31 December 2016

Looking back.... A year with the Little Ones

I was flicking back through the past years photos on the laptop and trying to decide which ones to use for a Happy New Year- last 12 months type blog post, my best ones, my favourite ones or a few in between. Each picture holds memories or moments that made me laugh or ones I want to remember and so looking back became more about what happened this year and the things we did rather than just a reel of photos.

It hasn't all been a bunch of roses but we have had some great times as a family in 2016 and so here they are my top moments this year.



January saw a great weight off my shoulders as Little 3 got the all clear from the heart problem he had had throughout my pregnancy with him and through his first 10 months, a great start to the new year for our family.


Feburary was the month in which Little 2 turned 4 years old, it is hard to believe she is now almost 5 and how much she has changed and grown up since then.


March was a celebration, a first birthday for Little 3 and plenty of outdoor fun with the Little Ones.


April was the month that Little 3 started walking and then the fun really began. A few changes were afoot and the Little Ones were suddenly growing up fast.


In May we were getting out and about at Westbury court gardens where Little 3 took his first outdoor steps and we spent time having fun with extended family.


June saw a family holiday to the Isle of Wight and with it lots of days out and fun together, one of my favourite afternoons of the whole year took place at Bembridge windmill where we all enjoyed bug hunting together.


In July we spent sunny afternoons having Roman battles at Chedworth roman villa and with Little 3 gaining independance he had some fun first adventures.. rock pooling anyone.


In August we spent time in Wales and enjoyed the summer holidays including having a family adventure at Wild place.


September saw a huge change in our house as Little 2 started school, there was some getting used to not having her around but she settled right in and took to reading with ease.


In October we had lots of fun with leaves, in fact I took my most favourite photos of the year this month and marvelled at how Little 1 was turning into a little young lady.


November saw an awful lot of illness in our house and it seemed never ending but there was still time for a few ups amongst the downs including indoor fun with Autumn art.


During December we spent time recuperating with a little more illness thrown in, before building up to Christmas. Little 3 discovered the fun of Christmas as a toddler and we relaxed and have all enjoyed our Christmas break.

Now the New Year is here and I am looking forward to more family fun, spending time together and watching the Little Ones grow in 2017.

Happy New Year everyone xx

25 December 2016

Merry Christmas from Loving life With Little Ones

It's Christmas, Whoo Hoo...


From all of us to all of you....


 Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year... 


 See you in 2017 xx



24 December 2016

Christmas Eve with the Little Ones

As the Little Ones have been saying, there is only 1 sleep until Christmas (we always count in sleeps here!) which means in a matter of hours it will be Christmas Day, the girls are getting VERY excited and have been talking about which Christmas film to watch this evening.

You see we have a tradition on Christmas Eve that we started when Little 1 was small, at bedtime the girls put on their pyjamas and we all snuggle up on the sofa together, I make them a little hot chocolate complete with mini marshmallows and we settle down together to watch 'The Snowman' or 'Raymond Briggs, Father Christmas' on dvd. We generally open our first tin of chocolates and let them chose a couple while we all enjoy a moment as a family before the madness that is Christmas Day with three children and other members of our family.

This year as the girls are older they have asked to watch a proper Christmas film after Little 3 has gone to bed, so we will still do our usual thing with him, now that he is old enough to join in as he does love a little hot chocolate, and then once he's in bed we'll enjoy a film with the girls.


After the film the girls will eagerly retrieve the Christmas plate from the kitchen, choose the best mince pie for Father Christmas and the largest carrot for Rudolph as well as adding a cold glass of milk which they will carefully lay by the fireplace in the hope that when he visits them Father Christmas will have a snack.

What do you do on Christmas eve? Do you have a tradition?

23 December 2016

Muuuum, this Father Christmas fella...

Little 1 is seven years old now and the past couple of years since she started school we have wondered whether each would be that last where she would believe in the magic of Christmas and indeed in Father Christmas himself.

Little 1 has a questioning mind and is always thinking practically and ponders over things for a long time. She likes to ask us her questions last thing at night just as we have turned out the lights, a quick explanation is often not good enough and she will enquire further or ask why.


Recently we have had a few questions about the man in the red suit, ranging from the simple ones to practically impossible to answer. This year we have been asked (that I can remember).

How does he get around everyone in one night?

Does he really fly to each house or park at the end of the road?

How does he get in as we don't have a chimney?

Do you or Daddy hear him come in? Or does he disturb the cats?

Is Rudolph's nose really red? and why is it different to the other reindeer?

My answers have ranged from simple ones like oh remember what happened in that christmas film well a bit like that, or descriptions of the planet revolving around the sun and him moving with the night, right down to, oh I don't know, it must be magic.

She does seem to accept my answers as I see the look in her eyes as she ponders what I said and thinks of her next question. But how long will it last, will she still believe next year?


With Little 3 being one and a half this year he still doesn't really know what is going on and I am hoping that next year when he is a little older and possibly old enough to believe in the magic that both his sisters will still believe and he can enjoy believing with them both too.

Do your children still believe?

19 December 2016

And down it went!!

On a damp and dreary Sunday afternoon there is nothing like the words 'hot chocolate' to bring instant smiles to the Little Ones faces. We all needed a bit of fresh air and so off we went to our favourite cafe on the canal.

We arrived late morning and so along with the hot chocolate came doorstep sandwiches and saucer sized tea cakes depending on everyone's choice of an early lunch, the children tucked in with gusto.



After we'd had our fill and the children had played with the cafe's toys and done some of the christmas colouring they had kindly left out we headed out for a short stroll and to feed the ducks.


The girls are duck feeding pros and got straight to it, throwing in their bread. Little 3 however had obviously not had enough lunch and decided to eat his bread rather than throw it to the waiting ducks (luckily it wasn't mouldy or anything), he stood there watching the girls, chomping away!



Prior to going out Little 2 had been wearing her Anna dressing up dress, her tiara, a necklace and bracelets on each wrist, and she had decided not to remove them when she had got changed ready to go out. That turned out to be a bit of a disaster, as she threw in a piece of bread her bracelet flew off her arm and landed on the back of a surprised looking duck swimming in the canal and slowly slipped into the water, and down it went. Gone.


Although Daddy looked and poked a stick in the water for a bit it couldn't be found. It turns out that particular plastic bracelet with the flowers and hearts on was her very favourite bracelet acquired from a party bag some time ago. She was devastated and genuinely rather upset.



We tried to cheer her up and after a cuddle carried on with our stroll but it wasn't really working! I did not realise that bracelet meant so much to her as she hardly ever wore it, it lived in her jewellery box, but she told me 'that was because it was special'.


We couldn't even make her giggle like we usually can, I had hoped to take a picture of the three Little Ones together with their wellies but nothing was going to coax a smile out of Little 2 after that. 


She perked up once home and wasn't grumpy any longer but she became tearful and cried  several times throughout the afternoon and at bedtime, she really had loved that bracelet.



At bedtime I snuggled up with her and we chatted until she was happy again, it is her birthday not long after christmas and we discussed getting her a 'big girls' silver bracelet rather than a plastic one which she thought was a great idea, obviously nothing expensive as she will only be 5 but still I hope it will make up for the lost one.

As I said Goodnight and left her bedroom her little voice piped up 'Mummy, I would really like a bracelet with disney princesses on', the hunt is on......

15 December 2016

A toddler and a Christmas tree

Last Christmas Little 3 was only 9 months old and while he gazed at the coloured lights and had a go at ripping the wrapping paper off a few gifts along with wolfing down his first Christmas dinner much of the festivities bypassed him and were then forgotten as he was so young. 

This year at 21 months (just) he has been noticing more, pointing, saying 'lights' and  'bubble' (for bauble) and the girls have even taught him to say 'Merry Christmas and Happy New Year' which is oh so cute!

When we got out our boxes of decorations and Christmas tree he was a little bit amazed by it all looking through the shiny things in the boxes. He walked around for a few minutes with a slightly gobsmacked look on his face pointing up at the lights and our Christmas bunting taking it all in when we had put them up while he was having his nap.



Decorating the tree in our house is a family affair, the girls had been itching to do it but we had made them wait until Little 3 was awake. Upon taking the tree out the box Little 3 helped to unfold it, it was really funny watching him squeezing the prickly branches and smiling but being unsure about this new texture at the same time. He would giggle, smile, pull back and squirm and then go back for more.


He was utterly fascinated by the lights which went on next, as Daddy wrapped them around the tree he watched quite in awe and then investigated each one looking at the colour and telling us if they were blue, red or green (he doesn't know the other colours yet), we did then tell him no touching as they were then turned on and he has been pretty good at understanding that. 


Once the girls had hung the tinsel and beads we let them all free with the hanging bits. I am all for letting the children free with the baubles even if they do all end up in one place but Daddy likes to 'adjust' the children's efforts a little when they are not looking!

 The following day we added the last touches to the tree in the form of some treasured decorations, there are some the girls have made over the years at nursery and school, a medallion of the year of each of the children's birth sent to us by a dear friend, a special snowglobe and photo snowflakes we have made among others. I love opening the tin they are stored in and remembering them all, the Little Ones like to know where they came from and why they are special too.
 

This year it was great that Little 3 could join in decorating the tree with us, he concentrated hard pinching the ribbon apart and threading it on a branch even if it did take him an attempt or three, then he stepped back and admired his work with a little smile.


Last year we had a playpen around the tree to keep a then crawling Little 3 away but this year we have just told him not to touch. I have once found him putting the beads over his head like a necklace and a couple of times he has brought me a bauble saying 'ball, catch' but after being told 'No' he has understood and on the whole been really good.

I bet he will love undecorating it in a few weeks time too!

12 December 2016

A Christmas Photoshoot with the Little Ones

Now you know the saying, children are difficult to work with, well you would not believe how many attempts it takes to photograph the three Little Ones in order to get a picture of them all looking the right way, happy, no fingers up noses or children trying to shove each other off the spot. You do have to be quick as they lose interest and quite a lot of my pictures recently have ended up with a toddler shaped blur as Little 3 bolts out of the picture.

We wanted to take a photo of the Little Ones together to print out and send to far away family and friends in their Christmas cards and a lovely framed one for Great Granny's Christmas Present as she hasn't got one of the three of them together. Nanny had asked for a new photo keyring with all three on and we wanted to get some updated Christmas tree photo decorations as well.

Snapfish, the online photo company recently got in touch with us, they reckon a great way to wish a Merry Christmas to family and friends is to have a family photoshoot and create your own personalised photo Christmas cards and photo gifts. They offered us a few pointers and asked us to share our top tips for a family photoshoot, so here they are:-  

1. Timing- Pick your time of day carefully, especially with toddlers! A hungry toddler shortly before nap time is not going to make a great photo subject! Ensure everyone is happy,  willing (see bribery) and not hungry or tired.

2. Lighting- If you are going to do a shoot indoors pick the right spot, lighting is crucial, try a spot near a window for natural light or better still get outside and enjoy the winter sunshine!

3. Looking good- Pretty red dresses and Christmas jumpers look great but what about Santa hats, fairy lights and a smattering of tinsel to add that further festive touch.

4. Taking photos when people least expect it can have amazing results, try telling jokes or funny stories even sing a few carols and see what happens. You might avoid the posed grins and cheesy smiles and end up with natural laughter instead. (Just don't say 'Who wants a chocolate coin then' or you get a photo like this one below, I don't think I could have got them to pose this if I'd tried!).



5. Bribery- A large bag of chocolate coins works wonders with the Little Ones, it helps keep their interest and they'll do anything for a bit of chocolate. Happy faces and chocolatey smiles make cute pictures too.

6. Keep it fun- Get the children involved, ask their ideas, they may surprise you. It might make them more willing to join in and when the fun stops, try again another time, grumpy children don't take good photos!

So with these top tips in mind we picked a Saturday morning when everyone was willing and gave it a go.....


There were some dodgy cheesy smiles and eyes closed shots, I am not quite sure what Little 2 was doing with her hands in several of them either, I think being a reindeer was mentioned! Little 3 didn't like the tinsel and lights on his lap and pushed them off after the first couple of photos but eventually after the 10th shot or so I got one of all three looking and smiling (well, two of them were smiling) before Little 3 wanted to get down and our two minute photoshoot was over!


This was the best one I think, at least they were all looking.


Little 1 really likes having her picture taken and was happy to sit for a few more pictures after the other two had disappeared, she would sit and pose for ages she would.


Once I had chosen which photo I wanted to use for my Christmas picture I hopped over to Snapfish and ordered my christmas present photo gifts. A keyring for Nanny, some updated tree decorations for the grandparents (and one for us) and a large print for Great Granny. 




I was pretty pleased with them when they arrived and can't wait to see them unwrapped on Christmas Day.

N.B This was a collaborative post.

8 December 2016

It's beginning to feel a bit like Christmas

I have to be honest and say I have been a little slow in feeling festive this year, I know there are still over two weeks to go but I am usually humming Christmas tunes constantly by now!

We have had 6 weeks of illness in our house, the children seem to be picking up one thing after another resulting in numerous broken nights, temperatures, trips to the doctors, antibiotics, and a few days off school too. As I write Little 2 is sat next to me off school with a fever and Little 3 is napping, but he is hot and plastered in spots! Everyone is pretty tired and grumpy too including me and I wasn't feeling at all festive.

After visiting a local Enchanted Christmas event at the end of November I began to feel a little bit festive and decided I need to stop worrying that everyone keeps getting ill and bring on the festivities.

In the last few days I have written my Christmas cards and the girls have written theirs and handed them out at school, they have also posted off their letters to Santa and are hoping for a reply soon. The Little Ones are going over to Nanny's for a few hours at the weekend so that Daddy and I can had a massive present wrapping session while they were out, and then that will be the vast majority of that done too, just a few last gifts to find for one or two people now.


The little Ones have dug out their Christmas themed clothes and been wearing them lots, we had a mini Christmas photoshoot too which was a bit of fun and literally lasted two minutes before Little 3 had had enough! I don't think we did too bad for photos although we didn't get one of all three looking and smiling at the same time! 


This past week has seen Little 2's school Nativity play, A Christingle at church with Little 1's Rainbows group and their Christmas party, and Daddy's work Christmas do too.

Little 2's play was lovely, all the little reception children doing so well and singing beautifully. Little 2 was a star in the play and had lots of glitter in her hair and a glittery skirt she kept telling us about, she was so excited and had a big smile on her face throughout the performance. I would love to show you some pictures I took or a little video of her singing but there are lots of her classmates in the shots as she was at the front so I can't, but believe me it was lovely.

The same evening we went over to the local church for a Christingle service for the Rainbows, Brownies, Cub and Scout groups, the church was full and the children took part in the service doing readings and explaining about Christmas. We sang carols and got to have our own candle to hold too. I enjoyed joining in with the carols and at the end all the children sang 'We wish you a Merry Christmas', it was a great start to the festive spirit for me hearing the children sing and I did feel a lot more Christmassy afterwards.

We tend to leave it until the second weekend in December to put up our Christmas tree and decorations with the help of the children, as it is Nanny's birthday in early December and we celebrate that first plus with two cats and a toddler undecorating the tree daily, that is early enough for us. We are planning on doing it tomorrow after school with all the Little Ones. I am looking forward to the house feeling warm and cosy with the coloured lights and strings of festive bunting.

Last years tree!

This coming week sees Little 1's school Christingle at the local church and several fun things at school, I can feel that the end of a busy school term is around the corner now too. We have plans to take the girls ice skating at the pop up rink in town and a few other little surprises in store for them during the holidays. 

I am definitely beginning to feel more festive now. 

4 December 2016

A little boy and his love of trains

Over the past few weeks it has become clear that Little 3 has developed a love of trains or 'choo choots' as he calls them. We used to get the train track out to play with here and there a few times a week, we would build a track, play for a bit, whooshing the trains over the bridge and then put it away again after he had long abandoned it for something else.

But this past 2 weeks he has barely played with anything else. The train track has sat out on the carpet and hasn't moved for over a week, he just keeps going back to it. He will take me by the hand and say 'help, Mummy' as he pulls me over to the spot on the carpet and passes me a piece of track. Together we build/repair the track complete with a bridge and begin to play.


He likes to make choo choo noises as he pushes the trains around the track, ever so carefully so they do not come off. As he nears the bridge he grins and gives the train a little push watching as it speeds and then slows down. If one does happen to fall off the track he cries 'oh no' and carefully puts it back on again.


It amazes me that at only 20 months old he is so caring and careful of his trains and track, there are not many toddlers who wouldn't destroy a track after a few minutes play, but with Little 3 the track remains out almost completely unharmed to return to later. I haven't had the heart to tidy it up at all this week, he just keeps going back to it, we change the track and play some more and in a way it is quite therapeutic.


I have watched him discover the wonder of magnets as he tries to put the trains together looking bemused as they repel and then a little smile of approval as he works it out. A little line of trains on the track, that is my boy right now.


It has probably stemmed from an introduction to Thomas and Friends which we recently began recording for him to watch, he loves it and asks to watch an episode daily. My personal favourite train character is Percy, his round friendly face and my favourite colour green. Little 3 likes Thomas, he probably recognises him as that is the only train we have from the show at the moment.


When we have been out Christmas shopping Little 3 usually sits quietly in his pushchair taking in his surroundings and watching the world go by but if he spots a train or Thomas memorabilia his face lights up and he shouts 'Choo choots Mummy, choo choots', I love it. 


No trouble knowing what to get him for Christmas this year then!

3 December 2016

BIC children's colouring gifts and stocking fillers this Christmas

Right now colouring and drawing is something the girls do a lot. Little 1 is always drawing, writing and making cards or pictures for people and Little 2 is constantly bringing pictures home from school to colour in. Rarely a day goes by where the crayons, pens and pencils have not been out, if the girls haven't used them then Little 3 and I have done some drawing or something while they have been at school. 

We were at that stage where a lot of our pens had started to run out and the pencils were getting short and I was stringing the girls out until Christmas as felt tips, crayons and pencils do make great stocking fillers for the Little Ones. Then along came the lovely people at BIC who offered to send us some colouring products to test out, knowing how much the girls needed them I said 'Yes, please'.


BIC sent us a Kids Colouring Activity Set, some BIC Kids Evolution Colouring Pencils and BIC Kid Couleur Colouring Felt Tip Pens too. The girls were very pleased.


The BIC Kids Colouring Activity Set contains a whopping 80 pieces and is perfect for any child who loves getting arty. 18 Colouring pencils, 18 crayons, 12 felt tips, 12 magic pens and a glue stick too make this a fab set (no messy paints in this one which I really liked) and there is plenty to do in the included activity book with over 20 card pages. We had an Alvin and the Chipmunks activity book which had puzzles including a crossword, maze and dot to dot as well as some colouring pictures and cut out puppet pages too. The girls immediately got to work cutting colouring and creating a character parade. This set is available in Tesco RRP £22 and with a carrying handle it is perfect to taking to Granny's on Boxing Day. 

 

You wouldn't think there was a lot to say about felt tips and colouring pencils but I LOVE the BIC Kids Evolution Colouring Pencils (RRP £2.99), Oh god I must be getting old and parenty to say that! Unlike other pencils these are wood-free resin pencils which are chew-resistant and splinter proof making them safer for the Little Ones. 


Little 1 often absentmindedly chews her pens and pencils and Little 3 still likes to taste his, they are both being told constantly to take them out of their mouths so I liked the piece of mind that these wouldn't give them splinters. The resin also makes them super smooth to sharpen too.


The BIC Kid Couleur Felt Tip Pens (RRP £2.99) were well received by the girls as they approved of the 12 bright colours included. The pens are easy to hold and have fine tips so Little 1 can write neatly with them and they are durable too withstanding Little 3 jabbing them all over his paper. The Little Ones often get covered in pen on their hands or sleeves while they are colouring and I did not have to worry about getting it off, the children cleaned up with soap or a bath and the pen came out in a standard clothes wash. 

N.B We were gifted the products mentioned above for inclusion in a blog post, all opinions are our own honest thoughts.