Wednesday, 18 November 2015

5 reasons why you should leave the toddler behind when you move house and other packing tips.

I'm I feel like we're living on a knife edge. We're still not 100% sure we're moving at all but I'm packing regardless! If exchange all goes well, it looks very likely we will be moving  next week. Eeek! Moving next week, that sounds totally bonkers! We are not ready! Time to get my packing skates on most definitely!

However, packing with a toddler is proving fruitless. Mr M wanted us to pay someone to pack but I quite like the idea of packing and using it as a chance to have a good 'ole clear out, or at least I thought I liked the idea of packing, until I actually started. So to keep my spirits up through what potentially could be the most stressful time of our lives, I compiled a little list of why you shouldn't make the mistake that we did and move with toddlers.

1. Toddlers don't understand the difference between a hill and a mountain of boxes.
Therefore you spend a large amount of time removing them from teetering on the top of a pile of boxes, if your nerves weren't shot before, they most certainly will be by the time you're done with rescuing the toddler from precarious positions. 

2. Toddlers can't read your organised label system.
It doesn't matter to them whether your colour coded and numbered labels show that DVDs go in the box, toddlers know best and therefore they really feel that grapes and socks should be in the DVD box too. 

3. Toddlers do not understand the point of a 'First Day Essentials Box.' 
As someone who considers Pinterest the source of all their knowledge, I have been introduced to the packing phenomenon that is the 'First Day Essentials Box'. (The amount of pins on this will truly astound you!) My toddler thinks this box is there to be unpacked and repacked. After the third time of re-rolling the toilet roll and trying to cram the wet wipes back into the open packet, I have given up and decided that this family can survive without a 'First Day Essentials Box'. Plenty have gone before us on this moving adventure and they didn't need a 'First Day Essentials Box' so we shall darn well do the same (after all this is what the local shop is for!)

4. Toddlers do not like strange men
If your toddler is anything like my toddler, you will know that toddlers are territorial. They only like the people they know in their house and do not take kindly to visitors. Especially visitors that seem to be moving their toys in boxes and refusing to take their boots off in the house. We had one poor removal guy come to look round the house to give us a quote and my toddler told him to take his 'wellies off now' and walked around the house saying 'Bye bye now, thank you, bye bye now!'

5. Toddlers love boxes and bubblewrap!
If you think a toddler is going to actually let you seal a box and label a box (let alone pack it), you are sorely mistaken. The tape and bubble wrap is for toddlers only and preferably to be stuck all together in one big ball of mess. The labels are perfect for sticking all over the DVD player and the box is for the little den they want to make, oh and that box too is also for their den, and so on and so on!

Jeez Louise, it is going to be a very long week!

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Candlelight Capers! How to make candles to brighten an Autumnevening. #Busy Doing Life

Autumn. My fantabulously favourite season. We don't celebrate Halloween, not keen on the ghouls and the ghosts side of things but we normally carve a pumpkin and make pumpkin pie and have a little party to celebrate the season anyway. The pumpkin shortage was real in this neck of the woods - there were none in sight! We searched high and low for a pumpkin all weekend and nearly opted for a watermelon instead but decided to make candles as an alternative!

With our house move rapidly approaching, it looks like Bonfire Night will be a little more low key for us this year, we usually have a firework party but we may visit a display for the first time instead. So it was nice to have some family time and some mini Autumnal celebrations to set the season rolling!

Toffee apples are a norm for us to make at this time of year but we thought Squidge would fare better with chocolate covered apples and so we covered apple slices with chocolate and sprinkles, popped in the fridge until set - deliciously simple and scrummy! But as you can imagine with an almost 2 year old - the mess was something else! I will be finding those sprinkles for weeks!

Pip was really keen on doing apple bobbing, Bean was less keen on putting his face in the water (not a surprise really, given he doesn't even like having like having his hair washed) but I couldn't believe Squidge's bravery, she has to get involved in everything! The Malteser game was just as much fun, they were each given a straw and timed to suck 10 Maltesers from one plate to the other before they can scoff them. A lot harder than it looks!

I am only just understanding the excitement of scented candles! Pip and Bean are forever making potions and perfumes in the garden and so I said we could try our hand at making our own candles. It's a lot easier than I thought and if you'd like to try, the instructions are below. I think they were more excited by the thought of staying up late and taking their candles outside at night time (they have not yet twigged that it's getting dark at 5pm at the minute!) Their little faces as they proudly carried their candles was a picture and we managed to avoid burning anyone's fingers, which was a bonus. We found an essential oil combination  to flavour our candles called ' Autumn Air'  from the lovely blog 'hello natural'  It really conjured up the feeling of Autumn and it turned out to be a lovely way to remember the season and something that we'll try and do every year.

To make the candles, stock up on wicks and wax at HobbyCraft. We also bought some plastic moulds there but I think next time, I might try making them in tea cups.

Step 1: Cut a wick 2in longer than the depth of your cup or mould. Tie one end to a pencil and rest the pencil across the cup so the wick hangs down in the centre.
Step 2: Put candle stubs or wax in an old pan. Put this in a larger pan with an inch of water in the bottom. Heat gently until the wax is liquid, then turn the heat off.
Step 3: To add colour, add a small cut off piece of crayon and add to the pan ( we seem to have tons of these lying around!)
Step 4: For scented candles, add a few drops of essential oil, then pour the wax into the mould.
Step 5: Leave to harden, then trim the wick until 1cm is left. Leave for at least 24 hours before lighting and then that's it! Enjoy savouring the season!
*All words and opinions are my own and I was not sponsored for writing this post - I just love HobbyCraft!

Linking up with the lovely Claire at the Free Range Family with her fun #busy doing life linky

And Clarina's Fab (I'm so pleased it's back) Savouring the Season

The Freerange Family


Monday, 2 November 2015

Update on the house move!

We are in limbo. Shall we stay or should we go? Well, actually this doesn't seem to be our choice at the moment. I realised that I haven't updated this little blog with our house news but needless to started off as a whirlwind and ended, well it hasn't ended yet, but dwindled to barely a breeze.

We accepted an offer on our house the day after it went on the market but finding a house for us was a little more tricky.

We had too many requirements, too many compromises to make but did eventually find a cracking house with a garden, a vegetable plot and bags of potential. I am sounding like an estate agent but it really does have bags of potential........if we can only find the time and the money. We were trying to get an extra bedroom, a larger downstairs, a larger garden and all in a nicer area without a mammoth price tag and it feels like this might possibly be in arms reach (albeit with a bright yellow bathroom and checked tartan wallpaper!) 

So fast forward through lost buyers, new buyers, bargaining, negotiating and so on and we're now just waiting. We could be moving in 3 or so weeks but we also might not be and so don't know whether to even begin packing. Friends have bestowed us with some sought after boxes but I'm both too scared to start packing in case it all falls through and too scared to start packing in case we have to actually leave! I attempted to start the packing process yesterday but it was both too daunting and too tricky to manage with 3 little ones! We-have-too-much-stuff! It's time for a clear out methinks! However, as I packed one box, the little people unpacked's going to be a long 3 weeks! So as we hang on the brink between exchange and a fall through, we wait with baited breath to see if it all comes together and whether we get our doer upper. Then let all the decorating dreams begin! 

Here's my little pirate and ballerina helping with the packing!


Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Top 10 Best Places to Visit in South London #9 Keston Ponds

Ok, so I'm probably stretching the boundaries with this one as Keston Ponds is actually in Kent but it's not far - Bromley is only down the road and is one of our favourite little weekend places so I'm reserving the right to include it!

It's one of our regular picnic haunts and we frequently seem to have winter picnics here too, proving that it's a good all rounder!

We visited this weekend after a particularly stressful week with work which resulted in me not seeing the little people that much. There were two dismal days where I left for work before they woke up and returned after they'd gone to bed, so we made sure that we chilled out together this weekend.

Keston ponds is perfect for woody walks, climbing trees and lake views (or lake paddles if you have cheeky children like mine!)

We just can't wait until we have a dog one day to take him for walks here!

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

A very pink ballet party! Elodie turns 7!

How on earth did I get old enough to have a 7 year old? Life has just simply flown since Elodie was a teeny tot!


Right back in the summer, Elodie planned to have a VERY pink party. She was adamant everything had to be pink and ballet themed, it could not be just dance themed- ballet was essential! Elodie does 3 different types of dancing on a Saturday but ballet is her favourite and since their summer show, she has been ballet mad. So, a ballet party it was to be, which meant for the first time she opted for a no boys policy and only girls and pink were allowed! (Family were an exception to this rule!)

It was fun planning different kinds of games for a 7 year old, for the last few years I've managed to adapt the standard pass-the-parcel and pin-the-tail to whichever party theme we have, but this year I opted for something different.

We played 'the chocolate knife and fork game', I have no idea what this is called, but you know the one, where you dress up in hats, gloves etc.... And try to eat some chocolate with a knife and fork. Other games we had were musical chairs and a team game where you have to play fashion designer and make a ballet costume for your friend out of pink toilet tissue! 

But the star of the show was Auntie Hannah's entertaining skills, teaching the girls a dance to Taylor Swift's 'Shake it Off'. Elodie and Auntie Hannah choreographed the dance whilst on holiday in Ireland but right before they were to teach her friends, Elodie became all embarrassed and shy and didn't want to do it. But my dad saved the day by dressing up and doing the dance with her! He used the pink tutus as armbands! 

I cheated a little with the cake this year and brought some pink sugar ballet shoes and made a pink cake for them to sit on, and made a pink tutu with netting to go around the cake (to hide the joins in the icing!)

Everything in the party bags was ballet themed from ballet lip gloss that I found on Ebay to the ballet bracelets Elodie and I made over the Summer. It's funny thinking that in a year or so, she may not like pink anymore and we will have moved onto something else but for now, it was lovely watching her have a properly pink and special girly day!



Monday, 19 October 2015

Crumble, Parenthood and Birdy #Littleloves

Have just started reading The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vasquez. Me oh my- it's an incredible novel already, the kind that has you devouring every word and clutching every page!

We had a gorgeously cuddly movie night on Saturday, the kidlets had an indoor picnic and watched 'Home'. It was one in our many attempts to have a chilled out weekend with plenty of time to relax. Bean seems to be loving school but is shattered every evening and we've had more tantrums than seem humanely possible from a 4 year old, so we made space for family time and as much chilling-out-at-home-time and we could muster. Other watching news in our house is that the little people are obsessed with 'Topsy and Tim' (does anyone else find their family a little too sickly sweet?!) and the bigger people are binge watching 'Parenthood' which is light relief compared to the box set of choice before it ('Sons of Anarchy') it's no 'Friday Night Lights' but it's pleasant wine watching all the same.

A certain pebble necklace is rarely leaving my neck right now....

Truth be told, what I've actually heard a lot of this week is fighting and bickering between the kidlets, Mr M sighing as we ponder whether to buy the house with the very poor survey and Squidge wandering round the house saying 'where are you?' (her new little phrase- she hides just so she can say it!)

What I used to drown out the noise this week was Son Lux's 'Lost it to Trying' which is from the new 'Paper Towns' movie, oh and I'm still loving the music from that advert with the black horse.....if I could sing, I'd want to sing like Birdy.

As the chillier weather sets in and our garden is overrun with rhubarb (these two things are not necessarily connected, it is very odd to me that rhubarb grows prolifically in our garden whereas everything else dies a very sudden death) but what a better way to use up all that rhubarb but to make a rhubarb cake! We were bored of crumble and wanted to try something new so Jamie Oliver came to my rescue with rhubarb cake- it was perfectly indulgent with cream!

And lastly.....
So, we still find ourselves in a state of flux with the house move. The survey came back a little worse than expected. I mean, we knew it was a wreck but seeing it written in the black and white words of the survey....all the work that we'd need to do over the next few years and fearing the money that would cost has left us a little confused as to what to do next. A weekend of seriously thinking (and calculating) is ahead of us!

#Littleloves is a chance to remember all the things that made up your week. Linking up with Morgana, who is now blogging over at her shiny new blog.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Top 10 Best places to visit in South London #8 Horniman Museum

Wouldn't this be a beautiful place to get married? Had I had a summer wedding and could have guaranteed the sun (we were married the day before Christmas Eve) I think I would have had our wedding in this lovely orangery. You could be forgiven for thinking this was a hot summer's day but the weather cannot make it's mind up at the minute and it was more of a chilly but bright kind of day - my favourite kind of weather (I would never survive in a hot climate)!

So the weather promoted a visit to number #8 on our little list of lovely things to do in South East London and it starts with a spectacular view across our beautiful city. There is an urban wives tale that once upon a time you couldn't google 'Horniman Museum' because it was considered an inappropriate-verging-on-pornographic-name-for-a-museum. I'm not sure this was ever true but it even if it was, it couldn't be further from the truth. The Horniman museum is large enough to have lots to keep the littlees entertained but not too large as to be overwhelming and can be easily completed in a half day trip. Follow this up with a picnic in their stunning gardens or over the road to a fab sandpit park called the Triangle and you've easily got a full and varied day out .

I love......... how the parking is easy peasy (opposite on Sydenham Hill is the best spot), the big wide open spaces for buggies, the music videos of religions and celebrations, the outdoor instruments and the aquarium with it's cute seahorses. Seahorses and dragonflies are some of my favourite things.

Pip and Bean love........ the see-through hive, the stuffed animals (although I find taxidermy pretty weird) and the half term arts and crafts.

Squidge loves.........the musical instrument try-out room! She's always up for making a noise!

The Horniman is at it's finest in the school holidays where they have storytelling and arty workshops, they put a lot of thought into making the museum family friendly. When we visited this time - there was even sheep shearing and yarn spinning looms in the gardens.

Word has it....the giant stuffed walrus even has its own twitter feed! If that doesn't make you want to visit today, I don't know what will!

Monday, 7 September 2015

Someday I will look back and miss..... the small things

The boy loves his trains, he is slowly agreeing to getting his trains back out after having a few months where he wouldn't because Squidge would break up the rails and he couldn't bear that! I watched him today, thinking that in just a few days he starts school and how his tastes and likes will develop and change but how I hope that he doesn't lose his transport obsession as its so cute to sit and watch him play! Although, I have a little bit of sadness at Bean going to school, a little bit of longing to bottle and keep this moment, I do feel we need to desperately get the family back into some kind of routine.

Over the last few days, the peace and fun of the summer holidays seems to have vanished and Pip and Bean have been arguing and fighting and Pip has been moping around the house, annoyed that I have gone back to work but she hasn't yet gone back to school! Believe me- I would much rather swap!

And so, although the summer's been great, a chance to catch up with them all and for more cuddles and plays and above all listening to their chatter, I do think we're the kind of family that is used to being busy and thrives on a routine and so there's a little bit of me that wants it all back (as well as the bigger part of me that is already loathing the early starts, the late evenings, the constant rushing around from one place to another.........)

So as an ode to the Summer, here are the little things, normally forgotten in a blink that I will miss about the kiddos and how they have been these past six weeks.

I'll miss Bean putting both fingers up his nose and blowing hard to shootthem out thus demonstrating to me how a rocket is launched!

I'll miss Squidge's  little pigeon phrases "sit me mummy." "Oh no all stuck" and demanding Mr Tumble and her 'Nummy' at regular intervals throughout the day. I'll miss the look Squidge gives you when she knows we're trying to tactfully convince her to get in her buggy or drink milk from a cup- this morning she brought me a bottle from the dishwasher and tried to demand I transferred her milk to it from the cup, she's swiftly becoming a little madam! 

I'll miss Pip and Bean's little nighttime plans where they plot to have a midnight feast and keep bits of their dinner, their chocolate from pudding and try to sneak them upstairs. It's often a cue that something is afoot when Pip asks 'do mice like.....' After I warned them we might get mice if they continued to sneak food upstairs.

Oh, I am so relying on this blog to be my second memory, this blog can remember all the little things for me and also all the feelings and emotions about the big days, so that hopefully I can look back and remember what life was like and how it was back in the summer of 2015.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

My little boy goes to school

The last couple of days have been filled with those predictable back-to-school-tasks..... the school shoe shopping trip, the haircuts, the sticking name labels into every item they own.....

As I sat and watched my little boy have his hair cut and how he tried to catch the hair and keep it in his palm, it struck me just how little he is. I think my eldest daughter seemed more ready for school than Bean does, granted she is a September birthday, but she just seems more emotionally ready. But Bean seems just so little that I want to wrap him up for just 'one more year' and keep him little and cuddly.

The summer has been both wonderful in terms of extra time to snuggle with Bean and to relish in his little-ness but this summer has also brought out another side of Bean! There's been a lot of anger and shouting and screaming and he's been oh-so-emotional about the slightest thing. I'm sure it's connected to his impending arrival at school but also the leaving nursery and the collapse of any routine. 

But as I watched him get excited about trying on his uniform and how he wore his PE kit all day yesterday! I realised he will be fine. Despite all the emotion and the tiredness that I will expect to appear in the first few weeks, he will be fine. It may be the end of an era but it's also the start of another very exciting era for my little boy. One of friends and learning and belonging and independence and of course, I'll be right here when he needs a cuddle and when life gets all-too-much, as it does for us all. Good luck little man- I just hope you love school as much as your sister and make some lovely little friends to grow up with. We can't wait to see how you'll turn out! x

Saturday, 22 August 2015

An unpredictable kind of day.....

We had one of those days today where everything you set out to achieve turned into something else and the day sort of passed you by in a blink of an eye with so much and so little happening all at once.

Bean woke up all emotional (this is common of late) and he had a temperature so thought he was poorly. I cancelled all plans and decided to have an easy day. By 10am, Bean had perked up so there were smoothies in the garden and there were a joyous few hours where he played a whole host of imaginary games with Pip - from "let's go camping" to "creating a costume shop". I love their little make believe games and love to hear happy sounds emulating from their room. After Squidge and I had visited the costume shop and paid for our goods, I heard Elodie exclaim "you were an amazing shopkeeper Finlay! This is the bestest thing we have ever done together!"


Come afternoon, we decided on a picnic in the park and all bundled into the car but no sooner had we turned the corner of our road when Squidge threw up all over the car! So-much-sick-everywhere! (F.Y.I projectile vomit gets in every nook and cranny of a car!) and so we returned home and camped out in front of the telly for snuggles and a snooze.

The day progressed with Squidge being sick a further 5 times, including in the buggy and by the end of the day, I was also feeling dreadful (which later turned into tonsillitis and put me in bed for a couple of days).

Despite the poorliness and cancelled plans, it was lovely to do nothing and I'm thankful for one more week off (only wish it was two!) It's been a whirlwind summer, and sometimes doing the ordinary, everyday is what we all need before we head back to school and work and a brand new year.