Wednesday, 16 December 2015

It's the most wonderful time of the year....

I thought I would just use one of my favourite Christmas songs as the post title. Doesn't it just scream Christmas to you? I love it!

I absolutely love Christmas and all things to do with it. Obviously as a child I loved it then when I was around 12 to when I was 18 or 19 I sang in my church youth choir. We would put on carol concerts each year and we would start practising for them in September so Christmas always started early for me. I loved singing in the choir and as soon as rehearsals started it just felt like Christmas had begun.

We put our Christmas tree up at the beginning of the month. It's the first time that Caleb has actually helped to decorate the tree and he loved hanging the baubles on the branches. I'm a bit of a control freak when it comes to tree decorating and I always like the baubles to be evenly spaced. I had to surrender control this year as Caleb carefully placed the baubles in clusters on the tree. But I loved it, he was so enthusiastic and really enjoyed decorating the tree. It was nigh on impossible to get a nice photo of him in front of the finished tree though, as soon as I try to get him to pose for a photo, he starts doing crazy things! I kind of love it though, it makes for much more fun, interesting photos of him. (excuse the rubbish quality, the fairy lights were doing weird things to my camera!)

Caleb had his preschool Christmas nativity a couple of days ago. Seth was able to come to it too and we were there early to get good seats in the church. The place was packed full of parents and grandparents, I'm so glad we got there when we did! When all of the children came in in their costumes, they looked so adorable! Caleb looked confused, like he really wasn't sure what was going on, ha! He was right at the back so we didn't get to see him for most of it. I was a bit gutted about that; I was really looking forward to seeing him singing all of the songs (I have heard them a lot over the past few weeks, he has been practising them a lot!!). He and some of the others who were also innkeepers came out and did a little dance to one of the songs, it was adorable! Preschool nativities are just amazing. My little innkeeper did such a good job, I was such a proud Mum!

My Mum came down to see us last week and bought the boys matching Christmas jumpers. Seth isn't a fan of the matchy matchy thing but I think it is so cute to do when they are young! They both wore their jumpers for the first time a couple of days ago and they just looked so cute! Yes, I know I am biased but I don't care, I think my boys are lovely! I knew that Mum would want a photo of them both in their jumpers so once again I set about the task of taking a nice photo of them. I wanted one of them in front of the tree but Levi kept crawling away so we ended up taking them on the sofa. As you can see, they are completely not posed but the pictures capture the boys perfectly!

I can't wait until Christmas and am looking forward to doing more Christmassy things with my Manning men. Let me know if you have any fun things planned so that I can steal your ideas ;)

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Friday, 11 December 2015

Why I've decided to carry on...

I have kept a journal from around about the time I was 11. I used to write in it sporadically but from the time I was around 14 until now, I have written in a journal every day. To be honest, there really is nothing particularly interesting or juicy in my journal; sometimes it seems like anyone could just pick it up and read it and that would be fine because for the most part there is nothing I have written that is particularly private or personal. Not to mention the fact that I'm really not a very private person anyway (hence the blog :))  so even if they did read it, it wouldn't really matter. 

A few months ago I decided that I didn't really want to keep a journal anymore. Often when it came to writing in it in the evenings I just didn't feel like doing it. I started to write in it once every few days but then I would find that I would have to play catch up to explain what had happened a couple of days before as it would relate to what I was writing about on that particular day. So, it seemed like an all or nothing thing for me - either carry on writing pretty much every day or stop.

My mind was made up a few days ago when I took Caleb to preschool. As we were waiting outside to go in, one of the other mothers there was admiring Levi and she asked how old he was. She then asked when he had started to crawl (he literally started to properly crawl yesterday, before that he was kind of commando crawling everywhere. He is going to have amazing biceps by the time he is one!). I couldn't really remember and then she asked how old Caleb was when he had started. I gave her a rough guess and that was it. Then I came home and cried about what a terrible mother I am because I couldn't remember the small details and milestones in my children's lives. I thought that I would have probably written it down in my journal somewhere but I didn't have it written down anywhere else that I could quickly go to to look up details like that.

The next day I went to Paperchase (where all of my journals have been from from around 2007 onwards! They're just so pretty!) and got a nice new notebook to document the boys milestones. I have been filling it in in the mornings while Levi is sleeping and Caleb is at preschool. I started with Levi (being only 11 months old, it was easier and quicker to start with him and then do Caleb afterwards  - his life has been longer, there is more to write! Start small, people!) and I looked back in my journals to find all of the information to put into the new book. I was so glad to realise that I had actually written down more than I had originally thought!

I am now onto writing down Caleb's milestones and it is so interesting to read back on everything. Not just on Caleb and the things that he has done since he was born, but the day I found out I was pregnant, my first midwife's appointment, how we announced the news to our families, etc. I also found loads of other stuff that I had completely forgotten about, like how Laura and I had played a game of name that tune all the way from Norwich back home after being in Norwich for my niece to open her mission call (it was an epic game, it literally lasted two and a half hours). I also glanced back in some of my older journals and read about how Laura, Mum and I had played an epic game of "who am I?" on a roadtrip from St. George all the way to Vegas when we were on holiday there, when Seth and I had started dating, etc. I had always thought that I was pretty rubbish at keeping journals or at least writing anything interesting but it turns out that I'm not as bad as I thought. There were so many things that, when they happened I thought I would always remember but I had actually forgotten them and it was only in reading back that I was able to recall them.

Needless to say, I have decided to keep writing in my journal. Since making that decision, I have also been paying more attention to day to day stuff; the little things that Caleb has said that I have thought were really cute, sweet little things that Levi has done, etc. and I have been making a note of them on my phone so that I don't forget about it when I come to write about it in my journal that evening. And yep, there will still be times that I can't be bothered to write in it but I know that I am documenting some great memories that I will be able to read back on one day.

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Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Bathroom transformation.... project DIY

Anyone who knows Seth knows that he loves a bit of a DIY project! He isn't trained in any aspect of DIY, (he's an actuary and works all day in an office at a desk so the complete opposite really!) he just really enjoys doing it and learning as he goes along. A couple of years ago he laid some wood laminate in our hallway and in part of the lounge after the fireplace had been taken out (which you can read about here if you're interested). His project a couple of months ago was to lay some wood laminate in the bathroom as the lineoleum in there was looking pretty nasty and old!

Our bathroom is pretty small and most of it is okay, I don't have any complaints really. If this was going to be our forever home then maybe I would want it all ripped out and a new bathroom put in but it isn't and because of that we didn't really want to spend a lot of money redoing it. The original plan was just for Seth to lay the wood laminate but as parts of the sink unit were falling apart, he said that he would replace that too. Then he said that as the corner of the bathroom always looks cluttered with the washing basket and a couple of other things, wouldn't it be a good idea to put a bathroom cupboard there? I thought it was a great idea so I started looking on the internet for one. Of course, what he meant was that he wanted to BUILD a bathroom cupboard from scratch! When I said okay, he looked like an excited child at Christmas, bless him!

Here are a few before (and one during) pictures:

Obviously I had to put a picture of Seth hard at work building the cupboard :).

We went to all of the DIY stores to try and find replacement panels for the sink unit but nowhere stocked the ones we were looking for to match it so in the end, Seth bought a white gloss kitchen unit door panel and cut it down to size to replace the panel under the sink. He also replaced the one by the toilet flush so it would match and did the same for the skirting along the bottom as it had started to come away (I don't even know if it is called skirting, ha! I literally have no idea about anything when it comes to home improvement, I just take the photos to document it all!). It doesn't completely match but it is so close that unless you actually knew to look out for it, you probably wouldn't even notice.

He then laid the wood laminate and managed to line it up exactly so that the strips match perfectly with the line of the wood laminate in the hallway as well. I think it makes the bathroom look so much brighter and way nicer than that nasty old lino.

Building the bathroom cupboard was fun, We were glad to find that B and Q actually cut the strips of contiboard to size so Seth went there armed with the measurements that he had worked out and they did all the cutting (thank goodness! It meant that we didn't have to go and buy loads more tools. And Seth is a typical guy, he likes to have tools!!). He fixed it to the wall and it's so solid that it actually takes his weight when he sat on the supporting shelf. Not a bad effort :). 

We wanted the front of the cupboard to be mirrored to reflect light back into the room but we didn't know if the weight of mirrors would be too heavy for the doors so we ordered perspex mirrors. Seth put them onto the doors last week and he wasn't really thrilled with how it looked, as there is a tiny bit of flex in the mirror. I on the other hand love it because it makes me look like I have the body I have always wanted, ha! Plus unless you're actually using the mirror to look at yourself in, it doesn't really matter too much to me that the reflection is a tiny bit warped (because of course, I am in reality so close to having my dream body ;)), the main reason for having them on there was to hide the conti board and to make the bathroom look brighter. 

We also got a new bath panel as the old one was, well, looking old! All in all, I am rather pleased with the finished result, I think Seth did a fantastic job. The corner of the bathroom looks so much more uncluttered now we have the cupboard there and the extra storage space for towels and toiletries is ideal. It comes in rather handy having a husband who likes DIY!

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Saturday, 21 November 2015

Not ready to say goodbye

When Caleb was just a couple of months old, we started to use his bouncy chair for him. He loved sitting in it, playing with his toys in it, etc.

Needless to say, Levi came along and once he had outgrown his newborn baby chair he then graduated to the bouncy chair. I love them as I think they are just perfect, He sits in there to play with his toys, we feed him his meals in there (I know, we should really use the highchair but it works for all of us and so we do it anyway!), he will watch CBeebies in there and often he will drift off to sleep in there, which is always so sweet to see. This little boy is so active and it's nice to see him in his chair with his dummy and cuddling his muslin (comforter of choice for both boys!) and just having some down time.

Recently though I have thought that maybe he is getting just that bit too big for it. I have been in denial because Caleb was in it for longer but Levi is bigger. Plus, he leans right over the edge of it to reach things and he bounces so much that he looks like he is going to catapult himself right out of it.

Then this morning I came into the lounge from the kitchen and saw this:

He wasn't crying or anything, he had just flipped it somehow and was crawling along, still strapped in, dragging this along on his back! My little snail! At this point I think I finally realised, despite my denial and stalling, that he has finally outgrown the chair and we need to say goodbye to it. Being the wimp that I am, I even shed a couple of tears over it (I'm hormonal, I'd like to think that I wouldn't usually be such a wuss about it!). I do love seeing how much Levi is growing; I like seeing him working his way around the room with his commando style of crawling and just this last week he has enjoyed standing up if he is holding on to our hands as well. But putting the chair away means he isn't a baby anymore and he has outgrown it and I'm not sure I am okay with that just yet! In my head I like to think he is still my little baby and I don't mind keeping him that way, ha ha! I just have to accept the fact that my gorgeous baby boy is getting older and as much as I hate it, I kind of love it too :)
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Tuesday, 17 November 2015

One year older and wiser too...

I awoke the morning of my Birthday at around 9am. It. was. bliss. I can't even tell you the last time that happened. By virtue of the fact that I have mentioned getting extra sleep without the kids being here in both this post and the last one, you can probably tell that I love my sleep :). While I was in the shower, Seth carried on the Birthday tradition of going out to get me a large hot chocolate with a shot of hazelnut. He started it the first Birthday of mine that we celebrated after we were married. Luckily for me we have never lived more than ten minutes walk away from a Costa or a Caffe Nero! We also live about 5 minutes walk away from a Mercedes dealership, but he has yet to come back with one of those for me. Maybe next year, ha!

We headed into London to play, of course! We could have gone anywhere really but it's always that bit harder to do London with children what with going on the tubes, etc. so it was nice to make the most of it. We headed to Leicester Square first to get theatre tickets for the evening then we went to Covent Garden for a wander around. If you've followed my blog, you will know how much I love Covent Garden and no trip to London is complete for me without going there :). I just really love the shops and the vibe there.

I wanted to go to parts of London that I hadn't been to before, so we went to Portobello Road (is anyone else now singing the song from "Bedknobs and Broomsticks"? No? Just me? Okay then...). It's such a cool and quirky part of London with so many nice stalls and shops, I loved it and would definitely go back there again. I bought a ring there that I really loved. It was only afterwards that Seth said it looked elvish! (I'm really not a Lord of the Rings fan. I promised him a couple of years ago that we would watch all of the films together. I think I made it through one without falling asleep. I can tell you that it's about a ring though...)

We headed to Islington for dinner at Rodizio Rico. If you've not been there before and you like meat then I would recommend it. You're given cards, one side red and one side green and when you want to be served meat, you flip it to green. The waiter then comes to your table with lamb, beef, pork, chicken, chicken hearts (I didn't eat that!) and fillet steak and they just keep coming back until you flip your card to red. Seth was loving life! (he might not look like he eats a lot but he can put it away! Darn his ridiculously high metabolism! I'm so jealous, ha!).

When we were finished we went to the theatre to see "Bend it like Beckham - the Musical". Yes, random choice, I know, judge away! :). I really enjoyed it, it was such a fun musical. Seth said that it was okay, bless him but it was blatantly my choice and he was just putting up with it because it was my Birthday!

I had such a lovely day. A week before, I had made no plans at all for my Birthday. I thought that Seth would be at work so I was just going to hang out with the boys and maybe go shopping. Needless to say, my Birthday far and away exceeded my expectations!
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Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Walking the O2

On the Tuesday morning we woke up at around 7.30ish which felt like such a novelty, ha ha! You can tell we are parents, right?! We had booked to do the O2 walk that day, which is where you pretty much just walk over the top of the O2. I really didn't need to explain that at all, did I?! I had actually booked it for Seth's Birthday back in June but we hadn't had the chance to do it yet so it seemed like the perfect opportunity. It was actually raining sooo heavily but neither of us really minded that we might end up getting soaked, we thought it would be fun anyway!

We headed to North Greenwich a bit earlier than our scheduled walk time and just wandered around. I showed him the art school where I had had a job interview when we had first moved here, which is just opposite the O2 (Worst interview of my life, I was so glad I didn't get that job!). It was still raining pretty heavily and the clouds were so low that you couldn't really see that much of Canary Wharf but we were still looking forward to doing the walk! Call us crazy :).

When we went to do the walk they made us watch a safety film and then we had to wear these suits that made me feel ever so slightly like an astronaut. And also ever so slightly like a five year old child as the suit was absolutely massive on me! Once I had my safety harness on it was marginally better, ha! I couldn't really see at first why they made us wear all of the suits and equipment until we actually stood at the start line of the walk. It's actually a lot steeper than you think just looking at it from the ground! It was a bit of a leg workout going up there, I tell you! I thought it would just be steps going up and over but you're actually walking on really stiff fabric so there's some bounce on it when you walk. It was pretty slippery too and I almost lost my footing a few times so at that point I was feeling quite glad that I was connected to the wire that ran alongside the handrail!

The view from the top was.... foggy, ha! We were 52m high at this point.  It was pretty cool to be up there, even though we couldn't see that far. It was just really nice to do something a bit random and different!

Afterwards we went on the cable cars that go between the Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks, we were such tourists! It was pretty cool to see the O2 from another angle having walked across the top of it.

When we got off at the other end we walked around the docks for a while before heading back over to North Greenwich for dinner at Chiquitos (I was seriously craving some Mexican food and it did not disappoint!) The virgin colada was amazing, I am a little bit obsessed with virgin cocktails, ha! I had a brownie stuffed banana for dessert - it sounded pretty random so I had to try it just to see what it was like. It was rather tasty, I must say!

After we finished stuffing our faces we went to the cinema to see The Intern. It was such a good film, I definitely recommend it.

We had such a fun, busy day and it was just so lovely to spend some child free time together, it almost felt like a mini honeymoon!
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Friday, 6 November 2015

Birthday surprise!

I am really not a morning person. At all. I am not one of these people who jumps out of bed when the alarm goes off, raring to start the day. I am more one of those people who is in denial that it is actually time to get out of bed! A couple of weeks ago on the Monday morning by alarm went off and I said to Seth that I really didn't want to have to get up to get the boys ready to take Caleb to preschool. He told me that he would help get them ready and when I pointed out that it would make him late for work, he told me, "I have annual leave today; I'm not going in to work!". Now to some people that might not seem like much of a big deal but Seth works such crazily long hours and we don't really get to see him that much, so I was absolutely thrilled!

We took Caleb to preschool and when we got home we were just casually chatting when he said, "of course, tonight we will have to pack the boys stuff". Um, what? He then told me that he had actually taken the whole week off work, the boys were going to stay with his parents and we would have a few days just to play in London, etc. I was ridiculously excited! Not that I don't love my little boys of course, and obviously I would miss them but I was also excited about a bit of child free time with Seth!

The next day we drove up to drop the boys off at Seth's parents. It was okay saying goodbye to Caleb because he was okay with us going. He was more or less pushing us out of the door, ha ha! It was a little bit harder saying goodbye to Levi as he is only 9 months old and I was worried that he would have no idea what was going on or where we had gone but I knew he would be in safe hands.

On the way back home we stopped off at Lakeside for a wander around the shops and we laughed about what a novelty it was to be doing that at 8pm when usually we would have just finished getting the boys ready for bed! We then had dinner at Ed's Diner. It is quite nice but really the best part about it for me was the shakes. I had a nutella one and it was DIVINE!

When we got home we just vegged for a little while and stayed up later than we usually would just because we could, knowing that we wouldn't be woken up at 5 or 6 the next morning!

I was going to try and write about the whole week in this one blog post but that would make it ridiculously long so I shall write the rest in another one.....
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Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Run or Dye!

Last weekend, my sister Laura, my friends Emma and Liz and Liz's friend did a 5K colour run. I have always wanted to do one because they just look like so much fun (if I had a bucket list, it would be on it.... I keep meaning to do one of those at some point maybe I should finally get around to it!) and so when my friend suggested it to me, I was completely up for it! Especially when I knew that the run would be at a castle, how cool is that?!

We arrived at Hever Castle at around 8am and it was FREEZING! I was kind of regretting wearing shorts and no hoodie at that point! It was meant to be a pretty warm day but I think it was the coldest day of the year so far. It was so misty, we could only see a few feet in front of us and it was pretty eery seeing the castle through the mist! We had to walk what felt like 5k to get to wear everything was set up for the race. There weren't that many people about when we first arrived so we just went and got our goodie bags and stuck our run or dye tattoos on our cheeks! You just have to do it :).  It wasn't that long until the music started on the stage and they started to pump out the colour. Needless to say, we made a beeline for the stage; who doesn't want to be covered in loads of coloured paint?! It didn't take that long before we were looking pretty bright and colourful, ha!

There isn't even a filter on this picture, everyone got covered in pink and orange :)
Our boys arrived just in time to see us start the race. We went with the second wave of people as the first wave was for the hardcore runners and people who wanted to achieve a personal best. In hindsight, I think we would have gone with the first lot as most of the people we were with were walking! We had to do a bit of weaving to get around them but after a little while the crowd thinned out a lot more and we were able to run. At every kilometre mark, they had colour stations where people would throw more coloured paint at you - the more noise you made / dancing you did, the more you got covered. Emma opened her mouth at the wrong time and ended up with a load of it in her mouth and I got lots of green paint in my ears and eye, ha ha!

Thank goodness it wasn't toxic, right? The race was fairly easy, there was a big hill which was a bit tough but just as it got tough, we rounded the corner and saw the finish line. We met up with our men and children afterwards. Caleb had been crying the whole time we were running and he was asking for me. I thought it was really sweet that he wanted his mummy and then when Seth asked why he wanted me, he told him, "I want Laura!" so he was crying for me because he knew that Laura was with me and he wanted her! Cheeky little monkey! We tried to get Caleb to throw the paint at us, but he didn't want to get dirty! So we just threw the rest of what we had at each other!

It was so much fun running that race. My towels and sports bra are now dyed pink and it took three lots of shampoo to get all of the colour out of my hair but I would definitely do it again, maybe with my boys as well when they are a bit older.

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