As a family we are currently counting down the days to our much anticipated trip to Center Parcs. I can’t wait to spend precious time with my family and especially my husband as we rarely seem to get quality time together. The time we do have is spent tidying up or passing each other on the way to the gym or work. I’m really hoping that this trip will give us the break we need and time to reconnect.
We’ve had this trip booked for quite a long time, it was first booked for last April before we knew that Flixster was growing inside me so having realised the trip would coincide with his due date we had to rearrange. For a small admin fee thankfully it was no trouble so that put my mind at rest. So fast forward another year and we are now just weeks away from going.
Travelling with a young family is daunting, just the sheer amount of things I will need to take for only a few days seems like a mammoth effort! I’m thinking of doing a blog post just listing the things I need to take as a helpful guide to other families who may be travelling with small people for the first time. Now that Flixster is on complimentary food as well as breastmilk the list just gets longer!
I have been to Center Parcs before and so know roughly what to expect from our break, but of course having to small people in tow changes the focus of the holiday. Before my first visit to Center Parcs about 7 years ago I wasn’t sure if it would be for me but having been a few times now I can say that it most defiantly is. It’s a place for everyone. No matter what kind of group you are travelling in, all adults or adults and children you will be able to find something to do.
This trip we are taking my mum and dad too which will be nice. I am desperately hoping that I will be able to have some time away from my beautiful babies with my mum. I hope that we will be able to visit the spa and perhaps have a treatment there. Something which at the moment seems impossible! I’d love to spend some time with my mum as although I see her on an almost weekly basis she lives about an hour from me so going out in the evening together is pretty impossible even if I didn’t have the Flixster permanently stuck to me! Plus when I do see her we always have both the boy and Flixster so holding any kind of adult conversation is tricky as anyone who has a chatty preschooler will know all too well! I’m also hoping that perhaps one night the hubster and I can get out together to perhaps have a meal or just go for a swim. I’d love to get him in the spa but I’m not too sure if he’ll be up for that?!
I hope to that I can write a few blog post about our experience at Center Parcs so that anyone who has not been will be able to see why so many people rave about the place, and why when you have a young family it can be a great short break destination.
For this trip we are visiting the Whinfell situated in the Lake district, it’s about 90 minutes to 2 hours drive from us with no stops so I’m going to allow at least half a day for travel with frequent toilet and food stops!
So let the endless list making begin and the countdown start, Center Parcs here we come!

This is my last photo project of the month, all new to me this year but looking forward to looking back at how our family is growing and changing. We are starting this year with a 3 year old (well 3 and 4 months to be precise!) and an 8.5 month old. By the time the years out my first baby will be in school (sob!) and my second little man will be over 18 months old. Where does the time go? So I’m joining in with Lucy from Dear Beautiful and the ‘Me and Mine’ photo project to capture a family picture of us all together. This to me is by far the hardest project to join in with as I need someone else to capture us or use a timer and with two monkeys it’s easier said than done! So to start the year I’ve gone for an easy shot, it wasn’t even taken with this project in mind but it fits perfectly into it. It’s a selfie of us all on a recent train ride. We don’t often use public transport as a family as we usually travel by car but on this particular weekend we were meeting up with some friends in Manchester The hubby already has an annual train pass for work and the children are free so we thought as it was only me paying we’d take the train. It wasn’t too crowded so we got a seat and sat the children on our knee. We were dressed up for the cold and rainy weather too but it captures us at that moment in time.

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Mummy is currently enjoying
– A book called ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’
– Getting back into work
– Getting back to the gym

Daddy is currently enjoying
– Reading ‘The Martian’
– Listening to ‘We have Concerns’ podcast
– Watching ‘The Flash’ TV programme

The Boy is currently enjoying
– Reading ‘The Dinosaur that pooped’ trilogy of books
– Glue and sticking….everything!
– Playing with big boy Lego

Flixster is currently enjoying
– Standing up all the time
– Trying desperately to crawl
– Using his pointer finger to touch everything!

dear beautiful

I’ve been officially back in work for three weeks now although it’s not so bad as I’m using my annual leave spread out meaning I’m only actually doing one day week. I decided to go back earlier than planned as I was getting a little bored at home. I’ve never been one to just sit around doing nothing and being on maternity pay meant that I didn’t have any spare cash to just go for coffees or meet friends for lunch. I love my boys to the moon and back but I’m also cut out to be mummy 24/7 I felt like I needed a little bit of space back, being in work has given me that. I have a lot of respect for mummies that stay at home all the time either though choice or circumstances. Being in work, gives me time to use my brain again and feel a bit more needed and that I’m actually helping. It also gives me a chance to have some adult conversation and selfishly a chance once a week to drink a cup of tea with two hands which is still hot while typing away! Of course it’s hard to think of my boys being in someone else’s care all day and especially for Flixster as he’s my little velcro baby and always by my side, but I’m blessed to have places for them at a nursery I really like. Their nursery is in a large old cottage and is still lived in by the owners, so it very much feels like a home away from home. The preschool room often have their evening stories read to them in the living room of the house which is nice. To me having that time away is also important to keep me sane too.

Having returned to work much earlier this time though than I did with the boy I am breastfeeding more through the day so I’ve had to think about how I manage that. There is no way I’m stopping feeding him myself so in order to maintain my supply and make myself comfortable I take my breast pump to work. The maternity policy at my place of work mentions breastfeeding upon returning to work and the workplace manager taking this into account.
There is a really good information guide on the maternity action website about breastfeeding and returning to work which can be found here.

Before my return I informed my manager that I wanted to continue feeding and so would wish to pump milk a couple of times in the day. Thankfully my work had no problem with this at all. I can imagine that in some situations it may be difficult to ask work or mummies may feel embarrassed to even ask. I hope that’s not the case but I know speaking to a few mums at the breastfeeding group I volunteer at it can be, especially in situations where it may be difficult to find time to use a pump.
So once I’d got my head around pumping at work I needed to make sure I was organised. In the weeks leading up to returning to work I tried to take more notice of how often Flixster was feeding during the day. As he is in the process of complimentary feeding his milk feeds have dipped slightly. I always try to offer a feed before his meals but it depends on the situation as it was not always possible. He was however and still is feeding quite a lot throughout the night, which would remain unchanged as I’m still be there for him at night times.
So on his first day at nursery I sent in 3 bags of 4oz of my milk, when I picked him up, the nursery reported he’d drank just two lots of 1oz, the rest I presume was wasted ( I try not to dwell on all the lovely liquid gold going down the sink!) Unfortunately the whole day at work for me was spent with a painful blocked duct on one side, this was not due to Flixster being away as it had started the day before. I pumped a few times during the day after massaging the area quite heavily but nothing would work to clear it. Within 5 minutes of his first feed back on the breast it was almost eased completely. I was in awe once again at the power of a breastfeeding baby, after trying all day to clear it, it only took one feed! During the day at work I carefully placed my milk in the fridge to take home and freeze for the next week at nursery. The next two weeks at work I only had time to pump during the day which felt enough as I didn’t feel full and I was busy getting on with work. I was able to give lots of cuddles and feeds when I got home.
I think I’ve found a good compromise for now, I get to ease myself back into work while still being able to give breast milk to Flixster when he’s not with me!

Back in November 2014 I wrote a post about a campaign by Dettol who are working with Sparks charity to collect and redistribute baby blankets to less fortunate families, that post can be found here.

I recently found out that the campaign has been extended so thought it was worth mentioning again for anyone who didn’t catch the original post.

Laboratory tests commissioned by Dettol – on washed blankets donated by volunteer mum’s – show that baby ‘blankies’ carry a variety of bacteria even after a 40°C wash. In-fact, a third of the washed blankets harboured coliforms – a group of bacteria linked to faeces.

It’s horrible to think that something I use to snuggle Flixster in all the time may not be as clean as I first thought it was!

Rachel Stevens was the first to donate her blanket and is the new ambassador of Dettol Anti-bacterial Laundry Cleanser. She can be found explaining the campaign here.

 

So why not dig out your old baby blankets that are no longer used and donate them so that Dettol can hygienically clean them before redistributing them to families in need. They also donate £1 to Sparks for each blanket received. The freepost address is below:

 

 

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Just as it was my first time joining in with siblings last week this week I’ve taken inspiration from ‘Me & You’ hosted by Lucy from Dear Beautiful last year, sadly she’s not running it this year. The idea is that each month I share a photo of just myself and my other half to remind us that although we are now mum & dad we are still us. We are still the same people who met and fell in love with each other. The same people who have walked beside each other holding hands through good and bad times. The same people who met at the alter and made promises to each other, and the same people who through love created two very special little boys.

I don’t really feel prepared for this months ‘Us’ picture and I thought I had loads of times to capture one but I guess time once again elapsed very quickly and I’m now stuck looking through for any pictures I can find that I’m happy to share!

This year see’s us celebrate 10 years of being us in March and 7 years of being married in April. It sound like a long time 10 years and I guess it is. It’s hard to remember a time before us a time when it was just me. I can’t imagine life without Neil being in it. For all my faults I know he loves me through thick and thin (and even when I’m moody!). So here it is, our picture, just us.

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Dear Boys,
I’ve not written you a letter in a while, but I have been updating our adventures on the blog. Christmas has come and sadly gone. It was my best Christmas ever, seeing the excitement and surprise in your eyes boys was magical. Christmas Day at home was lovely and Boxing Day at my mum’s was a great way to spend family time together. Moving forward we just went to bed on New Year’s Eve, I couldn’t bear the thought of having to get up on New Year’s Day after only a few hours sleep! At midnight I was woken by the fireworks so rolled over to wish daddy a happy new year. The year started on a high with us all spending some time together as thankfully daddy had time off work.

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Boy you have been growing so fast again, I’ve just submitted your school application. I can’t believe that you’re going to school in September, where has the time gone? I hope we get our first choice but we won’t find out until April now, so all we can do is wait. You’ve made me laugh so much recently with the things you say. The other day you were playing kitchens and offered to make me a smoothie, I gratefully accepted so you went off to make it. Bringing it back to me I asked you what was in it. After doing your thinking face (rolling eyes to ceiling) you replied “Raisins, macaroni and errrr…….sausages!” I’m sure that would have been lovely….not!
I nearly cried laughing listening to you in the car the other day too, we’d had fun counting and as we got to 100, you said “100 uh that’s stinks!” that wasn’t even the funny part,although I did laugh a little, following your lead I said “Oh yes 100 really stinks doesn’t he”. A few minutes later you started talking to yourself quietly in the back of the car this is what I heard, with all the parts spoken by you:
– Awwww what the matter 100?
Somebody said I stink
Who said you stink?
*whisper* Mummy said I stinked
(Shouting at me) Mummy that’s not nice, 100 is sad
I was nearly crying laughing at you telling me off for saying 100 stinks, you had started it all! You’ve also started being a bit cheeky and calling me a “silly dumpt” when something’s not going your way. I’ve had to tell you not to call me a dumpt, whilst trying not to laugh. I don’t know where you got that one from!
This last week you’ve had tonsillitis again, when you speak you sound like you’ve got cotton wool stuffed in your mouth. It’s not been too bad when you’ve had some pain relief but my heart hurts in the night when you wake up crying and I can’t get to you because of Flixster. Daddy always goes to administer cuddles and more pain relief but it hurts me when I just want to scoop you up and cuddle you all night long. I think we’re over the worst of it now and back on the up, hopefully you can get back to nursery tomorrow and a bit more of a routine rather than spending the day in pjs stuck in the house.

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Flixster you’ve just turned 9 months and I love you so much but you continue to frustrate me with your sleeping or lack of it! All evening we are up and down stairs to you unable to have any time to get anything done. I noticed this week your first tooth popping through. It’s a top one which I didn’t expect first and it looks like a big one so I think you may have rabbit teeth like mine! I’m desperately hoping things improve with your sleep soon, I’m not sure how much more I can take.
I’ve started back at work this week so you’ve had your first full day in nursery. I tried not to think of you most of the day so that I didn’t get upset. I think it will have been quite a shock for you as you’re such an attached baby, but we have no choice, I have to go back to work. I picked you up and the ladies said you’d been unsettled at times but at other times you were ok. I hope you settle in soon, for now it’s only 1 day a week so at least I still have you for 6 days. Your brother seems happy there so I hope in time you will be too. Even when I go back to my usual hours in April you’ll only be there for 3 days a week so I’ll still see you for 4 days. I know you’re safe there so that settles my mind.

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Looking forward through the year, we’re hoping to have many great family times. We already have a short break planned to Center Parks in March with Grandma and Grandad, it’s the one we had to rearrange after we found out you were due in our lives so it’s been a long time coming since we booked it a couple of years ago! I hope we have some good weather again this year like last so we can spend some great times on the beach near Grandmas house in Lytham. I see many a picnic to be had this year. With you starting school boy we won’t be able to have any autumn breaks this year so maybe we can for something in over the summer if finances allow.

I’m looking forward to another year watching you grow together boys and making lots of lovely family memories.

Please always remember I love you unconditionally ….forever.

Love Mummy x

This is my first time joining in with a photo project that has a specific theme. I love that I have a focus, something to capture. I have known about the various photo projects run by Lucy from Dear Beautiful blog for quite a while, I have long admired hers and other peoples pictures posted each month. In particular I admire my friend Jenny’s (Let’s Talk Mommy) pictures as I love to watch her beautiful children grow both in real life and on her blog. With the start of a new year I thought it was the ideal time to join in so that I can look back in another years time and watch how my two boys have grown. So my first picture is part of the #siblings photo project. A photograph of my two boys together…..riiiiiight! This is a challenge in itself. The boy won’t keep still and when he does then Flixster is moving around. Or the boy won’t even pose, or he hugs Flixster across the face, or sits on him etc etc and so it goes on. I’m not sure that my pictures are particularly good but they do capture us, in our moment! As you can see…..

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I do however have a favourite from over the Christmas period, this was them on Christmas Eve with their matching christmas pjs on from the Christmas Eve box.

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I’m so proud of the boy and how he has adapted to life as family of four in 2014 year. He has welcomed Flixster into our life with open arms and for the most part seems to love him (except when he’s crying). Flixster adores his big brother and his face lights up when his big brother enters the room. Flixster laughs at the boy being silly and encourages his cheeky side. I hope that the coming year sees them grow a strong bond as brothers which will continue a lifelong friendship for them both.

 

 

 

 

dear beautiful

Well that’s it’s now the application is in for my baby to go to school.

In the end I went with my heart rather than my head. The school we’ve applied for as our number 1 choice doesn’t have the best ofsted in our area but it does have a warm friendly atmosphere when you walk into the building. The staff seem genuinely friendly and welcoming and most importantly the children seem happy. I’ve been round the school a couple of times and both times the older year 6 children have been doing the tours rather than an adult which has been nice because you know you can ask them questions and get truthful answers. The school I thought may have been our number one choice there was no chance to ask the children what they thought. The open evening was mainly based in the hall with a group of the senior staff talking about how great the school was. I’m sure that’s true but I want to see the reality of everyday school life.
The school I have chosen as our number one choice is also our nearest by disgrace which is handy as I picture myself (on the days I’m not at work) walking to and from school for drop off and pick ups rather than having to use the car. I’m also helping the distance will help with getting a place.
In our area (I’m not sure if the same applies everywhere) you have to rank three schools in order of preference, you can choose less than three but three is the maximum. I have chosen three that I would be happy for the boy to attend, with my favourite being number 1 on the list. I now have to sit back and wait until April 16th before I know the outcome. I was talking to a friend the other day who said the results of the application tend to go on just after midnight so it looks like I won’t be getting any sleep that night!
When I thought about having children I didn’t think ahead to school time, I guess I never pictured them beyond babyhood really. It’s seems strange to think that I’ll be that mum on Facebook this year putting on school uniform pictures. I’ll be that mum walking him to school for the first time and walking away from the gate without him. Being an August baby he just seems so little still. Only just 4 when he goes thorough those gates for the first time in September. I hope he copes ok with the transition to school. He does go to nursery 3 days a week so he’s used to an environment filled with other peers. Lately however he’s started not wanting to go each morning. I hope this doesn’t carry through to school. I think he’ll cope ok with the day itself as it’s shorter than nursery. We gave up his afternoon nap almost a year ago so I also think he’ll be ok concentrating during the day. Although he often has a post lunch slump it’s never more than 10 minutes or so and its more than likely the food rather than his need for a nap. He truly is full of energy he really is.
So let the waiting begin, everything is out of my control right now, I just have to wait…..