Wednesday, 31 December 2014

365 Project 2014 Days 355 - 365

Day 355 - Watching Elf for the first time
Day 356 - First day of the holidays and playing together nicely
Day 357 - Time to do the ironing
Day 358 - Steak pie for Christmas Eve dinner
Day 359 - Merry Christmas to me from Santa
Day 360 - Miss C and her new build a bear, Cookie
Day 361 - Some puzzles before bed
Day 362 - A big walk to the park to see the horses
Day 363 - Off for a sleepover at a friend's house
Day 364 - Painting her ponies
Day 365 - A new dress for the New Year

A very Happy New Year to you all when it comes! 

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

2014 - A Story in My Favourite Photographs

I have loved taking lots of photographs this year. Most of my photos were taken on my phone as I always have it with me but when I got the chance, my DSLR was out with me and I love playing about with the settings and snapping away at the kids, Husband or the scenery.

Another thing I've loved doing this year is making photo videos with my photographs. It reminds me of flicking through a photo album but these videos are the digital, up to date version of photo albums. Don't get me wrong, I still love a proper photo album and getting my photos printed but these videos are great for sharing with family and friends all over the world. And, of course, on my blog.

Here is a photo video of 2014 featuring some of my favourite photos. I can't wait to make more of these videos in 2015!

Music credit Natasha Bedingfield Unwritten

Me & Mine - Christmas 2014

And so it was Christmas.

We decided that, for Christmas this year, we'd all wear a Christmas jumper. The kids and Husband all had reindeer jumpers and I went with a snowman as I couldn't find a reindeer jumper in my size anywhere.

December really has gone in so fast. I've loved having the time off this Christmas. The only other times I've had a full Christmas off was when I was on maternity leave from work with Z and Miss C so it's been great being off with the kids and Husband and being completely a part of the excitement and festivities.

Husband is loving the time off work too. He works so hard throughout the year, often working 7 days a week or an average week of 60 hours, so getting a full two weeks off is probably one of the best Christmas presents he could get.

The kids have been hyper all month and now that Christmas day has been and gone, they are enjoying all of their new toys, games, books and DVDs. Z's favourite gift has to be his football books and football tops. Miss C's favourite gift has to be her Playmobil Noah's Ark and Vet Clinic. She just loves Playmobil!

And so that was December. It seemed to just arrive out of nowhere and now here we are, at the cusp of a New Year. I wonder what 2015 will bring for us? One thing I can say for certain is we will be taking lots more family photos. You can never have too many!

dear beautiful

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

So That Was Christmas 2014

It's hard to believe that Christmas was just five days ago. The build up is so exciting. The anticipation from the kids as they wonder what Santa will bring them. The excitement when they wake up and realise, from the full stockings, that Santa has been. The velocity at which they open their presents, taking in what they've got and then moving on to the next parcel. The eagerness to open every single toy right there and then so they can play. The food. The chocolate. The drink.

The kids went to bed on Christmas Eve around 8.30pm. Just before bedtime, they hung up their stockings and left the treats they had made for Santa out. They managed to go straight to sleep even though they were really excited.

Z was the first one to wake on Christmas morning. I looked over at the clock and saw it was 6.30am; a harsh change from last year when we had to wake them up at 8am. Miss C heard him and she came running out of her room to find her stocking. She came through to our room and asked if she could open it. Z and Miss C collected their stockings and brought them through to our bed. Miss C was pretty excited to find some Frozen pants in there along with a toy Sven.

After opening their stockings, Miss C sneaked downstairs to see if Santa had been. She came back upstairs and confirmed that the big man in red had definitely been. They begged to open their presents before breakfast so we headed down, Husband and I still half asleep.

Z got lots of books and puzzles for Christmas. He also got a few DVDs and Xbox games. Miss C got lots of Disney DVDs as she wanted to build up the collection. She also got Frozen toys, a Tinkerbell animator doll to add to her collection, Playmobil toys and a Sylvanian Families house,

Husband and I always buy the kids a gift from us. This year we decided to get them each a tablet. I originally thought about getting them one to share but Husband put that idea to bed by reminding me of the arguments they had over the Kurio when they had it. We managed to get a really good deal on Samsung tablets and the kids were really excited to start using them. Miss C opted for some One Direction and Z started playing Temple Run 2.

After the present opening, we had breakfast and got dressed. Family arrived with more presents for the kids. Husband decided to open his champagne which meant I was on driving duties for going to dinner.

We went for dinner at 4.30pm. We booked a table at our favourite Italian restaurant. The kids had spaghetti bolognaise and pizza whilst Husband and I had soup (Cullen skink for Husband and butternut squash for me), fillet steak and we all had sticky toffee pudding for dessert. The food was amazing and we definitely needed a sleep after the meal.

When we got home, we got in to our jammies and decided to have an early night. We were all exhausted after a long but brilliant Christmas Day.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

The Week That Was #50

Last Sunday, we were up early for horse riding. Miss C had a great lesson and is getting better at steering and telling Jocky where she wants him to go. After lunch, my dad and his partner popped over for a visit. We had a chat, a coffee and some chocolates. The kids were happy to see their Grandpa and Miss C loved showing them her Playmobil ponies. Husband took the kids to their final swimming lesson of the year. It was pouring with rain when they got home so we had dinner and watched Elf.

On Monday, what was the first day of our holidays, the kids were up at 7am! I think they heard Husband getting up for work. I got up and we had breakfast, got dressed and started the job of clearing and cleaning Z's room. Z is pretty brutal when it comes to a clear out and it didn't take long to get his room in order. After lunch we watched The Muppets Christmas Carol. It's such a great Christmas movie. We had dinner when Husband came home and then read a Christmas story together before bed.

On Tuesday, the kids played together and coloured in some Christmas themed pictures together. I got on with my mountain pile of ironing. Miss C and I got our hair done for Christmas. Miss C always looks so cute when she lets our hairdresser do her hair for her. I'm rubbish at hair! Husband finished work for the holidays and we all watched The Polar Express after dinner.

On Christmas Eve, we didn't get up too early. Husband's holidays had started so we chilled out in the morning before heading in to town to pick up some last minute bits. Friends popped over at lunchtime to deliver presents to the kids and then I took the kids out for an afternoon of baking at a local shop who run classes for children. They made a cake and some sugar cookies for Santa. In the evening we watched the original Santa Claus movie and then headed to bed before Santa came.

On Christmas Day, the kids were up at 6.30am! They opened their stockings on our bed and then we headed down to see if Santa had been. Of course, he had been; Miss C had already checked! The kids opened their presents, Z admiring each one whilst Miss C continued her conveyor belt system. Family arrived in the early afternoon to deliver more presents. After a few hours visiting, they left and we got ready to go out for our Christmas Day dinner at our favourite restaurant. It was delicious and so good we booked again for next year.

On Boxing Day, I was up early for the Next sale. I did OK. Usually I can get quite a bit but I didn't get as much this time. I headed home to have breakfast and have a shower and then headed back out to get my food shop. Husband got the kids ready and after unpacking the shopping, we headed to a local shopping centre to spend our Christmas money. Miss C got a new Build a Bear called Cookie and Z treated himself to a new Xbox game. Husband was treated to a lovely blazer in the Next sale and some new Timberland boots for his birthday - which isn't until January! We also picked up our suitcases for when we go on holiday in 2015. We each got a different colour and Miss C was super excited to take hers home! We had an early night as we were all shattered.

On Saturday, we spent the day at home, tidying up and finding new homes for all of the new toys and games. We also headed over to a friend's house as it was their son's birthday. The kids had fun playing together. After dinner, we headed to bed. Another early night was in order.

My Sunday Photo / The Black and White Photo Project #24


Friday, 26 December 2014

Christmas 2010 #FlashbackFriday

The first Christmas where Miss C had an idea of what was going on was 2010. She didn't get the whole Santa thing but she liked the presents and was pretty efficient at opening them.

That was until she got fed up. This is the photo I captured as Miss C threw herself against the couch, clearly over the present opening game.

My Three and Me

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

A Treasury of Christmas Stories and Songs - Book Review

I love Christmas stories in the month of December. There are some delightful books and classic stories just meant to be shared as the nights come earlier and the temperature drops. We have quite a few Christmas books now but we were happy to receive a new addition to the collection; A Treasury of Christmas Stories and Songs from Parragon Books.

This book features six Christmas stories which include The First Christmas, The Nutcracker, The Snow Queen and The Night before Christmas. There are also 12 classic Christmas carols and songs which include Away in a Manger, We Wish You a Merry Christmas and The Twelve Days of Christmas.

The first story we read was The First Christmas. The kids love this story because they go to a Catholic school so they know all about the story of Jesus being born in a stable and being the son of God. Miss C pointed out herself as Mary and her friend as Joseph when we were looking at the pictures.

The book is beautifully illustrated and well put together. It starts with a story and then has a few songs before the next story. We decided to read a story and then sing the songs up to the next story each night before Christmas. It's a lovely book to read in the build up to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This is definitely a book that will be coming out every Christmas from now on.

A Treasury of Christmas Stories and Songs (hardback) is available to buy from Amazon.

We received this book for the purposes of a review. The opinions expressed are my own. 

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Funny Things My Kids Say #36

My Dad and his partner came to visit us on Sunday. Miss C was playing with her Playmobil ponies and she started to tell Grandpa about her own horse riding lessons. They were talking about what she was able to do on the horse - cantering, trotting and even jumping with no hands on the saddle. Miss C told him that she had been horse riding that morning. My Dad wanted to hear about what Miss C had done that morning so he said, "how did you get on?"

"Someone lifts me on!" answered Miss C.

Well I guess it was a question with many possible answers!

Disney Palace Pets Magic Screen Tablet - Review

Miss C loves the Palace Pets range from Disney so she was excited to receive the Disney Palace Pets Magic Screen Tablet to review. It is suitable for ages 2 and over and includes 2 AA batteries; perfect for bringing straight out of the box to play with.

It's a beautiful pink tablet, in line with the other Disney Princess products. There is a slide at the bottom of the tablet that is easy to move to change the screen so you will see even more Disney Princesses and their Palace Pets. There are also pictures of the different crowns each Princess wears. The tablet isn't heavy to carry around and the touch screen is very responsive to touch.

At the top of the screen there are 3 love hearts with the names of each game you can play; find, colours and match. To the right of the hearts are some coloured paw prints that you use to play the colour game.

In the find game, you have 3 chances to find the character asked for. You simply press on the picture of the character when you find it.

In the match game, you help the Princesses and the Palace Pets find their best friend. So if you were looking for Rapunzel's Palace Pet, you'd press the picture of Blondie the horse.

As well as the 3 game modes, on each screen you can press a picture of a character and the tablet will tell you who they are.

This is a fun toy for any Disney Princess and Palace Pet fan. It helps with colour recognition, matching skills, memory skills and identifying skills. Miss C has really enjoyed playing with it and can't wait to collect all of the Palace Pets now she knows who belongs to who!

The Disney Palace Pets Magic Screen Tablet is available to buy from Tesco and Amazon. It varies in price between £12 - £16 depending where you are buying it from. Personally I would shop around for the cheapest deal as it has a RRP of £19.00.

We received the Disney Palace Pets Magic Screen Tablet for the purposes of a review. The opinions expressed are my own. 

Me, You, Them, Us 2014

I've loved joining in with the various photography links hosted by Lucy at Dear Beautiful. I've got so many amazing photos because of it that I'll cherish forever and a day.

I made a compilation of these years photos which made me want to make a compilation of photos of the year too. I'll get to work on that but in the mean time, here is Me, You, Them, Us in 2014.

Monday, 22 December 2014

How to Buy the Perfect Pushchair

It has been awhile since we used a pushchair or a buggy. Miss C was happy to walk without hers from when she was able to walk and stopped using one when she was 3. However it was on a recent clear out that we eventually threw out our old buggy. I was kind of sad it wasn't in good enough condition to donate to someone as prams and a good buggy can be expensive.

When we were looking at a buggy for Miss C, we already had a pink Mamas & Papas pushchair. It was second hand and it was getting to the point where we no longer needed something as big as this pushchair. We looked at various designs and brands and it came down to Silvercross, Maclaren and an own brand one from the shop.

There are definitely key things you need to consider when buying a pushchair or a buggy. The biggest one for me would be, if you own a car, is will it fit in the boot. At the time we had our Ford Mondeo and it had a great sized boot for a buggy and all the shopping to fit in. It's not just about having boot space to fit a big fancy pram in; you need to make sure you still have room for everything else you need in the car when you have a small child.

The next thing we had to think about was the design; how easy it was to push, move and carry. When Z was still too young to walk everywhere and Miss C was a baby, I had a tandem pushchair and the thing was terrible to steer. This was probably because Z was at the front and it made it really heavy. Don't get me wrong, it kept me fit and toned but it was so difficult, it lasted maybe six months before I bought a pushchair and a buggy board.

I needed a buggy that would fold down easily. I hate fiddly bits or buggies that require you to have engineering skills to put them down (or up!). The buggy we ended up getting was really easy to put down and bring back up again. Handy is key when you have small children.

Safety is really important when choosing a buggy. We went for one that had a five point harness and that felt comfortable for Miss C to sit in. I walk everywhere with the kids so when Miss C was in her buggy, she had to be sitting comfortably and feel supported during our walks. Accessories are an important thing to think about too; rain covers, umbrellas, foot muffs, baskets for storing things and, the big one for me as a mum of a toddler and baby - does the buggy board fit on it?

The last thing I looked at was what the buggy looked like and how heavy it was. There are some gorgeous designs and colours on buggies. I love the colour of the Maclaren Globetrotter in scarlet and if I was going to buy a buggy for Miss C now, this would definitely be a contender. At the time we went with a simple black and white buggy as we were hoping to pass the buggy on to someone when we finished with it.

So my top things to consider when buying a pushchair or buggy are:

  • Does it fit in my car?
  • How easy is it to move?
  • Does it fold down and come up easily?
  • How safe is it and how comfortable is it?
  • What accessories does it have?
  • How heavy is it?
  • Design

What sort of things did you think about when buying a pushchair or buggy?

Guest Post.

Miss C is Mary

A few weeks ago, I went to watch the school nativity. I love watching the school nativity as the children are always so entertaining to watch. You can see how hard they've worked and how bedraggled the teachers are. It also gets you in to the Christmas spirit.

We found out Miss C was playing Mary in the nativity. Husband was delighted and hoping that this would be a role Miss C would adopt for life. Personally I was wondering how she managed to get this role but was very excited to see her.

The show started off with the older children in Primary 2 and 3 performing ways different countries celebrate Christmas. They were really fantastic. After watching 6 classes, it was time to see the younger children; the Primary 1 children.

Well, I was holding back tears as soon as Miss C came on to the stage carrying the baby Jesus. She didn't have any lines but she did so well cuddling the baby Jesus and rocking the baby Jesus and kissing the baby Jesus. She was delighted when Joseph put his arm around her. She was loving being Mary.

The kids all did so well. Having experienced how a nursery show is put together and the amount of work that goes in to these things from both the kids and staff, I know how hard they will have all worked to put on such an amazing Christmas show.

Husband went to see Miss C the following day and he too was almost in tears watching her.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

The Week That Was #49

Last Sunday, we had a long lie as we were all feeling a bit poorly. We managed some breakfast around 10.30 and then spent the day lazing about. I did some Christmas present wrapping whilst the kids watched Rise of the Guardians.

On Monday, we were up early for the last Monday at school and college of 2014. Exciting! Miss C had her Christmas party at school and, knowing I wouldn't be able to collect her at lunch time to get her ready, I made sure she had on her party tights and a dress she would be able to get on easily by herself. My friend picked the kids up from school and when I picked them up from her house, they were happily playing together. Z didn't want to leave! We, eventually, got home and had stovies for dinner.

On Tuesday, I dropped the kids off at school and headed to college for my last day of 2014. I got to leave early as all my work was finished and handed in for marking. I came home and started wrapping the Christmas presents. Z had his Christmas party at school and he told me all about the kids dancing to traditional Scottish music which I thought was fab.

On Wednesday, it was placement day. We were having our Christmas parties and we got to have a yummy Christmas lunch. When I got home, the kids were watching TV. Miss C received a present from her best friend and wanted to make a video for her telling her what a great friend she is. We sent it to her on Whatsapp and Miss C got one back. They are just so cute!

On Thursday, it was my last day of placement before the holidays. The kids were arriving home as I was so we ran in before the rain started again and got cosy for tea time. The kids were excited to get to bed for their last day at school on Friday.

On Friday, I dropped the kids off at school and headed to the shops to get my food shopping. I came home, unpacked and then wrapped the rest of the Christmas presents. Husband had a half day from work so he brought me home some lunch. I got my nails done in a candy cane pattern for Christmas. Z had his best friend over after school and Miss C and I watched TV together. We watched the last of Tigers about the House and decided we want to go to Australia to meet Spot and Stripe someday.

On Saturday, I woke up feeling rubbish so we decided to stay at home and have a bit of a clear out. Miss C's room was a disaster zone when I left to go to a friend's house for a coffee. I came home and finished clearing it out so she could sleep in her room. We read a Christmas story from a lovely book we received to review before bed.

My Sunday Photo / The Black and White Photo Project #23


Saturday, 20 December 2014

365 Project 2014 Days 348 - 354

Day 348 - Haggis Scotch eggs from the Christmas market
Day 349 - My gorgeous Christmas wreath
Day 350 - Miss C playing before breakfast
Day 351 - An elf in the Playmobil advent calender
Day 352 - All the Christmas chocolates
Day 353 - Candy cane nails
Day 354 - Apple crumble and custard

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Me & You #12

This is the last Me & You of 2014. Husband and I have had a year of plenty of highs with just a few lows. It's tough being in a relationship sometimes. You get stuck in the same routine and it can be hard to move away from that. This year we've tried to spend more time both in and out of the house together, just the two of us. It's been great. There have been times where we've wanted to strangle each other but that's part and parcel of being married.

Husband has been a bit of a bear recently as he has stopped smoking. I'm really proud of him even if his moods are warranting a good slap. He has smoked for over 15 years and hasn't had a cigarette in a month so I can only imagine it has been really tough for him but he's doing so well! Long may he continue!

These photos were taken when we went to the city centre with the kids and our good friends. We must have looked like right numpties to the people on the balcony watching but we didn't care. It was a bit of fun and that's the true spirit of our relationship: fun and silliness.

Here's hoping that carries on in 2015.
dear beautiful

Friday, 19 December 2014

Miss C's Second Christmas #FlashbackFriday

Christmas 2010 was Miss C's second Christmas. She was one and a half, walking and in to everything.

She loved Christmas day. She wasn't sure what all the presents were about but she loved ripping the wrapping paper off the gifts and inspecting the boxes before moving on to the next present.

Her favourite part was the Christmas dinner. We had roast chicken with lots of veg, Yorkshire puds and gravy. She loved the crackers and wearing her Christmas cracker crown.

This time next week, Miss C will have celebrated her 6th Christmas. I'm pretty certain she'll be more in to the presents and playing than wearing the Christmas cracker crown.

My Three and Me

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Keeping the Magic of Christmas Alive

Z is getting close to that age where I'm sure he is going to start asking questions about Santa. In fact, sometimes I'm sure he knows the truth but doesn't say anything so he doesn't spoil the magic for Miss C. She definitely believes. She's at a great age!

I guess Z being the youngest in his year where the children, in some cases, are coming up on age 9 when he's only 7 and a half, he is going to hear doubts and rumours that will make him wonder. This is why I love finding ways to keep the magic of Christmas alive. They aren't children for long so I want to make sure their time as children is cherished, memorable and filled with innocence and magic.

Just the other day, I came down from the loft after finding our little toy reindeer who came last year to watch Miss C and took him to her. I said, "look who I found knocking on the window to get in! It's Santa's reindeer again!" She was loving it! He now sleeps with her and she gave him a little massage the other day so he can tell Santa just how well Miss C looked after him.

On Saturday, Santa delivered the letters to the children. Miss C opened hers first and I read it to her. She was amazed at how much Santa knew about her and very excited to hear what her special present was going to be. Z opened his when he came home from Karate. He read it out to us and we could hear the tone of his voice changing from excitement to amazement to excitement again. He couldn't believe Santa knew who his best friend was and what they wanted for Christmas. These letters from Lapland Mailroom are fantastic!

We went to visit Santa on Saturday at a local Christmas market. Z didn't want to go in at first but he did eventually come in. He spoke to Santa about football and his favourite players but I could tell he wasn't sure about this person sitting in front of him. I could see his doubt. That's when I thought about the film Santa Paws we watched recently and Santa talking about "Santa helpers" who help spread the Christmas cheer to all the boys and girls because the real Santa is so busy. I reminded Z of the film and he seemed to take in what I was saying.

We love the Portable North Pole videos for the kids. Again, Miss C is always blown away by these and she gets so nervous waiting to see if she is on the nice list. Z enjoys them too and I think he prefers watching Santa this way than meeting a Santa helper in person.

Christmas Eve is such an exciting time in our house. We make reindeer dust to throw out in to the garden so the reindeer know where to land. We use the Santa tracker app as Z loves countries so this is a really fun activity for him. Lastly we make sure we leave something yummy for Santa and his reindeer. This year I've booked a treat for the kids at a local cookery school. On Christmas Eve, they are going to make some treats for Santa that they can bring home and place on our gorgeous decorated Christmas plate I ordered from a small business called Handmade by Debs. I can't wait to see all the treats on Santa and Rudolph's plate.

These are just some of the little things that we like to do for the kids to keep the magic and spirit of Christmas alive. After all, it isn't just about getting presents but being able to see the sparkle in their eyes as the magic fills their imaginations.

What ways do you keep the magic of Christmas alive in your house?

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