31 December 2015

Goodbye 2015... Hello 2016

It has been a busy year this past year in the Loving Life with Little Ones household, with the addition of Little 3 being the biggest change of all. We have now settled into life with Little 3 and the sometimes hectic madness that comes with owning 3 small children, while we have had some challenges thrown at us this year we have had a whole lot of fun and laughter too.

Next year (well tomorrow to be exact) I am looking forward to the new things that the year will bring. Little 3 will be walking and a fully fledged toddler in the blink of an eye (and all the new challenges that come alongside eek!) and Little 2 will be starting school in September. Little 1 has changed a lot this year and is growing up a little bit more each day, I'm looking forward to watching her grow into a beautiful young lady, but not too fast though. 

So it is goodbye 2015 and Hello 2016. Happy New year to you all with a look back at my favourite pictures this year....

January 2015

February 2015

March 2015

April 2015

May 2015

June 2015

July 2015

August 2015

September 2015

October 2015

November 2015

December 2015
Happy New Year from the Little ones xxx

28 December 2015

The Little ones bake christmas biscuits (again!)

A couple of weeks ago Little 1 and 2 made our favourite simple spicy biscuits, they were intended to be end of term gifts for their teachers but although they had turned out well they were a little soft once iced (I think it may have been the girls generous spooning of golden syrup!) so we opted to make easy peasy fudge for them and shared the biscuits with friends and family instead. 

We had also made a gingerbread house out of the same biscuit mix cooking it a little longer to make it harder, we had so much fun and a little sneaky sweet eating that I didn't take any pictures and thus write the intended blog post. The house and biscuits we made too are long gone so when the Little ones asked to make more yummy biscuits who was I to refuse them.

You can find the method and recipe we used here, it is one of our favourites. The girls are hands on in the kitchen and when it comes to baking they like nothing more than getting stuck in up to their elbows and generally enjoying their cooking. Squishing up the butter between their fingers and 'tickling' the mixture has to be one of their favourite processes in the kitchen, every dish we make is met with the question 'Can we tickle this one Mummy?'.

The Little ones love to have a bowl each and we usually double the ingredients so that things last a little longer with 5 of us in our house sweet treats don't last very long! Little 1 can now read the ingredients and recipe so I take a step back and let them weigh and measure the ingredients themselves and try not to intervene too much while they are working! It is great for getting them to work together.

Ingredients were tickled and once the dough had cooled in the fridge the girls set out cutting their shapes. Little 2 lost interest cutting out her cookies quite quickly and began using her dough more like playdough, squishing and re rolling it and attempting to build a snowman so I left her to get on with that. Little 1 cut out lots of shapes and we baked several dozen biscuits.

The following day we iced them, lots of gooey icing and sprinkles and yes Little 2 is wearing a party dress, it is Christmas after all and she dressed herself!!

Lots of yummy tasty offerings, pass the biscuits please. Have you done any baking this week?

18 December 2015

Taking time out

Being a mummy to the three Little ones can be rewarding and fun but as any parent knows looking after children, especially young ones, is also hard work. Recently I was feeling the pressure of being Mummy and of being constantly in demand. Little 3 still wasn't sleeping all that well so I was tired and nearly 7 months of breastfeeding had left me feeling drained too. I needed a break, needed to be Sarah for a while and needed to spend some quality time with Daddy too. So when Daddy asked me what I wanted for my birthday I said a night away, a nice meal out and some retail therapy.

A few weeks later we left Nanny and Uncle M in charge of the Little Ones one Saturday morning we set off for a weekend away. We headed to Cardiff, as we like shopping there and haven't been for several years. We shopped until we dropped and sorted a lot of the Little ones christmas presents and I got myself some nice new clothes that I needed. It was really nice spending one on one time with Daddy without having to keep the Little ones entertained and making sure no one wandered off. Shopping without a pushchair or children meant we both had hands free so were actually able to hold hands at times which we haven't been able to do for a long time!

After checking into our hotel and freshening up we had a lovely dinner in the restaurant and chatted for ages over a meal and drinks. It was really good to have that time as a couple away from the children and being away from the usual evening routine and home meant we talked to each other properly without distractions. Later on we watched a film together in our room and then got a lovely unbroken nights sleep and even a lie in before breakfast which I hadn't had in ages.

I did miss the Little ones but they had a wail of a time with Nanny and Uncle M, by the time we arrived home I felt so much better than I had done in quite a while and I was a much happier mummy as a result.

Since my birthday weekend I have made more time for myself and taken time out to be Sarah again. I went for a Christmas meal out with some of the mums from school and also on a night away with Nanny to see family and visit a Christmas craft fayre (leaving daddy alone in charge of the three Little ones for a whole weekend- they all survived!).

I have to say I am feeling much brighter now and a lot more like me again. Daddy and I have decided that it is important that we make more time for each other and that way we can be better parents to our three gorgeous children so...... Nanny are you available to babysit, we'd like to go and see Star Wars! 

8 December 2015

I need to be an octopus

It is that time of year when everything seems to ramp up a gear and I find time running away with me and that there is so much to do yet I am not getting very much done! This week has been the worst one yet, there are a few elusive christmas presents still to find (I searched for 3 hours the other night every site I could think of for a pair of midnight blue earrings that Nanny had asked if I could get her for her birthday - no luck and again a couple of hours last night for a particular branded jumper she saw recently but can I find it in the colour she liked- no- arrrgh).

Then there is the usual hullabaloo, after school clubs, christmas fayres, raffle tickets to sell, christmas parties, Little 1's school play, Little 2's preschool christmas afternoon, and that is just for the Little Ones. I am also thinking about Nanny's birthday, Christmas decorations still to put up, presents to wrap and cards to write and a whole host of other things before I even attempt to tackle the laundry pile, ironing basket and what to cook for dinner.

Last week was particularly long, after failing to find the gifts I wanted for Nanny online, I opted to go for some of the simpler bits off her birthday/christmas list and leave the other bits for christmas, so I headed to the massive Tesco near us. Do you think I could get what I wanted there, nope, whoever heard of a Tesco that didn't sell dark choc mint cremes? I ended up getting nothing for Nanny and bought a gorgeous winter themed outfit in the sale for a christmas gift for Little 3 but after measuring it against some of his clothes when we got home despite him being 8.5 months and me buying 9-12 it was almost too short (he has a long body and long legs) not going to fit until spring then, cue another trip to swap it for a bigger one before they sold out- it was raining and the customer service queue was massive- argh. Talk about wasting time when I had so much to do and had spent hours not getting any further on my to do list.

My little king in her play
Then Little 3 got sick, he has had cold after cold since the girls went back to school in September but has fought them all off apart from having a little cough every morning for the past few weeks. He had a virus the other week caught from Little 2 which took him well over a week to get over (and yes I caught it too!) and then this week his cough got worse and he developed another cold, this time I knew he wasn't well, he was wheezing and coughing a lot as well as having a bit of a temperature. 

Our doctors have a system where you have to ring in the morning to get an appointment that day which sounds great but you simply can not get through and by the time you do there are no appointments left! So rather than hang on the phone for hours whilst trying to get the girls ready for school and then navigate the school run with a pushchair in one hand and a phone in the other I got the girls ready for school super fast and marched the Little Ones round to the doctors at 8.20am (it is only a couple of minutes from us) to get Little 3 an appointment before walking to school, check me out!

We saw a nurse who gave him 3 different inhalers, one steroid one and 2 different reliever ones to ease his breathing to use throughout the day as she said he was breathing a bit fast, making an effort to do so and was really wheezy but said his chest sounded clear so no infection. Holding a writhing 8 month old down whilst trying to keep a face mask onto his face, stop him from pulling it off with his hands and then managing to press the inhaler button at the same time is no mean feat I can tell you, I really did need to be an octopus, at least he was breathing the stuff in while he was screaming. I only had to do it about 10 times that day, the poor thing!

Later on he got worse, although his wheezing had improved thanks to the inhalers, his temperature shot up and I couldn't get it to come down. I rang and spoke to the same nurse again but was fobbed off with the ol' double dose with paracetamol and ibuprofen line (even though that was what I was doing anyway), did I have the number for out of hours if he got worse overnight (Yes, I did) and to ring in the morning if I was still concerned- so we made it through the night with a baby alternating between boiling up and being drenched in a cold sweat- no one got much sleep. 

Needless to say we marched back around to the doctors before the school run for the second day running (Little 1 and 2 were amazing at getting ready) and nabbed the first appointment, by 9.05 Little 3 was on antibiotics for a chest infection after being seen by both the nurse and a doctor. Apparently even though she had told me the day before that he didn't have an infection she actually couldn't hear his chest properly because of the wheezing so why on earth when I rang back that evening and said his wheezing had improved hadn't she seen him again to double check??

Feeling much better and eating again

It has been a week since this all happened (it has taken me this long to find the time to write this post in short bursts!) after 2 days of trips to the doctors and nursing a poorly Little 3 and all the other bits that have been going on in the mean time (we've seen Little 1's Christmas play and attended her Rainbows carol concert), I still haven't got any further with my to do list and I desperately need to tackle the ironing pile mountain! I really do need an extra pair of hands or eight!!

26 November 2015

The Little ones take tea with Santa

With Christmas fast approaching we took the chance to take some time out as a family and enjoy a Christmas experience at our local Wyvale garden centre. Wyvale offer the chance to have Breakfast or Tea with that very special man in a red suit and with it being Little 3's first Christmas and possibly one of the last where Little 1 will wholeheartedly believe in Father Christmas the date was set and we looked forward to the event excitedly.

On arrival we were seated in a special cordoned off area where the tables were laid with red cloths, napkins and crackers as well as a Christmas themed activity sheet for the Little ones, the girls were delighted to find a name sticker for them too.

They quickly set about colouring and pulling their crackers while other guests were still arriving. Drinks were filled and coffee appeared served by the 'elves' as we awaited the arrival of the special guest.

We chose to have tea with Santa (but you can have breakfast with him if you prefer). The Little ones had the choice of a hot childrens meal (you know the kind of thing sausages, chicken goujons, fish bites etc, with mash or chips and peas or beans) or a 'picnic' from the childrens counter (usually a choice of sandwiches, crisps, fruit, yogurt etc) both with unlimited squash. The girls had chosen (you have to state your chosen meals when booking) sausage, mash and beans. Shortly after seating the meals came out and it was quite a plateful but the girls did their best only leaving one mound of potato each!

At least one paying adult has to accompany the children and there was a choice of two options for Daddy and I, either a tea/coffee and cake option or a full tea, we chose the full tea, it arrived on a little stand, a turkey, stuffing, cranberry and lettuce sandwich each (vegetarian option available too), a christmas flavour scone complete with pots of jam and cream as well as a mince pie and tea/coffee. Daddy and I were completely stuffed, we had to save our mince pies for later.

When most of us had finished eating it was time for the guest of honour and the 'elves' told the children a little story of where he lived and that they needed to call for him loudly. Santa appeared to the sound of bells in a lovely red suit looking very much like the real thing. He walked around the tables introducing himself and asking the children if they were having a good time and whether they had been good this year. Little 3 who had never seen this magical figure before was totally and utterly amazed sat there in his highchair mouth open wide staring at the strange man.

Santa took his seat nearby and the Little ones were excited to take their turn to go up and meet him properly.

To keep all the children occupied while they waited their turn colouring resumed and each child was given a cookie to decorate with icing and chocolate drops, even Little 3 was given one although he proceeded to consume the chocolate drops (his first taste of chocolate) while daddy did the icing!

It was soon our turn to sit with Santa, he chatted to the children and posed for pictures then the girls were allowed to chose their christmas gift from a selection of toys in 2 large tubs. Little 1 chose a plaster of paris butterfly painting kit and Little 2 made a beeline for a little doll with various outfits to dress her in (she had wanted one for ages). The whole event lasted about 90 minutes ending with the Little ones being given a bag of chocolate coins each to take home too.

Breakfast or tea with Santa can be booked at a Wyvale near you online here and runs from now until Christmas eve but be quick, spaces are limited and sell out fast. It really is good value for money with the children's experience £9.99 (meal, cookie decorating, activity sheet, gift and a treat) and the adult full meal and drink £7.99 or £3.99 for a cake/pastry and drink mini option.

Thanks to the team at Wyvale Gloucester we had a lovely tea with Santa experience and we would do it again next year. 

The only thing I have to add is that while Little 1's chosen gift was of great quality (yes she was sat painting in her pyjamas not long after arriving home that evening, I couldn't not let her open her gift from santa could I?) Little 2's gift was not the best. The dolls head came off just taking her out of the packaging and the clothes were almost paper like too, so they didn't last the weekend. It was a pity, we did try to get her to choose something that looked a little more robust but she has been desperate for a doll like that ever since her big sister got one for her birthday last month and couldn't be persuaded by anything else. 

N.B We received Complementary tickets to attend the event but all views and opinions are our own honest thoughts. 

18 November 2015

Simple sensory play for Little 3

Little 3 has reached a really inquisitive stage recently, he is exploring everything, really looking at it and working it out and a little less quick to put things to his mouth, it is lovely to see him so interested in things.

I made him up a few simple sensory pots, to have a go at rolling and shaking and exploring, he loved them and it kept him occupied for ages.

I used a few old food storage containers with secure lids that I knew he couldn't remove and that wouldn't pop off if dropped/thrown about for safety and a couple of old milk storage containers for the liquid ones again with secure lids. You could use things like butter tubs and empty fizzy drinks bottles as long as the lids were secure and your little one was supervised throughout. I opted to use food containers as I knew they would be safe if chewed.

I filled the tubs with dry pasta shells, baby pasta stars and dry rice then secured the lids and the bottles with christmas confetti and pom poms and added water to those. I nearly used coloured water but then thought twice, it would be much easier to pick up a few pom poms bits and dry a puddle than getting food colouring out the carpet if the lids did work loose!

I let Little 3 loose with them and he shook, rattled, rolled , chewed and tipped the pots. He liked the pasta ones best, I think the water ones were a little heavy for him to hold as they were a bit wide for him to grip, I have some handles that fit those bottles somewhere I'll have to dig out so he can pick them up easier.

You'll have to excuse the fact that he looks completely and utterly shattered and a bit spaced out, he had a really bad cold and his cough had prevented him from napping that day so he was very tired and a bit grumpy too! He did enjoy his sensory pots, honest.

I managed to get one smile, poor thing looks terrible! He did enjoy his sensory play it kept him occupied for ages and he has played with them lots since. Now I just need to think what else to use, maybe lentils and cereals next.

15 November 2015

Jingle belly this Christmas with Ella's kitchen

It may only be November but Little 3 has had his first taste of Christmas dinner thanks to Ella's Kitchen, he thought it was scrummy (and Mummy did too!)

The Ella's kitchen Jingle Belly Christmas Dinner pouch is suitable from 7 months and is full of turkey with all the trimmings, potatoes, broccoli, parsnips, carrots, cranberries and even sprouts.

This year Ella's kitchen have teamed up with Save the Children to help kids in the UK, 30p from the sale of each Jingle Belly pouch will go towards their Families and Schools Together (FAST) programme, which promotes the importance of family mealtime and the positive impact this can have on a child's development.

FAST aims to build stronger bonds between parents, schools and communities to make sure children get the support they need to fulfil their potential at school and in life.

If you can't wait until Christmas day to try your little one with their first taster of Christmas dinner or perhaps you need a little something for your baby's stocking you will be helping a good cause along the way. You can get hold of a yummy Jingle Belly pouch from Boots, Asda and Sainsbury's this Christmas. 

N.B We received a sample of Jingle Belly for free. This was not a sponsored post.

3 November 2015

An autumn walk, changing times and a lot of posing

Autumn is well and truly here now, there is a carpet of yellow leaves everywhere I look and bare trees too. It is damp, drizzly and foggy here and already it is dimpsy on the school run as the darker evenings are drawing in. 

Autumn days are perfect for walks in wellington's, kicking up leaves and posing for pictures, well on our family strolls anyway. We went for a walk with Granny and Grampy the other day and the Little ones wanted to have lots of pictures taken, even Little 2 who is generally less keen to be in front of the lens, couldn't get enough of the camera and I got some lovely pictures that really show off her true character.

Since leaving rising 3's and starting at pre-school she has come out of her shell a lot, she used to be the quiet one, as good as gold and would be the first to do as she was asked to try and please me. She is still a good girl however she is becoming more confident and standing up for herself against Little 1 who can sometimes rule the roost, this means the noise level in our house has recently risen a lot!

The girls are just like any other sisters they can play a lovely game for an hour together or be bickering every five minutes depending on their mood. On our walk they were having fun hiding in amongst the trees and throwing the leaves around, giggling and jumping out together.

Little 3 while not yet able to join in with the girls games certainly makes himself heard too having learnt to clench his fists, grit his teeth and scream at full volume lately. He was jabbering away as we went for our wander, smiling and taking in his changing surroundings until he gave up and had an afternoon nap while the girls played around him.

Times are changing for us babyproofing is on the agenda. Little 3 is getting ready to crawl, the all too familiar superman pose on the carpet with grunts of effort, getting up high on his hands and drawing up his knees he will be zooming across the carpet before I know it. We have bought a room divider (our lounge is U shaped) so he can have a safe section to play in without being restricted on space away from bits of playmobil, treasured lego creations and parts of puzzles and games he is likely to suck to a soggy mess. Now just to dig out the fire guard and click the safety gates back into place and we'll be sorted, ready when you are little man.

The primary school application letter arrived for Little 2 today, it hardly seems that she will be old enough for school next year, there will be two school age children in our house, the Little Ones are growing up. I love this picture of her, my little girl, clever, cheeky and gorgeous, my middle one. 

So there you have it, a bit of a rambly ol' post really, the seasons are a changing and so are the children. For now, with Christmas is just around the corner, we are enjoying the outdoors and having family fun.

And Little 2, she just makes me smile.