World Book Day 2018 was actually on Thursday 1st March 2018, but due to Storm Emma giving half the country a few snow days, our school postponed it to today. I unfortunately have lacked in spare time and creativity lately, so instead of whipping up a homemade masterpiece, we bought costumes for the girls.
Bunny went to school as Cinderella, mainly because she already had the dress and partly because I think deep down she knows she will never get away with wearing a dress like this when she’s at secondary school! I am not particularly great at hairstyles, so we just pinned the front sections back and put in a few loose curls through the back. She insisted on looking like Cinderella from the modern film, rather than the iconic cartoon Cinderella who wears a massive styled bun.
As the twins have recently spent a term studying fairytales, we thought it’d be good to stick with that theme for their World Book Day costumes.
Tiny went as Goldilocks from Golidlocks and the Three Bears. She took one of the Bear’s to school with her. We’ll say it was Baby Bear, even though that might confuse things because Baby Bear is actually what we call my son. We should have dressed him up as one of the Bear’s – he’d have looked adorable! I put some ringlets into Tiny’s hair, because in all the traditional stories, Goldilocks had ringlets. I think she looked awesome and it really finished off the outfit. Tiny’s Goldilocks costume came from Sainsbury’s.
Fluffy went as Little Red Riding hood. Little Red Riding hood typically has her hair down, but Fluffy wanted it up, so we put in a side pony, so her hood would go up more easily and her hair would poke through under the hood on one side. Her costume had a little bag with it too. We bought Fluffy’s Little Red Riding Hood costume from Tesco.
The girls were SO excited to go to school dressed up and of course we put long sleeved tops and tights underneath all their outfits to keep them warm. I really hope they don’t come home with their costumes covered in food from lunch time. Now obviously I’m biased as I’m their mum, but I think they all look adorable!
Yesterday, I just got home from the school run in time to accept a courier delivery. I’d been sent a big beautiful bunch of flowers, a box of chocolates, a teddy bear and a glass vase from Prestige Flowers. The idea behind me reviewing these, was actually that I was going to give them to my mum as an early Mothers Day gift. She came up to visit on Monday and look after Baby Bear, whilst Mike and I had to attend an important appointment. Unfortunately, my mum had started her long journey back to Dorset by time they had arrived, and I’m really quite gutted I couldn’t give them to her.
However, I literally never get flowers. I think the last time I received flowers was when my husband bought me some when we were first dating! So whilst it’s a shame I didn’t get to give these to my mum (and I’m sure she will be sad about it too), I am quite enjoying them myself. The flowers are beautiful. Unfortunately, the carnations started looking a little sad by the evening, as it became apparent that they’d been dyed pink and the pink was disappearing and being replaced by a light green. By day two, the carnations are looking very much worse for wear and I fear they will be dead by tomorrow. The rest of the flowers, are in full bloom. The roses are huge and look spectacular, as do the Calla Lily’s. They look lovely on my dining table, really cheer up the room and make the lounge smell lovely too.
The flowers are from the Luxury range of Prestige Flowers and they arrived well boxed, with a special damping cloth, to keep the flower stems moist, but so they don’t make the rest of the package damp. They also came with flower food, instructions for care, a message card and a voucher for £5 off my next purchase.
I was very excited when I found the vase, as my last vase had accidentally been broken. I managed to trim the stems of the flowers and put the bouquet in the vase without upsetting the arrangement.
Baby Bear immediately stole the teddy bear, but I managed to borrow it for a few quick photos, before he went back to cuddling it. I think he’s well and truly claimed “Charlie Bear” (as it says on his label), as his own.
The chocolates went down a treat. I let the children have one each, reminded myself that this was a “mother’s day” gift that I’m reviewing and ate the rest myself. In my defense, I don’t get much these days, that I don’t have to share with the children! The chocolates, were delicious.
So whilst these mothers day flowers weren’t actually sent by children and didn’t manage to make it to my mum, I am enjoying the treat myself! My mum will just have to wait and see what she gets from me on Mothering Sunday instead, because of course, I will send her something special to make up for it!
(And Mum if you’re reading this… I love you!).
***UPDATE*** These flowers were delivered on a Monday afternoon and half of them were dead by Thursday afternoon.
I had thought, that with a name like Emma, Storm Emma would be a force to be reckoned with. Sadly, I was left feeling a little disappointed by the storm I share my name with. We had five solid days of snow. BRILLIANT. I love the snow. It didn’t settle in Cheltenham though, until the evening of Thursday 1st March 2018. By this point it was too dark to go out and play. By Saturday 3rd March, most of the snow had melted into a brown slush. This only left us one play day. So on Friday, 2nd March, the children and I went out to play.
The snow was very powdery, which meant it wasn’t mouldable and didn’t stick very well, so our snowman, didn’t look like your average snowman. We thought he was quite cute though.
The children had snowball fights, enjoyed throwing snow all over themselves and made snow angels. I loved seeing the glee and wonder on their faces. I wish they had gotten a few more days fun out of the snow. Perhaps then we would have been able to venture further afield and buy a sledge.
Baby Bear kept trying to take his wellies and gloves off, which meant we couldn’t stay out too long, for fear of him getting cold.
I absolutely adore the photos I got to take of the four of them.
We did get a little bit of play time on Saturday morning too, where we realised the snow had become more sticky. We were playing in the park and the snow was already rapidly melting, so the girls didn’t have the patience to craft a spectacular snowman, so we made a hasty mini snowman instead.
I tried to go out and take photos of the snow around Cheltenham, but sadly I was too late. The grass was poking out, the lakes were thawing and the snow atop roofs and trees had melted or blown away. I don’t think we will get another snow until next winter, so for now, I will treasure these snowy pictures of my beautiful children and look forward to summer!
At school, the twins have been learning about fairytales, with a particular focus on The Gingerbread Man. In the last week of term, they celebrated all they’d been learning, with a “Gingerbread Party”. We received handwritten invitations from the twins and they were excited about it all week.
When we arrived at the gingerbread party, we were really surprised by just how much work had gone into it. It was like a school fete. There were tables set up all around the room, with a different activity on each one.
The twins had each typed their own versions of “the gingerbread man”, and not to be sexist, they’d written “gingerbread lady” stories, with different characters and different endings. I LOVE seeing the way children spell words when they are still just learning to read and write. How cute are these stories?…
One table had a game, where the children had to roll a different number on a dice. Each number corresponded to a different part of the gingerbread man, that they could draw on with felt tips.
There was a treasure hunt, with letters dotted around the room, to spell out a sentence. Children won a prize (a gingerbread house) for completing it.
A gingerbread house photo prop had been made for the children to pop their heads through. Their teacher told us the second hole is for the parents head, but I used having twins as an excuse to avoid my mug being in the photo!
One table was laden with cupcakes and gingerbread jars, so the children could go home and make their own gingerbread men (or ladies).
Another table was set up for cutting and sticking patterns onto paper gingerbread people.
A table full of ginger nut biscuits and gingerbread people, awaited the children to decorate with icing and stick marshmallows on. The twins made one each for themselves and made one for their big sister too. She was getting changed for a football match at the time, so she was grateful for the personalised snack. I think I will be a little sad when they are no longer all in the same school.
And who can forget the table of goody bags?! Each goody bag contained a game, with dice, a guidedog badge and folders full of gingerbread themed activities for the children to do over the school holidays.
There was even a feedback and donations table, and the children raised money to support a guide dog through it’s training. (They supported the same guide dog last year too).
I was so impressed with the gingerbread party and the twins felt very proud showing us their work and really enjoyed sharing the activities with us. The teachers must have put so much work into it. It’s things like this that make me so happy that I moved the children to a village school. I only wish I’d taken more photos. If I’d known there would have been that much to do there, I’d have taken my DSLR with me.
It’s no secret that we are a family who LOVE holidays and day trips. We love to always be active and cram as much into every day as we can. We love action, adventure and silliness. We love to make each other smile and laugh. We also love to have a little bit of rest and relaxation in the sunshine from time to time. We have the wonderful ability to be able to entertain ourselves in even the quietest of places. Above all, we love spending time together, creating memories to treasure all our lives.
That’s one of the reasons I started this blog. And our love of holidays is why I started my travel blog. As a way of keeping those memories alive.
My husband and I, got married last June and still haven’t had a honeymoon yet. Our reluctance to leave the children behind, has left us in search of a familymoon instead. Yet we have still not found the perfect hotel or the perfect destination for that special trip. We keep looking at Greek Island destinations, because the weather would suit us down to a tee and ALL the Greek islands look absolutely idyllic.
I recently heard that Simpson Travel were running a competition to find two family ambassadors to work with and here I am – jumping at the chance to enter.
Simpson Travel are specialists in family travel, with over 40 years experience, local expertise for every destination and who like to add all the little personal touches to their holidays. Simpson Travel have luxury villas and boutique hotels in numerous destinations across France, Italy, Greece, Mallorca, Corsica, Spain and Turkey. They can tailor make your holiday package to include everything from airport lounge access to airport transfers and car hire. The overseas teams can also help with finding day trips and things to do whilst you are on holiday. And who better to get recommendations from, than locals, who know the area really well?! Family holidays are thought out to the last detail, including gated pools, private pools and highchairs, child-friendly beaches and even a granny annex to hide the grandparents (or for the grandparents to hide from the children perhaps?)!
I’ve perused the Simpson Travel website at length and daydreamed about the beautiful locations featured and I think that actually, this might be just what we have been looking for. This could be the holiday company that ticks all the boxes for our much sought-after familymoon. Two destinations in particular have caught my attention (and line up nicely with our desire for a Greek island adventure). Periyali Villas in Zakynthos and Mousses Villas in Lefkada are not only stunning locations, but they also have a crèche and children’s club. The Hatchlings Creche would be perfect for Baby Bear (it’s for 6month olds to 3 year olds) and the Turtles club (4-10 year olds) would suit Bunny and the twins. Whilst the children tire themselves out, fully supervised by British NNEB qualified nannies, my new husband and I, could enjoy some much appreciated relaxation time together.
What’s more, Simpson Travel have two and even three bedroom villa’s in their collection, so they could accommodate a family of six with no fuss. Believe it or not, it’s actually really difficult to find holiday providers that can accommodate a family of six, without splitting the parents into separate apartments. This discovery, is like music to our ears.
All in all, it’s a no brainer, why we’d want to represent Simpson Travel as family ambassadors. Who wouldn’t?! But why should Simpson Travel choose us to work with? Well… I figured, the best way for them to decide if we are a good fit with their brand, is by showing them our holiday style. I’ve decided to do this in two ways. Firstly, through the power of verse. Secondly, through the power of video.
So without further ado… I present you with the Crazy with Twins family holiday style…
We are the type of family That can’t sit still We want to walk, run and splash And completely fill Our holidays With activities and smiles Laughter And many different styles Of dancing.
We are the type of family Who always want to stay In the sunshine, in the pool, On our holiday. New adventures Exploring Many beautiful places Just adoring each experience.
We are the type of family Who seek adventure, action, fun In every corner of the world And come rain or sun We make memories Everywhere. With sticky fingers Windswept hair And Jetlag
Now you’ve seen a glimpse of our average family holiday, the real question is…
Can Simpson Travel handle us? Can the idyllic picture-perfect locations in their brochure provide the perfect familymoon for a fun-loving family of six?
This post is our entry into the Simpson Travel Family Ambassador competition. All photos in this post (except the first two) are the copyright of Simpson Travel and are used with kind permission from Simpson Travel. The photos represent the two resorts mentioned in this post.
I give you my heart, my beautiful, funny, clever, amazing children.
There are many moments in motherhood, that overwhelm me with such an abundance of love for my children, that I just want to be able to express it. I can’t of course. Nobody can write that much love. However, during one of those moments of adulation, I wrote this poem, for my four incredible children.
I give you my heart
I give you my heart, My beautiful children. I give you my heart freely and truly, Without exception or excuse. Forever. My love for each of you, Is constant and unwavering. At times overwhelming. There have been moments, I have sat and held you And cried With sheer all encompassing love.
How can I explain how much A mother loves her children There are no words Big enough or powerful enough. You are my reason for being. My sole purpose in life, The biggest blessing in my life Is being your mummy. I hope I raise you well And as adults you stay near And learn this love for yourself When you hold your own children dear.
I am treasuring every second Whilst you are so small. As babies, I breathe in your baby scent, Kiss your chubby cheeks, Cuddle you close Your soft hair against my face. Try to cherish each memory And hope they never fade. I wipe away your tears And snotty little noses. Bandage your grazes And try to make you laugh. I hold your hand And you hold my heart.
When you are teenagers, Saying things you don’t mean. When you’re fully grown And I don’t get to see you for a week. Remember still that I love you, every second of every day. A mother’s love never fades, No matter what mistakes you make. I am here for every heartbreak, Every sick bug Every dark day. And nothing makes me happier Than seeing the smile on your face.
Don’t grow too fast. Time please slow a little. My mummy heart is breaking As we say goodbye to all your younger days. And pride fills me, With each maturing thing you do. I fear how fast the time escapes And I don’t want to let go. Each new thing you conquer You need me a little less And I love you even more. More than I knew was possible, But my heart just grows and grows.
When you become a parent, holidays can become less about indulgent relaxation and tranquil peace and more about entertaining the kids; keeping them healthy, happy and alive! Choosing the right location for you and yours is vital if you wish to get the best out of the experience.
For beach holidays, bear in mind you will need an area that is safe and that will provide plenty of opportunity for activities. Here are some of the best beach holiday destinations in Europe for families with little ones.
Praia do Barril, Algarve, Portugal
With a well-maintained beach, an abundance of restaurants, cafes and shops and plenty of attractions for small children, Praia do Barril will be loved by the whole family. An anchor cemetery can be found at the entrance of the beach, where you will see hundreds of rusty anchors arranged in neat rows, in memory of the tuna-fishing industry. Plus, in this location, the water feels warmer which makes it suitable for a curious child’s wiggly toes!
Ugento, Puglia, Italy
Credit: Mi.Ti. /Shutterstock
This all-inclusive resort promises an experience free of stress. There are separate pools for grown-ups, toddlers and children and a lively kids’ club for children older than 4 years-of-age. It’s the perfect place to grab some inflatable swimming pool toys and have fun as a family. With multilingual, friendly staff and great buffet food, you can certainly relax here.
Glorious, gentle white sand and warm shallows make this location perfect for a family holiday. To keep entertained, have fun exploring the ruins or go canoeing on the Dalaman river. There are no tours operating in this area, so you can take time to explore on your own: proving this holiday to be a unique, peaceful experience for all the family to enjoy.
Port de Sóller, Majorca, Spain
Credit: Balate Dorin/Shutterstock
The only sandy beach on Majorca’s west coast, the Port de Sóller is an excellent choice for you and your family. Whether you like to walk, cycle or explore the surroundings by car, you will find stunning views that will make great memories. The resort’s adult facilities include a spa and Pilate and Yoga sessions – a great way to relax for parents in need of some respite.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget, that it’s often the simple things in life, that children love most. We find ourselves sat around wondering what to do for the day on a Sunday, as though the only options are a full day out somewhere, that costs an arm and a leg. Truth be told, my children, like many, just enjoy a bit of family time, whether that means going somewhere exciting or playing board games together at home.
Last Sunday, after a long day of travelling on the Saturday, and not much sleep, we decided to embrace some of the simpler things. We skipped Junior Park Run, in favour of a lay-in and a lazy morning. We watched a family movie together, did some drawing and headed off outside so the children could burn off some energy on their scooters. I took my DSLR, just because I wanted to capture some more ordinary moments of our lives. Normal, simple things, like scooting around the village. I’m so glad I did, because when I got home and went through those photos, I had an album full of energy, smiles, free flowing hair, sibling affection and glowing happy souls. Photos that made me feel warm and fuzzy and full of adoration for those four beautiful children of mine.
Photos that aren’t perfect of course – My favourite one is even a little blurry, but I love the emotion and the vibrancy that I’ve captured through that lens.
We came home, into the warm, for hot chocolate and cuddles before a hearty dinner and once the children were in bed, I took another look at the photographs. Without a doubt, seeing your children smile and hearing them laugh, is one of the most rewarding parts of motherhood. And it was a day that cost us nothing. Literally just scooting around. It’s so easy to take those ordinary moments for granted, when really we should be cherishing every second.
I have both fond and not-so-fond memories of the 3am club. Most mum’s know the 3am club well. The 3am club is another name for the mums, who get up in the night with their babies. It might not always be 3am, it could be 1am or 5am or all three, but the point is, when your baby is little and you get up to do the night feed, you are not alone!
Bonding with baby
The fond memories, are of the nights, where I managed to fully wake myself for the night feeds. I would hold my baby (or babies if I was feeding the twins) and cuddle them close. Whilst they fed, I would see them gazing up at me with their beautiful big eyes and we’d bond. As they dropped off to sleep whilst feeding, I would stroke their baby-soft hair, breathe in their scent and just enjoy the cuddles, the quiet and the sheer amount of love that filled the room.
Tougher night feeds
The more difficult nights, were the ones when it was particularly hard to stay awake during the twilight feeds. I have always had an immense fear of falling asleep during a night-feed. Fear of dropping the baby, fear of the baby overheating on me, sliding down under the covers, rolling off, me rolling on the baby etc. I also feared SIDS, and The Lullaby Trust safer sleeping advice was always not to share a bed with your baby, for the above reasons. Thankfully, none of these things ever happened to me, but I still found the idea terrifying and had nightmares about falling asleep whilst feeding; so I used to take steps to keep myself awake.
How to keep yourself awake during a night feed
Get out of bed. As tempting as it was, to feed one (or two) of my babies in bed, I knew the risk of falling asleep was much higher in bed. So I invested in a nursing chair. I chose one which rocks, so it doubles up as a soothing way to help the babies get back to sleep.
Instead of sitting in the dark, I also added a dimmable lamp to the nursery set-up. This meant if I felt drowsy, I could make it a bit brighter.
Drinks and snacks would also help keep me awake, and as I breastfed each of my children at some stage, drinking is also essential to keeping you hydrated whilst nursing.
The 3am Club
The 3am Club
So the last one, doubled as a sanity saver. For those nights when all the above didn’t help, I would go on Twitter. The majority of people my age, on Twitter at 3am, are other mums, up feeding their babies and trying to stay awake. And as most of the people I follow on Twitter are parents, it was easy to find them. We would chat to each other, in the small hours, keeping each other awake. We would talk about babies, bonding, breastfeeding, bottle feeding, how incredibly blessed we were and how incredibly tired we were. Those that were bloggers, we’d often read each others blog posts in those small hours. We had formed our own secret support network, where someone was always awake.
When I had Baby Bear, I was sure I’d be revisiting the 3am club on a regular basis. In truth, I got lucky. I was incredibly blessed, to give birth to a baby boy who loved his sleep so much, that he never had a night feed. From the day he was born, he slept through the night. Admittedly, this did mean that he fed a lot MORE during the day. In fact, for the first six months of his life, he was pretty much attached to my boob constantly. I’m very proud to say, that I actually managed to breastfeed him until he was 14months old (I didn’t manage anywhere near that long with the others).
Revisiting the 3am club with a toddler
Last weekend, however, I joined the 3am club again, for the first time in years. Baby Bear woke up with a fever and would not settle back to sleep for love, nor money, nor Little Baby Bum on YouTube. He kept me awake from 3am to 5:30am and we tried everything. Medicine, a drink, milk, cuddles, talking, silence, nursery rhymes, you name it, we tried it. Eventually, he fell back to sleep, quite randomly, at 5:30am. At that point, Mike and I got ourselves a cup of tea and some biscuits, before heading back to bed ourselves and thankfully, all four children slept in, allowing us a much-needed lay-in!
Baby Bear was much better in the morning, and back to his usual cheeky happy self.
I’ve been writing Crazy with Twins for almost six years now and South West Reviews for three years. Blogging has changed my life in so many ways. It’s been not just a hobby, but a passion of mine. I’ve bared my soul in dark times, I’ve shared my positivity in good times, I’ve taken my readers on journeys with me. I’ve written some awful posts. I’ve written some amazing posts. I’ve inspired people. I’ve helped people. I’ve probably bored people too! I’ve raised awareness of Thyroid Cancer, Pre Eclampsia and HELLP Syndrome. I’ve fundraised for charities through my blog, walking, running and a prison stay. My blog readers have seen me through a twin pregnancy, a single pregnancy, an ectopic pregnancy. A cancer, a divorce, an engagement and a marriage. Countless birthdays, holidays and four Christenings.
Writing this blog has given my family and I opportunities that we would never otherwise have had. From horseback riding in Menorca, to soaking up the luxury of a cruise liner or facing my fears in a helicopter above the town where I live. From testing Stevia in a lab or learning about cervical cancer in a hospital, to the politics of the Saatchi bill inside the houses of parliament. From testing toys and making my first video for YouTube, to collecting not one, not two, but three trophies at glamourous awards ceremonies. From sipping tea or champagne with other bloggers, to sitting in an isolation unit in hospital reading tweets of support from other bloggers. Blogging has changed me and lifted me, so many times.
When I think about my time as a blogger, I think, WOW! What a journey!
And I’ve learnt so much – about running a website, SEO, photography, working with brands and what it means to be a “social influencer”. About being controversial, not being controversial, learning to be less judgemental, dealing with trolls, learning about politics and ironing and how to be a better cook. How to be a better wife, mother, friend and about the sort of person I want to be. I think that blogging has made me a better person.
Yet here I am, debating whether I should give up blogging, or blog more?!
So where is this all coming from?
This past year, I’ve found it hard to keep up, with being a working mum, a wife, trying to maintain a social life and being a blogger too. The social life and the blogging have slipped. Being a mum, a wife and working have taken priority. And rightly so. But I’m the sort of person that wants to do everything and I’ve come to realise that I simply can’t do it all. Something’s got to give.
In the past few months I have pondered giving up this blog, to focus on my travel blog. But this blog holds a little piece of my soul and I’m just not sure I can give it up.
I’ve pondered giving up both blogs altogether. I’m so far behind on posts and videos I was making, that I have the beginnings of over 100 drafts. Sometimes it can really get me down that I’ve not written everything that I wanted to.
And who really cares right? There are thousands of blogs out there. I’m pretty sure nobody would notice if I stopped.
But then the other day, an idea struck me.
I could give up my “real job” instead, and become a full time blogger. Turn my blog into my career. But can I? Am I good enough? Am I brave enough? Can I really make that leap? Many of the bloggers who started their blogs the same year that I did, are now freelance writers, social media managers, authors, working in PR or marketing or quite simply just blogging full time. Many have been on TV ad’s or in magazines. And here I am, working in a cafe, blogging randomly, feeling like I’m not where I should be. I didn’t up my game in the same way that they did. Maybe it’s time?
Now I am stuck in conundrum-land whilst I deliberate my worth and my talents as a blogger. To friends of mine who write blogs – have you ever wondered if it might be time to give up blogging? What did you do? I’ve always seen my blog as a success, but perhaps it could be even more successful?