21 March 2017

What the Little Ones wore.... My new fashion series

When it comes to clothes for the Little Ones I like to buy things that look good, now when I say good I don't mean posh or smart or clothes that can't be played in, I mean funky colours and appliques, cute patterns and for the girls, pretty colours and twirly dresses. 

The Little Ones clothes need to be sturdy and practical and at the same time not break the bank. I need clothes that can stand dirt and pasta sauce, a super long wash with a hefty scoop of stain remover and a spin in the dryer. I need them to still look decent after half a dozen wears, and I have come to learn over the years which brands can stand this and the ones that can not.

After having two little girls who love to wear dresses and pretty patterns as well as all bright and lovely colours and spending 5 years buying from the girls section it came as a bit of a shock when Little 3 came along at how much blue, black and grey there is for boys and not much else. I went on a mission and found some places and brands that offer more colour and something different for boys and I would like to share them with you.

I often get comments about my children's clothes, particularly Little 3, and so I decided to start up this series and tell you about the clothes the Little Ones wear and where we found them.

So take a look below about what is coming up and be sure to pop back to find out all about them and see them in action soon.

Do you have any favourite brands you can share with me?

19 March 2017

Dreaming of fun family holidays

Everyone likes a change of scenery and the feeling of getting away from it all for a few days, a change is as good as a rest as they say, and as a parent to three children I certainly like to get away and have some fun with my family without the usual thinking about what needs doing at home.

As a family we usually go away for a week in the summer and sometimes the occasional weekend away too. We love simple family fun on our breaks, there has to be a beach, the Little Ones really love to spend their time on the beach and preferably a swimming pool nearby too. With three young children there isn't much opportunity for relaxing on holiday (No reading my book on a sunbed by the pool here!) so we like to spend our time exploring on the beach, visiting places of interest and going on fun days out the children have chosen. Since having children, and with all three of them currently needing costly passports we haven't holidayed outside the UK since our honeymoon 8 years ago!

Both when I was living with my parents and before Daddy and I had children, I visited much of Europe, either having a holiday somewhere or travelling through for a day or two on the way to our main destination. There are many places I would like to take the Little Ones and return to myself. There are also a few destinations further afield that Daddy and I would love to visit and travel to as a family when the Little Ones are older, I think we had better start saving.

With the girls growing up fast and Little 3 having just turned two years old and almost out of the nappies and naps stage, we have thought quite a bit about taking the Little Ones on holiday to Europe. In the past we have travelled with various companies or arranged the separate parts of the holiday ourselves but I do think that now we have children, specifically a toddler, it would be worth using a company geared up for young families, such as Tots to Travel who safeguard your family holiday by handpicking family friendly villas and cottages around the world.

So where would we take the Little Ones if we could?

The Italian lakes- A couple of the first proper holidays that Daddy and I went on together were to italian lakes, Lake Maggiore and Lake Garda, many, many years ago and they still remain my favourite holidays. We fell in love with Italy, the lakes, the scenery and the architecture. Daddy and I have a dream of visiting all the large lakes in Italy and spending time exploring the large towns and cities. I would love to take the Little Ones to Italy, on a speed boat across the lakes, a train through the mountains, a gondola in Venice and for them to experience all the things that we did. 

The Netherlands- When I was about 9 or 10 I went with my parents and brother, I remember we went to Rotterdam and Amsterdam and I have memories of driving past miles and miles of tulip fields, visiting giant windmills and the Alkmarr cheese market. I would like to take the Little Ones back there.

France- Daddy and I have been to France several times staying on the Brittany coast and we have been to Disneyland Paris too. The girls would love to go to Disneyland Paris one day and I would like to return to paris and the Eiffel Tower where Daddy proposed.

Canada- I have never been to Canada but we would really like to, we would like to travel around the country and see the scenery, explore the coastline and visit Niagara Falls. I would love to go skiing in the mountains too. Canada looks really beautiful in all the pictures and photos on the internet and I would really love to see this for myself.

The last holiday I would really like to go on and experience with my family is a Safari holiday in Africa. I would love to go out on Safari in the hope of catching a glimpse of animals in the wild and sitting on the deck of a lodge somewhere as an elephant wanders up for a drink. I reckon the Little Ones would love to see all this too, one day, maybe, I'd better buy a lottery ticket!

N.B This was a collaborative post.

14 March 2017

A second birthday for Little 3

I can not believe how fast the time is going these days and how quickly the Little Ones are growing up. Today in our house we celebrated another birthday and this time is was that of Little 3, my boy turned 2 years old.

Little 3 has changed a lot in recent weeks, he has grown from a toddler into a little boy, his language has had yet another jump and he is using proper mini sentences now. He has gotten a lot taller all of a sudden and he just looks more like a little boy too.

Luckily his birthday fell on my one day off every two weeks so I was able to spend the whole day with him. Nanny happened to be off too, so with the girls at school we took him out for the day to the local wetlands centre where we wandered around spotting ducks and birds, watching otters and admiring carpets of daffodils. 

Later. after the girls were home from school, we had some yummy chocolate cake and a few birthday presents with the grandparents while Little 3 practiced doing laps of the living room on his new scooter.

At two years old Little 3 loves..
Thomas the tank engine
Playing with his sisters
Riding a scooter
Building towers
and puddle jumping.

 Happy 2nd Birthday Little 3 xx

8 March 2017

Rain doesn't stop the Little Ones play

I have said it before and I will say it again that keeping three children entertained indoors for a whole day can be hard sometimes, especially when they include a toddler. With the recent wet, windy, wintery weather we have been having we haven't been able to get outdoors as much as we would like at weekends, but we have still been trying to get out even if only for a short trip to the park or a scoot around the block.

Last weekend it was chilly and windy and the threat of rain hung heavily in the thick black clouds outside but we decided to take the Little Ones out for an hour anyway as we all needed to run of some excess energy, they were going bonkers indoors.

We wrapped up warm with jumpers, hats, coats and wellies and set off just down the road to a spot we don't frequent nearly enough. A hill with short walks, a view point and plenty of things to climb on and entertain three children. The Little Ones were all in good spirits and we took the opportunity to take a few pictures of all three together, the last time they were all willing to pose together was at Christmas!

After a bit of climbing and a few (or not so few) goes on the slide we set off up the path thinking we might just do a small circuit as it looked like it was going to start pouring down any minute. Within about two minutes both girls had started collecting sticks and were stomping through a leaf filled gully getting thoroughly muddy and having a great time.

Very soon there were armfuls of sticks and the girls were asking us to carry them, having seen the colour of the sky and thinking we really did need to stay near the car I suggested we built a den. The girl's eyes lit up and we looked for a suitable spot.

Then the building began, the girls set off to find logs and sticks to give to Daddy to build the den up against a tree they had chosen. There were big logs and little sticks and plenty in between.

It wasn't long before the den was good enough to play in and the girls looked pretty pleased with themselves. By now it was raining a bit but not too heavily and they still wanted to play so we allowed them a bit longer.

While the girls were busy building Little 3 was exploring, he was particularly interested in pinecones and the spiky evergreen trees. It was great to watch him feeling, finding out and learning, he loves the outdoors as much as his sisters do.

We decided to head back down to the play area next to the car, as I knew any minute the heavens would open. The Little Ones all went on the slide once more and climbed on the climbing frame. While the girls were busy I watched Little 3 trying to navigate a set of steps by himself, he can't go down steps without holding on at the moment and there wasn't anything to hold on to so he was trying to step down but was wary in case he lost his balance (I was right there in case he did!). He ended up sitting down and going down on his bottom instead which is what he does on the stairs at home.

Suddenly the rain began to pour and I mean pour, we were close to the car so all dashed to it and jumped inside, as we shed our coats the girls were talking about their den and saying what a brilliant time they had had, they wanted to know when we could come back and visit our den again. I think we all had a great hour on the hill that day and the rain really didn't stop the Little Ones play.

4 March 2017

My First Thomas & Friends, Day to Night Projector review

Little 3 is a big Thomas and Friends fan and loves all things Thomas, we were recently sent the new Thomas and Friends Day to Night Projector for him to try out and it is fair to say he loves the little train and has got us all singing along to the songs.

The day to night projector is aimed at ages 18 months plus as a fun way to help your child understand getting up and going to bed. The night mode has soothing sounds and a song to signal bedtime while projecting Thomas' face, stars and signature Number 1 on the wall. Switch it to daytime and the projector plays a cheerful and lively daytime song and morning sound effects.

The projector is in the shape of Thomas' shed with the roof being the projector part. Thomas sits in the centre when he isn't being played with and activates a pressure switch there which triggers all the sounds. The switch on the top easily changes the sounds, tunes and phrases from daytime to nighttime mode and is easy for little fingers to manage.

The little Thomas train is cute with a smiley face and perfect for toddler hands, roll him out of the shed and he chugs ready to play with your little one for the day.

Little 3 likes his new Thomas projector and he has taken to having it downstairs to play with, he likes to put Thomas to bed (sometimes lying him down in the shed) and switching it to night mode where the projector plays a goodnight song and makes noises like a hooting owl and crickets for about two minutes.

He then likes to wake Thomas by switching to day mode and saying 'choo choo' along with Thomas as he rolls him out of the shed. The projectors songs are a good length and rather catchy (yes I am singing along to them already) especially a short jazzy little number which has Little 3 doing some sort of shoulder jiggle move every time he hears it!

My First Thomas and Friends Day to Night Projector is suitable from 18 months plus and available for around RRP £22.99. Here is a little video we made of the projector in action.


N.B We were sent this toy for the purpose of this review however all opinions are our own honest thoughts.

28 February 2017

The day we met a mermaid

Over half term we were looking for somewhere indoors to go for a day out, the weather was predicted to be cold and wet and with three children to entertain we simply had to get out of the house. I spotted an advert for a Mermaid themed week at Bristol Aquarium and thought the girls would enjoy it especially my mermaid mad Little 2.

After being shocked about the price of public  parking near the aquarium we parked in a park and ride on the outside of the town and headed in on the bus. While Little 3 and I rode downstairs with the pushchair, the girls and Daddy sat up on the top deck, I could hear them chatting excitedly and pointing things out on the way, the bus stopped right outside the aquarium which was very handy.

Being half term there was lots on to entertain the Little Ones, hand feeding the big fish, plenty of daily talks, the opportunity to meet a mermaid and hear sea stories as well as a crafting session with her.

The girls were really interested in watching the stingrays which came right up to the glass and poked their little noses out of the water. They were desperate to touch them but knew that they were not allowed. We stayed in that area for rather a long time as they watched, chatting to each other about what they could see and what they knew about sea creatures.

Little 2 sat on a ledge and watched the fish swimming without saying a word for absolutely ages. I have no idea what she was thinking about, or if she was just mesmerised but she was happy just to be there watching those fish.

Little 3 liked wandering around and touching all the tanks, trying to climb on the rocks and spotting fish. At almost two he doesn't yet have the attention span of the girls and so it was great to find boxes of books dotted around the aquarium which kept him occupied while the girls were still looking and also while the talks were on.

At lunchtime was went to see what the cafe had to offer having just brought some fruit and water along with us. They only did sandwiches and drinks which were really rather pricy for a family of 5 so, as we could come and go with our tickets valid all day, we popped out and found a newsagents nearby with yummy sandwiches that we ate by the quay and saved ourselves quite a lot.

We all liked the way the aquarium was set out with tanks along a meandering board walk and a waterfall downstairs, then there were places for the children to pop up inside a tank (Little 1 loved watching the seahorses there for a bit here) and have a look at rock pool creatures. 

There was a large tank with a bridge where we peered into the shallows at the sides and watched snoozing sharks and a big tunnel going underneath where the girls watched pufferfish and made faces at them in the hope that they would puff up (they didn't).

The girls were keen to attend the mermaid craft session and today they were making pearly sea bracelets. The girls were given some colourful pretty beads, macaroni and elastic to create themselves a bracelet which they enjoyed doing.

But the best bit of all, and the reason you probably came to read this post, was that there was a 'real' mermaid that the girls could meet there too. She chatted to the girls and asked them a few questions about their favourite sea creature, posed for a picture and gave out stickers. Little 2 went really shy and didn't say a word but she really enjoyed meeting her.

We enjoyed our day out, on the way home we asked the girls what had been the best bit of the day and although meeting the Mermaid and seeing the fish ranked highly, the best bit of all was apparently riding on the top deck of the park and ride bus!!

23 February 2017

The one where Mummy gets a job!

Well in the last few weeks there has been a whole lot going on here at Loving Life with Little Ones as I have gone from being a full-time Stay-at Home-Mum to working part time and it all happened a bit quickly.

In my recent post, 'time for a change' I spoke about feeling a little bit lost having been just Mummy for the past 5 and a bit years. I decided that the time had come to think about returning to work and I signed myself up to do a Teaching Assistant course later this year as this was something I had been thinking of doing for quite a while. In order to do the course you have to be volunteering or working in a school so I began to think about looking for a job in a few months, in time for September. 

A week or so later I found out about a TA job going at a school nearby, I thought about it briefly and then dismissed the idea almost immediately, Little 3 wasn't even two yet and I didn't like the idea of having to send him into childcare when I actually didn't really need to go back to work until September. But it kept popping into my mind, it was only a few hours a week so not a large amount of time for Little 3 to be away from me, the hours meant I could still do the school runs for the girls and the experience combined with my qualifications would mean I could definitely go straight onto the higher level diploma Teaching Assistant course which I wanted.

After pondering some more and enquiring further I decided to just go for it thinking the interview experience (if I got that far) would be good and filling in the application form would give me a nudge to get all my certificates together and update my CV. So I applied and the rest as they say is history, I got the job.

There was only one thing I needed to sort out before I could start, childcare for Little 3. The intention had been for him to go to the nursery at the girls school when I went back to work, he has had his name down since they opened it last year to start this Easter for a few hours and then take up more sessions in September so I popped my head in and asked about spaces but they are totally and utterly full (not even space for him to start at Easter, though I don't know when they were going to tell me that). All the local nurseries were too far for the girls to walk to to be practical (as Daddy has the car for work) and so the search for a childminder was on... 

17 February 2017

The Little ones make a splash

If there is one thing all the Little Ones like it is putting on their wellies and stomping in puddles. I don't know what is it about puddles and making splash but the Little Ones think it is great when they are given permission to jump up and down and get totally soaked. When we heard there was going to be a Puddle Jumping Championship at the Wildfowl and Wetlands centre near us during half term I knew it was something the children would enjoy and I wasn't wrong.

Being members we just turned up in the middle of the afternoon and headed to 'Welly Boot Land' a play area with a running stream, a few water activities, roundabout, slide and climbing frame. The Little Ones love this area, great for wellies in the winter and in the summer we take a swim suit and a picnic and spend quite a few hours in there.

They had set up some tuff spot 'puddles' for the Puddle Jumping Championships and were scoring the children on their jumping style and the size of the splash, unfortunately despite being advertised as 2-3pm it was over when we arrived at 2.35 and the judges were deciding the winners so the girls didn't get the chance to take part in the competition but after promising them we would come again in the week they were happy just to try out the puddles anyway and have a play in the stream.

Little 3 is just beginning to master the art of jumping and can do a sort of hop where he can get his feet a centimetre or so off the ground, it looks quite cute and he says 'jump jump' while he is doing it. Little 3 has been watching his sisters jumping in puddles for a while now and is getting the hang of stamping up and down in them himself now in his cute little wellies. He loved having a good splash about in the makeshift puddles.

Little 2 wasn't overly interested in the puddles themselves preferring to have a jolly good splash in the stream and explore the water. She enjoyed jumping trying to get her face wet, moving water wheels and creating a dam.

Little 1 spent a great deal of time showing her little brother the fountain and guiding him through the stream, they have a really close relationship and it was lovely to watch them both exploring together.

We had great fun playing in the water but it was a really cold dark February day and only 1 degree outside. We had been playing around 40 minutes and I know that despite wellies, rainsuits and winter coats that the children were starting to get soggy and I didn't want them to get cold so we headed indoors to do some colouring and play with the games and activities on offer in there while we warmed up. 

After some time indoors we all went out again and had a short stroll along the boardwalk admiring the birds and visiting the flamingos before heading home for a nice hot bath.