18 Days of Summer #10 – Happy 21st Birthday Jacob

18 Days of Summer #10 – Happy 21st Birthday Jacob

Today was a day of mixed emotions, we were celebrating my brothers 21st birthday, and going back home from our stay at Nana and Grandad’s.  We had to be up early and head out to church, it’s further to travel from my Mum’s and James was on Kids team so had to be there an hour and a half early.  My Dad packed half of our things into his car so that when we traveled back home in the evening we’d have room for everything.  The girls had only packed summer dresses (my fault for not checking) so had brought things in two shifts earlier in the week.  My wonderful Mum had helped me get straight with our mountainous washing whilst we were there too, so we had lots to take home.

The children all needed baths, so that was a quick job and hair was put into dutch-braided pigtails with a zigzag parting.  Nice and neat, meant that they could have curly hair later.

dutch braided pigtails with zigzag part
this was taken later in the evening after a day of play
looked much better with a headband on later
looked much better with a headband on later, a bit Worzel Gummidge here, poor Shayla

We all chilled out whilst James was setting up the kids room in the baby area upstairs at church.  I’ve said in a previous Sunday post has cosy the baby area is.

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playing happily
playing happily

After church, we headed back to my parents (after dropping off some things at home) and we all hung out with family before Jacob’s birthday meal.  The children love hanging out with my extended family and my brothers and sisters always spoil them with affection and gifts when they can.  My Nan and Grandad came, my two brothers came, my sister (Auntie Jenny), my cousin, family friends, as you can imagine, it was a bit of a houseful.

table full
table full
the overflow were watching the football
the overflow were watching the football

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After dinner, I disappeared upstairs for a while.  I began to have a lot of anxiety about driving down to Worthing tomorrow.  It hit me that I have to drive on Bank Holiday Monday when it will be busy, maybe lots of traffic jams, there are weather warnings for the South of the UK and I will have four children in the car.  Hmm…. I don’t think this was an irrational anxiety.  Started debating what I should be doing, and also packing up the rest of our things ready to go home for the evening (whatever else happened).
My Mum was sad that we were leaving, the girls presented her with some flowers which I had chosen.  I knew they were her favourite, and they thanked her for having us.  I’m sure my Mum is glad to have her home back, no more pooey nappies, potty training babies, Peppa Pig *snorts* on the telly, but she was definitely sad to see us leave too.
flowers to thank my Mum
flowers to thank my Mum

I started having panic attacks about all we had to do.  James packed up the car, my brother looked after Eden.  The children ran riot for a while.  The girls asked to speak to their Mum for the first time.  I guess 10 days is a long time to be away.  We tried calling but couldn’t get through, we would try again tomorrow.

Uncle Bobby looking after Eden
Uncle Bobby looking after Eden

We got home, debated what to do tomorrow, decided that travelling down Bank Holiday with a weather warning would be foolish, and James rebooked himself on the National Express for the following day, and a train down to Worthing from London.  I felt better about this and planned a rest day for tomorrow so that I’m fresh to drive down on Tuesday nice and early.  Also, we have to organise and pack the car properly.  Travelling with so many children is very stressful.

Looking forward to my rest day tomorrow.  Anyone else driven the length of the country with four children 8 and under on their own?  Any tips?  They will be greatly appreciated.

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18 Days of Summer #9

18 Days of Summer #9

A more relaxed day today, as James stayed in bed most of the morning, he must have needed it.  It was throwing it down outside early so I started to plan in my head for a rainy day.  I booked us in to the cinema as planned for the evening, this made sense as I thought it would hardly be an evening for sunset strolls on the beach.

Slowly sorted breakfast, which ended up being in shifts rather than a family meal, Judah had eaten about 6 am when I’d taken him downstairs as he was up early.  The girls then ate about 8:30 after they’d been up and running around for a while.  Eden had her breakfast when she emerged with her Daddy about 9:30/10ish, I can’t remember what time James woke up.

I then commenced doing the girls hairstyles that they had been busy choosing.

braided flower tie back
braided flower tie back

Shayla-Rae had the ‘braided flower tie back‘ although her hair wasn’t really long enough, her flower looks more like a little rosebud, but hey, it’s the one she wanted.

knotted headband
knotted headband

I actually really loved doing Isis’ hair.  She opted for the ‘knotted headband‘ which although fiddly, I really enjoyed doing.  James wanted to get involved, so a crocodile clip was replaced with him holding some hair (bless) and I almost felt like I was weaving or something.  Anyways, it’s a fun one to do and I think it looks great.  This is definitely making it into my favourite school hairstyles list.

Once we had finished getting ready, the early risers (the babies) needed a nap, oh well.  Off went Judah and Eden for a nap and I made everyone some cheese and ham toasties.  Children love toasties, what a great invention, it’s just a sandwich, that can seem so bland sometimes, but just add some heat and pressure, and voila, something they think is exciting to eat.  I made Judah and Eden’s ready for when they woke, so that it would not be hot and I wouldn’t have to start faffing when they woke up hungry.

After lunch we helped my Mum clean up for tomorrow’s festivities – it’s my brother Jacob’s 21st and everyone is coming to my Mum’s for a meal.  16 people for dinner after a family of 6 has invaded your home for a week is a bit much, so we helped tidy up (as best we could, she’s fussy about how she likes things done).  Then I guess the festivities of the week caught up with me.  I ended up napping on the sofa in the front room for an hour and a half whilst the girls played in the back garden.   When I awoke there was just enough time to sort out nappies that needed changing, clothes for children (Judah had been napping in just a t-shirt),  My Mum volunteered to watch Eden and the rest of us went off to munch some chips before the cinema.

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This was literally all that we had time to munch.  We arrived at the cinema in time to find a carpark ticket, collect our 3D glasses, buy a large popcorn between us, and in we went to the cinema.

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This was the first time that Judah had been to the cinema where he was a paying customer who I expected to watch the movie.  His first film was ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ when he was a tiny baby and just in the buggy.  Shayla-Rae hadn’t been to the cinema for a long time.  She doesn’t remember when we took her to see ‘Tinkerbell – the secret of the wings’ or whatever it was called haha two Christmas’s ago.  We had arrived whilst the trailers were on and the house lights were down.  Shayla was petrified to even walk down the slight incline to find seats, you’d think I was trying to push her off the edge of a cliff to her death.  We got there in the end.  Judah was very reluctant to wear his glasses, until in the movie he realised the picture was better.

We watched ‘The Unbeatables’ – I am really sorry if you have seen it and enjoyed it, but James and I could not believe how horrendous the plotline was.  The children loved it so I guess that’s all that matters.  We just felt that they had spent so much time making the 3D effects cool, that they forgot the plotline.  Put it this way, my favourite part was the last half hour which was based around a football match – yep!

Outside the cinema was the most beautiful sunset, I was so annoyed that I had run out of battery on the DSLR and snapped a quick pic on James’ iphone.  It just doesn’t do it justice.  I think James thought we could grab a romantic one of us and Isis offered to take it.  She took a beautiful photo of the sky and her finger haha.  Better luck next time James, sorry.

my effort with the iphone
my effort with the iphone

When we returned home it was bedtime, I took the girls hair out for whilst they slept and they had cuddles with Eden.  We had kisses and cuddles and off they went.

snuggling with Eden on the sofa
snuggling with Eden on the sofa

It was one of those nights were Judah and Eden just wouldn’t settle, an hour later, James and I still had bed invaders…

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we finally settled them and got snuggled down for the evening.  Early start tomorrow morning as James is serving on Kids church and we have a lot longer drive than usual, and the children will all need a bath.  Excited to hang out with the family for my little brother’s 21st.

Hope you all enjoy the bank holiday, we’ll be driving down to Worthing, West Sussex and hoping the traffic isn’t too terrible.  Think of me driving a 6 hour journey (minus toilet stops) with four children.  If you get time to say a little prayer, please do.
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18 Days of Summer #8

18 Days of Summer #8

Today we were able to celebrate my Dad’s birthday as a family.  We were unable to attend the birthday meal my Mum hosted the weekend of his actual birthday as we had made commitments before anything was planned.  So, we took him out for breakfast at the local carvery.

We had to wait until 9am when it opened, so first the girls chose some hairstyles again :

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Isis went for the triple braided tie back.

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Shayla had the ponytail bow.  I was trying to distract myself as I was very hungry.  We packed up all that the children may need and when everyone was ready, off we went out for breakfast.

It was lovely all being out together.  Eden even joined in, munching a banana I had brought her and then some toast.  She looked so sweet sat at the table with everyone.  Judah was amazing considering how tired he was, he kicked off at one point, and I struggled to find somewhere that wasn’t fun for him to sit and do his time-out – this ended up being in the corner of the entrance.  The irony as he sat there performing on a mat that said ‘Welcome,’  I would’ve taken a picture but I hadn’t carried the camera with me to perform his time-out, as it’s not usually a moment that he or I would like to capture.

The girls enjoyed their huge breakfasts, we were all set up for the day and didn’t need to eat again (apart from the little guzzler that is Eden) until our evening meal.  They enjoyed clinking their glasses fruit shoots together with us, as we remembered that we were there to celebrate ‘Grandad’s’ birthday.

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this one was still eating as we were trying to leave
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Isis unhappy as I was making her finish the sausage on her fork

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 In our hasty dash for breakfast we had forgotten to put the Bugaboo Donkey back in the car boot so we had to go back to my parents afterwards before we could continue our day of fun.  Once we had the buggy in the car, we were off again, this time we went to play Crazy Golf.
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 Crazy golf was hilarious, it was like a massive free for all.  They were so excited because they’d not done it before that it was very difficult to get them to take turns or listen to instruction.  I had Eden with me so I couldn’t really get on to the course with them.  My sister ‘Auntie Jenny’ then arrived to come and spend the day with us, so she watched Eden for me and then I could go and snap some pictures of my little golfers.  They started to get the hang of it by about hole 8 of 9, so hopefully if we go again, Crazy Golf won’t be quite as crazy.
After Crazy Golf the girls were going to go water zorbing, on the lake so I thought we could head off the complaining if Judah got to go on the trampolines first.  He loves the trampolines bless him, jumping and singing for joy.  It’s so lovely getting to watch him do things that he loves.
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 The girls decided to join in and sing whilst he was jumping.
Also, they made me laugh when they started telling him to leap, which Judah thought was the word ‘sleep.’  As, you can imagine, him lying down to sleep wasn’t really the best way of spending his 10 minutes that we’d paid for.  So funny!
Then it was the girls turn to go water zorbing.  Isis has been able to go a few times over the years, Shayla is only just old enough and really impressed us last time (which was her first time), so when she asked again, of course we allowed her.  This time she didn’t seem to dare stand up though, not sure if that’s because this time she was in a dress instead of leggings.  Mental note – bring leggings next time we’re heading to St Annes.
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Next we took them to the children to go in the boats on the lake.  Isis decided she wanted to peddle with Daddy (although, I’m pretty sure he did most of the work).  I sat in the back with Judah and Shayla-Rae and Auntie Jenny (bless her) kept Eden on the shore, as she was ready for a sleep.  The girls wanted to play pirates.  So funny.  This resulted in us playing Bumper Boats with the other willing boaters on the lake, who I think had all wanted to play too but no-one wanted to offend anyone.  Our children just shouted at the other boaters ‘we want to crash into you!’ to which people said, ‘that’s what they want to do’ referring to their children.  So, a game of bumper boats was enjoyed by all.
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 We had to go back in after about 15 minutes (you get 45 minutes) as Eden was crying with Auntie Jenny, and a random lady was trying to take Eden off her determined that she would be able to settle her.  Why is it that complete strangers do this when it comes to babies?  I don’t see anyone offering to settle my screaming toddler when he’s having a paddy.  Poor Jennifer, we went back to rescue her.  She had sent the lady packing.  My sister makes me laugh, she looks sweet and usually won’t say boo to a goose, but if you cross her, she has some bite.  Love her so much.
I started to worry about not being able to replenish suncream at this stage, we all have very fair skin and we’d run out after the last application.  So, the children were allowed to go on the train and then the play park briefly and then we headed back to Nana’s cafe for a drink.
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yummy chocolate milkshakes
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sleepy Judah deciding what he’d like to drink
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Auntie Jenny, the baby rescuer

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 We left the girls with Nana, they wanted to join her going food shopping.  James, Judah, Eden, Auntie Jenny and I went back to attend the boys hairdressing appointment.  Judah’s fringe needed sorting after the lady near us butchering it about a month ago, and James was going for his routine hair cut.  I was getting sick of my hair just being flat to my head all the time.  With two babies there is no time to be spent styling my hair.  I remembered about 6 years ago, the last time my hair was this length I had a block fringe.  I asked the barber to chop me a fringe in whilst I was there (he’s a friend) and he gladly obliged.
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Judah having his fringe fixed, he never performs for Pete, he must trust him
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selfie taken infront of my grandad, I was trying to be discreet hence the serious face

I made a broccoli and cauliflower cheese bake, well, James and I did, Eden started screaming so James took over, for dinner which went along with my Mum’s ‘chicken recipe’ (original title I know) that she was making for my Grandad.  The children then had ice-cream for dessert and were in bed for just after 8.

They were thoroughly tired out and fast asleep by the time I got back from driving Auntie Jenny home.

Tomorrow 10 days left start counting down which makes me feel sad, but I will try not to think about it and just enjoy the time that we have left.  We’ll be heading to the cinema tomorrow evening to watch ‘The Unbeatables’ in 3D.  Only £3.50 in the small St Anne’s cinema ‘The Island‘ which I think is an amazing bargain.  It will be Judah’s first 3D movie, I’m really looking forward to his reaction.
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18 Days of Summer #7

18 Days of Summer #7

Today was a random day to be in the middle of our holiday, but last week my friend passed away and his wife asked me to sing a song he loved me singing at the funeral.  I loved William, he used to call me his adopted daughter.  He died suddenly whilst in hospital waiting for them to attend to him at the age of 57.  I had tried to practice last week and just ended up in floods of tears, so on the morning of the funeral I decided to try and practice again.  It’s a song that William who was a preacher would have me sing night after night about a decade ago when he was preaching every night at a church in Blackpool.  This was the church that they were holding the funeral at.  I knew it would be strange to be back in that building, singing that song at William’s funeral.  It’s a song I knew back to front and inside out even a decade later.  I spent the morning singing (Nana sorted the children’s breakfasts, just crumpets that morning) and then getting ready.  My mum was going to have the children for me, I realised four on her own was a bit harsh as I had no idea how long we would be (I had to be there early to set up etc.), so we took Eden with us, she’s never any trouble and if James needed to go out of the main room with her, he could.

The weather was terrible so my Mum was just staying in with the other three.  The girls understood what I was going to do and didn’t mind it interrupting their holiday (bless them).  Lots of kisses, cuddles and off set James, Eden and I.

Was really bizarre arriving there, William’s son Adam, just a child when I last saw him, had been recently ordained in the Summer (his Dad was there to see that – ‘proudest day of his life’) and was leading the funeral.  He was giving the eulogy, along with William’s boss, he was also preaching, and when we arrived he was sorting out the words onto the overhead projector and sorting out the sound desk.  Shocked to see him there so early and to realise how much he was doing (instead of coming later with the family) I took over putting the words into the computer program, and Keith and I started to sort out the sound for our music, and made sure everything else they needed was working.

I kept my mind busy for the hour and a half that followed before the funeral commenced.  Sang my little heart out, and then went outside to have a little weep.  Strangely though, I don’t weep for the loss of William.  I believe I know where he has gone and that he will be at peace now, but seeing his wife and daughter (who was my friend years ago, we just lost contact when she got married – they are Romany Gypsy’s and have very strong culture, her role was to stay in the home, look after her husband and have children) was the reason I wept.  I know we do not weep as those who have no hope as we believe we’ll see him again, but for those left behind it is hard as life adjusts.

 Above is one of William’s messages when he spoke at a church about a year ago.  Please watch if you want to see what all the fuss was about, his story of his life before and after meeting Jesus is amazing.  When his coffin was carried out at the end of the service yesterday there was a standing ovation and everyone applauded like when a ship makes it maiden voyage out of the harbour.  The next stage of his journey is just beginning.
So, back to the children.  My sister and her boyfriend had been at the funeral with James, Eden and I, we went back to collect the others and go out for ice-cream near the local lake.  It was so windy, so we sat inside the cafe.
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Judah and I making our way to the cafe
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Isis posing
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the whole clan plus Auntie Jenny, you can’t see James is holding the car seat behind the girls with Eden in it
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My little monkey

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Ordering their ice-creams
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Daddy photobombing indiscreetly
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Eden enjoyed her biscuit

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disappointed there’s no sweets left in the pic n mix
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Adam and Eden
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Adam playing helicopters with Shayla-Rae

I was exhausted when we got back from our little walk, with the emotional strain of the day, but dinner still needed to be made so off I went to the shop to get some mince.  I had planned to make chilli, it was a cold day so this seemed fitting.  In times like this I am grateful for the meal planner as it helps me to not have to make choices when I’m tired.  They all enjoyed the chilli and rice, then had some game time with Grandad before having a bath and going to bed.

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concentrating
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playing ‘Snorta’ with Grandad

Although today wasn’t the ideal ‘holiday’ day for the children, they had fun and what can I say? This is real life, and life doesn’t stop, it keeps going and situations happen.  I was pleased to be around the area to make it so accessible for us to continue our holiday and still be able to sing.

Tomorrow we’re taking Grandad out for a delayed birthday breakfast as we were busy with church festivities when they organised an impromptu dinner a fortnight ago.  Looking forward to that.
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18 Days of Summer #6

18 Days of Summer #6

Sitting down to write this whilst all the rest of the familiy are asleep in bed (I am sat in bed next to the hubster who is fast asleep), I am very tired after a busy day, but I feel very blessed.  Today was one of those days that my heart just feels so full, full of love, joy, pride of how blessed and lucky we are to have such amazing children.

As I mentioned last week at some point, I’ve been asked to sing at a funeral tomorrow of a good friend.  They wanted me to play piano and to sing, but I know that I’ll be emotional and it’s been a while since I’ve accompanied myself for such an occasion, so I called a friend yesterday to see if they mind playing for me, then all I need to do is sing.  He kindly agreed, he was a friend of the gentleman that died too, so he saw it as an honour and a privilege.  However, this meant that we would need to practice, so as we finished the conversation yesterday, we arranged a practice today at 10am.

A friend recommended a hairstyle for the girls to try today – the ‘mermaid braid,’ I definitely have not perfected this one, but the girls loved it and the tighter version I put in Shayla’s hair survived all day, and looked great when they were playing in the water.  Definitely would recommend as a swimming do.

Isis' looser version
Isis’ looser version
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Shayla’s stayed in all day
As the girls are always so well-behaved (not a brag, they just are and I know that we are very lucky) and into music, I thought I would take them with me.  They were so excited to be in my friend Keith’s studio.  I explained to them that it was where I recorded some songs I wrote when I was 16.  They were amazed by how long ago that was *shudders*, so am I.
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lovely moment, Isis singing in the studio I recorded in 15 years ago
lovely moment, Isis singing in the studio I recorded in 15 years ago

The girls had a go at drumming too, I think we’re going to need a music room instead of a playroom as these children get older.

Isis sang for Keith, a friend of my parents who helped me record an album of songs I wrote at 16. It was such a special moment, I sat down at the piano and played Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’ and she just went for it. I was so proud that she didn’t go all shy on me, she shone like the little star that she is, and Keith said that he will gladly record a song for her for free anytime that she wants. So lovely, we’re thinking of maybe doing a little family album of songs for Grandparents for Christmas presents. I know James’ parents would especially adore a recording of Isis as they’re always trying to capture her on their phones when they come up to visit.

We left our friends home and went back to our holiday home (my parents), I made and packed up a picnic, James had snagged some bargain priced roast chicken the night before as Booths were closing up, so I made chicken sandwiches.  We took apples, raisins, drinks, and some Peppa Pig muddy puddle chocolate bars too, and off we went on our travels.  We decided to go on the bus to save on car parking at the other end and headed to St Annes on the Sea.

our little bus crew off on their travels
our little bus crew off on their travels
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practicing their ballet stretches whilst waiting for the bus
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James looking confused by the bus ticket
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smiling – that’s better
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Eden looking after Judah’s kermit

We went to visit Nana at work, she wanted her work colleagues to meet the children and then we were off to the paddling pool near the beach to eat our picnic (I was hungry by now for sure).  The girls munched down all their food, Judah had fallen asleep as we were getting off the bus, so he napped as they played for a while and then was able to join in.  He’s potty training at the moment, so as soon as he woke, poor child was put on the potty, then had his sandwiches – which I have NEVER seen him shovel down so fast as he was so excited to go and play in the water.

picnic time
picnic time
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strawberry munching Isis
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cute holding hands
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they figured out it was warmer if they stayed low out of the wind
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Judah shovelling in his sandwiches
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getting his big sister
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crazy bendy child
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I love this photo, he’s so happy
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telling his sisters what to do

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The weather was warm but as we were on the seafront it was VERY windy.  Judah was shivering but refusing to come out of the water as he was having so much fun.  Ended up making a judgement call after about 20 mins of them all playing that they would all come out and we’d head to the trampolines.  My mum had finished work and had come to join us by this point.  We got them all dry and back into their clothes and off we trekked.

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walking with Nana
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Isis loves the trampolines
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My two bouncing girlies
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having the time of his life
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cheeky face
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he loves trampolines, can you tell?
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monster shadows

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As we were walking down to the trampolines, Judah spotted ‘the beach’ well, he wasn’t happy, screaming and performing because he wanted to go on the beach ‘like it beach!’ he kept screaming.  Obviously, I didn’t want him to be sad or feel like he was missing out but I knew that he would love the trampolines and nobody else wanted to go on the beach today (we’ll be going another day).  He was tired from all the playing in the water and trying to keep his body warm.  So, into the Bugaboo Donkey he went.  Ooh, he wasn’t happy, lots of screaming, lots of typical stares from people walking past, assuming that I must be throttling my 2 year old.  He watched the girls on the trampolines and had to calm down dramatically before I would let him even contemplate having a go.

He did eventually calm down and he loved his time on the trampolines, he has a little one in the playroom at home, and he just loves to jump.  He had a great time.  When his time was up (it was £2.50 for 10 minutes), the screaming recommenced as he didn’t want to come out.  We had told him it was ice-creams next, which meant that he walked off the trampoline of his own accord, but then being 2 changed his mind once there was no more bounce beneath his footsteps. It’s hard being 2.

Again, he had to calm down, this took longer as there was an audience, we knew he’d had a lot of excitement and was upset so he couldn’t go and choose his ice-cream until he’d done a wee on the potty.  Not normally a problem for him, but he decided all of a sudden he was embarrassed to go on the potty (which he had done several times already that day).  Nana and her friends left for a coffee (don’t think they could cope with any more screaming) and he focused on my voice then, calmed down, went on the potty and was able to choose an ice-cream (he went for an ice-lolly) to eat on the walk back to the bus stop.

He walked all the way back to the bus stop, it took us about 25 minutes with his little legs, and then when we got off the bus at the other side, he walked all the way back to Nana’s house, about 15 minutes for his legs.  When we arrived home I realised how proud I was of him and the day he had done, no accidents all day, even though we were out with multiple distractions, how far his little legs had walked, for the first time ever really.  We had been aiming to go to the Blackpool church service our church is running at the moment, the children wanted to go, but again we made a judgement call, they’d been out in the sun all day.  They had been so well behaved and we would be pushing our luck to try and take them to church for a 7:30 service.

So, we stayed in, got a chippy dinner and watched ‘Matilda.’  The children had a wonderful day and were telling me about their favourite parts, Isis’ and Judah’s was the trampoline, Shayla’s was the paddling pool.  I had a lovely time realising how blessed James and I were, and look forward to more days out.  We are a third through our days now, and that makes me sad, but still 12 days to go.  Tomorrow I am singing at a funeral, so it won’t be the most fun of mornings/early afternoons, but then we will go into Blackpool to do something fun, so I’m looking forward to that.

I’ll leave you with a little clip of the crazy children doing an impression of their Father falling off the roundabout the day before, but for some reason in the water.


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18 Days of Summer #5

18 Days of Summer #5

Today was an interesting day, as somehow our Tax Credit renewal form had never been sent to us.  Therefore, we obviously hadn’t sent it back.  So our Child Tax Credits hadn’t gone in.  We had to get the car fixed last week, so you can imagine, this didn’t put us in good stead for days out with 4 children.  We barely had enough to buy nappies for the baby that had run out.  After some interesting phone calls, my inlaws to the rescue, lending us what HMRC reinstate in a few weeks once we’ve had the form etc and got it back to them.  However, we didn’t have money until later in the afternoon when they had transferred it so we scaled back our ideas for the day.

In the morning (before I realised we were running out of nappies) I was driving my Mum to work (we’re staying at her home) and thought it would be a good time to grab some one on one time with Isis.  I asked James if he minded us having an hour, he replied, ‘of course not,’ so off I went with Isis.

We went to Costa as it had a free car park right outside.  I got my usual Decaf Gingerbread Latte and Isis tried a ‘Sticky Toffee Creamy Cooler’ she let me have a sip, way too sickly for me but she loved it.

showing off her fishtail
showing off her fishtail

Normally, in a ‘Just the 2 of us‘ post I would have more pictures and what we chatted about.  Isis and I ended up having a very personal conversation, she offloaded something she had been carrying around for 3 years and broke down on me in the middle of Costa.  It was so sad, but also very precious that we were able to bond on an even deeper level.  As you can appreciate, this blog is for them, and some things are just meant to be shared between stepmum and daughter.

My sister contacted me whilst in Costa (she lives around the corner) and came to meet us as we finished up so she could get a lift back with us to spend some time with the children.  On the way back we nipped to the Pharmacy, I had taken a picture of Judah’s face.  He’d fallen the day before and below the little graze on his face was slightly raised, red and warm.  After Eden having had cellulitis twice, I just wanted to check it wasn’t worrying.  The pharmacist advised me it was probably normal, and he’d just grazed it over more surface area than I thought and to keep my eye on it.  When I got back I did the usual mum trick and smothered it in sudocrem (again), it did look better later in the day, so my heart was at peace.

We spent some time debating what we could do with no money, the babies were all napping, so rather than the girls just watch television we decided to play the ‘Game of Life’ this was great.  I meant to capture a photo of the carnage on the table, but was just enjoying being with the children so much, I forgot.  I love making memories for them, but sometimes you just don’t want to be the lady with the camera in her hand all the time.  I want to be in the moment with them, as well as capturing it for them, there is definitely a fine line and I am still learning this balance.

Once the babies were awake, and I had annihilated everybody in the Game of Life we had some tortilla wraps for lunch and then went off to the park again.  This time Judah and Eden were awake and could join in.

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Judah with Auntie Jenny
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my turn, my turn
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enjoying the climbing frame
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conveniently peeping over so I could snap this
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Eden’s 1st go on the swing
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our pint-sized princess
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‘oooh what’s this?’
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Judah getting braver every day
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Ready, steady….
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…Go!!!
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Judah almost brave enough to go on the swings on his own again, thanks to Auntie Jenny
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Daddy kisses
James later tried to swing in one of these baby seats, this was interesting and required some assistance from myself to get him out.  This is not unusual behaviour from my husband, although hilarious, especially for the children, not often appreciated by myself *wink*.
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He asked me afterwards, ‘what would you have done if it had ended up with us having to get the Fire Brigade?’ I replied after careful thought, ‘take pictures.’
Check out Eden’s first time on the swing
James’ parents contacted us to say they had transferred us some money, how kind, and we then went to get the children an ice-cream.  I restrained as I’m still trying to lose weight.  James is becoming more and more impressed with my resilience as this theme has continued throughout our time away with the girls.  Here’s a couple of snaps of them enjoying their ice-creams.
James managed to catch a cheeky snap of me whilst queuing for the ice-cream
James managed to catch a cheeky snap of me whilst queuing for the ice-cream

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In the evening I had planned for us to all have Fajitas.  James cooked for us all, I’m very lucky, and the food was massively enjoyed by all.

What’s your favourite dinner to come home to after a day in the summer sun?  Comment below.
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18 Days of Summer #4

18 Days of Summer #4

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Today was quite relaxed, we’re on a very tight budget for a few days, so we decided to make a picnic and go to the seafront and play football.  I had planned to do pancakes for the children in the morning, but Nana had beat me to it before I’d had chance to finish breastfeeding the baby, they were up and munching away.

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Eden loved her first pancakes, I so enjoy watching her eating things for the first time or just in general, she just loves her food.  It’s such a pleasure to see people delight in something that brings them happiness, and when that person is your little baby, you can’t help but gush.

After breakfast we all got ready, the girls chose their hairstyles of the day from Cute Girls Hairstyles.  They are absolutely crazy about this website, Isis practices them herself on Shayla.  They love when we have the time for them to choose a style and I have to try and recreate it.  Today’s choice from Shayla was a nice easy one compared to yesterday, mini braids going into a braid, and Isis had the Dutch Flower Braid.

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Once we were all ready, my Mum and I prepared a quick picnic and we headed out for the day.  They just love being outside so much, they are so happy whilst being able to just run free in the sunshine.  Judah was exceptionally excited about going to the beach, running round screaming ‘Yay, I like it beach!’  He’s still potty training so we took the potty along with us.

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the eldest and the princess walking ahead with Nana
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gathering round to protect Judah’s modesty as he used the potty

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They had fun playing and then Judah started to get tired.  We decided to put him in the pram (he didn’t like this) and go for a walk around the lake.  At the other side of the lake there’s a playground area where the girls had fun with their Daddy whilst the monkey prince and the baby slept.

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They love having quality time with their Daddy.  It’s so nice when he’s able to be off to hang around with them too.  They’re just silly together.  I love this video they made which just reminds me of James so much.  He’s always on about having powers.


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18 Days of Summer #3

18 Days of Summer #3

Sundays are always spent predominantly at church, however this morning when we woke (I hadn’t slept properly due to an awful nightmare) I was my usual stuffy, head-cold self when I’ve not really slept, and James had a horrendous headache.  I knew he needed to rest.  Normally, this would mean that I would take all 4 children by myself, they’re well behaved and they love the kids church, but because I also didn’t feel very well, and I’ve been struggling with some anxiety issues (yes, unfortunately this is rearing it’s ugly head again) the idea didn’t appeal to me.  I would normally force myself for the girls sake, as it is a constant in their lives that they love, but as we had them all day instead of going back to the ‘other mummy’s’ in the afternoon, I decided to rest too (by that I mean, not run around like a mad woman getting them all ready and out of the door) and took the children downstairs for breakfast and to hang out, so as not to wake Daddy.  The girls were able to come to church with us in the evening instead.

The girls chose a hairstyle each that they wanted from the Cute Girls Hairstyles app.  They absolutely love this site.  Isis will go on it on her tablet at the ‘other mummy’s’ and practice styles on Shayla, so cute.

Isis chose the lace braided ponytail
Isis chose the lace braided ponytail
Shayla chose the diagonal bow braid - I did not have the correct equipment
Shayla chose the diagonal bow braid – I did not have the correct equipment

I love learning to do these new styles, Shayla’s was exceptionally difficult though as I didn’t have the right equipment to pull the loops through.  I was trying with a curby grip and it was nearly impossible.  So difficult.  Need to stock up on some more hair supplies before we try this one again.

My parents nipped in with my brother after church to see how we were as it was so odd that we weren’t there.  They ended up taking Judah back with them for the day, so we had more room to pack things to take over after church in the evening, as we are being based over at theirs for the week.  It was nice to see my brother, we haven’t crossed paths recently, I was able to give him his birthday presents a little early so we could all see his enjoyment of opening them.  He also like the cards the children had spent all yesterday afternoon making him.  Happy 21st Jacob if you see this.

he loved his new t-shirt
he loved his new t-shirt

We were supposed to go to a friends for lunch, but James just wasn’t very well, so bless them, they came to us, they brought bountiful food, a big dish of macaroni and cheese, a pasta bolognese, salad, garlic bread, and an amazing chocolate cake.  They are quite a new married couple, and Laura I don’t think had ever cooked for so many people before so she had gone a little bit overboard, but it was so thoughtful and considerate of them.  We felt very spoilt and blessed by their company.

We had an hour after company left to finish packing and get to church as James was serving in the kids church this evening which meant we needed to go early for briefing, set-up etc.  We got packed up and arrived at church on time, had a great service, then drove to my Mum’s (aka Nana’s).

my little toast munchers, look how small Eden looks
my little toast munchers, look how small Eden looks

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Can you guess which of the three toast munching pictures I took?  My husband had the camera for the rest.

They were hungry when we arrived but it was late so they munched some toast and then were reunited with their brother who heard them and came downstairs.

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Isis is wearing my Mum’s dressing gown

Judah was the most tired I have seen him for a long time, I think he was just far too excited to have us all at Nana’s.  He was so upset when it was bedtime, he didn’t even want us to sing him a song, infact he cried to make sure we wouldn’t sing him a song ‘Not want twinkle, twinkle!’ came the cries.  Ok, no problem, quite happy to not sing the same song as we have to do every other night.  Eden was happy enough in her new surroundings.  The girls have gone to sleep excited for what tomorrow may bring weather dependent.  In the morning I’m making them pancakes.

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My princess before I got her into her sleepsuit
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I love how she always smiles when the camera is out, well trained already
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Judah needed cuddles to help him go to sleep

I’m looking forward to this time with them all.  I think I’m most excited because they’re so excited.  Ah to be a child again, nice that we kind of get to live the childhood memories again as we create new ones for our own.
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18 Days of Summer #2

18 Days of Summer #2

Today we had planned to go and have a picnic whilst watching my brother (Uncle Bobby) play cricket. The children were excited for this but the weather was terrible, not quite bad enough that the cricket would be called off, but definitely not good enough to sit watching for hours with a picnic.

I had been out in the morning with Shayla for some one on one time (click here after Tuesday to see what we got up to) and then we went to ‘Waitrose‘ to get some bits for our picnic. We were all hungry at about 11am, bizarre but I thought it’s just too early to eat yet. So, I sent them on a mission helping me tidy the house (put away toys etc) so we could have a blanket picnic on the floor.

Getting them to help (although more aimed at serving my needs than theirs at the time) is a really good practice to develop for their futures. I strongly believe in them just being children and being allowed to play, but also feel there is need for them to do little tasks within their capabilities to establish good boundaries of what is expected (that they be helpful and obedient) of them. I set Isis and Shayla a competition of who could find the most dirty crockery around the house (I was washing up) and bring it to me, and then the most rubbish (empty diet coke bottle in our room for example). I realised half way through this was an excellent activity *laughs*, they were having a great time and they were helping me tidy the house – win, win!

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I then made them some cheese and ham toasted wraps. I fold the tortilla wrap around the filling into a rectangle and then finish it by dry frying it (or with fry-lite – the one cal spray, and that’s more for the benefit of the pan ) on each side, this keeps all the filling in and makes it more exciting for them than sandwiches. They loved them, even Judah wolfed his down served like this (he can be slow eating sandwiches and make a lot of mess) then they had mini cupcakes and some crisps that Shayla and I had picked up at Waitrose. I had bought them some little water bottles but we saved them until a day where we’re going out and just had some good old ‘corporation pop’ (tap water) as my Mum’s Mum would call it.

about to tear into their cupcakes and crisps, note Judah covering his potty training modesty
about to tear into their cupcakes and crisps, note Judah covering his potty training modesty

We then spent the afternoon making cards for the various people in our family with birthdays and a friend who had just turned 21 (I know!) who was coming with her husband to join us for dinner and then babysit so that James and I could have a ‘date night’. God bless them for being willing to come and babysit our tribe, they did a great job too, you can read about our first time leaving the whole blended family and our date night here.

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some were more messy than others when we had finished
some were more messy than others when we had finished

James had got some meat (a pork joint) out the night before to defrost and decided he wanted to make us a roast. He is great at making roasts, he used to make them for himself all the time when he was single, even if it was after midnight, if he fancied one he’d just get cooking. So, whilst I had the children he set about on to that. My Dad is pretty old school and never did anything like this around the home so I always appreciate how fortunate I am to have stumbled across someone who is happy to pitch in, with cooking, cleaning, washing. I don’t know what I would have done through my horrendous pregnancies if he hadn’t been like this. I’m quite traditional after watching my Mum for years in the fact that I feel like I’m a failure as a wife if I’ve not got it all under control, or I’m not on top of doing all the housework and cooking. James reminds me that whilst he is at home job-hunting he is just as responsible for the upkeep of the home, and we’re getting to a place where we work well as a team. I will miss his help tremendously once he starts working again.

Our friends arrived at 5pm, we had a yummy roast pork dinner and after I’d washed up (James had cooked) we headed out for date night and left the children with our very capable friends. It wasn’t particularly the best day we could’ve had with the children, but they LOVE doing craft and enjoyed their time with Andy & Chrissie thoroughly, so they had a brilliant day. We set off to my Mum’s on Monday or maybe tomorrow evening after church (we’re undecided yet, see how the packing goes *wink*) and then the real holiday festivities will begin.

Tomorrow, the day will mostly revolve around church, and we’ve been invited to hang out with friends from church in the afternoon (again, very brave taking on our tribe), and getting prepared to go away on our jollies to Lytham St Annes.

Do you have any suggestions of picnic sandwiches alternatives? We are always looking for different foods we can make mobile, comments very welcome.
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