Motivational Monday #11

This is quote I've always loved, because it is so true.
It's the same as when we ask for someones opinion, we have one thing, deep down, that we would prefer people to choose.
It might not seem Motivational, as it's just a quote. But I think if we followed this, each time we have a dilemma or a choice, or anything we are stuck on, then it may help us to come to a decision easier.



The Ordinary Moments #6

Selfies. Only taken by those who are vain. Right? I don't love myself, in fact there is a hell of a lot that I dislike about myself, but when my 4 year old boy, who thinks I am perfect, asks to have his photo taken with me and to "change the colour" and then "press the green button" (upload a photo to Instagram) then who am I to say no?
I may look at these photos at first and think 'oh gosh I look awful' 'I'm this....' 'I'm that....' but then I look at them a while later, maybe a week or a month or more, and I remember where we were, what we were doing. It's almost like I am back there again, and what I look like doesn't really matter.
Our first selfie together on my new phone. In the back garden, sat in the suntent. He sat on my lap, we smiled, I pressed the button and then.....he popped on my leg. The reason for his cheeky giggly face and my shocked laugh. It was so funny.

"Pose for one and then we'll go in" I said. He really did follow instructions properly. Lovely little catalogue pose right there.
These were from our cinema trip last Sunday. I love, love, love how he places his arm across my chest and clutches my face in his hand. He is so adorable. So protective. And so proud of me. As I am of him.

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Some Things I Love #12

I've been researching hotels for Cybher, yes already, I have a complete and utter paranoia when it comes to hotels so tend to look for holidays and hotel breaks ages in advance so I can keep up to date with reviews over time. 
I've seen some really amazing ones, I think I need to do a lot of saving for next year.
Last Sunday I had a little date with Charles. We went to the cinema to see Planes, which we've been trying to arrange for a while. We met his best friend from preschool there which was lovely. They are so silly together. The film wasn't as good as I'd hoped. It wasn't awful, but was just too similar to Cars for me.
We turned up really early to avoid a few traffic problems (although it was fine) and to get a parking space without having to use the Pay and Display.
Charles is a little obsessed with my phone and with Instagram. He likes us to take photos together and then likes to "change the colour".
This is one of them:
Oh his little hand protectively on my face makes me want to cry the happiest tears.
And this is one of him posing before we went in.

Because we are so incredibly cool we both wore Converse and Jeans to the cinema. Charles wore his Joules top and I wore my lovely green floral Joules scarf. We call this my "happy scarf" as green is Charles' favourite colour and he helped me pick the scarf a couple of months ago.
I also wore my new knitted cardigan which I love! Although it was quite warm this day so I did end up regretting it.

I absolutely love this song but I keep forgetting what it's called or who it is by but today I finally remembered. I think the guy singing sounds so much like Daniel Bedingfield.

My car. Seriously, I think I would be so lost without it. I see mums walking to and from the school run and just feel so grateful for my car. There is no way I could walk there twice a day, especially in rain, or equally when it is really hot. I love that I can get to school in loads of time, right on time, or leaving it until the last minute. Whereas if we walked it would have to be on a strict routine.

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My Two Mums Q&A Meme

Two of my best blogging friends Kirsty and Clara from My Two Mums posted their first Vlog on Saturday. If you haven't seen it you MUST go and watch it, right now. It's so funny.And whilst you're at it, go and Subscribe to their YouTube channel because they have some other vlogs on there, and some amazing ones planned!
They've opened up the vlog as a meme, and I'll be joining in with my blog (although if you want to do a vlog that's ok too!)

Here are the questions:
  1. If you are in a relationship – How did you Meet?
  2. What is you favourite memory?
  3. If you are in a relationship – Was it love at first sight?
  4. What is your favourite time of day?
  5. What bit of advice would you give your 16 year old self?
  6. What is your favourite photo and why?
  7. What has been your favourite holiday?
Here are my answers:
  1.  Short story: My husband works on the radio and I was on the stations website (the station he worked at in 2002) and saw they had a webcam in the studio. I emailed the studio asking him to smile, he did and then he said hi to me on the radio. A few days later I thought I saw him in the supermarket so emailed him to ask. He said no it wasn't him but we continued emailing and then he asked me if I wanted to go to the cinema. On 27th of December 2002 we met. You can read the long story here.
  2. I have so many favourite memories this was TOUGH. But I think I will choose the day Charles and Harry first met. I tried to add the video on here but it sent blogger into complete meltdown but you can see the video right here.
  3. I'm not sure. As I opened the door I felt something click which was a really odd feeling, one that I'll never forget.
  4. I have two. One is when I collect Charles from school and the second is when the boys go to bed, we've had our dinner and I'm able to lay on the sofa and blog. But then also, when Charles gets into bed with me for a cuddle in the morning is lovely, and then I also like when he is in bed at night and I sneak up for a cuddle and a chat.
  5. Don't waste time running after your dad.
  6. This is really tough, there are some of the boys together when Harry was newborn but I can't find them, so I'll go for this one of me and Charles. This was at my sister-in-laws wedding. Charles was supposed to walk down the aisle but was really tired so cried most of the time and ended up sitting with my husband until I walked down and joined them. He wanted milk (I was still breastfeeding him) but made do with a cuddle and fell asleep. He snored and people a few rows back could hear him. He would take toy cars everywhere with him, they were his comfort blanket, and his teddy alternative, and I love that he is clinging on to one here. The other important thing, something you can't see, is that I have a little tiny Harry in my tummy. I think I was around 7 or 8 weeks pregnant, I can't quite remember but we hadn't announced it at this point. I had my hair done professionally and loved it.
  7. I've had a lot of amazing holidays. I'll go for the Centre Parcs one we've just been on as it was our first proper holiday as a family of 4.

 Fancy joining in? Do it, head over to My Two Mums and add your link in their comments.


Affinity Pond Pillar {Review}

At the beginning of August we were very lucky and were sent a pond to review from Swell UK. Typically the rain arrived, along with the pond, so it was a while until we were able to put it together, and then we had our holiday, and then Charles started school...argh...but now I am delighted to be able to share our new garden accessory.

The pond we were sent was the Blagdon Affinity Pond Pillar.
It is perfect for people, like us, who want a pond but don't have the space to dig up to dedicate to a pond, or maybe want something a little different.
I had a go at building the pond whilst my husband was at work. I think the true test of something that needs to be build is if the weak wife can do it (ie me) and I was able to get the majority of it done (Who knew that fitting screws was such a big job?! My bingo wings certainly had a good work out!)
The pond came with easy to follow instructions and was as simple as fixing the 4 sides together and then inserting and fixing the pond liner in place.
I didn't really get involved much with putting the pump and pipes together, I was trying to keep a grabby Harry away at this point, but my husband said it was "pretty simple" and I know it didn't take him too long at all.
As well as the pump and filter the pond includes a waterfall. This is a really lovely feature, although we turn the waterfall off early evening as it is quite noisy.

The pond has circular viewing panels on three sides, which makes it perfect to watch any fish you may have, or to look at the plants you may put in there.

We planned to buy some fish once we got back from holiday but Charles' school life took over and we are now considering holding off until next year but will be adding plants really soon.
I will write some update posts when we have established plants in the pond and also when we have some fish.

I think this is a great way to add a water feature to the garden, and to be able to have a pond without having to lose any lawn space or patio space. The Pond Pillar fits perfectly into a space just near our conservatory, in fact we had various places around the garden we could have placed it due to it's compact size.
It's easy to build, easy to clean, robust and 
At £144.99 it's a great addition to any garden. Especially to a garden which, like ours, needs a bit more for the grown ups to appreciate due to being taken over by children's toys.

We were sent the Affinity Pond Pillar for the purpose of this review.


Why I Snap {Feat Bex: Mummy Adventure}

This week's 'Why I Snap' is courtesy of Bex who blogs at The Mummy Adventure about the adventure that is being a parent to two crazy loveable boys, Dylan and Archie.  

My name is Bex, I am 26 and live down in the South East. The bloke and I were busy planning a travelling trip for August 2011 but ended up spending it in the delivery suite after an unplanned pregnancy but things couldn't have worked out better.  I blog to record our alternative adventure, and to capture the moments that I don't want to forget.  I started blogging in January 2012 when Dylan was around 5 months. 

Why do you like photography? 

Photography allows me to capture all the moments that I don't want to forget - the cheeky smile as Dylan asks for another biscuit, the way Archie attacks everything open mouthed, the days out, the days in and everything else. Photography tells my story.

What do you like taking photos of? 

Mostly my boys, although as they are getting bigger and more mobile this is getting much harder! I live within walking distance of some beautiful beaches too and I love taking pictures of the sea and some of the stunning sunsets we have.

Do you have a particular style? 

Not really, I got into photograpy because of my blog and I think I am still finding my style. I am looking to invest in a DSLR over the next few weeks and hopefully I will find my groove then. I love taking pictures of the boys when they are not paying attention though, capturing them engrossed in what they are doing and completely natural.

When did you first get into photography? 

I went travelling back in 2009 and took around 3,000 photos over the 7 months I was away. I have some amazing photos from the awesome sights and I just wanted to capture every single thing to show my family and friends when I got home. When I had my first baby though, the obsession really began and I don't think my camera has been far from my hand ever since!

What kind of photos do you like looking at? 

I love all sorts and get inspired by most good photos. There is a local photographer who goes round the beaches here all through the year taking some amazing scenery shots. I really love newborn photography too, not only because it makes me broody. I don't think there is anything more perfect than a teeny tiny baby and I love looking at the creative ways people photograph them. Anne Geddes shots are beautiful.

What are your three favourite photographs you have ever taken? 

1: This photo was taken at a local beach when we were on a family day out and I love the natural lighting and setting. It captures my curious, explorative toddler perfectly. 
He ruined his shoes going in and out of the rock pools and puddles but he seemed so in awe of everything that I just enjoyed watching (and photographing him)

2: I took this photo when I was travelling in South Africa - It was my first stop on a huge trip. I was half way up climbing a mountain when I decided to take a break for lunch. As I turned a corner, I found this bench and I cannot think of a more perfect picnic spot. The view of Cape Town was stunning, and I think this photo captures that dreamy, surreal and totally amazing feeling that I had at the time as I was starting to realize quite what an experience this travelling was going to be.

3: Although we live right by the sea, this was the first time Dylan really managed to explore the sand This photo was taken on the first warm day and he was so fascinated by it all. I love the expression on his face and I remember the day so well, watching him learn and discover these new sensations.



Exploding with Pride

Three people in my life, three special people, have made me so so proud this past month.

Firstly, Charles.
This boy who went from a baby, to a toddler, to a preschooler, had a 6 week break of being a 4 year old boy, and then....a schoolboy.
He is doing so well and I'm so proud of him. Yesterday we met with his teacher and we left on a high and couldn't wait to get home to say a big well done to our boy
My original concerns and worries about school seem so silly now.

And this boy. Harry.
I think Harry has been the most affected by Charles' start at big boy school. He misses his brother. If we go out he thinks we are going to get him, or going to see him.
But, he is really coming into his own and developing so much. I've expressed my (unnecessary) concerns about his speech before, which really is only brought on because of how early Charles spoke and how well Charles spoke from an early age. Harry has been quite different to this. It's not because he has had his brother to speak for him, it's clearly just part of his development, and mostly because I haven't had that one on one time to dedicate to him to teach him words as easily as I did with his brother.
But, these past 3 weeks he has gained so many new words, is able to have a conversation, even though I may be the only one to understand a lot of what he says. 
And yesterday, he blew my mind when he told me ALL seven days of the week!! He put on a pair of Charles' pants, these pants said Wednesday on them but Harry pointed and said, as clear as anything: TUESDAY. When I said "no they are Wednesday pants" he copied me and said, clearly "wednesday"
Then all day if you asked him what day it was he said TUESDAY.
At bedtime he was unsettled and so I went to talk to him and he told me every day of the week. Once I said well done he said "Tell Charles", so I took him through to Charles so he could tell him. Charles was so pleased and proud of his brother. 
We then had to go downstairs and tell my husband.
This morning Harry was very excited to tell daddy that it is Wednesday.

And lastly, this boy. Well, man.
My wonderful, superstar twin brother COMPLETED the three peaks challenge. It took them around 28 hours, starting on September 10th finishing on September 11th, our birthday.
He had very little training, and I really couldn't be any prouder of him. Just thinking of it brings tears to my eyes and just fills my whole body with this overwhelming emotion.
He climbed Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon to raise money for a charity called One Sight.
OneSight is dedicated to improve vision for the hundreds of million adults and children in need who can not afford basic eye care. Volunteers travel to developing countries around the world to hand-deliver free eye care and recycled eyewear through organized optical clinics. Since 1988, OneSight has provided free vision care and eyewear to more than 6 million people around the world.
I wouldn't even be able to get a quarter of the way up one of them so for him to climb all three is just.....amazing.
I've always been proud of my brother. Growing up I've always been the proudest sister. And now, nothing has changed. I will always be proud of him.
I hardly slept when he was doing the challenge. It wasn't that I was worried about him, but I wanted to be awake with him. I wanted to be awake so that I was supporting him as much as I could be. 
When I got the message from him saying that he had completed it I squealed and burst into tears. 

Dale, you really are amazing and I love you very much.

These are my brothers photos. With this one he added:
I'm not really into traveling. But I'm blown away by how beautiful the country we live in really is, just have to go explore it.



Motivational Monday #10

I really love this little quote. I made this back in July and by total coincidence had it scheduled for this Monday, which seems totally appropriate after the MADS on Friday where I realised something about myself.
I compliment people. A lot.
I have no problem telling someone if I think they look beautiful, pretty, amazing, lovely, stunning.

If we put 'selfies' in Instagram surely part of us hopes for a compliment. Even if just a small part of us.

I've always followed the rule that I won't say anything if it isn't true. I would never be offensive or hurtful. ie/ "No I don't like your hair that colour, it does nothing for your skin tone, it's awful".

I honestly think we don't compliment each other enough. I'm sure there are a few times we look at photos of each other and think "That's a really nice one of X" or "X's hair looks really nice in that one" yet we don't comment.
It's so easy to just give someone a compliment. It doesn't have to be a big compliment. You don't have to tell someone they look amazing, or beautiful, or that the shade of the nail varnish on their toes really compliments their eyes.

It wasn't until I was commenting on how fabulous everyone looked that I actually thought, maybe I'm overdoing it.
I looked at my Twitter timeline (by that I mean things I'd written) and saw lots of 'amazing' and 'stunning' and 'wow' and similar on Instagram. And I thought, as always, that people may think I was sucking up, or being fake. And sent a few private messages to friends to not make myself look so OTT.
But at the same time I wondered why I should think twice about complimenting someone.

When I was in Sixth Form I would compliment people, not all the time, it's not like I only tell people compliments all day, but if I thought A had a nice skirt on I would say, I'd even go as far to say "your bum looks nice in that" because I had that kind of friendship with A.
What actually happened, was a group of immature little girls giggled at the back and decided to call me a lesbian. I was able to rise above it and actually felt really disgusted by their behaviour because not only was it immature, but quite offensive, especially as our Sociology teacher was a lesbian.
Why does giving someone, another woman, a compliment make you gay? Or bi? Or mean you have a girl crush on them?

I'm not ashamed to say that at Britmums I looked at a couple of bloggers and thought "Wow you are really pretty", in fact there were a couple that I spotted, thought were pretty and wanted to know more about so found out who they were so I could follow them on Twitter and find out more about them. Not in a stalker way, but because yes sometimes, looks are important.

I think there are two things to remember when someone gives you a compliment:

1: Say thank you. Whether it's face to face, on Twitter or whatever. Just say thank you. Even if you don't believe the compliment. Just say thank you.

2: You don't have to compliment the person back.

Also, you don't have to comment on the way someone looks, or their appearance, or their handbag. One of my favourite ways to compliment people, well parents I should say, is on the behaviour of their children. Out and about rather than on blogs or on Twitter in this case.
We so often look down our noses, tut or comment on bad behaviour, but don't praise politeness or well behaved children enough.
How about praising parents for having children who look happy? Or children who look like they are having a great time somewhere?
I bet we would all appreciate a bit of reassurance that we are doing a good job, and what better way to feel good than for a complete stranger to compliment you.

I didn't really focus on the gestures part of the quote. But to keep it short and simple. How hard is it to hold a door or a gate open for someone? Or to let someone out of a junction? For goodness sake just say thank you!
Or a simple smile, and a hello. I love walks in the countryside or over at the marshes near our town as you can almost guarantee that if I pass an old man he will still raise his cap as he says hello to me. That I love.
I love the mark of respect, that simple little gesture, that doesn't happen nowadays....yes I know I sound old...

Slightly longer than my usual Motivational Monday posts and a little disorganised but you get the point I'm sure :-)


The Ordinary Moments #5

When we went on holiday I felt as though I really noticed a lot of the little things our children do that I may not normally notice. I picked up on things I may not pick up on. And I soaked in special moments, like hand holding which was our Ordinary Moment from last week.
I feel like I have so many moments from our holiday to include in this lovely link up created by super wonderful, and multi-award winning blogger Katie, from Mummy Daddy Me.

This is one of them.
This may seem a bit of an odd thing to include. It's not a milestone, it's not anything massive, but it's a simple little thing. A little thing that I took notice of, enough notice to take a photo of and something that for some reason has remained a vivid memory from our last day on holiday.

My mum always joked about baby trousers having pockets in them. "Why do babies need pockets? What are they likely to put in pockets?" She has a point really, and I think the moment children notice their pockets is a tiny milestone, the moment they stand there, with their fingers slightly poking inside their pocket almost like a model pose.
Charles quite regularly asks to have things to put in his pockets. I've even been brave enough to ask him to look after my car key, and money or even just a hairband of mine.
I noticed on holiday he would just stand there with a hand in one pocket, or both hands in his pocket quite regularly. I caught this little moment in Bruge, whilst we were in the main square (or a main square) waiting for others to get back from a cash machine.
Apparently he was looking for his mobile phone, which I thought was rather adorable.
And then later, as he was stood on his chair at the restaurant talking to people across the table, Harry slipped his hand in his pocket. It was the first time I'd really noticed him doing it. And before he could spot me I took a photo, because it was too cute not to.
Like Katie says:
The simple things in life are often the sweetest.

It won't be long until my boys are grown up and popping keys, chewing gum, a mobile phone, and money into their pockets. These pockets will be full of the essentials, with the things they need for everyday life. Pockets which were once empty, to fit children who had no need for pockets, no essential items which need to go in them, will be hidden away in the loft, no longer needed. And they will be dressed in trousers with pockets built to be used, built to be filled, built for young men, built for fully grown men. My men.

Oh gosh.
Men. Two of them.
What an odd thought.


Some Things I Love #11

Friday night from 7pm I was glued to my laptop and mobile as I kept up with the MAD Blog Awards. I loved how involved we could be at home and the feeling of almost being at the awards. The excitement oozed out of the computer and I felt very proud to be part of the community.
Instagram was also one of my favourite ways of keeping up with the MADS and I loved looking at everyones outfits.
It would be incredibly rude if I didn't share this as my some thing I watched this week.
It's my super lovely friends, Kirsty and Clara and their first vlog. It took me so long to watch as I kept laughing and having to pause and rewind it. They are so funny and such lovely people, I really wish I lived closer to them.

My new accessories from Dorothy Perkins. I love this scarf so much that I haven't worn it out yet, I'm a bit odd in that I like to keep new things "new" for as long as I can....then I wear them to death.
Zombies and people screaming. My husband is watching a zombie film as I write this and it is incredibly distracting and just plain horrid.

My internet friends. I know I said social media before, but these friends make life a lot more bearable.
Lonely moments are soon forgotten. And they are there for me all the time.
And they are a pretty amazing bunch.
Showing Charles a photo of them at the MADS he turned to me and said "Mummy, your friends are all very lovely", which I think is adorable, and totally true.
After Britmums I feel I've secured some solid friendships and couldn't imagine my life without these women in it.
Photos courtest of Kirsty (thank you) and the Britmums Flickr album.
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