September is one of my favourite months, every year I can’t help but write about how much I love Autumn. It is the season when I feel happiest, most productive and motivated. I have such fond memories Autumn’s; in September 2011 I had just become a stay at home mum, Lucas had just turned one and was off walking, ready to explore. We had so much fun that year, just us two and I have many, many fond memories. Sometimes he looks no different when we are out walking, still in wellies and a rain mac, still collecting the leaves and splashing in the puddles. I can remember that year and see the tiny boy I had wobbling next to me, chasing him everywhere. Now he is a little more reserved but sometimes he will still forget about the rest of the world and let loose. Just today he was picking up the fallen leaves and running along, flapping them like wings. So happy and absorbed in him game, so lovely to just stand back and watch.
Today is the day that you turn three years old. So much has happened this year and you turning three is only the start of more big events in your little world. Within a month you will be starting pre-school; this will be a great adventure for you and one I can see you are ready for. I can only imagine the fun you will have but I still will miss you terribly. This year I have seen so many changes in you, you became a big brother just a few days after Christmas and really you are a natural. You do have occasional moments of less than friendly brotherly feelings but as Arthur and Brandon get older I can see the love between all three of you. You are so kind to them; you will try to make them laugh when they are crying and offer them toys if they can’t reach them. You giggle when they do and you cuddle them while saying ‘my brothers’; you have become so affectionate this year and nothing is sweeter than hearing you say ‘I love you’ and getting one of your rare kisses.
Some parts of this year have also been so challenging and somedays you really have pushed me to the edge, I have no idea how you came to be so stubborn and strong-willed. You will push us to our limits sometimes just to see how far you can go. However, at the end of each night I always go to bed thinking of you. Even on the toughest of days you can make me smile; even if it is me telling your Daddy that you drove me mad! This still makes me smile because that is just you, this feisty little man, so full of emotion and drive. I always say that I am sure you will push us all the way though your childhood, that is just part of who you are and I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Your speech has been incredible this year and I am constantly amazed at how much you can now communicate to us. The way you see the world is just fantastic, your imagination runs miles ahead of anything we could envisage but we are lucky enough that you can now explain it to us and we can join in with your games. You still go into hysterics over certain things, the word ‘salad’ seems to be particularly funny at the moment, and we have no idea what you mean!
You always seem to see the good in everyone, and approach people with such friendliness. Only this weekend we visited a playground and you strode right up to a little boy playing and chattered something to him so eager to make a friend. This part of you is so precious and I hope you never lose it.
Lucas what can I say about what you have brought to our lives? Three years ago you arrived to make us a Mummy and a Daddy, to make us a family and this year that family has grown and you have made us so proud as you became a big brother. To be able to say that you are my son is the best feeling in the world; you are unique in so many ways, so full of character. Only three years old and yet I feel like you have always been here. You have been so looking forward to your ‘party day’ and I hope you enjoy the celebrations. You are always happy around people you love and I’m sure it will be a perfect day. And remember, cake for breakfast on your birthday is always acceptable!
Happy Birthday My Sweet
We have tried to make the most of the summer but it hasn’t been easy. The weather hasn’t exactly been on our side and with three little ones to get out and the early stages of potty training some of our summer hasn’t exactly gone to plan. Still I still think we have managed a few fun days both in and out the house and I hope we have made some special memories.
Back at the start of the holidays I wrote about 50 Days of Summer with Robert’s Bakery; we were invited along to Delamere Forest to try out some of their delicious sandwich recipes and I have been using them in our picnics all summer. As well as the recipes I downloaded their pack to give us some inspiration for family fun, in fact I am going to keep some of the ideas for next year as a lot of the them will be great when the boys are a little older. The pack did inspire some of our favourite summer activities; we did manage a water fight in the back garden, some arty fun, plenty of walks, indoor and outdoor picnics and Lucas was treated to a Knowsley Safari Park visit with his Grandparents. One of my favourite ideas from Robert’s Bakery to end the summer is to create a scrapbook! I love this idea, something we can look back over as a family and remember our summer holidays. This would be great to do every year to see what has changed and remember all the places you have visited. There are so many photos I could include but here are some of my favourites. Notice the sun on our photos, it did come out to play occasionally!
You can still download the pack and as September is looking to be a nice month there is still plenty of time to use those picnic recipes. Here is another of our favourites; my husband particularity likes this one!
Traditional cheese sandwiches are high in fat and salt – ours is lower, because the cheese is bulked out with the carrots and other ingredients, so you don’t need so much. The carrots, raisins and sunflower seeds also give you a nutrient boost. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which the body can convert to vitamin A.
8 slices of Roberts 50% White 50% Wholemeal bread
2 medium carrots
2 tbsp raisins
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
100g reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
Low-fat olive spread
Combine the carrots, cheese, raisins and sunflower seeds. Split the rolls and spread with low-fat olive spread. Fill with the carrot mixture.
Disclaimer: We were invited along to the event to try out the healthy recipes from the 50 days of summer pack, all opinions are always my own.
I love weekends when there are no plans and you are just free to take the days at your own pace. This Bank Holiday weekend we hadn’t planned to do anything but I had a few leaflets for local happenings so I thought we’d just see what we fancied doing as the mood took us. Quite close to us is a lovely little park with a National Wildflower Centre attached (I must get here in spring next year as it looks beautiful) they run all sorts of events over the summer and this weekend they were hosting an Artisan Market. Never one to pass up a bit of moochy shopping and the gleeful amounts of cake that are usually at these kind of things, we went to check it out on Sunday afternoon. We are lucky that Lucas is at that age now when he will generally walk and hold our hand so we don’t have to chase him everywhere and we took the single buggy and our Ergo baby carrier to make it a little easier to get around.
It was the nicest day of the whole weekend and we had a lovely time pottering around, looking at the stalls and sampling the wares. I like going to markets and chatting to the people; they are so creative and outgoing and obviously have such a passion for their trade. I loved the man who used old 70′s comics to create the most amazing, photo frames, cufflinks, coasters and so much more. We spent quite a while there and couldn’t resist a Wolverine coaster. The letters in frames to hang on walls are fantastic, if you want to pop by his page and say hello it’s iloveupcycle. I also loved a lady who had the prettiest little handsewn baby clothes, Keksiä Kids, they were adorable. I wish I knew more girls to buy for as the dresses were so cute. Of course I couldn’t leave without cake, two amazing brownies from Treats Bake Shop and delcious muffins from The Muffin Mistress. I wish I had got a picture of Natalie Spencer Designs stall as they had the most beautiful cushions and pictures for children; very unique.
Sometimes it’s so easy to just go the the big stores when shopping but I’m going to try and make more of an effort to go to these small markets, especially when shopping for gifts. There are so many great quality products and it’s nice to know you are supporting a small local business. The boys were really good all day; there was plenty going on for them to nosy at; a steady supply of food kept them happy as well as a quick trip to the playground. All in all a great family day out and one I would happily do again.
I didn’t receive anything for writing this post – we just had a lovely family day out and I wanted to share some fantastic local businesses!
Dear Brandon & Arthur
You are both getting so big and you are actually nearly eight months now but I’ve still got a few days to squeeze in your seven month update. The last few months you seem to have really grown up, suddenly you look huge and you are definitely not little babies anymore. Brandon I was only holding you up to the mirror yesterday and I couldn’t believe how long you looked, like you’ve just shot up all of a sudden!
You are both going through a little bit of a clingy stage, you like to know that Mummy or Daddy are close by. I was going to say that you don’t like strangers to get too close but it isn’t just strangers, even grandparents sometimes have you howling. You screamed all the way through our last baby clinic visit because someone said hello to you. I can see it about to happen, your mouths turn downwards and your lower lips stick out, I know you are about to let out a wail and if one gets going the other won’t be far behind. Once you have warmed up to someone you are generally ok so I know this will be a phase and it is quite nice to be the one that can comfort you.
You are both sitting up quite well now with support and can manage on your own for a little while before you spot something exciting and try to dart off to the side. Arthur you are up on your hands and knees and rocking forward, you are so desperate to get going. Brandon you are trying to do the same, it won’t be long until you are both on the move. Part of me wants to tell you to stop, I can’t even imagine how much trouble you will get into once you are crawling! I won’t be able to leave you alone for one minute. Even though you don’t crawl you don’t let it hold you back, you are both expert rollers and commando crawlers and can cover quite a distance with your shuffling.
There still isn’t a great amount of difference between you, I can tell you apart the most when you smile but there have been times when we have got you mixed up! Even your personalities are pretty similar and you both have cuddly phases, I imagine as you get older you will look more different. Lucas asks now ‘who’s that?’ to tell you apart and he knows which cot you both sleep in and which high chair you sit in. Arthur you tend to repsond to your name now but to be honest I think if I said Brandon you would probably look too!
One of the best things about having twins is seeing the relationship between the two of you grow; now you seem to have noticed that you are separate babies and I can already see secret communications going on between the pair of you. When I put you up for your nap I can hear a lot of giggling over the monitor and if I sneak a peak and I can see you both reaching for each other through the bars. You sit next to each other in your high chairs and if you catch each others eye it is suddenly hysterical, I don’t think I will ever get tired of seeing the way you smile at each other. There is something so special about seeing the bond you have, it makes me so happy and gets us through all the tough days.
This last month has been pretty special because we have had Daddy home and I know you will miss him when he goes back to work. Luckily he has been here for a really great time, when you seem to have grown all of a sudden and we have some real fun as a family. I can’t explain how thankful I am for you both, even on the toughest days I feel lucky (maybe once you are tucked up quietly in bed!) and you are both so precious to me. I feel like you have taught me even more about being a parent and in a lot of ways I have learnt to relax and enjoy the little moments as it is passing so quickly. Already I am thinking of your first birthday but for now I’ll just make the most of this time.
All My Love
We really have not had the best weather in the North West over the last few weeks so we’ve been making our way through a few of the rainy day activities from our staycation plans. One of these was to visit a library, something I used to do at least once a week when it was just me and Lucas. As I got further through my pregnancy with the twins, a walk to the bottom of the road was a struggle, nevermind 30 minutes to the library, so we gradually stopped going and never quite got in the swing of it again. It’s such a shame because I feel like it’s really important to support your local library and I actually do like to use it for me and for Lucas. It’s nice to get some different books without having to wonder where you will possibly squash them onto already overflowing bookcases. I liked to pick up some crocheting and cookery books so I could try before I buy. I’m hoping we’ll start to become regular visitors again as Arthur and Brandon get older but this summer I took advantage of having a car and having my husband free to look after the twins. Lucas and I went for lunch at my mum’s house and visited the little library in her village – which is the one I went to as a child. I remember going there in the holidays for their children’s storytimes with my brother. We’d always go and choose books from there; this was when you had little library cards that slotted into the front of the books and you had to look up the book you wanted in the card catalogue! As I got older I went on my own to work my way through the Sweet Valley High and Point Horror collection then as a teenager me and my friends used to go under the pretext of doing work when it was actually to look at boys on the walk there…terrible!
So anyway I spent a lovely morning with my Mum and Lucas in this little library, still as lovely as I remember it to be and we sat in tiny chairs in the children’s section while the rain pattered on the windows. Lucas made his way through quite a few books and I selected some for us to bring home. I am desperately looking for a good fairy tale collection for him so I picked up a few in the hopes of finding what I’m looking for: a fairy tale book with the endings I remember as a child! It’s not necessarily for him to read now but I wanted on on our bookshelf for when he’s ready. It really seems difficult to find a collection of traditional stories without the endings being changed to what is deemed ‘appropriate’ plots. We read through Three Billy Goats Gruff as we sat in the library (one of my favourites) and right at the end the last Billy Goat Gruff trip traps over the bridge and decides he can’t be bothered to fight the troll at the moment so carries on, the troll then decides to leave his home under the bridge before the goat returns for winter. As I was reading it I thought, “that’s not how I remember it ending” and as I read through the other books many were the same. I actually had to ask my husband if that was the ending he remembered.
I suppose I don’t know if the endings would frighten Lucas or not, maybe they would, but isn’t that up to me to decide if he’s ready to read them? I don’t remember ever being particularly traumatised by them as a child, in fact my collection of Grimm stories was one of my favourite books. Are we not giving our children enough credit for being able to tell the difference; can they not just take the joy in an imaginative story or do we really need to worry that these tales are ‘dangerous’ for their little minds?
I guess the whole point of fairy tales is that they change and evolve. So many are written from folk stories, tales told from person to person, and will obviously have been adapted over the years. Probably many of these stories had been tamed down from the originals when I read them. Still I can’t help but feel a little robbed when I get to the end of Red Riding Hood and Grandmother was hiding the the cupboard!
I’d like to think that I know my children well enough to know how they would react to a book and when they are ready to read it but maybe it would upset them and I would instantly regret it. Incidentally the ‘safe’ Three Billy Goats Gruff book has become one of Lucas’ favourites and we have to read it several times a day. What do you think, is there anything you don’t like your children to read or are we being too protective?
I love how children can have so much fun at a beach, nothing is needed to entertain them. Lucas spent the afternoon running along the sand, following tracks and footprints, collecting shells and conquering sand dunes. There is such joy in finding a complete seashell I think he could have happily spent the whole time hunting for his treasure.
Finally the sun has reached us in the North West; it came on a day when we were desperate to get out the house after so many days spent indoors watching the rain and wind. We are making an effort this summer to try and visit new places and I really wanted us to see ‘Another Place‘ by Antony Gormley. They are the most incredible life-size iron sculptures dotted all along the Crosby Beach, there are 100 of them all together! I remember them coming to Crosby and being made a permanent feature of the waterfront but we had never visited them. I’m so glad that we went; as you walk onto the beach you can see them scattered all around as far as the eye can see. Some are so close that you can stand right next to them and others are right out in the river, nearly covered by the water. A few have been clothed but most are naked iron, some loom right over you and others are buried deeper in the sand. They look pretty amazing as you wander up and down the beach, it feels almost comforting to spot them. We took a few photos but there are some stunning shots online of the beach at dusk, they look so ethereal stood in the water looking out. I would love to go back and see them at sunset but might have to wait for that one.
As soon as Lucas spotted them he ran right up to the first one then became a little puzzled by the ones in the water. After a while they just blended into the background and he had fun collecting shells and running up and down the sand dunes. Crosby isn’t really a traditional ‘seaside’ type of beach but it is well worth a visit; there were so many families there running inbetween statues and giggling over the rude bits (Lucas didn’t seem to notice that). I love how different it looks yet they seem quite at home as if they have just rose up out of the sand. We will definitely return.
One of the things I loved to do with Lucas when he was a newborn was baby massage. I think it is a lovely way to bond with your baby and it always calmed and soothed Lucas. It’s something I wish I had done more of with the twins in the early days but finding a quiet time to do it was difficult. I was excited when I was offered a chance to try out the Tiddley Pom Organic Baby Massage Experience Gift Set. If nothing else I thought it would give me more confidence to massage the twins and make it part of our routine.
I was also eager to try these products as they have been specially designed for babies with sensitive skin; the founder of the range Emma Nash actually created Tiddley Pom when her own daughter had eczema and she was looking for something natural to use on her skin. She is very passionate about using English sourced lavender and chamomile and organic ingredients. The products contain no parabens, SLS, mineral oil, artifical colours or harsh chemicals. All three of my boys have eczema so I usually steer clear of all the usual baby products as they are so damaging to their sensitive skin. I always feel a little sad when I add a boring emollient to their bath and try and cover them in eczema creams which never quite seem to soak into the skin but in the past I have been stung by so called ‘natural’ products and they haven’t been kind to my children’s skin. I have been using these products with my boys for over a week and am happy to say that not only have they been kind to their skin they have actually improved it. I have such faith in the Tiddley Pom products for living up to their organic, natural name.
The kit contains the the products needed for the four-step programme specially developed by Tiddley Pom for soothing, healing and calming. First step is the Organic Baby Wash (50ml) which can be used in a warm bath. I added a couple of drops to the babies bath and used the bubbles to wash them and their hair; it contains lavender and chamomile oils so has a lovely, light fragrance. Second step is the Organic Massage Oil (50ml) which is fragrance free and is made from organic sunflower oil; I felt confident using this on my boys skin as it had no fragrance whatsoever but glided on beautifully. It was easy to try out the massage techniques using the oil and their skin felt so soft the next day so I was very impressed. Third step is the Organic Soothing Lotion (50ml) which is specially designed for any sensitive areas or dry patches. This is really my favourite product in the set and it has all sorts of lovely ingredients such as shea and coconut butter alongside lavender and chamomile oils. I must admit to being cautious about applying too much to the twins as I know how easily they can react to products but I needn’t have worried. I dabbed a little on the areas where they are the driest; elbows, shoulders and knees and their eczema looked so much better in the morning. I was shocked how much it cleared up and obviously soothed them; The final step is the Organic Nappy Balm (30ml) which does what it says on the tin really; I like that this is a balm rather than a cream so you only need a small amount and it is easy to apply. You can see as it glides on it creates a barrier but also sinks into the skin to sooth.
In the gift set there is also an instructional booklet and DVD, which focuses on the holistic nature of Tiddley Pom; not only is it about natural skincare but it brings together touch, smell and music for simulating babies senses, helping to create that bond between parent and child, promoting brain development and calming and soothing. There are different massages to try depending on whether baby is getting ready for playtime or bedtime and there are even some massages to try out for baby ailments, I am going to be trying the teething one this week! I think it is such a good idea to add a DVD to the set and really makes it a complete gift; there was no way I could make it to any baby massage classes with the twins so this gives me a great way to learn at home.
I am absolutely delighted with these products and as a parent to three children with eczema I would not hesitate to recommend Tiddley Pom to other parents. This gift set would be perfect as a gift for a new baby, a great introduction to relaxing baby massage and kind skincare too. I will be buying these products again; I am very impressed with the range and so happy that they are good for my boys’ sensitive skin. The gift set is available from the Boots website and in selected Boots stores selling the Boutique Baby Range priced at £25.00.
Disclaimer - I was sent the Tiddley Pom Organic Baby Massage Experience free of charge. All thoughts and opinions are always my own.
Some of my most cherished childhood memories are from good old UK holidays. My Nana and Grandad used to take me away with them and we’d have so much fun visiting local attractions, exploring a park, going to the beach, discovering a theme park or a farm. Even the simplest things are fun when you are young. I remember my Grandad taught me to fly a kite and even now when I see kites I think of him. I would love for my children to grow up with these happy memories too; there is so much to see around the UK which makes it the perfect place for a family holiday. You can visit places that are near the seaside, in the midst of forests or high up in the mountains and virtually everywhere has a new adventure to try out while you are there.
We all have things that we remember from our own childhood and I think these are the things that we are eager to recreate with our own children. However, there are always new experiences and new memories to be made which makes the UK Our Way guide a must read if you are planning a holiday in the UK. The 2014 guide is written by kids for kids which means it is full of all those things that children think are fun; so many of them are things that feature in my childhood memories! I think we can all remember stopping for fish and chips beside the sea or spending the whole day building an epic sandcastle (my husband did this only last year!) It features the hottest list of top boredom-busting UK destinations and fun-filled attractions and it is handy enough for the whole family to use. If you need inspiration before you go away, while you away or even if you are looking for a fun day out the guide is sure to help.
I know that there are so many things I want my boys to experience as they get older and so many of them can be, and will be, achieved right here in the UK. One of my favourite holidays was only a few years ago, pre-children, in Cornwall. It was so relaxing yet I feel like we really made to most of being somewhere new; I will never forget spotting dolphins from Sennon Cove. It is one of the first places I want to visit with my boys, I know there is so much that they would love to see there as they get older. Maybe their memories would even fuel future adventures with their own children.
This post has been written in association with Parkdean Holidays.