Monday, 22 August 2016

Simple days with my favourite little people.

These summer holidays have been all about slowing down for us. As much as you possibly can with four littles aged 5,4,2, and 18 weeks but for us, the importance was to really try and live at a slower pace. Before the holidays, our usual Monday-Friday would include several car journeys on the nursery and school run everyday, having to keep to times and to be prepared with all that comes with getting the five of us out of the house early in the morning. 

Not only I have been craving the slower pace, I felt the kids had too. Since giving birth to Élodie in April this year its all been a bit hectic in all honesty. We have tried to enjoy this chapter in our lives as best we can but while on the gear up to the summer holidays, rounding up to-do lists and general parenting in those whirlwind newborn weeks has felt like its passed us by ever so quickly, definitely bittersweet when you're trying to spend time with each child & trying to soak up all the snuggling our very last newborn. 

So these Summer holidays we've enjoyed a few days out strawberry picking, getting out & about, beach days but mostly we've spent time at home doing crafts, playing or in the garden. Another thing we've been enjoying is walks to our local parks together with the little two in their mountain buggy & the bigger girls on their scooters or pushing their babies in their prams.

Simple joys are really what its about when parenting four little ones aged 5 and under. Getting out the house can sometimes be a mammoth task & sometimes I wonder why I even contemplated starting it but when we leave, get walking or go somewhere simple it all seems to fall into place (mostly). Watching my littles take in the sights even if it is just to the shops, questioning why the clouds are forming shapes, picking flowers all around, keeping look out for crossing the road safely, climbing ever so high on the park equipment, going super fast on the zip wire - simple joys.

I can't believe our little Élodie is already 18 weeks old too, I feel like i'm blinking and missing it! The rest of these summer holidays I'm going to continue spending time with my favourite little people, making memories, soaking up as much as possible, remembering the small stuff and forever feel so thankful that we have each other. Come September I'm going to have TWO school girls to drop off each morning, so thats playing on my mind a lot, denial mostly, pride on the other hand but definitely bittersweet feelings as I just want to preserve this whole chapter, I sound like a soppy mess right? They drive me bonkers on a daily basis, but I bloody wish they would stop growing up so fast. Childhood is sacred, so we're going to do our best to make the most of it as a family. 

This has been a very rambly, random post which probably makes no sense but as I sit here at my desk thats gathering dust where it gets no action lately, and my sleeves stink of baby sick, I thought I'd write a little post despite the garbage punctuation, rambles and made up words. 

Do you like to get out with your kiddos, even if just for a walk?

How have you been spending your summer holidays?


Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Our siblings in August 2016.

We're well into the Summer holidays now and with a few days of them getting in each other's face a little bit (maybe the excitement/switch of routine from finishing school and nursery?) they're really having lots of fun being around each other again. They've spent a lot of the time in the garden making up games, playing sports days, keeping watch of our sunflowers and making sure they're watered, and even enjoying toasting marshmallows on the bonfire with Daddy the other evening.

We've had moments of the middle two clashing as Halle likes to be "the mummy" and tell him what to do apparently but with all of them being very strong minded, this doesn't sit well which can result in explosions! Which are then made up in good time thankfully, sometimes with guidance from Daddy or I. Overall I think it's only natural and just part of being siblings to have some squabbles, but the most important thing is that they make up after any issue and for each little argument they make up for it in love and friendship ten fold. It's a funny thing really as when it comes to playing, it's mostly like there's a trio of them as Elodie is usually feeding or napping or playing on her play mat and the three of them are off doing their own thing but then they're always drawn back to her in doses throughout any game, always checking in to give a little peck on the cheek, or gooing conversation. I do wonder how the play dynamics will change once she's more playful with them and the toys, it's going to be eventful I'm sure! With each time I have hindsight on my side though! I'm sure it's going to be mental at times but just as wonderful as it has been watching the three of them grow together. 

The way they've been with Élodie really is just wonderful. In all honesty, before the birth I never doubted them for a minute but to see it in reality, it just makes me so proud of them all. They shower her with complete love and affection, always want to be holding, kissing or entertaining her and she loves nothing more than to watch them during their antics looking like she's itching to get involved too. They're always commenting on her "lovely podgy legs" or her smiley face and Yves has a new nickname for her which is "squishy". Halle still loves to refer to her as her favourite cousin and Phoenix is just in awe of his baby sister who happens to "love him too". 

Our amazingly bonkers but utterly lovely tribe of four. 
With an outtake for good measure. ;)

The Me and Mine Project

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Our very own hungry caterpillar story.

Back in July, we created a 'garden for butterflies' which we've seen flourish from day to day. We've also watched as our very own sunflowers have grown to gigantic beasts hovering over the fence. To go hand in hand with the start of this project, we were also sent a kit that included all what we needed for us to care for & grow our very own caterpillars then watching them evolve into butterflies. The process couldn't have came at a more appropriate time as the girls were learning about life cycles at school & nursery. 
They would come down each morning to see how they were getting on, mesmerised as each one slowly transformed into their chrysalis each day. The way they wriggled around to emerge out and stretch their wings was what they found magical. Even watching the process close up as adults was fascinating! The kit came with a specially designed net that we could keep them in for when they emerged from their pupa before going out to the wild. The girls even took them into school to show their class mates which was really sweet of them, very giddy about it all! 
One morning I was just hovering around the sink area of the emerging net and I had a feeling wash over me to grab my camera, so I did just that and I actually captured a butterfly emerging - amazing!
When the time came to release them, the little ones were a bit sad as they thought of them as their pets, even giving them names at one point but we spoke about how it was the fair thing to do and that the butterflies deserved to fly properly in the garden to meet other butterfly friends.I absolutely love the detail of the face which I never realised was like this!
Inquisitive hands.

Nature is beautiful.
We've also been keeping a tally for different species of butterflies in our garden, and a count of the bees too. So far we've had 'green-veined whites', 'painted ladies', a 'gate-keeper' and lots of bees (and wasps....!) gliding around our lavender plants & we've been reporting back to the garden butterfly survey with our results. You can check out more species here. It really is a lovely & very important thing to teach our children to obviously be weary from stings, but just how great these creatures are and what they do for our planet. Here's some information I've taken from the website:

 Why butterflies and moths are important.

  • Butterflies and moths are a highly diverse group comprising over 250,000 species and make up around one quarter of all named species.
  • Butterflies and moths are part of Life on Earth and an important component of its rich biodiversity.
  • Butterflies and moths are beautiful. Many are iconic and popular.
  • Butterflies are often portrayed as the essence of nature or as representing freedom, beauty or peace.
  • Butterflies and moths have fascinating life-cycles that are used in many countries to teach children about the natural world. The transformation from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis is one of the wonders of nature.
  • Butterflies and moths are indicators of a healthy environment and healthy ecosystems.
  • Moths and butterflies are an important element of the food chain and are prey for birds, bats and other insectivorous animals (for example, in Britain and Ireland, Blue Tits eat an estimated 50 billion moth caterpillars each year).
  • Every butterfly and moth has developed its own suite of chemicals to deter predators and parasites, find a mate, and overcome the chemical defences of its host plant. Each of these chemicals has a potential value and could be exploited economically.  For example, powerful antibiotics have been found in the Meadow Brown, one of our commonest and most widespread species.
All bullet points taken from the Butterfly conservation website, please check the site out for more information on this. The work they're doing is wonderful to help protect these magical elements of nature. We have really enjoyed the process and will definitely continue with growing our garden fit for butterflies. Its not only a great thing all round but we love to do it as a family, and its something so lovely to show the kids right?

Here's our little film: (to watch in better quality, be sure to change the setting to HD 1080.)
Is this something that inspires you? Would your littles love to create a butterfly garden?
*This is a sponsored post, all images, film footage, and words are my own unless otherwise stated.


Sunday, 7 August 2016

Our littlest lady, her name is...

It's been 16 weeks since we welcomed our fourth little one into the world. Since then life has been so busy beyond measure, with school runs, appointments, the run up to Summer holidays, and all the bits in between. This has left me very little time to do my blogging and to keep up to date with all the things I had planned too.

It's also made me realise that I haven't actually introduce our littlest lady on my blog yet. Its something thats always a topic on bloggers pages, to share their names or not? I believe its a personal choice, and for me its something I like to mention as they are the reason I started this blog in the first place, its a lot about our life together and we absolutely love the names we've given them. I believe as long as it's done carefully, sharing names is a beautiful thing, we obviously never share surnames or anything.

So on to choosing our littlest lady's name. It was a tricky week as in all honesty, we thought she was going to be a boy. We had surprises with all of our babies, but for some reason we assumed she would be a boy. We've always gone for the more unusual names, and this time was no different. We are also fans of gender-neutral names too, we really loved Rudi for both this time but changed our minds last minute. (Phoenix was going to be our little boys name even if he came out a girl.) For each of our little ones, I have kept our name considerations in a little book, so its nice to look back on, and see how much our minds changed over the years. This time though was harder as she is our last baby (95% sure... I have to leave a little percentage in there as i'm still so in denial! sob!) Everyone kept asking, and asking, suggesting and suggesting but it was something we couldn't rush into. We kept looking over names in our trusty name book, and only two caught our eye. 

Nico or Elodie.

So we were using less of the "baby"/"baby girl" and trying out those two names for a day or so then we asked the kids what they thought, how they said it (completely adorable) and we had our answer. We looked at our lovely new addition and it did suit her. Either of the names would have and are both beautiful in their own right but this one just sounded like her if that was even possible that early on. I believe this to some extent though as Halle was planned to be something completely different until she was cradled in my arms and I declared that she was definitely not that name as was Halle, she looked just like one. Isn't it funny how children suit names, and grow into them, building characters around them, fascinating to me. Still though, I wanted to change my name to Claire when I was little and threw a right sulk about it but at 27 years old I think i'm okay with my name now, ha.

We decided to have an accent at the beginning of her name too & then went on to choose her middle name. She was born on the same day as my Great-Great Nan, so we decided to have her name as the middle choice, and together they sound beautiful. It also fits in very well with the two older girls middle names as they're both quite peaceful sounding too.

So we are very happy to announce our fourth little one into our tribe.

Her sparkling blue eyes, her curly long eyelashes, her happy contented nature, her lovely little voice, her gorgeous smiley face, her chunky thighs and rolls on arms. The snuggles she gives us, the smell of her fluffy little head, and how she's brightened up our world something fierce. 

Our little Élodie.

I'll be doing a little update of her first four months very soon.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Our family in July 2016

July has been a big & busy month for us as a family. 

Lots of changes have happened in the everyday events with our little ones growing and developing lots, we've attended a few family parties which were fab - the kids are definitely party-goers!, the summer holidays have started,  Mr T taking the plunge and starting his own business which is going really well so far. 

We've had times where we've questioned our family dynamics, striving to make sense of the word balance which can be incredibly hard at times with four littles ages 5,4,2 and 15 weeks. Sometimes we are literally collapsing on the sofa each evening at about 10pm where we've not stopped, and just slump into a snoozed state and then I'll be up again doing the night feeds, and Mr T will settle bed invaders. Then sometimes we sit down when the kids have gone to bed earlier without challenges, and really talk about how far we've come together as a family, how we're so incredibly lucky and that also we do need to work on things (hello organising the playroom, better meal planning strategy, decluttering the shite out the house etc.)

Many people say what a great team we are, and ask "How we manage with four". It's something that is our norm now and we are so proud. I mean with each new child thats come along, it's brought struggles but we've equally embraced it. With everything there comes challenges, and even though in a moment of sheer impatience or exhaustion, we still realise that these are 'the golden years' and they're flying by way to fast. Amongst the tiredness, the refusal of any food at all, the super whopper tantrums, or attitude, it comes back ten-fold in a blossom flurry of love, warm hugs, sweet kisses, infectious giggles, witty jokes, bedtime stories and memories made. The good and the bad (well, the challenging) shapes who we are so I think we need to be thankful for both elements when it comes to parenting. 

So this month I :
Have been planning lots for my blog/& photography work.
Enjoyed our family bike ride & picnic.
Have been rather fed-up with my wardrobe options!
Have been feeling a little lost at times.
Also wondering lots about one day moving to the coast.

Has been busy with his new business.
Enjoyed our day at the beach.
Getting more DIY done around the house.

Loving using one of Mummy's old cameras to practice.
Enjoyed our beach day.
Has been giving out lots of hugs.
Loves staying up a little later as its summer holidays.

Loves the truck in the garden.
Enjoyed a day at the beach.
Has been making brushing Mummys hair a three times a day thing. (so relaxing!)

Still loves The Ninja Turtles.
Loves to sing and dance to One Direction's 'History'.
Had spells of whopper tantrums.
Protects his baby sister and so happy that "she likes him".
Loves having the truck in the garden!

Showing signs of teething by chewing lots.
Sleeping quite well.
Has been wearing a mixture of disposable and reusable nappies.
Sucking her fingers lots.
Grabbing lots of toys (and the girls hair when they get too close!)
Getting lighter hair.
We've been enjoying warm evenings in the garden.
These photos were taken from our little bike ride (and bike trailer!) including a picnic, and just an overall lovely simple, fun day.


Thursday, 28 July 2016

Safe in the sun as a family.

Staying safe in the sun is something completely paramount for us, especially since becoming parents back in 2010. Fast forward five and a half years and we have four little ones to keep a watch on making sure the sun cream is applied regularly, sun hats are on, sensible amounts of hydration available, and having some kind of cover up or shaded area.

I find that it's not always the days when the sun is beaming, its the ones you think the rays aren't out in full force is when it can catch you un aware, so applying cream everyday really is the best bet.

When we do have day trips to the seaside, we usually take a pop up tent to make sure of a shaded place to go, considering we do have four very small children but this may even come with us to the local park if there aren't any shaded spots about. We find involving the littles in on the process always helps too, helping each other doing the sun cream application, talking about the reasons why we apply it, and the importance of keeping cool and hydrated too. It's an everyday importance but more so on big days out where shade can be limited if walking about/ or on a seaside trip.
It has also been incorporated into our morning school runs the past few weeks, but as summer holidays are officially here now we will still carry on that process due to lots of time in the garden, on walks or beach trips.
Making sure the littles have sensible sun hats is a key factor too, we were very kindly sent these hats from Jojo Maman Bebe recently along with some wonderful cotton rich towelling pull on's with a kangaroo style pocket. The girls followed their rainbow obsession and chose that print, & Phoenix the dinosaur one. The quality of these are brilliant, especially the softness of the robes, practical and comfortable not to mention the wonderful colours and styles. They have particularly loved having hoods and really found them useful at the beach as it not only shaded them when the sun made an appearance, it also kept them warm when it started drizzling!
Littlest lady keeping safe in her new hat.
I love these floppy sun hats for the girls, they have a built in 50UPF element (98% effective at blocking UVA rays) . The two bigger girls chose their own print, Yvie-Mae chose the 'Navy-dot', Halle the 'Ditsy floral' & for baby girl we got the 'strawberry primrose'.
So our top tips for keeping safe are:
- Applying plenty of sun cream all over and not forgetting the neck & ear area, we like factor 50.
- Wearing hats with great coverage.
- keeping hydrated throughout the day, plenty of water all round, plenty of feeds for baby & why not have a go at making some healthy fruit lollies to keep the little ones cool?
-When playing in the garden, we mostly try and play in the morning or later afternoon when its cooled down, especially as our garden is such a sun trap.
- Incorporating the importance of sun safety into the family routine.

Do you get the littles involved in sun care?
*Thank you to JoJo Maman Bebe. All images and opinions are my own.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Comfortable baby clothing with The Essential One.

I've written before about when choosing baby clothing the most important factor for me is ultimate comfort for baby. That, teamed with putting them in sleepsuits for as long as I can squeeze in as lets face it, theres nothing better than a adorable baby all snug in soft cotton.

A couple of months a go we were very kindly sent a lovely selection of vests & sleepsuits from the lovely people at The Essential One. I'd only ever read about them on social media until then but never really heard of them in comparison to mainstream brands like I've used before (and still do with some). So when selecting our chosen prints, I opted for the 'brights collection' as we were having another 'surprise' with our fourth little bump. This collection comes in an array of stripes, spots, and clouds combined with the sunshine yellow, grey & white theme. These were the colours I was drawn to throughout my pregnancy and especially as we didn't know the gender so the unisex products were the best option for us with the added benefits of the gorgeous colours they had to offer. In all honesty, I thought I was carrying another little boy so when our littlest lady popped out I was definitely in shock, as I had a vision we would have two of each! That being said, along with all of her big sisters hand-me-downs, she definitely suits this wonderful collection we chose so much as they go hand in hand with her 'sunshine happy' personality. They also go really well with our Snuzpod colour (Dove Grey) and the bedding it came with!

The patterns and colours really are beautiful, On some of them you'll see some adorable cloud logos too or little embroidered quotes like 'You brighten up my day' - so cute! The quality of the fabric is extra special though and even after lots of washes in the machine they still come out so soft. Whats great about buying these, is that with each set you buy, they are packaged in little cotton draw-string bags which come in ever so handy with keeping all your little baby bits organised and nearby.

If you follow me over on Instagram, you'll have seen these lovely sleepsuits appear on my feed, when I've snapped her early in the morning 'star-fished' out in the middle of our bed, or just the odd photo of cute baby spam. If you've missed these, you'll see them via the Essential one feed, or tag.

As we've started getting some warmer weather around here the past week or so, our littlest lady hasn't been wearing the sleepsuits as much, but has been relaxing in the vests in the day times to keep cool. These photos were from a few weeks back, and she is only 14 weeks old tomorrow but almost out-grown the 3-6 month size, super Mama-milk!
Such a content little baby.
Super comfy in the 'Land of Nod'.
'Do you mind getting that camera out of ma' face?'

I really recommend The Essential One if you're thinking of buying some for your baby, or even as a gift to another new Mama, Thumbs up seal of approval here!

The sleepsuits retail at 14.99 for a set of two including a little white drawstring bag. The vests come in a pack of three for 14.99 also including a fabric drawstring bag. They come in a lovely selection of colours and prints so I recommend having a browse at them all before you decide.
*I was sent these products for the purpose of this review, all thoughts, words & photos are my own.
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