28.1.14

A Bubble of Happiness and Love

Life isn't always easy. The hard times and down moments can consume you and you forget the happy times and highs. The feelings of warmth and the smiles that have stretched from cheek to cheek.

It's easy to be lost in the fog of uneaten lunchboxes, ya's instead of you's, dropped t's, piles of clothes needing to be sorted, a list of housework that you can't ever imagine being ticked off, weight issues, money issues, life issues, mental health issues.
Taking a moment to step back and look at the happiness in your life, and that is surrounding you but may be out of sight due to the fog, however thick it is.

Kirsty and Clara from MyTwoMums have come up with a fantastic linky encouraging us to celebrate the happiness in our lives.

I'm not sure what I would do without these two in my life. Ok sometimes I get stressed, upset or angry but past all that is a big bubble of happiness and love.
They are funny, kind, loving and make life a big adventure.
At the moment they are both learning SO much.
Harry's speech is amazing me. I feel so guilty that at one point last year I wanted to take him to a speech therapist and thought he was behind with his development, only for him to prove me completely wrong. With his little French / Italian accent and finishing his sentences and questions off with a high pitched voice and exaggerated vowels he has us laughing with a lot of what he says. He can recognise letters too and knows H is for Harry, C is for Charles, M is for Mummy, D is for Daddy and N is for Nanny. If he see's these in books or on signs he always points them out and at 2 and a half I think that is BRILLIANT.
Charles is a little sponge at school and comes home with new facts about everything every day. His reading is so amazing. I panicked so much about him starting school as I couldn't see how he would pick up reading words and letters and learning sounds BUT he can do it and I'm just left stunned.
Being a parent is just full of these surprising moments, which is funny because every parent goes through these things every day, our parents went through these things as we learnt to talk and to read and to write but when your child does it, it feels like noone has ever experienced such pride ever in their lives before. No other child has ever achieved what your child has just achieved.
And I love that.
It makes me happy.


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27.1.14

A Photoless Christmas Day

On Christmas Day I didn't take any photos at all, other than a couple of my Naked Palette and a snugly photo on my phone in the evening.
The past few Christmases I spent photographing every little thing, and didn't actually experience the present opening as I should have. Instead I had to relive it all through the screen on my camera, making sure I had captured the ripping of the paper as I wanted. But come on, it's difficult taking a photo of a child furiously ripping apart paper trying to get into this fantastic new box.

After present opening I'm up and down, in and out of the kitchen, and I don't get that time to sit and soak in the Christmas atmosphere, watching the boys explore their new toys.
I love cooking the Christmas dinner and I didn't want to ask my husband or the mums to do it and instead sacrificed camera time to just sit and watch the boys. To watch my husband open his presents too. And it felt good. I don't feel I missed out by not taking any photos, in all honesty I could just use the same photos from last year and no one would know any different.
I did capture the most important time for me when it comes to the boys around Christmas though, and that was the leaving food out for the reindeer. Every year I have taken a photo of Charles on the door step and then under the tree leaving Santas treats.
It was even more special this year because it was Harry's first time joining Charles to take part in the tradition.
In my eyes, these are the only photos I needed. And I have no regrets of leaving my camera untouched on Christmas Day.

  
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26.1.14

Brothers {The Ordinary Moments}

My boys have always had what I would call a typical sibling relationship. They adore each other but sometimes it all gets too much with sharing or getting in each others space and they will fall out.
Overall I think we are really lucky. They adore each other and are best friends.

Whenever Charles is at school and I am taking Harry out in the car he always asks if we are going to get Charles, and gets quite upset when I say "no, not yet".
Both of the boys have just had Scarlet Fever. At this point I saw a big change in their relationship. They seemed to accept that they felt poorly, and that the other one felt the same, and would just go over to each other and have a cuddle, or stroke the other ones back or hair for a while.
Charles was sick a couple of times and as his head was over the toilet Harry gently went and rubbed his back. He hadn't seen me do it, he just knew that was what he should do to help his poorly big brother.

When Charles returned home from school one evening last week he sat on the sofa and was joined by his little brother. I went into the kitchen and came back to find them cuddling up together. Harry was sitting so close to his big brother and had his arm around him.
I could tell that they were both feeling tired and needed comfort and it made me smile that they can give that comfort to each other without the need for fighting over me for it.
They stayed like this for a while. Every now and then giving each other a lovely squeeze and a reassuring look of "I know you are tired and feeling run down too".

Moments like this make the hard work worth it. I can't force them to be best friends, or friends at all, I can't force them to like each other either, but knowing that they care enough for each other to do this without being told to or without being prompted makes my heart swell and fill with pride.
It reminds me that just because they fall out sometimes and fight over the same train, or section of the train track, that they will always love each other and were always each others first true best friend.
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23.1.14

All Too Familiar

Today

Driving a familiar route. Pulling into an all familiar car park, although being able to find a space, which isn't so familiar as it used to be so busy.
Sitting in the car with a familiar feeling in my stomach, in my heart, in my head, creating a tingle in the back of my eyes, and a shake in my hands.
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I lock my car and walk towards the familiar building, walk through the familiar automatic doors and then press the familiar doorbell to be let inside.
I smell the familiar smell inside, a really clean smell. I notice the familiar silence, and just hear the clicking from the buckle on my right boot.
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I inform the lady on reception that I'm there and go and sit on the familiar chairs. I can hear someone talking in one room, and hear footsteps down a corridor, a door buzzer go and someone walks through one of the security door, footsteps again as the person heads across the reception area, scans their security card, and walks through another security door.
Silence.
I can hear someone in a nearby room, I feel uncomfortable at being able to hear them, I'm glad I'm not in there.
I listen for the footsteps and buzzer again, waiting for an unfamiliar face.
I hear it, we say hello, we walk through the familiar door, down a familiar corridor and into an unfamiliar room. I sit in a familiar chair and for an hour talk about familiar things.

Four years of the same thing. Pouring my heart out to different people. To strangers.
I have no problem writing it down. It's easy writing it down. But actually speaking the words, telling people the deeper things, the things I haven't written about, is extremely hard.

I wonder how many times I have to talk about these things. How many more people I'll have to open up to.
How many times will I have to tell people about the odd, extreme images in my head, the thoughts, about my seriously bad luck when it comes to friendships, the fact I am lonely, the fact that my own dad has made me feel worthless and unimportant for 13 years.
The fact that I can't trust anyone, that my self-esteem is so low that I doubt everything about myself.
How many times do I have to talk about the fact that I am sometimes scared to leave the house because I think something awful is going to happen? The fact that I can't bring myself to take my own children to the park, that I believe an animal at the zoo can escape from an enclosure and attack me.
How many times do I have to tell people about my embarrassing overeating? The fact that food makes me feel better, yet at the same time has created this monster that I don't recognise when I look in the mirror.


All too familiar surroundings, all too familiar appointments, all too familiar conversations, all too familiar emotions and feelings.
Alone, and it feels all too familiar.



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22.1.14

Dreaming

When I was younger I'd definitely say I was a dreamer. I would daydream about what life would be like as an adult. What my wedding would be like. What kind of house I would live in, what pets I would have. What kind of job I would have and what kind of holidays I would go on.
I think once I got older and realised what real life is really like, the hard work you have to put into things, money stresses and the fact that life just isn't easy.

I've been thinking a lot about this recently. About the things we dream about and hope for. And I've been wondering whether or not we set ourselves goals and dreams that are too high and unachievable. Is it a good thing to do that? Or a bad thing?
I couldn't actually come up with an answer.
Of course it's good to aim high. To feel an immense sense of achievement if you reach your goal and succeed. But what if you never reach that point? What if you never achieve those things you so desperately hope for and have planned for so long?

I always dreamt about a honeymoon in the sun. Relaxing by a pool, or on a pure white sandy beach. Swimming in clear blue waters, drinking cocktails and champagne. Eating a whole range of different foreign foods. Exploring different cultures and various historical monuments. Nothing too exotic.
We ended up going to Disneyland Paris for 4 nights, which was really lovely. It wasn't the honeymoon I always dreamt of, but it didn't mean the honeymoon wasn't perfect. It was what we could afford at the time, and it was what we wanted to do.
We walked around and planned our children's names, we had sneaky visits to other hotels to plan which one we would visit when we had children.
I started dreaming of the day we would visit with our children.
I'd watch the Disneyland Christmas adverts and dream of visiting with our children. A great way to get into the Christmas spirit.
Last year that dream came true, and it was amazing. The hotel was a fail, a big fail, and oddly enough we left feeling less Christmassy than when we went.
It wasn't the break I had always dreamt of but we made some amazing memories and had a fantastic time.
It made me realise that dreams can come true, they may not be exactly as you plan but then where is the fun in that? Knowing exactly what will happen?
We don't really want life to be scripted do we? Or to work out completely as we plan?
With no surprises, no wonders, no adventures.

Last year we decided to be serious about our dream to buy a boat and that dream is moving ever closer. So far, touch wood, our dream is happening sooner than we thought it would.
Our dreams of sailing the Norfolk Broads, visiting various towns and villages in Norfolk, going on adventures, seeing different wildlife, learning a new skill, doing something as a family, and our dream of sitting on deck drinking Pimms and a Gin and Tonic are within reach.
But we are realistic, we know this is just a dream, and that it may not all become reality. We know we have to work extremely hard to make our dream close to being as perfect as we hope.

In terms of the future I am leaving it up to whoever is in charge of that.
Although there is no harm in dreaming I know not to expect it to come true.
Enjoying now is more important than planning something which may never happen, but there is no harm in dreaming.
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21.1.14

On The Verge

My eyes tingle. A wave of emotion flows through my entire body. I feel uncomfortable.
My face prepares itself for the expressions about to follow.
The corners of my mouth turn down a little, my bottom lip comes out and quivers.
I try to distract myself. I try to think of something different.
I try to wonder why this is about to happen.
I can't stop it in time. I wouldn't have been able to at all.
I'm crying again.

A regular occurance now and something I'm just having to learn to live with. Crying over nothing. Crying over the smallest of things.
Just crying.
Crying because of happiness, crying because of sadness.
Crying because of a thought, crying because of an action, something I've read, something I've seen.
Something I've wanted, something I have, something I've lost.
Just crying.
Crying over nothing.
Simply just crying.

Always on the verge of tears. Like a ticking timebomb.
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Happy 4th Birthday BumpPR.

Since starting blogging almost 3 years ago I've worked with a few different brands and PR companies. Some have been ok, some not so ok, but one had been a cut above the rest.
That company is Bumppr and they celebrated their 4 year birthday this weekend and invited some bloggers along to celebrate with them.

So on Saturday myself and Charles set off at 7am to head to the train station to catch the train to London. It was the first time we had been to London without my husband and Harry so we were excited, and I was somewhat nervous. It also meant I had to navigate the tube by myself and thankfully the stop from Liverpool Street to Bethnal Green was really short and we managed with no problems at all....other than my bottom getting stuck as the barriers closed at the Bethnal Green station.

The museum is just a minutes walk from Bethnal Green Underground and as we'd arrived half an hour early we went to the toilet, then had a look around the shop which is FANTASTIC. We wanted to buy everything.
We soon spotted Katie and Jennie and after more browsing in the shop it was time to go to the party.

It was SO lovely to finally meet the ladies I had been working with since October 2012.
Not only that but it was really lovely to catch up with some of my favourites in blogging and to meet others I have talked to online before but never met, along with their children and of course Mr E.

The party was wonderful and the cake was beautiful. We ate some of the mini cupcakes and they were SO yummy. I'm not usually a fan of cake but I went back for another one which Charles actually stole when I turned my back to talk to Kirsty and Clara.
So after a few hours of fun, gossip, laughter, cake and lots of bouncing on Happy Hoppers the party was over.
We had a while until our train was due as we wanted time to look around the museum, armed with a rather heavy and full goodie bag.
After an hour of browsing the museum we decided to go and get the tube and head back to Liverpool Street to get some dinner and wait for our train (and to also look through our goody bag).

Finally home at 9.30 we cuddled on the sofa for a little bit and talked about the wonderful day we had.

Thank you Bumppr for inviting us along to your birthday party and for inviting a lot of other fab bloggers too.
I look forward to working with you again on other exciting projects.




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19.1.14

Just a Cat? {Ordinary Moments}

When I met my husband he had a young cat called Harry. I wasn't a cat person in the slightest.
Harry was lovely though and after a while of being jealous of this new person in his daddy's life, he soon accepted me and we had this lovely bond.
My husband was always the one to play and fight with him and I was the one he would go to for strokes and cuddles.
After we got married we decided to add another cat to our family and went to a farm in Warwickshire, the same farm Harry [cat] came from, and met and fell in love with a tiny tortoiseshell kitten.
Once she was ready to leave her mum she came to live with us in Cambridgeshire. After going through all the names of the Disney Princesses and being told a stern no I was eventually allowed to call her Jasmine.
Harry wasn't a fan of her at first but after a month or so would let her snuggle up to him and eventually she had him wrapped around her little claw and he would spend the majority of his time being a protective big brother [they share the same dad and their mums were sisters] and would be cleaning her constantly.

When I was pregnant with Charles he was my bodyguard. I will never ever forget how protective he would be of me. He would follow me around everywhere. Would walk me to the car and when we returned home from going out for the day or for a short trip to the supermarket he would meet me at my car door and walk me inside. Jasmine didn't really react at all and carried on as normal.
4 months after Charles arrived Harry was killed on the main road near our house. I know people say "It's just a pet" and I always knew we were taking a chance letting the cats out anyway but it hit me really hard and I still cry about it. He wasn't the type of cat to go near the road so we think the bully cat in our area chased him towards it.

We decided to add another cat to our family 4 months later although this wasn't successful in the slightest. We rescued Dominic and not only do we think he was actually a Feril cat, Jasmine didn't take to him and spent a lot of time away from the house.
Dominic was quite fussy and constantly in your face which would have been fine if we didn't have a small child to look after too. We phoned to get Dominic taken back to the rescue centre when all of a sudden he fell ill. 2 days later we were being told he was extremely poorly and the best thing to do was to end his life. We were eaten up with guilt for wanting to give him back to the rescue home but we know we did all we could for him.
The rescue home were pretty unsupportive of us and instead made us feel as though we'd had him put down to save us the trouble of taking him back there. Which was obviously not the case.

With Dominic gone Jasmine came back to the house a lot more and we accepted that it wasn't fair for her if we got any more cats. She also didn't seem a fan of our new baby and with her brother gone it must have been a really tough time for her.
Our original intentions were for Dominic to be a few friend for her rather than for her to feel threatened and driven away by him.

One of our neighbours took a shine to her and after 3 years of trying to stop this neighbour from stealing her and feeding her we decided we needed to keep her as a house cat. It wasn't an easy decision but Jasmine has taken to it quite well and infact has become closer to my husband, who in the past she didn't really take to.
She hides away from the boys in the daytime, but at nighttime is by my side on the sofa. She snuggles in and stays there, sometimes venturing over to see my husband for a little bit of fuss but mainly she is by my side.
If I'm in the bedroom by myself in the daytime for whatever reason, or if Harry naps, she will come out from hiding and see me for fusses.

Although she's not overally keen on the boys she is always by their side at nighttime if they wake up and will sit on their beds for a cuddle and a stroke. She seems to be aware of when they are poorly too and will go over to them, sometimes in the daytime, to see if they are ok. I think secretly she doesn't hate them and instead just likes the attention.

She's coming up for 9 this Summer and I hope we have another 9 years of her in our lives. She might be just a cat to some but she is a big part of this family for me and I couldn't imagine not having her around. My evenings just wouldn't be the same.


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15.1.14

Enjoying Now

Don't wish time away.

One of my promises for this year is to enjoy life more.
I can be a bit lazy, be a bit negative, focus on things that went wrong and not appreciate the positive things as much.
I am a planner and am always happy if I have something to look forward to. I need something on the calender that we are heading towards, be it a holiday, birthday, weekend away, date night, day out or Christmas.
I was watching a Youtube video recently and someone added that one of their goals for 2014 was to starting enjoying now more, and to not wish their time away.
You know how you sometimes hear things and think you were meant to hear that? That's exactly how I felt.

I realised that I need to do this and to do more last minute things.
Just decide at the last minute to take the boys out for the day and not plan things so far in advance.
I spent the weekend looking through photos on my computer, remembering the great days out we had last year, and the moments where I felt happy. The days I maybe forgot about but that a simple photo made me remember what it was like that day, how happy we all were, what we did, how we felt.

I need to appreciate small things that the boys do, remembering days out we've been on, remembering what they enjoyed and doing that again.
Watching them eat. I find it oddly comforting and wonderful watching my children eat.
Watching them making new discoveries and learning new things. Watching them change from babies to toddlers to proper boys.
Remembering special days out, the reasons behind them and stopping to take a selfie to remember that moment. The one below was taken at the Dinosaur Park in Norfolk, Charles was attached to a stick....yes you read that right, and left it near the Diplodocus. We had to walk up a big hill to go and find it, which is easy in the woods, and we took this sneaky selfie. His left eye was really sore all day and we didn't realise until the following day that he had conjunctivis.
Charles and Harry both held a snake that day, Harry went one step further and squeezed the snake. This day out really made us aware of Harry's abilities and part of the point of the day out was for us to spoil him and do something he would like. We let him walk the majority of the day when we used to stick him in the pushchair constantly.
Last minute walks around the field, just to get some fresh air and to explore our local area.
Date days with both boys and a chance to reconnect and bond with them without distraction.
Watching them working together and discovering how things grow.
Capture the mood and the excitement. Our Christmas Tree search was a great example of this. The photo below of the 3 boys may not have the best focus but Charles makes me laugh so much. This was from our Christmas tree search.

Looking at these photos reminded me that I don't have to plan things weeks and months in advance. I don't have to have something booked on the calender for every weekend. I don't have to put pressure on myself, or on the rest of the family, because things will simply fit into place and we'll end up having the best time together.
Most of the fantastic days we had together last year were spur of the moment or the odd planned day in between weekends of relaxation.
That's what I need to continue this year. Enjoying now rather than constantly busying myself planning ahead resulting in me wishing time away.


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14.1.14

Complete.

"You'll know when your family is complete. If you don't feel done having babies, then you are not complete".

I remember someone saying this to me once Harry was born. Why do people feel that they can constantly ask you if you will have more children? I don't mind really, it's just a question, but so soon after giving birth (hours after a traumatic birth) is slightly inappropriate.
Anyway, someone asked me if we wanted more children. I did my usual reply of "oh, oh, well, no we wanted two. We've always wanted two. I might quite like another one, we'll never say never but we always wanted two".
I guess that question always seems to get me flustered.
Due to my reply the person then said that my family wasn't complete because I didn't feel done. And I wasn't quite sure what to make of that.

I look at my family and I love the team that we are. I love that we are an even number. That we can pair off.
We don't need a massive car. We can go on a rollercoaster together with no one left to sit at the side and wait.
We don't need to extend our dining room table. We can all lay comfortably in our king size bed.
We can get a hotel room, we may need to shop around a bit but 50% of the time we'll find something suitable.

I love my boys.  An obvious statement and probably a silly thing to say due to it being so obvious, and I never feel a gap in my heart or my life due to not having a daughter.
There are times I've felt like it would be nice to have a daughter, but there's no burning desire or need to have one, or to try for one at least.

I think because I'm only 28 I've always felt that if I want another child I am in the position, age wise, to have another now or in 5 years time. The age gap between me and my husband could be an issue if it ever came down to it, but I think we are solid enough to be able to talk things through and discuss what each of us wants and why and to come to a decision based on our family and what's best for us as a couple and as a family.


I love babies, and I think I will forever want a baby.
Do I want a house full of teenagers? No.
Do I want extra madness on the school run? Trying to get more than 2 children breakfasted, dressed, washed, in the car and into the classroom on time? Not really.
But do I accept that having other babies would lead to that? Yes. And it would be fine. I would cope with it, and embrace it because I would have to. Because it's part of the package.

My children and my husband fill me with a lot of love and happiness and I don't feel any gap that needs to be filled.
I feel our family is complete in a sense that I am happy with us as a unit and as a team.
But I'm not sure if I feel done. What if there is never a point in life when I feel done? Would one more baby make me feel done? Would three more babies make me feel done? What if I had give more babies and still didn't feel done?

"If you don't feel done having babies, then you are not complete"

I choose to not live by that and instead feel my family is complete, and know it's ok to never feel done and to always want to have more children as long as I accept that this is probably my complete family unit. And if that is the case, I will always be happy with that.


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12.1.14

Potty Training: The Sequel {The Ordinary Moments}

When it came to having a second child I thought I had everything covered. Going through breastfeeding again, weaning, moving him into his own room, taking the sides off his cot, sleeping through the night, drinking from a cup. The little things that we deal with that are really a major pressure and stress before they happen, and whilst we are experiencing them, but a great success eventually.
What I had forgotten about of course was.....potty training.
From what I can remember it was pretty easy with Charles. We had a few accidents of course, but never whilst we were out, they were only at home. And within a few months he was dry at night too, again something which was pretty easy and we completely followed his lead.
With Harry starting preschool this year I knew that at some point we would be facing the potty training stage. I thought I would have the chance to prepare, to work out my strategy, have pottys dotted all over the house, mats ready for his bed, the pushchair, the carseat. I would be ready, we would be a team.

He had other ideas and at Christmas time decided he didn't want to wear nappies in the daytime anymore. Que panic.
I have one potty, unlike the three we had when Charles was potty training. There would now be 4 of us using the bathroom. FOUR. I'm pretty sure fighting three males to get into the bathroom is worse than fighting three females into the bathroom, despite what is usually said.
The thing is with potty training, that once you start you can't go back. And this worrys me as Harry has chosen to start when we have a few meetings and appointments to go to, these involve some longish drives (well only an hour) so we may have to hold back slightly and stick a nappy on for car journeys.
The past couple of days he has done really well, I think it's easier because he has a brother to copy, but also he has a brother who will praise him and tell him he has done really well. He also has a brother who will offer to take him to the toilet...which is a nice break for me.

I'm really glad that it hasn't been something I've had to force with him, and that he's taken the first steps himself. I'm also glad that we have 9 months to get it sorted until he starts at preschool.

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11.1.14

A Boat.

How to buy a boat:

1- Find a boat you like.
2- Go and view the boat.
3- Decide you like it.
4- Hand over money.
5- Congratulations you have a boat.

Living so close to the Norfolk Broads is part of why we love living where we do. 5 minutes from a beach and 5 minutes from the Broads, we are extremely lucky.
We've talked a lot over the years about how wonderful it would be to own a boat and to just wake up one day and go out. We hadn't decided what kind of boat we would like, I suppose a motor boat was pictured in our minds and on a couple of occasions we were close to hitting Buy It Now on a couple of boats but my husband hadn't had quite enough whiskey...which now seems like a good thing.

Then last year my husband said he seriously wanted to consider buying a sailing boat and learning to sail. He was so serious that within no time at all he was out on a Sailing Course for the day.

Our thoughts of what kind of boat we wanted changed a few times and we settled on one that we would be able to sleep on so we could go away for the weekend whenever we wanted and not worry about paying for a b&b or hotel.
Last week our search moved on and we finally go to view 3 boats.
One was too big and too much work, one would restrict us on where abouts in the broads we could sail and the other. Well, we fell in love.
It's a wooden boat and it's beautiful. It was built locally, which is important to us, and has a lot of history.
But the only thing holding us back is the maintenance. It's a lot of work to keep it looking as beautiful as it does, a lot of sanding and varnishing but at the same time we love that we can put a lot of time into her and to love her as much as her previous owners clearly did. But then there's the added costs if we need to replace planking and we're trying to find out how much roughly this could cost us in the event of it needing to be done if we decide to purchase her.

Then there is a  fibreglass boat. A little easier on the maintenance as we have no varnishing, no sanding, with just paintwork when she leaves the water every winter. Still built locally we have that on our side but we don't have that wonderful history like we do with the wooden one.

We've done the typical pros and cons list for each boat, hoping it would show a clear winner but instead they kind of both balance each other out.

My husband has a heart vs head dilemma going on and I am absolutely no help whatsoever.

I think we've both had a big shock as we didn't realise just how emotional this search could be. Choosing the right boat, and then taking the risk and buying it.
We are taking a risk with whichever boat we go for.
What if we get the wooden one and it doesn't live up to our dreams? What if the woodwork goes and we need to pay however much for new planking?
What if we get the fibreglass one and we don't feel special enough sailing it? What if we don't feel that wow factor? What if we sit and watch other classic wooden boats go past and regret not getting one of those?

We're looking at another boat on Monday and we're hoping that things will become clearer then. If not, then we step away for a week and have a really hard think about it.

We are incredibly lucky to be in the position to be able to buy a boat and to be able to follow this dream but did we realise it would be so hard and emotionally draining? Absolutely not.
But we will get there and follow my husbands motto that
"It's not about us finding the right boat, the right boat will find us eventually"


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10.1.14

Siblings: A Family Portrait Project {January}

Last year I successfully completed Me&Mine: A Family Portrait Project.
This year it is BACK, except not only is it back, it's also BIGGER. Ohhhhh yeah.
Along with Me&Mine this year there is also Siblings and Me&You (couples).

Siblings is pretty self explanatory, if you have 2 or more children take a photo of them together and link it up.
Simple.

I love that the new year has started with the boys getting quality time together before Charles returns to school. It's so odd because although he has only been home for 2 weeks it feels like he never went to school and has always been here, his return to school will be hard on us all.
They both had a fantastic Christmas and have really enjoyed playing with, and fighting over, their new toys and games. They made Christmas so special and I can't wait for all of our adventures and celebrations this year.

Taken with flash, yuk, but I love it nonetheless. 

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6.1.14

A New Project: Living Arrows

This year I have got myself involved in a few photo related projects, which I'm really excited about. The Family Portrait Project has expanded from Me&Mine to also Siblings and Me&You. I've always felt quite passionate about Me&Mine so I'm really excited about the further two projects too. I'll post more on those later in the week.

I'm also involved in a fantastic project over on I Heart Snapping, where I am a contributor.

i heart snapping
http://i291.photobucket.com/albums/ll320/looby_boo/i%20heart%20snapping/lauren-sidebar_zpsfe330fb7.jpg

The project is called Living Arrows and is a 52 week project focusing on children and motherhood.
About the project from the I Heart Snapping site:
Childhood is that amazing time when we have no inhibitions and can truly be ourselves. Every Monday we'll share the beauty and magic of childhood through the eyes of 14 creative mums and we'd love you to link up and join in with us. There are no rules, anything goes, any medium. It's a moment that's inspired you to click the shutter. It can be one of your children, the whole clan or even something that represents them.
living arrows
 Today is the first day of the project and I'm really excited to see not only what the other contributors have decided to snap, but also what others will be linking up too.

If you fancy a fun, easy and memorable link up to join this year then Living Arrows is perfect.
I can't wait to look back on the photos at the end of the year, especially when I look back on photos on last year which bring such wonderful memories.

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5.1.14

End of an Era {The Ordinary Moments}

One of the things I love about The Ordinary Moments linky is that it reminds me of little things that I may not notice or appreciate normally.
It's one thing I always admired about Katie when I would see her mention things on her blog, Twitter or Instagram, and the fact that she then made a linky out of it was lovely because it encouraged me and quite a few others to do the same.

The other thing I love about this linky is that once you've thought of one Ordinary Moment, it straight away makes you think of other moments and before you know it you have 4 weeks worth of posts scheduled (or maybe that's just me?).

So sitting down to write my post(s) I had a clear idea of what sort of things to write. There was one thing I considered writing about but I kept dismissing it as I didn't think it was that important and I think without realising it, it was something I just didn't want to address or talk about.
Then when I mentioned it to a friend the other day I burst into tears, and I had a sick feeling in my tummy. That was enough for me to realise how much it actually means to me, and meant to me.

What am I talking about exactly?

This Ordinary Moment for me, something I've done everyday since 2009 (other than a short break between January and June 2011), has now stopped.
I didn't realise it would be so hard to write about, or so hard to talk about. I think maybe because in my heart I'm not ready to stop.
I don't really know why I have stopped.
I've been questionning myself as to why I made the decision. I always said I would wait until he was ready, and he is still asking for it. Whether or not it's down to habit or because he really wants to, or because he knows it makes me laugh as he cuddles up, sticks a hand down my top, looks me in the eyes and says "peeease, peeeease".

We're so used to me sitting down and him coming over for a cuddle and it automatically becoming a feed. Yes, even at almost 2 and a half.

I don't know what has made me stop.
Do I want to? Not really.
Does he want to? Not really.
Do we need to? Not really.
Does it feel right? Not really.
Do I feel happy about it? Not really?
Do I feel sad about it? Absolutely.
Do I feel heartbroken? Absolutely.

So why not just carry on? It's been a week since he last had any milk, and then it was a quick comfort feed when he woke during a night terror.
As I said he has tried to have milk but I've somehow been able to distract him, but I can't work out what gave me the feeling to need to do that.

We haven't fed in public for a long time, I feel that at his age I would just be encouraging comments from people and I've managed to only have one negative(ish) comment (to my face) about breastfeeding and I certainly didn't want to end in a bad way so made the decision to avoid that as much as possible.

I feel a bit lost with it all. Kind of like it is out of my control even though it was me who made the decision. Yet at the same time I feel completely heartbroken that this one thing that only I could give him, only I could provide him with, is no longer happening. He won't need me as much. He can get comforting cuddles from anyone, but he couldn't get comforting feeds from just anyone before.

Breaking from our routine will be our biggest test. After the school run I come home, grab a coffee and sit on the sofa with Harry to have a "milky cug" as we call them. Except we won't be doing this when Charles returns to school. It might seem silly to some, but it's so routine, so normal, so ordinary to us to do this and I guess breastfeeding has always been a comfort to me as much as it has to the boys.

I can't believe my breastfeeding experience is now over.
I know I have done amazing with both boys what with Charles having tongue tie, having it cut at day 8 and then feeding him for 18 months, only stopping because I was pregnant and my milk supply was really low. Harry was then extremely lazy with latching and didn't really want to work for his milk. He seemed to just want to let the milk pour into his mouth rather than to actually suck it in. He earned the nickname Harry Larry Lazy Latch for a while and eventually we got there.

I thought when I'd finish it would be a celebration of how well we'd done.
A celebration of not more worrying about what I'm wearing and make sure we had easy access.
A celebration of not having to sit in the corner or out of the way a bit so I could feed discreetly if needed.

I know I just have to get on and that there's no point in thinking about it, but I never knew it would feel like such a big thing to me.


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4.1.14

Degustabox | Review

Towards the end of last year I was sent a Degustabox to review. A Degustabox is a monthly subscription surprise box. I have seen these with cosmetics and beauty items before and the thing putting me off beauty boxes is that there would be likely to be something I either don't use, wouldn't use, or simply wouldn't suit me, and it may be difficult to find someone to pass the unwanted item on to.
So, I was really intrigued to see how a food subscription box would compare to beauty boxes. I'm a wimp when it comes to spicy food and my main worry was that we would get something spicy that I couldn't try.
We did recieve some spicy items, being the Jerk Chicken Sauce and Jerk Chicken Paste and although this is something I'd considered trying before I wasn't ever brave enough to buy it incase I didn't like it. The fact it was sent in the box and that I had it there, in my kitchen, I felt it would be silly not to try. And I'm glad I did as it is wonderful!

The price for each box is £9.99 with £3.00 P&P. £9.99 seemed like a reasonable price to me but I didn't imagine getting so much in a box. I expected maybe 5-6 items.
Well, imagine my surprise when I was sent:
3 cans of Bavaria Beer
2 packs of Yu! Granola snack packs.
2 boxes of Belvita Breakfast biscuits.
A pot of Chai Latte
Oxo Shake and Flavour jar
Jerk Chicken Paste
Smoky Jerk Sauce
4 different Bisto gravy packets.
Bisto Stock Melts.
Green and Blacks Chilli Chocolate
That's a lot right?
I'd also been wanting to try Chai Latte for a while as I'd seen so many people talking about how lovely it is so was delighted when I saw it was part of our box.

There are quite a few positives to these boxes:
  • Trying foods you may not have tried before or wanted to purchase at the supermarket.
  • If you don't like something, you could probably find someone who will. In our case it's the Belvita breakfast biscuits, I didn't like the apricot and yogurt flavours but the boys did.
  • Discovering foods you will want to repurchase. We now buy the Yu! Granola snacks for Charles' lunchbox. I hadn't heard of them before but love that they are a healthy snack for him to take to school.
  • The price. I really think the price is fantastic considering how much you get in a box, and the variety of items.
  • You also recieve a recipe sheet to help with using some of the ingredients in your box.
This is how to box works (taken from the Degustabox website)
  • Register and pay for your first Degustabox, just £9.99 delivery not included. Register before the 10th and you will receive your box in the same month.
  • Automatic payment due on the 10th of each month. No long term commitment (cancel before the 10th).
  • Choose to pay monthly or pre pay for 6 months at a discounted price!
  • You will receive your Degustabox between the 25th and 30th of each month.
  • You will always find a great variety of quality products from well known brands.
  • Email and text notifications to make sure your Degustabox is delivered to you hassle free! 
  • Each month discover 17 new, special or innovative food products from well known brands.
  • Share the experience with us and other Degustaboxers on Facebook and Twitter. Be a part of a growing community of foodies!
  • And every month there will be more and more new products and flavours for you to explore.
I have a January Degustabox to giveaway. All you need to do is to fill in the Rafflecopter form below.



a Rafflecopter giveaway
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1.1.14

2013-A Summary. 2014-A Hint Of.

I don't really like New Year. I've never been one for big celebrations for it.
Now, that's a lie.
In my adult life I haven't been one for big celebrations of it. I went through a few years of making sure I was asleep before fireworks lit up the sky, cheers and woops bellowed from passerby's, waking up to a brand new day like any others.
Then as anxiety crept in I had this URGE and this NEED that I HAVE to stay up until past midnight. Not to celebrate but, well, just in case. I can't explain it and I can't even understand why really but it's this overwhelming feeling that makes me have to stay up.

I've always liked looking back on the week, month and year gone by and this year thought it would be nice to record it (even the lows), especially as time is going so quickly and it's hard to keep up with what we're doing and what we've done!

This is a little more personal really, as well as looking at things as a family. I feel I've had quite a big year in some senses, some of which I've talked about, some I haven't and some I can't.

Lowlights:

Relationships breaking up (not my marriage but other forms of relationships).
Friendships not being what I thought they were and seeing the true side to certain people.
Anxiety and depression taking hold too much.

Highlights:

Family time including trips to London, a 4th birthday trip to York, a 2nd birthday trip to Bewilderwood, a lunch trip to Bruges, a wonderful holiday to Centre Parcs in Holland, and a Christmas trip to Disneyland Paris.
Date days and nights including a date day to Sandringham Estate and to the woodland and gardens, and another date day to Norwich, and special dates with a gorgeous little boy.
Making new friends and meeting new people.
Managing to get the train to London all by myself, including my very first solo overnight hotel stay.

Things I'd Rather Forget:

The lows of anxiety and depression.
How out of control I let my weight become.
The real side of friends and family members.

Things I'll Never Forget:

Charles being so brave starting big boy school and making so many friends. The way he has quickly learnt so many things especially his reading and writing which amazes me every day.
Harry turning from this toddler to a proper little boy and the way his speech has developed so much in the last 3 months of the year.
My nights of ridiculous, hilarious and sometimes X Rated conversations with friends via WhatsApp. 
My brother being so completely amazing and doing the 3 Peaks Challenge in 24 hours and finishing on our birthday.
My husband working so hard to enable me to have another year at home being a housewife and stay at home mummy.

Things I've Loathed:

Rainy school runs.
The wind, I've never known it to be so bad!
My weight and general appearance.
Bullies.


Things I've Loved:

Having long nails for a whole year. 
Another year of blogging and not giving up. I'm looking forward to hitting my 3 year blog birthday in the next couple of months.
Joules, Joules, Joules and Joules.
The challenge of a solo drive to Milton Keynes to meet up with some of my favourite blogging friends and breaking my Ikea Virginity.
Another year of marriage. I know it sounds silly but I truely believe that it is something to be grateful and happy for.
Being part of Me&Mine: A Family Portrait Project.
Celebrating the birth of Prince George.
Hardly ever needing to iron....thanks mum.

2014-Things I'm Excited About:

Family adventures.
Watching our boys grow even more.
Taking up a new hobby with my husband.
Attending a week long course for above hobby.
New blog projects.
Cybher.
Britmums.
Seeing my friends again.

2014-Promises

Look after myself more (lose weight!!)
Be happy. 
Be calmer.
Do more with Harry before he goes to preschool in September.
Make more of my time with the boys.
Enjoy life more.


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