My Sunday Photo ~ Calm

This was the lake at Center Parcs, last week.

We were there quite early, on our way to do the Mini Trekkers course.

The lake was so calm and peaceful.

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Later that day, the lake was a hive of activity. We drove an electric boat. It was such a beautiful day.

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What Makes The Perfect Picnic?

For me, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone here, a picnic takes some beating.

Whether it’s planned to precision with traditional lemonade and homemade mini quiches (no, that’s never me!) or a last minute grab of the picnic blanket, there’s nothing better than eating outdoors and enjoying the sunshine.

With National Picnic Week just around the corner, 13th – 21st June, I thought I would share what makes our perfect family picnic. I’m also running a fab giveaway in conjunction with the lovely folk over at Seabrook Crisps, to celebrate National Picnic Week, so scroll to the bottom of this post to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway.

A couple of years ago, I felt I became a picnic pro when Luke brought me a proper picnic hamper. Wow, I love it. A white, buckle up hamper with real plates and cutlery. It even comes with salt and pepper pots, wine glasses and a corkscrew.

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For me, the perfect picnic is made up of a few ingredients.

Firstly, the contents of the picnic basket:

It’s personal of course, and a grown up picnic would inevitably have different contents from the lunchables or dippers that would be found in our family hamper!

We usually have ham or egg mayo sandwiches, crisps, mini sausages, cucumber/carrot sticks, potato salad, something sweet and lots of fruit. Strawberries are the favourite punnet of choice. And lots of drinks.

Location is paramount for that perfect picnic. The beach or the New Forest is usually our location of choice and it’s lovely to see that two of our local hot spots have made it onto The Top 14 Picnic Spots in the UK:

1. Avon Valley Country Park – Bristol

2. Barafundle Beach – Pembrokeshire 

3.  Bodmin Moor – Cornwall

4. Brownsea Island – Dorset

5. Corfe Castle – Dorset 

6. Devil’s Dyke – East Sussex 

7.  Formby Beach – Merseyside 

8. Gibside – Newcastle-Upon-Tyne 

9. Glenkiln Sculpture Park – Dumfries and Galloway

10. Padley Gorge – Derbyshire

11. Rievaulx Abbey – North Yorkshire 

12. Somerset House – London 

13.  St Herbert’s Island – Derwentwater, Cumbria North Pennines 

14. Top Withens – Haworth, Yorkshire 

and thirdly, if you have children, the perfect picnic is not perfect, unless you have some outdoor games.

A good old football is usually the first thing to be thrown into our car boot:

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Tennis…

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Cricket…

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Rounders…

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and we’ve even been known to bring some hard boiled eggs for an Egg and Spoon race…

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So that’s how we do a picnic and we think it’s the perfect picnic.

To celebrate National Picnic Week, the lovely people at Seabrook Crisps are giving one of my lucky readers a chance to win a month’s supply of crisps and a framed personalised packet of crisps!

If you would like to enter the giveaway, just click on the Rafflecopter Giveaway below, follow the instructions and enter as many options as you would like.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 The winner will be notified within 24 hours of the competition closing on 5th June. The prizes will be sent directly from the supplier to the lucky recipient.

Good luck and dig out that picnic hamper and blanket!

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Do you wanna build a Snowman … in the bath?

Build a Snowman, in the bath? Now that really would be fun, wouldn’t it?

Well thanks to the team over at H&A, their new Frozen Olaf’s bath range, will have kids of all ages building Snowmen and splashing around in bubbles at every bathtime.

Olaf has his new bath range out at Tesco and we were lucky enough to get to try out the range as we are proud to be part of H&A’s Bathtime Fun Squad.

Impressed, doesn’t even cut it. Olaf definitely knows how to make lots of fun and smiles at bathtime.

Firstly, we had so much fun with the Mouldable Bath Soap.

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You simply shake the can and squirt it into your hand. The soapy foam expands so you don’t need to squirt out much of the foam.

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You can then sculpt and create your very own masterpiece.

So you see, you really can build a Snowman in the bath…

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The soapy foam can then be used for washing and easily washes away after use.

The second product in the range that we loved was the Cuddle Robe. Perfect for getting dry and keeping warm and snug after the bath.

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It was so unbelievably soft.

The boys were a little jealous of their baby sister getting all wrapped up in Olaf’s cuddle robe but we were so surprised that the robe was actually bigger than we thought.

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This photo shows you what a great length it is. Connor is 8.

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The kids liked the little pockets to put their hands in, so they could easily keep the robe wrapped around themselves.

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(Could somebody please tell Olaf to make an adult sized one!)

The Bath and Shower Bubbles are also part of the range.

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Mild and gentle for delicate skin, this moisturising bath and shower wash can be used every day.

olaf1 The bubbles smell fruity and this sparkly bubble bath is a sure fire hit for all Frozen fans.

Last but by no means least, is the Colour Changing Wash Mitt

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Harley loves using this to wash himself in the bath. It makes him want to actually wash himself, instead of us encouraging him to do it!

If you look closely, you’ll see some white snowflakes appear down the sides, when put into water:

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What a truly delightful set of bath products. Perfect for any Frozen fan or simply for anyone who doesn’t believe that you really can build a Snowman in the bath …

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(Raisins and dried fruit are not normally found in our bathroom but they make fab eyes and nose!)

Thanks to H&A and Tots100, I’m delighted to be able to offer one lucky reader a set of Olaf’s Bathtime Products. If you would like to enter the giveaway, just follow the instructions and enter as many options as you would like.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner will be notified within 24 hours of the competition closing on 4th June. The prizes will be sent directly from the supplier to the lucky recipient.

Disclaimer: I am proud to be chosen to be part of H&A’s Bathtime Fun Squad, 2015. I was sent these products for the purpose of review, however all words and opinions are very much my own.

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Daddy and Me

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I recently saw an image on Pinterest that had 21 Questions To Ask Your Kids. I love the idea of getting an honest insight into the minds of our children, so I asked Ethan and Connor the questions about Daddy. These are their unedited answers. They laughed all the way through it:

1. What is something that Daddy always says to you?

He always calls us “Cheeky Monkeys”

2. What makes Daddy happy?

When we play nicely together!

3. What makes Daddy sad?

Oooh, when Everton lose and when we play on our computer games too much

4. How does Daddy make you laugh?

By tickling us – he’s the Tickle Monster and just by being Daddy makes us laugh

5. What was Daddy like as a child?

Probably very cheeky and very funny

6. How old is Daddy?

21….no wait 180….no he’s actually 38

7. How tall is Daddy?

2 ft… I think he’s 1 metre 65, 1 metre 47… we don’t know! (He’s 6ft)

8. What is Daddy’s favourite thing to do?

Playing with us and playing on his phone (ahem!)

9. What does Daddy do when you are not around?

He does work on his computer so he can play with us more when we are here

10. If Daddy became famous, what would it be for?

Amusing people with his singing and dancing. I think he would be good at being a comedian

11. What is Daddy really good at?

Being a Daddy. Making us laugh. He’s really good at sport

12. What is Daddy not good at?

Too many to choose from! … sometimes when we ask him things he doesn’t listen. He’s not the best at cooking the meals but he’s good at doing the BBQs

13. What does Daddy do for his job?

He’s a PE teacher

14. What’s Daddy’s favourite food?

BBQs and he really likes your homemade Lasagna

15. What makes Daddy proud?

Connor – When I do as I’m told. Ethan – I think he’s proud of me for my cricket

16. If Daddy was a cartoon character, who would it be?

Definitely the funniest one… SpongeBob, no Patrick!

17. What do you and Daddy do together?

Play sports outside

18. How are you and Daddy the same?

Connor- We both have blue eyes Ethan – We both like sport

19. How are you and Daddy different?

Connor – He’s not as strong as me! Ethan – We have different eye colour

20. How do you know Daddy loves you?

When he says “I love you to the moon and back” and that he loves us 11 out of 10

21. Where is Daddy’s favourite place to go?

The Giraffe Restaurant is his favourite place to eat. He likes going for picnics. And Goodison Park Stadium where Everton play.

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I like the idea of doing something like this yearly, to see how their answers change.

Feel free to use the questions to interview your children. It’s so lovely to have a chance to get inside their minds. I never knew that they found their Daddy so funny!

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Mindful Monday ~ Wk 26

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This week I celebrated my birthday.

It was a week full of birthday love and surprises.

Luke booked a surprise holiday to Center Parcs with our lovely friends, it was amazing.

Thank you so much for all of your cards, pressies and birthday wishes. You are all lovely.

So as I celebrated turning another year older, I turned to this quote to share with you this week:

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Happy Bank Holiday and Half Term. I hope you all have a lovely week.

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My Sunday Photo ~ Cousins

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Lola, Harley, Bailey and Rosalie.

They get on so well and I hope they remain so as they get older.

They each have their little ‘isms’ that make each one unique yet in many ways they are very similar.

I think by looking at them, you can see they are definitely related.

I’m completely biased but they are beautiful and they all have such lovely names!

Cousins are usually the first friends we have as children. And these 4 are as thick as thieves, already.

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Mixed Spice Weetabix Loaf

That sounds like a recipe, I hear you say!

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That looks like some ingredients, I hear you say!

A baking post? I hear you say!

Ok, ok, it’s not often, granted, but one rainy afternoon after preschool last week we had a go at some baking.

This cake is more of a loaf cake, more dense than a sponge cake.

We love Malt Loaf in our house. The Weetabix loaf reminded me a little of this, just not as chewy!

It’s a perfect recipe for little ones to help with. Harley loved crushing up the Weetabix and mixing all the ingredients together. It’s great for using up all of the left over Weetabix at the bottom of the cereal box.

  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 225g sugar
  • 200g dried mixed fruit
  • 2 Weetabix, crushed
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 275ml milk
  • 1 egg, beaten

It’s an easy peasy recipe with not many steps (hence why I managed it!)

Add all of the dried ingredients into a large bowl.

Pour in the milk and egg and mix well.

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Pour the mixture into a greased and lined loaf tin.

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Bake at 130oC for around 75 minutes, until it is firm to touch, golden brown and a skewer or knife comes out clean.

Once cooked, turn out of the tin onto a wire rack and remove the greaseproof paper. Leave to cool.

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Cut into slices. Enjoy.

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You could add a range of other fruit, I think I’ll add cherries next time. 

Like with malt loaf, you can enjoy  a slice of this Mixed Spice Weetabix loaf with some butter.

You can even toast it.

And of course, a slice with a cup of tea is obligatory. 

Now my little boy thinks I’m a brilliant baker, shhh, don’t tell him how easy this one is!

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Mindful Monday ~ Wk 25

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My eyes welled up when I added the text to this photo:

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What a gorgeous quote.

I know I will want to protect them always. I can’t imagine how you ever try to ‘let go’.

Fortunately, I don’t have to do that for years and I intend to cherish every one.

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My Sunday Photo ~ Old Harry Rocks

This week’s Sunday Photo is the most recent photo I have.

Taken only last night, from a boat at my lovely friend’s Hen Party.

We took a boat from the Quayside and sailed around the harbour.

Watching the sun go down over the water was stunning (I’ll save my sunset shot for a future Sunday Photo!)

I captured this photo as we sailed out to Old Harry Rocks.

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Old Harry Rocks is a 3 chalk formation, located on the Isle of Purbeck. They mark the most easterly point of the Jurassic Coast.

It’s quite something, to be so close to it.

We had a wonderful evening. There was even a yummy BBQ on the boat. What a way to celebrate.

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Is it different with 2?

I make no disguises for the fact that I enjoyed waiting for and hearing about the arrival of the 4th in line to the throne. Kate and William are a brilliant representation of our modern day Royal Family.

As they stood on the steps, outside the hospital, humbly showing off their new little Princess to the swarms of media and well wishers, I couldn’t help but think about how their lives will change now that they have 2 young children.

… How all of our lives as parents, change when we have another child.

Do we do things differently with our second child? Are the milestones just as special with a second child?

I have a 4 year old and a 15 month old, who, without question, are my entire world. But there is no doubt that things are completely different with 2. There’s no doubt, that you do things ever so slightly different, with your second!

A Poem for my Number 2

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A second child to carry and name

Would I love you just the same?

For 40 weeks, my biggest fear

Was how I’d cope when you’re finally here?

Would things be just as special with 2?

Would I bond as much with you?

Now you’re here, my fears are gone

I couldn’t have been so completely wrong.

My love has grown, doubled in size,

My heart overflows when I look in your eyes.

However….

I hate to admit that your Baby Book

Doesn’t get that much of a look.

Your toys are not all shiny new,

Second hand clothes, occasionally blue!

I’m far more lenient with your food

The age guidelines, I tend to allude.

Just as CBeebies has faded away

It’s back to haunt me everyday.

Baby-proof the locks and stair gate,

The High Chair is back and the plastic plate.

We mastered the potty, each number and letter

I wonder if you will master it better?

You don’t get my undivided attention

In and out of the car, too busy to mention.

When you wake in the night and we put back your cover,

We do it quickly so you don’t wake your brother.

But I can’t remember life before,

Your cuddles and smiles and toys on the floor,

Your curly hair and tiny feet,

Having you here, makes our lives complete.

So having 2, proves definitely

That Love can grow. Infinitely.

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The Isles of Glencoe Hotel: a spell of wizardry.

We probably live as far away as you could get from Scotland.

A hefty drive from one end of the British Isles to the other, Scotland is somewhere I had never been to, until I was bridesmaid at my lovely friend’s wedding in Scotland.

We absolutely loved it there. What a truly beautiful country.

If we were to visit again and I really hope that we do, we would want to stay in a hotel that was family friendly enough, to cater for all of us.

The Isles of Glencoe Hotel ticks all of our boxes.

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For Mummy:

I love gorgeous scenery.

The hotel is situated in a stunning location. Nestled on the side of a peninsula reaching into Loch Leven in the Scottish Highlands. Simply stunning.

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The hotel rooms are all really modern and cosy with en-suite and complimentary Wi-Fi. Either standard or feature rooms, all of the bedrooms have commanding views of the Loch and the Pap of Glencoe or the mountains of Morvern. Some rooms have patio doors so you can really enjoy that gorgeous view of the mountains behind the sparkling, blue waters.

Image courtesy of Hotel

Image courtesy of Hotel

For Daddy:

He loves his food.

The hotel’s lochside Restaurant, again makes the most of those magnificent views, looking out onto the mountains of Glencoe. The restaurant offers a whole host of mouthwatering dishes with many traditionally Scottish ingredients. The hearty Scottish breakfast would certainly be a feast we would look forward to.

Image courtesy of Hotel

Image courtesy of Hotel

For Ethan:

He loves outdoor sports.

With the hotel so close to Glencoe and Loch Leven, there are some wonderful activities on the hotel’s doorstep. Kayaking and Paddle Boarding would be first on our list of things to do.

Image courtesy of Hotel

Image courtesy of Hotel

Daily excursions and cruises offer some wonderful opportunities to view local sea life and the Seafari looks like an adventure too good to miss. Ethan is also a bit of an indoor rock climber, so he would be in his element, trying something new, at the Ice Factor: an indoor ice climbing arena!

For Connor:

A huge Harry Potter fan.

As if the location of the hotel wasn’t spectacular enough, it’s more than a treat for any Harry Potter fan. You can actually take a ride on the Hogwarts Express and relive many scenes from the film as much of it was filmed on location here. In fact, Harry, Hermione and Ron stayed at this actual Hotel during filming!

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The Jacobite Steam Train takes you on an 84 mile round trip from Fort William to Mallaig and back again, including the Glenfinnan viaduct, which featured in the Harry Potter films.

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For Harley:

He loves riding his bike.

You’ll probably know by now that my little boy is a bit of a whizz when it comes to biking. He would be in seventh heaven to know that there are some forest tracks, perfect for mountain biking, close by at the Nevis Range. Harley would be begging me to take him along to one of their bike skills workshops!

For Lola:

She loves swimming.

When booking a hotel, a swimming pool is a must-have for us. Whether it be spending a lazy morning or a relaxing evening after a busy day, the Isles of Glencoe has a lovely pool and sauna for all their guests, big or small, to enjoy.

Image courtesy of Hotel

Image courtesy of Hotel

So if I was going to master up some wizardry and use my magic wand to conjure up a family friendly stay for all of us, this would be my magic spell…

A room with a view and a pool thrown in too,

Biking and kayaking, so much to do.

Throw in a train ride, it’s famous no less,

Don’t call us picky, we just want the best.

Mix in a bunch of friendly staff,

A family stay where we all have a laugh.

A sprinkling of meals and food to devour,

Added to so much fun, every hour.

So magic spell, tell me, where shall we go?

Let’s take a trip to The Isles of Glencoe.

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Disclosure: This is my #parentpanel entry for Parent Friendly Stays.

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Ozeri WeightMaster II

You probably know how much I rate Ozeri products.

It’s a brand that has never failed to impress me.

Applying the word ‘best’ to the title of a product, is something which I wouldn’t do lightly, however, their WeightMaster II scales, are without question, the best weighing scales, I have ever used.

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The scales come in a sleek design of either black or white. I have been using them for a while now and it’s definitely the fact that the LCD screen lights up green or red depending on whether you have lost or gained weight, that sets these apart from any others that I have used.

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*Your weight flashes twice on the screen. It then locks in and remains on screen.

* The WeightMaster II allows you to programme your height and weight to give reliable BMI measurements.

*Your Body Mass Index is displayed under your weight.

* I love the clear, blue LCD full display screen; excuse my boney feet and flip flop tanlines!

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* The Colour Alert technology highlights your net weight change in green to show weight loss and red if you have gained weight. This was my favourite feature. It was instant, visual, clear and shocking if red!

There’s no way I’m putting a photo of my weight on here, so here is an example from the manual to show you how it would look:

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*The scales have a Memory Access Mode. This features allows you to recall the previous recorded weights. The L1 indicates the net weight change from your last recorded weight. The L3, L7, L30 indicates the net weight change from the average of your last 3,7 and 30 recorded weights.

* The scales have auto-recognition technology for up to 8 people.

* The scales can instantly recognise and recall the correct person’s memory profile when they stand on the scales (unless there has been a change in weight of over 6.6 lbs)

*You simply step on to the scales to turn them on; no fiddly button to look for. The scales automatically calibrates with StepOn technology and powers off to preserve the battery life.

* The scales have a slip resistant exterior and look very sleek in my bathroom.

* The scales come with a handy booklet with clear instructions as to how to programme the scales. The booklet also comes with some useful information with regards to Body Mass Index with it’s weight classification and BMI value.

* It’s easy to change the unit of measurement from Kg to Lbs by using a little switch underneath. My only niggle is that the measurement is completely in lbs and not in stone. You therefore have to convert the total amount of lbs into stones and lbs, yourself.

*Profiles can be reset, if needed.

*It is treated with an antimicrobial product to protect against bacteria, keeping it clean and hygienic.

Now, that’s clearly a lot of things to like about a set of bathroom scales!

Never have I listed or reviewed a product with so many features to like.

 It’s state of the art design, leads the way for bathroom scales technology. The Ozeri WeightMaster II, is currently available here for £29.99.

Disclaimer: I was kindly sent an Ozeri WeightMaster II for the purpose of review however all words and opinions are very much my own.

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Mindful Monday ~ Wk 24

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When my children are older, more than anything, I want them to look back on their childhood with the happiest of memories.

I want them to remember the time we spent together as a family.

I want them to remember the days out; the trips to the park; the bike rides; the walks in the forest; days at the beach.

The free things.

The simple things.

I want them to remember, simply the time they spent with Mummy and Daddy.

I love this quote by Abigail Van Buren and I think it works brilliantly on a photo of Lola and daddy, going off for a walk.

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‘If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them and half as much money’

Time is worth more to a child than any gift.

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My Sunday Photo ~ Bluebell Wood

Earlier in the week, I wrote about our gorgeous walk through a local Bluebell Wood and I shared some of the stunning captures.

A Bluebell Wood really is a beautiful sight. I get slightly giddy when I see the bluey haze. It’s such a shame that it’s not a sight we can appreciate all year round but then it wouldn’t be so special, would it?

My Sunday Photo has to be my favorite photo of Lola and her cousin, Rosalie playing amongst the bluebells.

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Childhood.

Innocence.

Nature.

Beautiful.

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12 Things I hope my children never find out

Always tell the truth.

Be honest.

A very important life lesson that I want my children to grow up, standing by.

So why is that when we become parents, that motto that we teach our children, seems a teeny bit hypocritical, well, for me anyway?!

But purely only for my child’s own good or indeed, perhaps, for my own sanity!

MY TEENY TINY MUMMY SECRETS

1. I secretly eat chocolate behind the cupboard door and then give you a banana.

2. When I count to 5, I don’t really know what I’m going to do if you make me get there.

3. We lie to your face to make you eat things. You won’t instantly run faster, if you eat your chicken; yes I’ve hidden veg in the Bolognaise and no, water hasn’t got magic superman powers the minute you drink it.

4. Sometimes I skip through your bedtime story to get to the end quicker, if we have had it for the 1000th time.

5. It’s not blackcurrant in my glass.

6. If it’s been a long day, yes it really is 7pm already and most definitely not only 6.15pm.

7. When the ice cream van plays music, it’s not because it’s sold out of ice cream.

8. If you’re eating Beans on Toast it’s because I can’t be bothered to cook.

9. The local soft play isn’t really shut.

10. The nurse is not really putting brave soldiers in your arm to keep you strong, when you have your jabs.

11. I haven’t really got eyes in the back of my head and I can’t really see everything.

12. When I say ‘be good at preschool through the week and you’ll get 2 days off’, you will get those 2 days, anyway. It’s called the weekend.

I know that when you are old enough to read and tell the time, my little white lies will be void but until then, please excuse Mummy’s little fibs. They are all for your own good, or mine!!

Do you have any little fibs that you tell your children??

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I would love to be considered for nomination in the Best Writer category for the Tots100 Mum and Dad Blog Awards

Tots100 MAD Blog Awards

what katy said
You Baby Me Mummy
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Bank Holiday Bluebell Walk

Springtime tells us of it’s arrival through flowers.

If there’s one thing that represents this beautiful time of year, more than the candy floss delicacy of a pink Cherry Blossom tree, it’s the sight of Bluebells.

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A walk through a Bluebell Wood is one thing that I look forward to every year. The only problem with a visit to a Bluebell Wood, is that you have to time it just right as regretfully, this bluey haze is only here to great us for a few short weeks a year.

We made the most of the Bank Holiday dry spells and went to Pamphill, Wimborne.

The sea of blue, did not disappoint.

There is no other way to enjoy a walk through a Bluebell Wood than to take lots of pictures. So for anyone who doesn’t have a wood nearby, here are some of my snaps for you to enjoy.

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and this one is my favourite of Lola and her cousin, Rosalie passing over a bluebell.

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Isn’t nature beautiful.

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