Me and Mine February 2017

We managed to do quite well this month getting family photos. First up was on our day out looking at snowdrops at Easton Walled Gardens, I love this shot!IMG_20170212_195952_416

Then hubs for this lovely selfie of us in front of the lions at Whipsnade Zoo.IMG-20170220-WA0002

We also got some other fab photos of our extended families which I thought I’d include as they we don’t all get together very often, let alone get good family group shots, yet we managed one with both sides of the family this month! First up, hubs side of the family, with Granny & Granddaddy, his brothers, Uncle Simon, Uncle Andy, and Auntie Julie, and us of course :)IMG_20170219_124444_754

Then on a trip to the farm at the weekend hubs got a shot of my side of the family, Nanny & Pops, my big Bro Paul and his wife Ericha, and my little Bro Mark with his fiance Fran. 20170225_135346

So it really is a lovely round up of nearly all our me and mine!

My Photo Albums

If you’ve ever read my blog before then you probably know that I love taking photos. I’m not an amazing photographer or anything and probably never will be, but I love taking photos. I love capturing the moment and the memories that are contained within photographs. I love that in that frame, a moment of truth and reality is stilled and can be kept forever.my photo albums

My dad always used to take a lot of photos and while endlessly posing for the camera did my head in as a kid, I always adored looking through our family photo albums. Oh and we had hundreds. I mean literally, hundreds. Every photo my dad took would go into an album. We would have 7 or 8 films (with 36 exposures of course) for one 2 week family holiday and it all went into albums.

Since things have gone digital of course none of us think anything of snapping away, taking hundreds of photos in the blink of an eye without really thinking about it. But what do you do with all those photos? Do you share them on social media or on a blog? Do you go through the pictures you take and label each with a title so you can find them easily? Are they backed up online with thousands of photos with random file names making it almost impossible to find a specific picture ever again?

Because physical photo albums were always so filled with happiness for me as a kid, I have tried to carry that tradition on a bit. Not quite to the extent that my parents did, mind you. Instead of multiple albums per year I am trying to limit the amount of albums. Squeezing 1-2 years into one album to try to keep the amount of physical albums manageable. So, how do I do it? How do I get down from the thousands of photographs that I take every year (and I do mean thousands, I recently found a folder on the computer with 10,000 photos taken in the last 6 months) into a manageable amount that be squeezed into half a photo album?

Well, it takes some organisation.

We have online storage (currently one drive though we have used Google drive and Livedrive in the past) and every photo we take on our phones are automatically uploaded via WiFi, then downloaded onto our home computer and laptop. I then try to routinely organise the folders from my camera roll into other folders. It is easier if I do this frequently, I have left it months before and it is a daunting task at that point! I tend to create a folder per year and then have sub-folders within for events such as days out, birthday celebrations, even a nice walk where I took a lot of photos.2016-09-22 (2)

In the past I have just moved every photo from a specific event into a folder “to be sorted at a later date” but this year I am really trying to only move in the best pictures that are really worth keeping and then deleting the rest as, seriously, there are so many photos! I also have a subfolder specifically for photos of Monkey and LM. I am often snapping them painting or playing etc and I love to keep some of those pictures of them too even though they don’t fit in to a specific event category.

Then, every 6 months or I so, I look back through the folders and copy my absolute favourites into another folder, in preparation for making an actual photo album. I do this in a couple of goes, going through them again to weed out ones that are too similar and keeping the best, or funniest, or ones with a story to them, and making sure I have shots with family members and friends included too.2017-01-28 (3)

The actual albums I prefer are the ones with big self adhesive pages. I’ve never been a fan of slip in albums as all the photos have to be the same way round, and there isn’t any freedom in terms of getting lots of photos into an album. With slip in albums you can fit so many photos of a particular size into the album, and that’s it. With self adhesive albums there is more freedom.

I’ve always loved a nice collage. Even back in my uni days when I would get my films printed out, I would cut up my photos and do each page of an album as a college. I like to think my collages now are a little more sophisticated but the idea is the same. Getting as many pictures onto one page of an album, as possible. I’ve tried a few ways of doing this over the years, but I think I’ve found the nicest way to do it. I create collages using pic monkey (always a blogger’s friend) and have the collages printed out. I have a big collage with about 14 photos printed onto a 10×8 print, and small collages of 2-3 photos onto 6×4 prints and can just squeeze one big print and 2 small prints onto each page, with a bit of trimming taken into consideration.2016-09-22 (4)

I know this is a lot of pictures on each page, and for some it would be too crammed… But I love it. I love being able to see lots of shots per page and for me having more pictures per page means fewer albums in total, taking up less space, which is important to me. I then use some little coloured sticky tabs to add notes to the pages, just to give a rough indication of dates, locations, and at the moment, the kids approximate ages. I love being able to look at a page and immediately see, right that was June 2016, Monkey was just 4 and LM was 20 mths old.20170221_141332

It takes a lot of time and effort to do all this, but for me it is so worth it. Do you organise your photos? How do you do them? Do you have physical albums? Or digital ones? Or you scrapbook? I’d love to hear how you do it. For me, I am have started the task of organising photos from July-December to last year and am enjoying the process of creating my next photo album, so my word of the week, is, albums.

Diets and Crochet

I’ve been a bit quiet on here lately and I thought I would explain why. It is largely because I have finally got back into doing my crochet! I did loads when Monkey was little but after making my Granny square blanket I set my needles aside. Then LM was born, and well I haven’t picked them up again, until now. So my word of the week, is Crochet.

Hub’s mum has a gorgeous ripple blanket I always admire and I have loads of wool hanging around so I thought I would have a go at making my own. I have to admit that after a long break I could not remember at all how to crochet. The first evening involved a lot of false starts and head scratching and you tube watching! But once I remembered how to do it, I was on a roll. I’m following the fab tutorial from Lucy at Attic 24, though using different colours.

It was slow going on the first evening!

It was slow going on the first evening!0

One of the reasons that I have chosen to pick the needles up again now, is because I have also started a new diet, and doing the crochet keeps my fingers occupied so I am less likely to stuff my face of an evening!

Now, I know that I wrote recently that I am who I am, and that I was going to stop trying so hard to change myself all the time. Now, I do stick to that and I know I am never going to be super skinny or lose my curvy shape. I am trying to be kinder to myself in all areas. But, and there is a but, the trouble with the “I’m happy as I am” philosophy is that it can sometimes lead to a change of a different kind. As in the scales moving up, kind of change, and that’s not what I want either. So I needed to make a change.

A good friend of mine is a big advocate of the 5:2 diet, where you fast (only eat 500 calories) on 2 days of the week and then eat a normal amount the rest of the week. Now a normal amount isn’t the same as what I was eating before, believe me. So anyway I decided to give it a try.

I’m finding the fast days pretty easy to manage so far, which surprised as I thought I may get really hangry! I still have eggs for breakfast, a big bowl of soup for lunch and a carrot and a little hummus later. It’s not loads but it seems manageable.

What has also happened is that I have really paid attention to what I normally eat. The amount of food that I hoover up off the kids plates, treating my body like a human dustbin, with the argument “I don’t like waste” when really it is pure greed. So let’s just say that even on the non-fasting days I am eating a lot less than I was!

It’s been 2 weeks and so far I haven’t really lost any weight (possibly due to a rather boozy night in london last weekend) which is demotivating. I’m really not a patient person at all, and especially with diets. After Monkey was born, I went on a diet and lost quite a lot of weight, really easily to be honest. It was brilliant. Since LM it has not happened that way at all. Every pound lost has been hard-won and put back on almost immediately which has been hard. I know that in truth I’ve given up too easily each time, so I am determined nor to give up this time.

Not sure shots are ever advised on a diet??

Not sure shots are ever advised on a diet??

There are bound to be ups and downs and I need to find a balance between enjoying myself on the rare occasions that I go out, and not berating myself for that…. But also expecting that that will slow down my progress. I have to stop comparing this weight loss to the diet of a few years ago as clearly my body is different now. As a slight aside I was reading a really interesting article (I know, I know, apologies that it is from the Daily Fail, but it is interesting!) the other day about diets based on the bacteria found in your gut, as there are bacteria that are super efficient at extracting every calorie from food, and other bacteria that are less ‘good’ at that so help you not to gain weight. Fascinating and a reminder that we know so little of the way our bodies work and the reasons things are different for different people.

I’m not about to get my poo tested though, so for now I’m just going to stick with the eat less and move more philosophy. And to help with that, crochet in the evenings or whenever I am tempted to eat out of boredom rather than hunger!

I have to admit I am rather pleased with my blanket so far, a long way to go but it is really getting there, LM seems to like to it too… Though Monkey is moaning at how long it is taking to finish haha.PhotoGrid_1487322124286

Do you find it harder to lose weight than pre children or as you’ve gotten older? Any hobbies that help you?

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Me & Mine January 2017

Well if January is anything to go by 2017 is going to absolutely whizz by! Can’t quite believe it yet here we are and the first Me and Mine post of 2017.

The first family shot this year was actually taken on the 2nd January! We had a lovely morning out at our local country park with family and were playing and having a generally great time. With us all so happy I decided to grab an impromptu snap, and, well it was a miraculous snap as I managed to get us all smiling in the first frame! It is much irretrievably favourite family photo and I just adore it. IMG_20170102_200014_837

We’ve got a couple of other snaps this month too. LM is growing up so much and she has really started to like smiling for photos (hooray!) so there have been a couple of other family selfies that are just lovely and capture how we are as a family at the moment.First up, a little snap of us all on the sofa one evening after school, reading LM’s current favourite Usborne ‘find the duck’ book.

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In the next one we are in our bed, LM loves to play a game where we all snuggle up and pretend to be asleep then push the covers back and its time to get up. Monkey always loves a good snuggle and well, I’m sure you can all understand why mummy & daddy never say no to a game that primarily involves lying down :).20170107_083235

Rounding off with one final sofa snap, the kids are in their pj’s but I just love LM’s excitement at the prospect of a photo.

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So there we have it, our little family in January 2017 :)

Monkey’s first few months at school

IMG_20170115_195918_007So our little Monkey is  about 4 3/4 and has been at school for about 5 months now. He has changed and grown up so so much in those 5 months that I thought I would write a little update about how he is getting along, and the ups and downs we have with our little school boy. Starting with some real positives, his learning is simply amazing. He is like a little sponge soaking up everything that they are teaching him.

Reading

His reading is amazing to listen to as he just reads so many words now, and sounds out and blends any he doesn’t know. It is wonderful sitting next to him reading his school book and he’s so proud of himself too. With a bit of encouragement (as he can be a bit shy) he has read his books to other family members too and they are all equally proud of him. We get him to read his book 5/6 times a week and can get a new book to read once he has read it twice. We tend to do this because after reading a book a couple of times he is more likely to try to read it from memory rather than looking at the words, so gets it wrong more often the more he reads it. The school recommends reading a minimum of twice a week but it has just become part of our routine now that he reads a story after dinner so he reads a few little books a week (pink band level) and this seems to be working well for him.IMG_20170124_174052

Writing

His writing is so good now too. It has been a bit harder for me to get him to practice writing at home, as quite often my suggestions to do it are met with a cheerful “no thank you” and if I push him he just gets grumpy and it’s not the right atmosphere for it then! Having said that he wrote the names in all 60 of his christmas cards to classmates and I think that all that practice definitely helped. I now try to get him to write things for a purpose. For example if we have been building something, and playing with something I try to get him to write a sentence about it. One day he came home from school so excited about what they had learned about ice that day and, as I normally struggle to get much out of him about what happens at school (“I can’t bermember,” “I just did lots of things”), I decided to capitalise on it and he wrote a sentence about ice and water. We’ve done similar writing a couple of times now and he is getting a tiny bit more enthusiastic about it.PhotoGrid_1485784890689

I have been so impressed with the way he has been learning reading and writing with his phonics at school. Last week I went for a stay and play session at the school which was so much fun. It’s hard to know really what is going on behind the school gates every day so it was lovely to see it for myself. There’s obviously a lot of play and most of the time that is what they were up to, but there were also sessions on phonics and maths. I loved the games they used as part of the phonics lessons and the kids did so much writing it was lovely to see and made it quite apparent why his progress has been so fast!

I remember a couple of years ago, talking to a friend about whether to send her summer born 4yr old to foundation stage at school, because they don’t legally have to start until age 5. I remember at the time thinking the foundation is a good segway between nursery and school because they are at school but mainly still playing. I now actually think that it is really important kids don’t miss out on the foundation year, because of how much I have seen them all learning. Monkey is a May baby so technically could have started later, but I’m glad he didn’t. We always felt he was ready and now know we were right. I fear that any child starting at age 5 straight into year 1 may be really quite behind. I definitely don’t think Monkey’s progress in reading and writing would be anywhere near what it is, if his learning were down to me. I definitely don’t have the skills or knowledge that his teachers do in this area!

Maths

I also got to see a maths session at the school and that was so lovely. Again I have been impressed as they have been learning about counting in two’s recently and when I was there they were working out “3 lots of 2″ and how the x sign means the same as “lots of.” Basically they are learning the 2 times table already, and the kids were lapping it up. Just lovely to watch. Monkey has always loved numbers so he kept turning around grinning and giving me the thumbs up during that session!

Drawing

Monkey has loved drawing for a while, and his drawings lately are just getting so good and so imaginative that I had to share a few here. He has a particular love of drawing instructions, like this one of instructions for how to build a house, but I just think all of is drawings are brilliant. Proud mummy moment! :)PhotoGrid_1485785015224

Friends

On the whole, Monkey has been pretty happy at school. He comes bounding out of school so happy every day and like I say, he loves to learn. He has always been quite a shy and sensitive soul though. he has started off pretty well in terms of friends, there seems to be a fair amount of children he plays with at different times and on the whole he has been quite happy. He quite often tells me he played with so and so and so and so on the playground and they played superheroes or police or something. Recently though, he has had a bit of an upset with his closest friend, F. F’s mum and I are really close friends so we see quite a lot of each other and had even got into a bit of a rhythm of walking to school together. I think because F and Monkey are such good friends that they began to have a bit of a power struggle and F said some things that upset Monkey. Nothing major, but things like “I’m not sure if you will be able to come to my party, I’ll have to see if there’s room” and “that bell on your bike is a baby bell.” You know, 4yr old stuff but it did bother Monkey a bit.

Speaking to other mums and the teachers and it seems to be happening amongst a lot of the kids at the moment. They got really friendly with one or two children and then the power play started. It’s what kids do as they are learning about other people and friendships etc. as well as all the academic stuff, so it’s natural they will say things to provoke a reaction, or have their feelings hurt by another kid. Having watched some of the “secret life of…” programmes, I’ve seen it and I guess am not that surprised by it… but the reality was still pretty hard. F’s mum was horrified at what he was saying to Monkey and I’ve been torn between hating seeing my little boy hurt in any way… and knowing that he has got to learn to deal with it, because it is all part of life. Sometimes people say things either intending to hurt you, or not thinking about whether it may hurt you.

It was a tricky few days and Monkey didn’t want to walk with F to school anymore, and said “F makes me sad” which broke my heart a little. I think that extra bit of space has helped and they seem back on good terms again now. I know the teachers have been talking to the children about not saying things that are mean or exclusive too so hopefully that is helping all round! I’m sure there will be many more times where things like this happen over the years though!

Tears

This tricky patch coincided with us really taking a backwards step and Monkey being tearful saying goodbye in the mornings. Back in September we expected to go through this phase but never did, he was so happy and excited to be going to school that he didn’t cry at all. Then a few days in to the new term in January and he started crying. Possibly brought about by the slight change of routine they have introduced, where on a Monday and Friday morning they have to sit on the carpet and get ready for assembly, rather than having a play to start off the day as they did before. It could also have been the spat with his friend but even after talking about these things and trying to resolve the issue, it didn’t seem to be getting any better. He was so happy coming out of school every day, and was happy even when dropping him off, right until the very second we said goodbye, when his face would crumple and the sobbing would start.

It was such a depressing start to the day to leave him so unhappy, especially when we couldn’t figure out the reason. After randomly finding one of hubs’ old sets of lego in the loft that Monkey hadn’t seen before, we decided to try a new tack. Because it was feeling like the crying had become a bit of a habit, rather than because he was really upset about something, we decided to give a little incentive to stop the tears. One week without tears and he could have the lego we found. Right from the first day of this bargain being struck, the tears stopped. He left with a big grin on his face. His teacher also noticed and praised him for it so he told her “my mummy says I can have new lego if I don’t cry every day.” I have to admit to being nervous about her reaction to this but she seemed equally pleased that it was working. If there had actually been something bothering him, I doubt the promise of lego would have stopped the tears. Even now, after he has the lego, we still haven’t had any more tears. So, phew to that!

Tiredness

One definite downside to school is the tiredness it brings for our little Monkey. He can be quite crotchety at times and he really is, just, tired. He gets really tearful sometimes, and often about the most irrational of things. He had a meltdown about putting his shoes away one afternoon, and a full on meltdown over the weekend about blowing his nose because he insisted that he couldn’t do it. This morning was particularly frustrating as he started to cry about his name. Yes, his name. At school, when there is a word that can’t be sounded out phonetically, it is called a “tricky word”. Such as “go” for example, it isn’t guh oh, goh, it’s go, and that is a “tricky word.” Monkey’s name is a “tricky word” too and this morning we had sobbing because “I don’t want my name to be a tricky word.” There is just no reasoning with him when he is in that mood so I just decided to change the subject and move on! Daft Monkey!

He also uses tiredness as an excuse though, especially when it comes to eating dinners. He is so slow at eating and often sits there and says “I’m too tired to eat.” We, of course, point out that eating food gives you energy, and stops you being tired…. but he refuses to accept that fact!

So, negatives aside, he is doing so well at school. He’s such a happy chap and on the whole, such a good boy. He loves the PRIDE code that they have at school and loves to recite the words it stands for “polite, respectful, independent, do your best and everyone matters.” He gets quite irritated that is little sister doesn’t yet follow these rules too lol.

At home

Monkey’s learning and growing doesn’t stop at school. He loves to learn basically constantly. I got a couple of new books recently that he loves, one is an atlas and another is a book about the human body which has lots of flaps you lift to look at. It’s a great book and he said yesterday “I was just imagining if like in the book, we had flaps that you open and see inside our bodies.” Bless him. He loves baking with one or the other of us and a LOT of time is spent playing lego when he is at home, and some of his creations are brilliant. We went on a nature hunt at the weekend which was great fun, and he’s just getting so grown up.

As a result, we have also been asking him to help out a little more. Just simple stuff,  he makes his bed in the morning, lays the table at dinner and puts his clothes in the laundry basket at the end of the day. So far he is doing really well with those and most importantly is happy to do them.PhotoGrid_1485793908458

Feeling very proud of our boy after writing all of this down :).

 

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No New year’s resolutions here, I am who I am!

Happy New Year! It’s January 1st, traditionally the day for making promises to ourselves to be better somehow over the year ahead and beyond. Not for me this year though.

For nearly the whole of 2016 I have been trying to change myself. I often feel like I would be happier if I were somehow different. If I was thinner, if I ate more healthily, if I was a better mum, if I tried harder. I reached a point recently where I just had to say stop. I need to stop trying so hard to be more than I am.

I am who I am.

I have decided that I need to be happy with who and what I am rather than constantly trying to be something else. Something I’m not. I have hopelessly unattainable goals and all they do is make me feel rubbish about myself. They are not making me happier as they are always out of reach.

Take my weight, as an example. I’m not humungous or obese. I am larger than I would like to be and larger than I have been in the past. But I am in my 30s and after 2 children my body is not the same as it used to be. I know many will say that having kids isn’t an excuse, and I would say the same if after 2 years of trying I wasn’t in exactly the same position. I have taken up running, changed my diet and in many ways I am healthier than I have been in a long time. I never thought I would be able to run for over half an hour without dying, but I can now. My weight however has not changed. The shelf I have over my c section scar is still there. My thighs rub and I have cellulite. Even running 3 times a week did not change any of that.

This may be because I like my food but I have struggled to diet and count points mainly because I find full time parenting pretty exhausting at times. LM and I are constantly on the go, I cycle over to the nearby country park, go for walks, run round at her gymnastic group, not to mention walking the school run twice a day. So sometimes I eat to keep me going and stop me being such a mardy mum (I can get seriously hangry which isn’t fair on the kids). Whatever the ‘excuse’ even with added exercise my body has not changed. It has really gotten me down at times but honestly, why? What is so wrong with me and my body right now?

I’ve always been impressed by women who are proud of their stretch marks and bodies after birth but I’ve never been one of them. After Monkey I lost the weight fairly easily so honestly I assumed the same would happen 2nd time round. It hasn’t. The things that worked first time have not worked after baby no. 2. Clearly my body is hanging on to the excess weight this time for some reason. Again, I’m not humongous, so what does it matter if I am carrying a bit of extra weight? We are all different, some women are naturally slim and lose the baby weight more easily than others. Does that necessarily make them somehow better than me?photogrid_1483194414665

I have been trying to convince myself that I am OK as I am. My husband likes the way I look and isn’t disgusted by my wobbly bits (far from it in fact as he loves me the way I am and genuinely prefers curvier women) so why should I be? Then I happened upon an article about Ashley Graham, a “plus size” model being on the cover of vogue. Now she is gorgeous and probably slimmer than I am (though definitely with bigger boobs) and for once seeing a picture of her strutting down the catwalk made me feel that maybe it was ok to be my size. That someone my size can be beautiful. That not only slim women are beautiful.

There’s always a lot of debate about the sizes of models and I often find they end up in an either/or solution. Larger models promote obesity, smaller ones promote eating disorders. I don’t think it is that simple and actually believe that as there are variety of shapes and sizes of people in everyday life, that there should be a variety of shapes and sizes when it comes to models. In general, clothes aren’t one size fits all, so why do the models all have to be the same size? It’s the same with actresses. Why are all the women in films so skinny… Unless they are the funny fat girl? It’s not real life but it’s easy to get sucked into believing that it is.

I’ve slightly digressed from my point and that is that I am fed up of believing the lies I see all around me that say I am not good enough the way that I am. I’m not about to stop running as I do enjoy it (though a couple of chesty coughs have slowed me down a bit lately) and I won’t ever let myself get obese because I hated being slowed down by the extra weight I carried when I was pregnant. But it is nice to feel I can stop trying so hard to be something that is unattainable for me at the moment. To feel that maybe I’m ok as I am.

My weight isn’t the only thing I’ve been trying to control either. After a friendship group broke down a few years ago I have worried a lot about not being a good enough friend to people. I’ve made a fantastic new friend recently but I have almost sabotaged it a few times because I’ve been worried about what they thought of me, to the point where I was almost pushing them away. This has to stop. I can’t let a negative experience with a few women ruin or prevent future friendships. I am who I am. Some people will get me and like me for who I am, flaws and all, while others won’t. I have to learn to be ok with that as no matter how I try I will never be perfect. I can’t change that. I can’t change me. I have so many wonderful friends who are there for me for better or for worse, and I am there for them in the same way. I don’t expect them to be perfect so I need to stop expecting that of myself.

I’ve also been trying to be some kind of perfect mother, which again, isn’t possible.. I always want to try my best but I also have to remember that I’m human. I get tired and snappy some days and some days I am lazy and the kids watch more TV than I would like. I try really hard the rest of the time though, we do all sorts of activities and get out and about a lot. I need to stop focusing on what I don’t do, and look at what I do do. To stop criticising myself and instead be proud of the way I am raising my kids and of the good job I’m doing. Because I’m not the perfect mother, but I am their mother. I am who I am and I’m doing the best that I can.

Perfect mum? No way!  But I do ok

Perfect mum? No way! But I do ok

I’m trying really hard to apply this to every aspect of my life. I may not be the perfect wife, perfect mother, perfect sister, perfect daughter, perfect daughter-in law, perfect friend, perfect blogger or the perfect anything, but then none of those things exist. All I can be is me. I will always try to be good to those around me. To be kind and considerate and just generally do my best as that is who I am. But I’m human and I will always have off days, grumpy days and sometimes I will say or do something stupid, and I’m not going to berate myself for that. I’m not going to keep fixating on all the things I’m not and never will be, but instead I am going to try and be happy and proud of all the things that I am. A good wife, mother, friend etc.

I am who I am and I am going to be happy with that.

Are you making any resolutions for new years?

 

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Me and Mine December 2016

So here we are, the last days in December and the last Me and Mine Project of the year. I find myself to be a bit of a rubbish blogger these days, but I try and at least keep going with this and the Siblings Project linky, both run by Lucy at Dear Beautiful, as I do find them to be a lovely record of our family over the year.

This month I had high hopes of some family shots over Christmas. We did snap a few but they weren’t quite the polished and posed pictures I hoped for, largely down to an uncooperative LM…. And partly because I couldn’t find my tripod haha. So despite my efforts we once again have selfies with the 4 of us in instead, taken at various times over Christmas.

The best, I think, are these that Hubs snapped on his new phone while we were all sat snuggling and watching TV on Christmas Eve in what we call ‘the new room’ as it used to be the garage. It’s not really new anymore but I have a feeling it will be ‘the new room’ for many years to come. Anyway I love the soft light of these pics, even if we struggled to get us all smiling at the same time! I particularly love LM trying to copy her brother’s thumbs up by putting her finger up instead…then she looked at it so confused bless her, such a toddler thing to do isn’t it?photogrid_1483099944667

We also have the obligatory shots on our bed on Christmas morning, blurry in the terrible light, sleepy and with a semi-naked hubs but full of excitement on Christmas morning. photogrid_1483100122004

Finally, my attempt at some nice posed ones when we were all dressed and smart on boxing day morning… Which LM was really not in the mood for, as I’m sure you can tell. photogrid_1483100226473

So there you have it, that was us in December. And because another year has passed (in the blink of an eye it seems), here is the last year’s worth of family shots, to show how much we (or at least the kids) have grown and changed over the past 12 months.me-and-mine-2016

I did a similar collage last year too, if you fancy a look.

Happy New Year all!

The Me and Mine Project

Highlights of Christmas 2016

Phew, so, here we are, the day after boxing day and the big day already over for another year. Rather than write a really long post I thought I would write something short and sweet, mainly as a way for me to remember the highs (and a few lows) of Christmas 2016.

Monkey’s excitement about putting things out on Christmas Eve

Reading “Twas the night before Christmas” to both kids on Christmas eve, even if LM wasn’t that interested this year.photogrid_1482844208336

Hearing LM shout ‘wow’ and ‘ho ho ho’ when she saw her stocking on Christmas morning.

Monkey’s excitement at finally getting a new magnet in his stocking (he got one last year but broke it and all he has wanted this year from the big man, was a replacement magnet. Bless him!

Excitement that ‘he’s been!’photogrid_1482844417356
Seeing hubs’ family on Christmas day and watching the kids open all their pressies

Seeing how happy hubs was with his pressies

Opening my pressies :)photogrid_1482844614368

The team effort between hubs and I cooking the dinner meaning all went smoothly and was delicious.photogrid_1482849416336

LM trying out her new balance bike

Being able to sit and relax and read a little of my book ‘Harry Potter and the cursed child’, that I got for Christmas, while lego building was happening and LM was napping.

Hubs and Monkey playing the daft laser gun game I got for them.

My parents and Aunt joining us for Christmas Evening and Monkey handcuffing everyone with the police toys we bought him, saying they were his favourite presents :).photogrid_1482849101599

Playing silly games once the kids had gone to bed (and I actually won for once!)

A relaxed boxing day morning before heading to my brother’s house.

Seeing how lovely my brother’s house is and how much they’ve done since they moved in 2 weeks ago!

The lovely spread they put on.

Watching LM be very gentle with ‘tiny cat’

LM’s excitement at the party balloon that whizzed around the room.photogrid_1482849678598

Playing balloon animals… The fun of this lasted hours! Making ever more complicated animals (when the balloons didn’t pop half way through) and chasing LM with them.

Hearing LM’s giggles as she played with her great Auntie.photogrid_1482850377188

All snuggling up watching the Gruffalo on boxing day afternoon.

Going to bed at 8pm on boxing day to catch up on sleep!

A few lows
(Because obviously no day is perfect with 2 little ones, even Christmas day!)

Being woken up in the night on Christmas eve by a terrified Monkey, who thought he heard someone outside his room (the trouble with telling them someone comes into the house in the middle of the night?) then being unable to get back to sleep myself, even hours after he had.

Getting up at 6am with the kiddies

Feeling hugely stuffed after the Christmas dinner

LM having a major meltdown when we tried to take her out to play on her new balance bike.

LM having a huge meltdown on boxing day too leaving us feeling stressed and like we should take her home, though thankfully it was averted by a bag of skips.

And we’re done for another year? Well sort of. Now it’s time to see a few friends and enjoy some family time while hubs has some time off work.

How was your Christmas? Hope you had a lovely one?

Super simple chocolate fudge recipe

I wasn’t sure what on earth to get for Monkey’s Teacher and Teaching Assistants for Christmas this year. It’s our first foray into presents for teachers and to be honest I didn’t want to spend too much money or time on them, but I still wanted to give them something nice. Having seen lots of seemingly simple recipes around for homemade fudge, I decided to give it ago. I’ve typed it up below as mine are a bit of a variation on some others I saw, and ooh they are scrummy.photogrid_1481736987541

I made two, a white chocolate and cranberry fudge and a minty white chocolate fudge. The first part of the recipe is identical then you add flavours later.

Chocolate Fudge ingredients

397g Tin of Condensed Milk
550g White chocolate, broken into small pieces
40g Icing Sugar (sieved)
For the minty version
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
Handful milk chocolate chips (to sprinkle on top)
For the cranberry version
1/2 cup of dried cranberries

Method

Line a baking tray (deep ones work best) with greaseproof paper.

Melt the chocolate and condensed milk. I did this on the hob in a Pyrex dish over boiling water, but you can do it in a microwave, if you do it in 10-20s bursts. With both methods stir well throughout.

Once melted take off the hob and add the sieved icing sugar. Mix well (you can use an electric mixer).

Add other ingredients of your choosing (peppermint extract, or cranberries, or nuts etc) and again stir well.

Pour the mixture into your lined tray and spread evenly. For the minty version this is where I added chocolate chips and gently pressed them in for the topping.

Refrigerate for 3-4 hours at least.

Take out and cut as desired. Our tray was quite long which meant the fudge wasn’t very deep but I got at least 30 bite sized chunks from each, though it would depend on the size of baking tray you use and how big you cut them up!

So easy and so tasty!

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Feeling Christmassy, 2016

My word of the week this week is Christmassy (I know that’s not really a real word but it’s still going to be my word this week) as there’s only a couple of weeks to go until the big day and things are definitely starting to feel festive around here.

We weren’t planning on having our tree up until this weekend, but with a free afternoon last Sunday and a busy weekend ahead this week, well long story short, we found ourselves in a garden centre buying a tree last weekend. It was a very exciting visit as we also saw the big man himself. If you follow my Instagram you may know that we have a slightly suspicious Monkey when it comes to the big man and he has asked a couple of times “are you sure he is really real?” to which our answer is obviously a wholehearted “yes!” photogrid_1481285716518

He seems to be believing again so this year will be fine but I do wonder how many years we have of him believing to come, as he is such a thinker and things clearly aren’t quite adding up in his head!

When we got home it was time to get the decs out and get the tree up. The kids loved looking at the decorations and finding the santander hats, and Monkey was so helpful with the tree which was adorable! Madam didn’t cause too much mischief with the tree either thank goodness :) photogrid_1481286435436

We’ve also got down the playmobil Christmas scene that Monkey was given as a present last year. Both kids have adored playing with that and there has been some very Christmassy play going on as you would imagine. photogrid_1481286111070

The main event though, that has really made me feel Christmassy is that this morning was Monkey’s school Nativity! He has been singing the songs for weeks and I think I know the whole thing off by heart as well! We weren’t allowed to take pictures of the performance itself though this snap I got at the beginning makes me chuckle. If I stood at the right angle then this was my view, through a sea of heads haha and most of the time it wasn’t even this good. 20161209_123308

He said his line brilliantly though and clearly enjoyed singing all the songs and doing the actions, I properly welled up at one point, soppy mummy but I was so proud of him! We got some pictures of him afterwards looking so happy and so proud of himself.
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Tomorrow I am off to York to meet a friend and hopefully get the last bits of Christmas Shopping done so that should be nice!

Are you feeling Christmassy yet or is it still a bit early for you?