With just 4 days until Christmas I want to make this weeks Flashback Friday simple.
Last year I made my own Cranberry Sauce, inspired by my Aunty who was slightly ashamed at me buying a jar from the supermarket when it's so easy to make! So I made my own although I posted the recipe three days after Christmas.
So, it seems to make sense to repost the recipe with a few days to still be able to get the ingredients you need to wow Christmas dinner guests with your uber yummy homemade Cranberry sauce.

375g cranberries (I used frozen)
5 tablespoons of Port
175g caster sugar
Zest of one orange
Juice and "bits" of one orange
1 apple, finely chopped with peel (I used Golden Delicious)
4 "glugs" of a fruity dry white wine (I used Echo Falls, California White Wine)

Simply chuck everything other than the white wine into a saucepan and boil until the Cranberries start to pop and burst open. Then turn the heat down and simmer for around 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally so that the Cranberries don't burn against the side of the pain.
Once this is cooked you can serve just like this. After tasting it we liked it (it would've been perfect with a crumble mixture baked on top and then served as a dessert!) but I felt it needed something more.
I took 3/4 of the mixture and placed into the blender and whizzed for around 1-2 minutes. I then added 4 glugs of white wine (add as much as you like depending on how sweet and liquidy you want your mixture to be) then gave another quick blitz and added this mixture into a bowl, along with the mixture left in the saucepan.
You don't have to put the mixture in the blender, you can just stick to the sauce you've made in the saucepan and add the wine to this.
A quick mix together and the sauce was done!
We found the taste was less sharp after we added the wine and less of a fruity dessert taste.

Lovely served with the usual turkey dinner as well as with cheeses and Gammon.

Next week the theme is "Looking Back at 2012"
Share your favourite post from 2012, share your achievements, highs, lows, etc.
Remember a flashback can be from any time whether it be yesterday, last week, last month, last year or yesteryear! It can be a flashback of your own, your children, your partner or your friends. And if you don't want to write a post, then just link up a photo with a date. If you don't have time to write a new post, no problem simply link up a post you have already posted.

 Have a fantastic Christmas.

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20.12.12

Trying To Feel Christmassy

I started my Christmas shopping at the end of October. Being a housewife it's a case of buy presents as soon as you have the money.
Obviously this is good as it means I don't have to run to my husband and ask him nicely for money so I can buy him some presents, but it also means that come December, I have hardly any shopping to do and therefore feel a tiny bit deprived of Christmas spirit.

We all spent the first half of December ill in someway and with my husband working a lot, including weekends, it feels as though we haven't had much time to do anything fun and Christmas related as a family.
We have made cards, gift tags, pictures and a few decorations but I felt we were missing out on things outside of the house.

Yesterday {Wednesday) Charles had his Christmas party at Preschool and Father Christmas visited, due to this we decided to not take him and Harry to a Grotto this year. We want to avoid him seeing too many Father Christmasses so he doesn't ask questions as to why some of them sound or look different, and lets face it, Harry is hardly missing out as he doesn't understand it all yet.

For the last 15 minutes the preschool children sang for the parents, we thought this would be Christmas themed but it wasn't so much as Charles was upset as he thought he would be singing on the stage but instead was just sat on a chair, as a result he decided to not sing at all.
As I drove us all home I thought that this was my opportunity to now do something with the boys which involved Christmas.
I dropped my husband off and simply went to a local garden centre to look at their lights. We were there for around half an hour if not more, even though the display was only small but I was mesmerised by the beautiful decorations, mostly looking at some wondering how Kirsty Allsopp I could recreate it.

I chose to buy the boys a decoration for the tree each. As a special gift just for the sake of it but also to say sorry for hardly putting any effort in this year.
I take comfort in knowing that next year will be the first year Harry will understand about the Father Christmas tradition so it will be my chance to redeem myself.


Harry's.

Charles'.


18.12.12

The Waiting Place


17.12.12

Looking Back At 2012 Months 4, 5 and 6.

In a bid to look back at 2012 positively, and to not focus on the many things that went wrong. I'm having a look back at my blog to select posts which I feel focus on these good things.
Last Friday, as part of Flashback Friday, I looked back at January, February and March.

April:
April was a busy month for me with regards to my blog. I decided, last minute, to take part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge. It was quite tiring and certainly was a challenge but I was very proud to have completed it.
Harry turned 9 months old.
I posted my third Week That Was, including talking briefly about my seven year wedding anniversary.

May:
May involved a lot of posing from Charles mostly.
I shared the perks of having wooden floors.
I also shared a few videos of Harry, one of him being cheeky and saying no in his own way and the other was of him saying Hiya to his "Dadad". I also shared the video from when Charles and Harry first met.
Harry turned 10 months old and started walking.
We went to Silverstone and my husband was lucky enough to take part in a Caterham Experience Day.

June:
In May, we also had a fanatastic day out in Bedford, now annoying the photos are all broken on the post I wrote about our day out, but here is one of my favourite photos from the day.
We had a weekend away at a wedding in Cambridge.
I shared some "Charlesisms."
Harry turned 11 months old.
We celebrated the Queens Jubilee.
Charles turned three years old. I looked back at how he had changed on that date since 2009.
I posted an interview with a three year old, opting for a couple of vlogs rather than typing our answers.
I shared the things we had done to celebrate his birthday, including a seperate post detailing the fun we had at the park.
We had a lovely visit to a church and graveyard (of all places!)
Charles shared his guide to riding a bike.
I shared the things that Charles loves.

Charles Sings Jingle Bells!

It's only fun to ride one horse....wayhey!

14.12.12

A New Beauty Miracle.

Whenever I have a cold my lips tend to suffer. In fact my skin suffers somewhat but my lips are the worst. When I had flu a couple of weeks ago my lips became really dry, cracked and sore and no matter how much lip balm I used they wouldn't get better.
My usual "go-to" product is my Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream and I was surprised that even this wasn't helping.
Because the cracks were quite bad my bottom lip in particular kept bleeding, prompting questions from Charles asking if I was ok.
After trying every single product I had in my house I turned to something else that I found at the bottom of a box whilst searching for some nail varnish.

My Lansinoh cream.
 
This cream is left over from when I first started breastfeeding Harry. It was one of my essential items. I figured that if it's ok to use on cracked nipples, and to not have to wash off, then surely it would be ok for my mouth.

The first time I tried it was last night. I tend to really plaster these types of things on at night (Sudocrem on a spot, 8 hour cream on a dry patch of skin) although my lips were that sore last night that I didn't expect it to work at all.

When I woke up this morning I couldn't believe that my lips were no longer sore.
AT ALL!!


I won't panic next time I feel a cold coming as, hopefully, regular use of this will keep the dry and cracked effect at bay!

This stuff is an absolute miracle. I'm glad I've now found a use for the almost full tube of expensive cream!
Also, it means I can go back to wearing my lipstick.
This is definitely going to become part of a nighttime routine for me.
Clean teeth.
Plaster lips with Lansinoh.

13.12.12

Looking Back at 2012: First Three Months {Flashback Friday}

As we come to the end of 2012 I keep feeling sad and being quite negative, mostly concentrating on what we haven't done this year, this being having a proper family holiday. I keep forgetting about all of the cool things we've actually done together this year.
To end this year on a positive I have been looking back at things we have done, how the boys have grown and developed, big changes that have occured in their lives and fun things we've experienced.

For this weeks Flashback Friday I am looking back at blog posts I feel have been significant in showing positive things that have happened to us. As there are so many I am concentrating on January to March.
You will have to excuse any posts with broken photos, it is a work in progress to fix and delete them at the moment!

January:
Harry turned 6 months old and we started to wean him.
The boys both posted their guides to being brothers. Charles concentrated on the Guide to being a Big Brother and Harry concentrated on the Guide to being a Little Brother.
Charles really started to discover his creative side by creating some lovely sticker art work.
There was an alien in our kitchen, although Charles was the only person who could see it.
Charles and my husband became robots.
We had a late afternoon/early evening walk and watched a beautiful sunset. I am still really proud of the photos I captured that day.
We had a weekend of being very proud parents, this weekend still sticks out in my mind although I didn't realise it was as far back as January!
I shared my favourite photo from January.

February:
We made our very cool Papier-mache Universe.
We had a lovely family day out at Framlingham Castle.
Charles unleashed his creative side once more by making up a couple of lovely stories about dinosaurs, mummies, and spaghetti.
The boys played in the snow together for the first time.

March:
Charles got a taste of what it was like to be a parent.
I thought about the things Harry does to show that he loves me, despite not being able to say it yet.
I took part in the weekly link up "My Week That Was" hosted my Katie at Mummy, Daddy and Me Makes Three. I wish I would have started with this link up from the first week in January and had been able to keep up with it.
We visited Thomasland, The Dino Trail, and stayed at Drayton Manor Hotel. 
We also visited the National Space Centre at Leicester but I didn't get round to blogging about it. I really should because it was a fantastic day.
I celebrated my first Mothers Day since being a mummy to two boys.
We visited Holkham, a beautiful place on the North Norfolk Coast.

Don't worry, I don't expect you to go through all of the links I posted above!

This week there is NO THEME. Remember a flashback can be from any time whether it be yesterday, last week, last month, last year or yesteryear! It can be a flashback of your own, your children, your partner or your friends. And if you don't want to write a post, then just link up a photo with a date. If you don't have time to write a new post, no problem simply link up a post you have already posted.

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Surviving Christmas with HiPP Organic + Win a HiPP Organic Hamper!

Do you want to win a HiPP Organic Hamper worth £50? Of course you do! To be in with the chance just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Please be aware that I will need to have the winners address sent to me within 24 hours of the competition closing for the hamper to be sent out in time for Christmas. If the address isn't sent within 24 hours I will redraw.
Any invalid entries will be deleted. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Christmas Meme

A couple of weeks ago I was tagged in a Christmas Meme. 
The meme was first thought up by Makeup Pixi3.
Q1. What's your favourite thing about Christmas?
Everything. Predictable I know. I love the decorations, sorting out presents, wrapping, food, and now the magic which has returned due to my two gorgeous boys now being involved.

Q2. What's your favourite make up look for the festive season?
I tend to wear thick mascara on a daily basis and will occasionally wear foundation and concealer, and a new favourite of bright red lipstick. Christmas Day is usually treated as if it was a night out (with family of course) and I will wear a little more than usual (eyeshadow, which I used to wear everyday) and will incorporate glitter in some form.

Q3. Real or fake tree?
We had real until the boys came along and then went for a fake one and had nothing but trouble with it. This year we got it down from the loft and it was broken in a number of places, despite only being 2 years old, so we bought a real one and I'm glad we did.

Q4. Giving presents or receiving them?
Honestly, BOTH!! I love giving presents but I also love receiving presents. I think anyone who says they don't is fibbing.

Q5. Do you open your presents Christmas morning or evening?
Morning! I've never understood why people would wait until the evening.

Q6. Handmade Christmas cards or bought?
A mixture. We have bought ones for certain people and the boys (well Charles this year) will make one for certain family members.

Q7. What's your favourite Christmas film?
The Polar Express without a doubt. Last year I watched 'It's a Wonderful Life' for the first time and really enjoyed it too.

Q8. What's your favourite Christmas food?
Boxing Day. Cold meats, pickles, cheese (Stilton come to mama!!), hot bread, pate, olives, Pringles. Oh I can't wait!!



Tractor Ted {Review}

Charles has always been Tractor mad. We live opposite a couple of fields which throughout the year are visited by tractors, combine harvestors and various other farming machinery.
Charles sits at the window for hours to watch, he really is fascinated. I've even been known to pull over on the lanes around here so he can watch Combine Harvesters and tractors working in the fields.
Of course we get the inevitable questions "what is that?" "what does that do?" "why is he doing that?" "where are they going now?", these questions are pretty hard to answer when we know very little about farming too.
We were sent a series of Tractor Ted dvds and books to help teach Charles about farming.
The dvds include:
Tractor Ted Meets More Animals: 
Meet the amazing buffalo with their huge horns, see their calves, how they are fed and milked giving us delicious mozarella cheese. Les is enjoying some in a sandwich, but Fudge the dog has her eyes on it!   Other animals visited are some beautiful alpacas, perky chickens and wild boar. Some great machines as well including the telehandler getting a new set of tyres and the combine that runs into a spot of bother.
Tractor Ted: More Big Machines:
 Tractor Ted has discovered some more big machines - Pea Harvesters. They need washing every day and when they start harvesting peas, they keep working all day and all night. Wonderful Les helps Fudge the dog when she gets stuck in a stable, and we also see some big seed drills and ploughs hard at work.
Tractor Ted Meets the Horses:
Watch how fast they are on the gallops and how  many machines are needed in caring for them.  A wonderful dvd full of fantastic footage including horses swimming and laughter as poor Les loses his tractor keys. A big hit with machine and animal lovers.
The boys particularly liked the Big Machines dvd, Charles loved learning about how the Combine Harvester worked. The dvds cost £9.99 and run for 40 minutes.

We were also sent 3 books including Tractor Ted in WintertimeTractor Ted: All About Tractors, and Tractor Ted: Big Machines.
We really enjoyed going through the books together and loved learning and discovering new things at the same time.
The books cost a very reasonable £4.99 each.
I think it's really important that children know where our food comes from, other than thinking it only comes from the supermarket, so these dvds and books are a fantastic and fun way to educate.

As well as dvds and books, there are various other pieces of Tractor Ted Merchanside available.
Charles was also sent this really lovely Tractor Ted hoodie. I was looking for a hoodie for Charles as a Christmas present but hadn't been able to find one which was exactly what I wanted, it was quite odd that this hoodie was then sent to us as it is exactly what I had been looking for! As you can see by the photo below, he is rather pleased with the hoodie himself!
The umbrellas are a particular favourite of mine, they are really funky.

The Tractor Ted range is a brilliant way to introduce learning to children of any age. I probably would say it was more for boys but only because I don't know any girls who are into tractors and farmyard machinery.
If you get in quick the books, dvds, and other merchandise would make perfect Christmas presents and especially stocking fillers.

We were sent these items for the purpose of this review. All words are honest and my own.

12.12.12

High Lodge Go Ape Segway Experience {Review}

 In the Summer we went to Great Yarmouth to watch their firework display. We met up with my sister in law and her husband. Walking along the seafront we came across a small Segway track. The men went on it and really enjoyed themselves, despite it being a small basic track, and since then they talked about visiting a proper Segway course.
MoneySupermarket supplied us with 4 days out vouchers to go Segwaying at our local Go Ape centre at High Lodge, Thetford. The boys were obviously too young so I invited my sister in law and her husband.

Now, I am a wimp. A real wimp. And would normally turn down such an offer but felt at least I should try.
I can't skate, would never attempt to, and would never ski, ice skate, or even go in a Go Kart. So going on a Segway was a big thing for me, if I even dared to go through with it.

We were booked onto the 1:00 course but due to nightmare parking ended up at the Segway hut 20 minutes late. We were told that there were only enough spaces for three of us to go the next hour, or we could have a refund. Another member of staff came over and said all four of us could go at 3, although the last course was supposed to be at 2 because of the afternoons/evenings getting dark.
We said that it was fine and went for a coffee and a walk.
When we went back to the hut at 3 we were given our helmets, signed some paperwork and then set off for our training.
I was feeling really nervous and almost backed out, thankfully it was only the 4 of us with no other groups so I felt a little more at ease.
I was called first to try out my Segway. I was shaking and said quietly to the instructor that I wasn't sure I could really do it. She was really supportive telling me I didn't have to but at the same time encouraged me to carry on. I was secretly enjoying it from the get go although constantly throughout my mind I imagined what it would be like to fall off, and I was concentrating so hard on not crashing into any of the others.

Going around the test track was really good for confidence and to be able to get used to this two wheeled machine.
At one point we had to line up, facing our instructor whilst she told us the techniques for going up and down bumps and small hills. As my husband, sister in law and her husband managed to remain still, I slowly rolled back, pretending nothing was happening and trying to remain cool. I ended up resting against the fence, again remaining cool and as if it was my intention to be there.
I concluded after this that I just wasn't good at getting my body weight to balance correctly enough to keep the Segway still.

After the 10-15 minute trial it was time to venture into Thetford Forest. The first part of the track we would be driving/riding on was also used by other visitors to High Lodge. Well, I kept imaginging crashing into a group of people or a pushchair, but thankfully we didn't come across anyone at this point.
We then reached the part of the forest dedicated to Segway only. There was 3 courses to go round. A-easy. B-medium. C-Hard.
I started off going round A and yes it was easy but again it was good to gain confidence and to work out how to control the Segway. I then moved onto B which was difficult due to a few bumps and little hills and tight corners, but I made it. I was nervous to attempt C after being told it was the most tricky but I found it really easy and quite a lovely course. My sister in laws husband decided to be a bit too over confident and ended up crashing into a tree.

We were able to have a few go's around each course before we were then taken off deeper into the forest. This part was beautiful. The sun was starting to set and there was a light mist settling on the fields we were riding past. If I was able to take a photo I would have, it was simply stunning.
We stopped halfway and our instructor turned off the speed control meaning we could go faster.
Of course this made me nervous as I was perfectly happy going at 7mph.
At this point she also radioed another member of staff who was to stick with me (yes I was that slow!)

After around a 10-15 minute trip we were back at the main Segway hut and our experience had finished.
I was sad that it was over and had had so much fun, despite being a wimp.
It was a great bonding experience with the four of us and hopefully we'll be able to do it again next year, especially when its warmer as I forgot to take gloves and my hands were frozen by the end of our course.

I was so proud of myself for not giving up and was surprised at how much I had enjoyed it. I'm not saying its easy but its certainly not as difficult as I imagined.

All in all we had a fantastic afternoon and a fantastic Segway Experience and it was nice to realise just because we are parents, family days out don't always have to involve the children.

We were given tickets for the Segway Experience courtesy of MoneySupermarket and Tots100.

Future Radio Presenter

At 3 years old he's already a pro at using a mixing desk and with timing. Daddy is very proud.

Amazon Family {Review}

I was recently asked to review and write about Amazon Family. I am a huge Amazon fan and have used it for years, both to buy from and to encourage others to buy things for me (via my birthday list and Christmas list) so reviewing this new service was right up my street.

Amazon Family is a new membership programme developed to help parents save time and money on their shopping. Something which is music to every parents ears I'm sure!

When signing up to to Amazon Family you are simply asked if you are a mum/dad/family member, if you are expecting a baby, and then the names and ages of your children. You are then asked to include bank details, and your address. 
Make sure you read the Terms and Conditions before you sign up.

Amazon sum up the benefits of the membership programme:

When you sign up you’ll start with a free three-month period* that includes:
  • 20% off Huggies nappies until 28 February 2013
  • £10 off when you spend £50 in our Baby Store
  • FREE One-Day Delivery on millions of items with Amazon Prime**
  • At least £50 worth of exclusive offers every month
  • A further £25 off when you spend £50 in our Baby Store at the end of your free three months, when you upgrade to Amazon Prime for £49/year
I have to be honest in that it took me a while to get my head around the programme, although looking at it, and concentrating, it does look appealing.

On top of the benefits included above, examples of exclusive offers are:
  • 40% off Plum baby food
  • 20% off the first subscription of Huggies nappies
  • 40% off Weleda Baby Skincare range
  • 20% off Grace Cole toiletries
  • 25% off all Lollipop Lane Essential products
  • 25% off Kit for Kids mattresses
  • 20% off Forever Friends baby toiletries
  • 20% off all children’s shoes
  • Buy any Canon SuperZoom DSC and save 50% on a Canon SELPHY Printer
 (deals will be added and updated on an ongoing basis)

I think you really have to look into the programme and decide whether or not it will benefit you. As I said, the deals are appealing but I think it's only worth it if you are definitely going to take advantage of the offers, and if you think there will be offers on a regular basis that will be appropriate for your family.
I think you also have to take the £49 Prime upgrade into account, I personally can't afford to pay £49 if I may not benefit enough from the service.

I can't help but to think that there are lots of fantastic products and bargains sold on Amazon anyway, especially with the Super Saver Delivery option which I always go for.

That said, if I was a working mum, or had my own money then I would sign up to this without a doubt because of the deals available for mums, and for children of course.

We were sent a pack of face paints for the purpose of this review. 
 

11.12.12

The White Company {Review}

There are some websites which you can literally spend hours browsing through. I regularly find myself sitting down in the evening with the laptop planning on getting ahead with blog posts, or in the afternoon when Harry naps, getting my phone out and wanting to catch up with blogs, but instead I find myself online "window" shopping.
There are a few sites I tend to visit, I have a routine of which ones to log on to. One of these is The White Company.
I sit and drool over many of their homewares, dreaming of how they would fit in my house. I'm also lusting after a few of their dresses.

I think it's fair to say that the site has a variety of items to suit certain budgets, ranging from the affordable to the special treat items.

I was sent a box of treats from The White Company.
When the box arrived I was really excited to see what was inside, as was Harry, we were fighting over the box at one point.
We both first spotted the super cute Little Snowy Penguin.
I was able to grab him first and fell instantly in love with him due to how soft he is. We both had a go at cuddling him and then had to take it in turns at giving him a kiss. He now lives under and in the Christmas tree and rather than being lost in the mound of teddies that live in Harry's cot we will only get him out at Christmas.
The Little Snowy Penguin costs £14. He would make a perfect addition to a child's stocking this Christmas or be the perfect gift for any child. 

My next discovery was the Orange Grove Signature Candle.
Due to the very posh packaging I wasn't sure of what was in the box at first (although it is written on the back). Once I opened it I was greeted with the amazing scent of Mandarin, Bergamot and Orange. I'm really into scented candles so this was a lovely treat for me. It is a little on the expensive side, being £20, but I think for a scented candle, in such nice packaging, it is worth it. Especially if bought as a Christmas gift.
I like making hampers for my nan and my mother in law and this would be perfect to include.
When lit the smell is so beautiful and fills the house, although isn't too overbearing, it;s lovely and subtle.

Now quite possibly my favourite of the four treats I was sent is this beautiful tree decoration. The Glass Beaded Star Decoration is amazing, I had to hide it from Harry and whilst he was distracted I placed it right at the front of the tree. The detail of the beads used in the star and also the clear beads and silver links instead of string or ribbon make this really stand out on the tree. It looks beautiful in the daytime when the lights are off, and at night time when the lights are on.
I expected this to be quite expensive due to how beautiful it is, the amount of beads and at how well made it is. I was really surprised when I visited the website and saw that it is only £4. At seeing the price I immediately wanted to buy more, unfortunately, although not unsurprising, they are sold out now but it's well worth checking out the other Christmas Decorations on the White Company website.
Next year I will plan better and buy decorations earlier as there is so many to choose from on the site.

Lastly I was sent some White Lavender Hand and Nail Cream. 
Having recently grown my nails again I'm really wanting to take care of my nails and keep them looking nice. Also with my new hobby of sewing I am starting to want to take care of my hands a lot more, that may sound silly but before I never really bothered too much with moisturising them or "pampering" them at all.
Also I think it's important to look after hands at this time of year with the cold weather. My husbands hands really dry out so I'm aware to look after mine so I don't go through the same cracked, dry agony he does.
The White Lavender hand and nail cream is lovely. The Lavender scent isn't too overpowering, which I find lavender can be sometimes. In fact it was lovely because it reminded me of some products I used to help me relax when I was pregnant with Charles.
The bottle is 250ml and I really think it will last a long time, especially as one pump of cream goes a long way so you don't have to use too much at a time.
Again this would be perfect as part of a hamper at Christmas, or you could create a hamper of White Lavender products as there are a lot in the range.

If you are still looking for presents for friends, family or even a special treat for yourself I urge you to head over to The White Company, I guarantee you'll be spoilt for choice.

I was sent these products for the purpose of this review. All words are honest and my own.

My Favourite Christmas Song(s)

You switch the radio on in November and the Christmas songs have started. Personally I don't mind, there are so many fantastic songs that it's a real shame that they are only played once a year. I also love the fact that most of the songs never grow tiring. Some of them I do get a bit fed up of but then there is the relief in knowing that it will all be over within a month!
There are a few songs which I think are over-rated. And I get extremely annoyed at tacky "singers" covering, and ruining, Christmas classics....TOWIE I'm talking to you.

My favourite song is hardly ever played. I have to search the music channels on tv for ages to be able to get a chance to see it. I fell in love with it in 2009. I'm not sure why it all of a sudden jumped out at me, after all it has been around for ages, but it's my ultimate favourite. I start crying and have goosebumps as soon as the first piano notes are played.

I can't believe it is hardly played! It's a classic and so so so beautiful.


Although I have to confess, this is closely followed by another favourite song of mine which couldn't be more different.


9.12.12

8.12.12

There's This Boy...

There's this boy, blonde hair, blue eyes, cute turned up nose and pouty lips. I first met him 17 months and 3 days ago.
He stole a part of my heart that I didn't even know was there for the taking. I thought another boy had all of it, and that it wasn't big enough for another to come along and have a piece too.

I adore this boy. Everything about him. Just thinking of him makes me go a little silly and gives me butterflies.

But part of me feels sad. Sad for this boy. Sad because the first few months he was in my life are now a blur. Everything felt so crazy and there was so much going on. Although he completed our family and was able to slot in perfectly, I had this feeling the whole time that he wasn't meant to be.
I still get that feeling, like he's going to be taken away from me.
I can't do anything to bring those days back. If I could I would. I would embrace them and soak them in.
I would do a better job.

Sometimes I feel sad for this boy because I compare him a lot to his older brother.
I know it's a natural thing to do but he's his own person, and I shouldn't do it.
I constantly worry about his speech. He says a few things, but his brother was saying a lot more when he was his age.
I blame myself for that, because I forget I need to teach him, and I don't have as much time as I did with his brother.
Yet this boy has the best ROAR you've ever heard. And says "tickle tickle" in the cutest way.

He's happy, he smiles a lot (although he also has one of the loudest screams ever) and is very sociable.
He is also the best dancer I have ever seen. He will dance to anything, even the sound of the sewing machine. He has the most fantastic rhythm and knows how to move every part of his body.
At the same time, he's a real mummies boy and would happily spend all day using me as a dummy and a drink if he could.

There's this boy who makes me so happy just by looking at me. Just by giving me a simple cuddle sometimes whilst he's in the middle of playing tells me he loves me and that he still needs me, and hasn't forgotten about me.

Sometimes he looks at me, or does something which makes him sound or look identical to his brother and I just melt. I realise how lucky I am to have these two people in my life.
Two the same, yet two so different.

There's this boy who has made my biggest boy so happy. He screams in delight and excitement when we collect his bigger brother from preschool. They sometimes cuddle and end up in a heap on the preschool floor, laughing.
He searches for his brother as soon as he wakes up in the morning.
They are best friends, and make each other so happy.

There's this boy who I don't talk about enough, and I don't create special time for. But I will change that.
I'm making a promise to this boy that I will change and make and effort to do proper things in the afternoon. Like swimming, walks and dare I say it, go to the park.

There's this boy who means the world to me. And although this may come across like he is my favourite, he isn't, I love both of my boys equally, but I feel I have a lot of making up to do.

There's this boy.
Called Harry.
And he is amazing.

7.12.12

Easy Mince Pie Rolls {Recipe}

A few years ago I embarked on the challenge to be the perfect Christmas housewife and decided I had to make homemade mince pies.
I didn't really eat mince pies before, well I did but they had to be hot with lots of extra thick cream. But I'd seen a recipe from Kirstie Allsopp and as she is one of my idols I had to give it a go.

I failed.
Miserably.
The pastry didn't cook well and it all ended up a big soggy yukky mess.
And so I gave up.

Then this year I decided I couldn't let pastry get the better of me, and successfully made Sausage Rolls.
Well, I thought, if I can make sausage rolls then I can make mince pies.
And two days ago as the ingredients were dropped off by my jolly Sainsburys driver I set about completing my perfect Christmas housewife challenge.

You need:
Puff Pastry (I used a block)
Flour for sprinkling
Egg wash
Mincemeat

I decided to keep it simple and basically wanted to follow the same process as the sausage rolls.
Rather than the sheets of pastry I had a block of puff pastry (this wasn't what I ordered but this is what Sainsburys had substituted me with) so I first cut it in half, put some flour on my work top and rolled the pastry into a rectangle.
I then spooned mincemeat along the top of the pastry (leaving a cm gap from the edge to make it easy to roll) and then rolled the pastry up, leaving an inch at the bottom of the rectangle, brush on some egg and then fold and press so that the pastry sticks together.
Flatten the roll slightly and brush along the top with egg wash. I used a fork to do this and scored the pastry slightly.
Once this is done then slice the roll into portions. I got around 6 pieces from the roll. Then put the mince pie rolls onto a baking tray (I lined my tray with greaseproof paper which worked really well)
Place in a preheated oven (200 degrees) for around 20-25 minutes.

Serve hot or leave to cool.

With the other pastry I decided to experiment and made squares, in one corner put a couple of teaspoons of mincemeat and then folded the other corner over, almost like an apple turnover/Samosa. These were obviously equally as yummy, and probably a little easier to eat as they were easy to hold and didn't have as much of the mincemeat pouring out.

Christmas Housewife Challenge: PASSED


Children's Fancy Dress {Review}

One thing I've always looked forward to is the boys having their first fancy dress outfit, even more so, their first Christmas fancy dress outfit.

Jokers' Masquerade sell a wide range of fancy dress costumes, perfect for a New Years Themed Party, Halloween, masks, wigs, accessories, and Christmas outfits.

Charles was sent a Children's Reindeer Costume which I couldn't wait to dress him in.
He dresses up a lot at preschool so I knew he would be excited to have his very own costume at home.

As soon as he got home from preschool, (the costume was delivered whilst he was there) he ripped the bag open and very quickly put the outfit on. I was worried it may not fit, and really drown him, and although it was slightly too big it didn't matter as the elasticated legs and arms kept everything in place.
Charles said the costume was really comfortable, and wasn't too hot. He loved wearing it and insisted on having his face painted like a Reindeer whilst wearing the costume.
The little tail on the back may be my favourite thing about this outfit, it's so cute!
I think this outfit will definitely be worn a lot in the run up to Christmas, and beyond, and due to the generous sizing Charles will be able to wear it next year and then be able to pass it on to his brother!
It feels well made and very good quality.
 
Charles' Reindeer costume costs £14.99 and is available in sizes Small and Medium. Perfect for Christmas Parties, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or simply, just as an addition to the dressing up box!

We were sent the Childrens Reindeer Costume for the purpose of this review. All words are honest and my own.

6.12.12

The Completed Family {Flashback Friday}

We had this family shoot taken a year ago now, just so we had at least one photo of the four of us. I said to Shellie, the photographer, that I didn't mind if there was only one photo which was useable at the end of the shoot.
Charles was restless and Harry was quite grumpy all the way through but we got a few photos of the four of us so I did go away happy.


This week there is NO THEME. Remember a flashback can be from any time whether it be yesterday, last week, last month, last year or yesteryear! It can be a flashback of your own, your children, your partner or your friends. And if you don't want to write a post, then just link up a photo with a date. If you don't have time to write a new post, no problem simply link up a post you have already posted.

laurensflashbackbadge1

5.12.12

Wonderworld Mini Tower Crane {Review}

Charles is into everything "boy". Cars, trains, buses, planes, boats, everything.
Living on the coast and in a fishing town means there are always cranes around somewhere. Every time we go to the supermarket, which is by the docks, we stand and watch the cranes before and after we shop. He has recently become obsessed by them, the colour, size, what they are carrying. It's very sweet.
Therefore, when DKL Toys (you can follow them on Twitter here) sent him a Wonderworld Mini Tower Crane you can imagine his reaction (in fact I wish I'd recorded it!)

Made from environmentally friendly rubberwood and finished with non-toxic water based paints, it's a refreshing change from the plastic creations which seem to be taking over our playroom at the moment.

Taking the Mini Tower Crane out of the box I was impressed at how few pieces there were to put together, although there was a couple of screws needing to go in but nothing too strenuous.
It was easy to put together and in no time our lounge had turned into the docks.
Even Harry couldn't resist having a go on the crane.

Once built it is really sturdy, which is to be expected from a wooden toy. Occassionally the top of the crane is coming apart but with a simple tap of a hammer its fixed and is perfect again.

Charles loves it so much that it's one of the toys which has to go to bed with him at night.
If we weren't sent this for review then it would have been very high on his Christmas list.
 
 

 
We were sent the Wonderworld Mini Tower Crane for the purpose of this review. All words are honest and my own.