Category Archives: Lifestyle

Aren’t holidays supposed to be relaxing?

I don’t think we really did any relaxing, in our sleep perhaps, but most of the our holiday was packed with family visits and trips. We didn’t get to do everything we wanted to do really, and next time we know for definite that we will do 2 weeks rather than just the 1. It flew past so quick, and after not seeing most of Kiba’s family for 3 whole years, 1 week really didn’t seem enough time. Despite all the visits I suppose you could say we did have some downtime, mainly while we were waiting for certain things, like people, transport for others etc. but compared to the complete full on craziness that is visiting family/kids/pets I don’t think it counts as relaxing. Even at the outdoor pool I don’t think I truly relaxed, who does with small kids and water?! However, despite all this I can definitively say that you do not need to relax to have a good time*. So, I’m going to give you all an overview of what we did in our week away, to give you a bit of perspective of our holiday and why we never got to relax, and how I managed to take 2,214 photos.

Day 1, travel day, 282 photos. Drive, ferry, drive. Read this post if you’d like more detail.

Day 2, 78 photos. The kids needed time to settle in to their new environment, so we took it pretty easy in the morning. We spent time with Kibas Dad and half sister. We met all their animals, dogs, cats, ponies, goats, geese, chickens and rabbits. Obviously Taya thought they were the best thing ever. In the early afternoon we went and said Hello to Kibas Mum, (and her husband, 3 of Kibas sister, 1 of his brother, and 1 of his nieces!) where I didn’t take any photos as it was all very over-whelming. I spent a majority of the time asking the kids to put a crying Taya down as she did not want to be picked up by people she didn’t particularly know. Again we met their animals, a large number of dogs, cats (including 13 tiny kittens!) and rabbits. Again, Taya thought this was the best thing ever. Logan not so much, he isn’t the biggest fan of dogs, but he surprised me by how he jumped right into playing with the kids. The language barrier really didn’t bother him. He did later tell me that he enjoyed himself as they treated him like a King, he didn’t even have to take his own shoes off! We then headed off back to Kibas Dads for a BBQ, and a short stroll up the road.

Day 3, 317 photos. We had a late morning after spending some time with Kibas Dad, but then headed off to Kibas brothers. From his we walked the 20-30 minutes in to the city. We had a good look around, and got some postcards, and then ice creams, as it was a lovely hot day! We then walked back to near his brothers to grab a kebab and play in one of the local parks. I’m surprised but Logan walked the whole entire time, he did moan, but he still had loads of energy left. Early afternoon we headed off to Kibas Aunts, to see her, his uncle and his two cousins. Taya was again ecstatic that they had kittens (She is a breeder!) and we had cake in the garden. We then walked to the local school to use their play area, football and basketball facilities. Logan definitely got rid of all remaining energy there! He was pretty exhausted that night understandably.

Day 4, 263 photos. It was a bit more of a dreary morning, but we decided to head up to Burg Plesse, or Plesse Castle, as despite always looking at it as we drove past, we’d never visited. Taya quite rightly kept calling it ‘Tangled’ as it has one tall tower, and is pretty impressive as well as being pretty old,  and the views were absolutely stunning! I wish we’d have visited it sooner, and we’ll definitely go again. There is a restaurant inside now, so you can only really explore the outside, but that was cool enough on it’s own. It soon started raining and we left to go back to Kibas mums for the afternoon, with lots of playing outside with the kids and dogs.

Day 5, 381 photos. In the morning we had a bit of a wait for Kibas Dads transport to arrive, but then we moved our cases to his Mums house for the remainder of the stay. After a quick play outside we decided to go to one of the many outdoor pools in the area. We took one of Kibas sisters with us and had a great time. I honestly have no idea why I have never been to one before, and can only hope that we can go back soon! Kiba and his sister loved jumping off the diving boards so I got some photos of them, albeit from a good distance away. Mr Skinny Logan was having a blast (although I forgot his goggles, bad Mummy) but he got cold very, very quickly. He needs some fat on him bless him! May invest in a wetsuit/drysuit to help him enjoy water play longer, as he loves it! So I ended up on the blanket on the hill, feeding Taya who soon fell asleep, with a wrapped up cold Logan next to me, watching the rain clouds roll in. Later we headed back to our new “home” for more outside play, where all 3 of Logan & Tayas cousins joined us, along with Kibas Sister and BIL, it got very noisy then, but was also a lot of fun.

Day 6, 325 photos. In the morning we let Taya have a play in the kitten room. I never said no to this, they were so, so cute! Later on we went in search of another castle, the castle ruins at Hardenberg. It was pretty impressive from the road, and it did take us a while to find out where to park, we ended up asking for directions. Obviously this wasn’t the most visited castle ever as the path around it was a bit difficult to navigate and was up on a cliff! I was very glad that Taya stayed in her Connecta! After a walk round, looking at the ruins and watching the lizards running we soon concluded that you couldn’t actually get in to the castle, unless on a tour, or for the registry office. Which was a shame, but we had a good wander nonetheless. Afterwards we went and picked up Kibas brother and headed off to his sisters (the one with the kids cousins, am I confusing you yet with siblings?!) for a BBQ. The kids had the most fantastic time playing with each other, they have a huge garden, where Taya fell in love with the trampoline (but only when she was the sole occupier!) and the food was delicious, with yummy ice cream afterwards! It was a thoroughly lovely evening, and probably the most relaxed I ever got.

Day 7, 97 photos. We visited Kibas Dad in the morning for a bit. I think we may have then been to ToyRUs possibly, I am not sure, I haven’t got the best memory and am admittedly using the photos to work out what we did when! We went back to base for a bit, before heading off to Kibas Aunts for a big family get together & meal. A very yummy meal at that. We also met Kibas grandfather, his Opa, who I have to say is a bit of a character! He’s one of these very typical older generation, with a bit of craziness mixed in, and the ever intense being that I feel I’m particularly sensitive too due to anxiety. Plus you know, the language barrier and the fact that Kiba used every opportunity to not spend with him, even if it left me with him! However, he did give us some money. We also headed back to the local school for more football, before finding a new play area which was lovely, and Taya had a good old swing while the big kids played basketball.

Day 8, 310 photos. Mainly a day of goodbyes and mixed emotions. Firstly was Kibas Dad. I think this was the toughest one, with him being terminally ill it was never going to be easy. Then it was back to his Mums for more playing in the garden, and the final sister had turned up too. We took a trip to their local playing field for football with Kibas siblings, Logan took an impressive tumble on the way and ended up with a mighty cut to the knee, which did bleed a lot. If you’ve seen us in person since we’ve been home I’m sure you know all about this. He’s worn shorts to show it off and is often accompanied with some oohs and aahs. It didn’t stop him joining in with the football though! After a good runaround we headed back, where the cousins and co turned up for a play and then their Goodbyes. I made a faux pas by spoiling a surprise, Kiba told me they’d be hopefully visiting us at Christmas. What he didn’t say was that it was a surprise. So I mentioned it to the eldest child. Oops. I feel terrible that I ruined her surprise, but I was genuinely excited too! (It was so Kibas fault!) Despite the people living in the house saying they’d be getting up in the morning with us to say goodbye there was still a lot of pre-bedtime tears too, and last minute gift giving.

Day 9, 161 photos. Drive, ferry, drive. Again, if you want to read about it in more detail then read this post.

So, a grand total of 2,214 photos later, and 9 days, we are home, and I think just about recovered from our adventures. I can’t wait for our next grand adventure as a family!

* I should really point out that growing up, we have never been a sit by the pool kind of family. We go somewhere new to explore and visit places. So maybe I don’t know what it’s like to truly relax?

The long road home.

So, we’re home! To be precise we got home at 22:40 on Sunday night, and since then it’s been a tiring blur of washing, tidying, shopping and play group this morning. Figured I’d give you a run down of our journey home today, and then shall do a rough overview of our holiday in another post. So, Sunday…

We’d set our alarms for 4am, with the aim of leaving the house by 5. The ferry wasn’t due to leave till 2pm, with boarding from 12:30, but with a 5 hour drive ahead of us we wanted to give ourselves an extra 2 hours for stops or traffic, and in the end it was a good decision. The family we were currently staying with, Kibas mum, her husband, 3 of Kibas sisters and one of his brothers, had all decided to get up to say goodbye so we attempted an earlyish night, which probably did not end up as early as we’d have hoped. 

I was rudely awoken at around 2am by a breeze coming from the previously closed window above my head. As I awoke I realised Kiba was standing there and as I asked what was up he replied with the short answer “I need to pee.” Ah. At his Mums to go to the loo at night meant going downstairs and getting through a room full of dogs that didn’t particularly like our night wandering, as we’d previously found out with many growls and barking, so I could see his predicament. I heard him attempt to get down only to retreat with the growls following him. After a bit more muttering and pacing he decided to pee out of the window, much to my amusement. It still makes me want to giggle thinking about it. 

4am came, and the final preparations were sorted. The goodbyes were hard and came with a lot of tears from Kibas mum and sisters, the hugs were long, no one wanting to let go. But 5am soon turned up and we set off, not long before the sun began to rise. I’ll admit that this time on the 5hr leg of our journey my tiredness got the better of me and I drifted in and out of sleep in between admiring the views, hoping it wouldn’t be too long before we were back. We took two stops along the way, first so Kiba could pee, and I could give Taya some milk, and the second as Taya was crying as she wanted to breastfeed again, and was getting quite upset. Luckily we’d allowed for extra time. 

We got close to the Hook of Holland before Kiba needed the toilet again, and we decided to get some food, so used my Google maps to find the closest McDonald’s. Now, if you haven’t driven over in Holland let me tell you now, the roads can be quite confusing! On a roundabout in most places you can go round and exit, in your lane, but if really need be you can change when safe to do so. In Holland you have one chance at choosing the right lane, as they are all separate, so we did go wrong a couple of times admittedly. Eventually we got to McDonald’s for around 11am, so we decided on an early lunch and quick play in their play area for the kids. By 12 we decided to head to the ferry. 

After checking in we surprisingly were allowed on straight away, no waiting about whatsoever. We were right near the front and this time remembered to take a photo of deck and coloured stairs so we wouldn’t forget. The only bad thing of boarding early meant we had a fair wait until setting sail, although even that was slightly early. We settled on the sun deck at first, after Taya had walked in to a post on the way there, (she has a tendency to not look where she is going) and Logan was thrilled that there was a ball available to play in the basketball/football cage. Taya was thrilled that she could open and shut the door of said cage. Taya then fell off the bench getting down off my lap, so wasn’t in the happiest of moods. We set sail and she wanted to breastfeed, so I ended up missing one of times I think is most exciting to watch overboard, leaving the port. It soon got quite windy and chilly, so we decided to venture inside and made our way to the playroom. I’m pretty sure Kiba had a good nap on the floor in there, Logan either played on his DS or watched the Curious George cartoons that they had on. Taya happily played. I chatted briefly on messenger and played with Taya. We stayed a good while before going for another wander, only to head back shortly for the children’s entertainment. 

This time it was an older gentleman called Adrian. He did a mix of magic, Punch & Judy (and the Dutch equivalent) and balloon modelling. He was a very interesting character who spoke his mind, knew his facts, and was very engaging with his audience. Logan once again managed to get picked, and came away with a pretty awesome balloon t-rex hat! Taya slept through the whole thing, she only fell asleep as she was hiding from Adrian, so it was worth going to see for both kids! 

We spent the rest of the trip in a space next to the stairs, as there were yet again no inside seats available. The kids thought this was great though as they could crawl under the stairs! They had fun chasing each other, looking through their books/magazines and playing with the playdoh grab bag I had bought them, and I also finally got Logan to write his postcards, better late than never! As we started to come in to port I took the kids for a walk on the sundeck, and let Logan have a quick kick about before heading to the play area, while waiting near the top of our stairs. Soon we were allowed down and we packed up in the car. It took forever to get off the ferry, for being nearly the first on we were left nearly till last to get off. And that’s where we began our wait. 45 minutes. It took 45 minutes to get through UK border control. Taya was miserable for most of it, and Logan fell asleep in that time! We were within the last 10 vehicles to leave the port. It was slightly ridiculous. 

Finally we were on the final stretch, less than 2 hours till home. We did stop off to grab a baguette and drink for Kiba and I. The kids had eaten all our snacks On-board the ferry, and we weren’t going to pay €5 for a sandwich! So we’d waited, and even though they weren’t the best, it was food and it was good. It gave us the final energy boost for the drive, before then I’d been struggling to stay awake again, but now I could keep Kiba company in the drive in to recognisable known territory. The light quickly faded, and we arrived home in the dark, just as we had left it. We got everything inside and it really didn’t take long before we all collapsed in to bed, deep sleeps all round.

Two days later and I still feel tired, and unorganised, but we’re slowly getting there, hopefully regular posts will also be back to normal soon. If you’ve got this far in yet another long post then thank you. 

A quick snap, I took a lot of photos, shall share some another time, so keep an eye out!

Road Trip to Germany 

So on Saturday we made the 15 plus hour trip to Germany, and I can say that it was pretty tiring, but very exciting all the same, and the destination was worth it. I’m glad we chose the route we did as it allowed the kids maximum time out of the car, and wasn’t as boring as sitting in your seat for all that time. Before I forget all the small details I wanted to share the day with you, although I know I’ve forgotten some already, but simply haven’t had time to write up sooner. Sorry it’s a long one, but it was a long day! 

Our alarm was set for 4:15am, we wanted to leave the house at 5:45 at the very, very latest, so were aiming to leave at 5:30. I’d had (another) unsettled night with Taya, but woke before the alarm along with Kiba. We both got up and sorted ourselves out and finish packing as much as possible before waking Logan. I’d made a list of what I needed to pack and do the night before so just worked on autopilot mainly. I also made myself a Klean Kanteen full of tea, an essential for such an early morning start. Once Logan was up and dressed he started to get quite excited, which helped us get a bit excited, although I think anxiety ruled the emotions of the day ahead. The last job once the car was packed was to get Taya up and in the car. She awoke, but didn’t take too long to drop back off, so, then began our 2 hour drive down to Harwich. It went smoothly, and we made good time. My tea helped a lot. As usual my guts played up a bit as they “woke up” but this time luckily it was just a bit of uncomfortable rumbling, darn IBS, could of been worse though. As we made it with time to spare we stopped off at Morrisons which was next to the International Docks. Taya had woken up and was eager to get out of her seat. There’s something very cute about a 2yr old wandering across a car park in her bees and ladybugs sleepsuit! We did a nappy change and toilet stop before Kiba grabbed some breakfast for the kids and himself. I really didn’t fancy anything, and if I did we had a coolbag full of snacks. Afterwards we headed to the ferry.

The ferry was huge, Logan was so excited, and I think even Kiba hadn’t realised it was going to be so big. We joined the queue to check in, of course we chose the slowest moving one, and Taya does not like being in a carseat and not moving. Thankfully it didn’t take too long, and after a quick check that everyone was who they said they were on the passports (honestly, Taya has grown so, so much since hers was done I’m not sure how they can say it’s valid!) we got given our boarding passes, and sent to lane number 5. We pulled up among the many, many cars, behind a car from Hannover, which if you don’t know, isn’t too far from our destination! (If you didn’t know, German cars all have an identification letter/s so you know where they’re from, for example H is Hannover, GÖ is Göttingen) Again we had a bit of a wait, so this time we let the kids come out to stand in front of the car. Taya kept shouting “cars!” as if she’d never seen any before. A pretty cool vehicle came in soon after us, I can only say it must have been some cross between a campervan/army reinforced vehicle, it was very big and loud! Soon the first queues started to move, so we popped the kids back in the car, or in Tayas case fighted to get a protesting small person restrained in her seat, which is not an easy task. It didn’t take us long to move though and the boys got very excited about entering the ferry. We followed the car in front and got directed in to a side space. I took a photo of the number area we were in to remind us, then started to unpack everything we’d need. My rucksack, bag each for the kids, and a coolbag. With those in hand and the kids, we followed the crowd and made our way up from deck 4, to deck 9, which would be our home for the next 7 or so hours. 

If we do it again, I think we’d try and get a cabin. Mainly so we didn’t have to carry everything with us, and also so Kiba could nap in a bed with no distractions, ready for the drive ahead. But this time we didn’t. And it wasn’t too bad, a bit annoying carrying everything, and Kiba didn’t get to sleep, but it was a very enjoyable trip. First thing we did was find a baby change room to get Taya dressed and ready for the day, in her Maxomorra mermaids no less. Then we had a quick wander to orientate ourselves with where everything was, restaurant, children’s play area, lounge, cinema, shop, and sun deck. We stopped on the sun deck for a bit, which is where we spent most of our time. Fact, there was not enough indoor seating for the amount of people they had sailing with them. We never got to sit inside other than in the play area. People claimed their seats and never left, or left their belongings, so we never once got the comfort of a nice chair! But now we know what to expect next time. So most of the trip was spent on the sundeck, mainly as I wanted to look out for porpoises, and there was a large space for kids to run around in, which they certainly did! We wanted to keep them active as possible so that they’d hopefully sleep for the last leg of the journey. I’m not going to lie, there were moments of boredom, tiredness and generally grumpiness, but overall I think we managed to keep the kids happy. I’d planned it by seeing it as a day out, they both had a bag of goodies (magazines, activity and reading books, toys etc) but these were actually barely touched. Food went down well, and I’m glad we took our own as the ferry was very expensive. A couple of times Kiba tried to lay down and have a bit of a nap, but it didn’t really work out. We also ventured in to the play area a few times, a very small room with a couple of interactive screens, bead mazes, wall puzzle/toys, seesaw and a couple of soft play squishy things. Nothing special, and far too small for the amount of small children On-board. However they did have two large round windows, where you could sit in, and the lighting was just perfect for some gorgeous photos. 

Taya did enjoy the playroom, especially the beads. In the afternoon we happened to be in there when a magic show started! The man, Abraca-David, was one of these really over the top (slightly embarrassing) people, but also very good. He kept all the children engaged, remember plenty of them weren’t English, and got plenty of kids to help him, one of them being Logan! He didn’t get a choice, he just got asked to pop a ball in a box, which he was very pleased about! Whereas Taya was terrified, she did not like David, and she did not like his possum puppet that he got out! We sat and boobed in the back corner instead, where it got very hot from stuffing so many people in such a small space. A tin of sardines comes to mind. I had worries beforehand if they had sealegs, I 2as the only one of us 4 that’d been on a ferry before. It did get quite choppy, and Logan did say he felt seasick at times but it never really bothered him. Kiba did feel quite unwell at one point too, so it was a shame he didn’t have a nice comfy seat to relax in. There were times on board that time felt so, so slow, but other times it seemed to go quite quick, but eventually Holland came in to sight. As we came in to port, we stayed on deck as long as possible before the rain started and we wanted to be ready to go back to the car. We had a bit of an oops moment as we couldn’t remember which stairs we came up, but after a bit of walking between them we settled on the right one and were soon back at the car. 

Taya fell asleep before we’d even left the ferry, which took a while so we were thankful we’d worn her out. As we exited the ferry it was peeing it down! We joined a queue, again, the slowest moving one, to head towards passport control. We spotted a car from Göttingen and wondered if we could follow them, or if we’d even see them again (we didn’t, but I’m keeping an eye out!). We finally made it to passport control where they needed to open the windows to check we had the right children. Unfortunately it was Tayas window, and we weren’t under a cover, so the rain woke her up! We were soon on our way, it was Kibas first time driving in Europe so we took it slowly. Hollands roads are confusing! We had the sat nav (not updated in 6yrs though…) and Google maps on Kibas phone going and yet we still had to work it out ourselves! It also smells a lot. I’m guessing from all their waterways, which may look very pretty, but I couldn’t put up with that stink! As we hit the motorway the heaven’s decided we needed more rain and it was like a tsunami, haven’t seen that much rain in a long while. As we went round Rotterdam it slowly stopped, and as we journeyed on it cleared up and got warmer. By the time we were in Germany the temperature peaked at 26 degrees. It was a 5 hour journey from Holland to Göttingen and it seemed to take forever. The kids mainly slept, Logan did ask a few times if we were nearly there and was most disheartened when I’d say it was a couple more hours. Bums, legs and backs became rather sore, but we kept pressing on. As the light started to fade the sat nav took us the wrong way and Kiba made the executive decision to go with the directions his Dad had told him. I’d printed a map for Logan to show him the route, and we ended up using that as a rough idea of where we were headed! I started to struggle to keep awake as the hours dragged on, but was determined to stay awake for Kiba. I normally fall asleep quite quickly, my tablets I take for my Fibromyalgia make me dozy, so it was a surprise and a big achievement that I stayed awake! We neared Göttingen at close to 11pm, and we reached familiar territory, although Kiba had never driven here before, and a fair bit has changed in the 3 years since we’ve been here. Taya woke and was quite upset, but a quick head rub and she was off again, so we found an open kebab shop in one of the villages Kiba used to live in. Since he moved to the UK, Kiba has always yearned for a proper German kebab, and he most definitely deserved one! He grabbed 3, one for himself, myself and his Dad, then we headed towards his Dad’s house. Unfortunately in the dark on a hill, we were met with a closed road. A quick call later and confirmation of the route Kiba thought he should take we were off, and eventually, after midnight we arrived. After saying hello to everyone, and Taya getting quite excited by the horse in the yard, and the dogs, we sat down to eat our kebabs and have a good catch up. I say we, but my German is basically very simple, I can understand a fair bit, and can speak some, but am most definitely not very confident in my ability. Being tired my brain couldn’t even process their chatting especially at the speed they were talking! We then had to sort beds out before collapsing in to them, one camp bed (for Logan) and two mattresses for the rest of us with sleeping bags as quilts. It was half 1 by the time we all fell in to bed, a whole 21 hours after Kiba and I woke up. To say I was shattered would be an understatement. To say that I was so incredibly achey and sore would be an understatement. Bed was very, very welcoming, I was happy to stay there forever. Sleep was good. Until the kids woke at 7:30am. And that’s when the real fun and adventures began. 

So yea, we’re here, and better prepared for the trip home on Sunday. But for now we’re having a great time. I hope to do a post for each day, perhaps a couple days, we shall see. I’m taking a ton of photos, and shall add some to this post when I get them on my laptop. If anyone is put off by roadtripping with small children, don’t be, it is a great adventure! 😀 

T-minus 1 week until 15hr+ roadtrip!

So, yea, you read that right. In one week, on Saturday, we’ll be setting off to visit family over in Germany for a week. We’ve decided to drive, for different reasons, but that does include a 15 hour plus trip. 2 hours driving, 8 hours on the ferry from Harwich to the Hook of Holland, and then another 5 hours in Europe, but that doesn’t include breaks, or leaving extra time so we won’t be late for the ferry! So next Saturday could end up being very interesting. Wish us luck. 

We’ll be spending the first part of the week with Kibas Dad and his family, then move on to Kibas Mums. They live pretty close anyway, but we wanted to spend some time at each. We haven’t been over there in 3 years. They’ve not met Taya, and we’ve not met their youngest member, the kids cousin, who is half a year older than Taya. Kibas Dad has visited us in this time, but he unfortunately is now terminally ill, and we’re not sure how much longer he has, so it shall be a bittersweet visit, especially as Logan doesn’t know, he only knows he is very, very poorly. This enough upsets him greatly. This does make me quite nervous on how Logan will react, as he is such a sensitive little soul, but, I’m glad there will be many distractions and exciting times and experiences while we’re over there. If they leave my side that is. You know kids with people they don’t really know that well, they’re like little limpets. I’m hopeful that my two will have their shy moments, but then warm up quickly, I mean, there is lots of kids and animals to be around, what’s not to love? They’ll be the centre of attention though I’m sure. They’ll probably love it. 

This trip has really snuck up on me, I suddenly feel that it’s upon us before I’m ready, and I like to be prepared for things. Although I don’t think we’ll have to worry as much as I need to, with visiting family I don’t need to take towels, all our toiletries (shampoo etc), and we’ll have access to a washing machine if need be. With going in our own car I don’t have to worry about weight limits, car seats etc. So I’m lucky in those respects, but with the summer holidays started I’m going to be fitting getting ready around activities with the kids and their friends, and also have to have the heads up on clothes washing. I’ll have to put aside the clothes I want to take, to stop Logan wearing them, or putting Taya in them! When this comes to me we may have a problem. I have such a small selection of clothes I actually like to wear and think I look decent in that I may struggle on using the same technique. Luckily I’ll be seeing my mum the two days before we depart so some emergency last minute washing/tumble drying may occur! 
Now, how do you go keeping two children happy for 15 hours? Well, you tell me as I have no idea really! Personally I hope they sleep as much as possible when in the car. However I have started to get things together to help ease any boredom. First off there will be snacks, plenty of snacks, although I’m not a fan of them in the car due to the choking risk they’ll be a back up solution (and eaten on the ferry where I’m sure food will be expensive!). For Logan I’ve got a few activity and sticker books. I’ve also printed out loads of free printables and colouring pages that I found off pinterest. We have an I spy bingo game, and he’ll have a couple of books. Taya is slightly more difficult to cater for, she’ll be happy drawing or colouring on paper, and I’ve got to find a cheap sticker book that’ll be ruined (I’m a bit OCD about things like that!) and we’ll also be taking her magnetic drawing boards. Again, I’m hoping she’ll sleep mostly in the car. The ferry will be easier, as although we’re on there for 8 hours (eek!!) there is lots to do. On-board they have a cinema and play areas, shops, and lots of places to wander round and tire them out. Logan is looking forward to looking out for dolphins and basking sharks (let’s see how quickly he’ll get bored of that!). We’re not constrained to a seat so this is our biggest trump card, and the one reason we chose this route. Fingers crossed it’s a smooth crossing and they’re not sea sick, I’m the only one who’s been on a ferry before, so I’m sure they’ll all be very excited! 

However, and this is a big however, everything is all down to Kibas car. We’ve discovered this week that there is a problem with the clutch. A problem which could put our whole trip down the pan. A problem we can’t afford to fix, so we’re just hoping that it gets us to Germany, and back. So please keep your fingers crossed, and everything else I think, that his car survives! I shall keep you updated, I’m hoping to do a couple of blog posts while we’re there, and shall be sharing photos/updates on both Instagram and Facebook, so make sure you’re following us!

Photo shows Logan and one of his cousins on a walk in 2014.

Kids Birthday Parties: Top tips! 

Everyone knows them, at some point everyone has either held one or been to one. For children they’re quite often an amazing couple of hours filled with excitement and hyperactivity. For parents they’re more likely to be a stressful occasion, or one of dread. You could be a parent who likes parties, although I don’t think I’ve found a parent who likes them all. I think it comes down to what the party entails, how long, what activities etc. As soon as your child starts attending a regular group of children placement, be it school, preschool, nursery etc the invitations start flooding in. In the 2 years Logan has been at school we’ve had a good amount of party invitations, most I’ve accepted, some we couldn’t make. He’s been to a great variety of parties, from soft play to Home, entertainers to pottery painting, and yesterday he attended a go kart party! Whatever the theme I’ve found most to be quite noisy, excitement inducing, and full of sugary snacks and drinks. He’s enjoyed each and every one of them though. I suppose that’s what counts. I’ve managed to avoid organising a party so far, but have almost done so until we convinced master Heberling otherwise, but here are a few tips for organising a party from my point of view:

  1. Cost. Parties can be ridiculously expensive. Consider working out a rough budget before deciding on what to do. Lots of different things will effect how much it’ll cost, where it’ll be, if you have entertainment or not, decorations, food, cake, party bags etc. If you do it all yourself at home or at a village hall you may save yourself some pennies. Pinterest may also come in use for money saving ideas, or how to do things yourself. Kids don’t need to have an expensive entertainer or soft play party, so don’t feel you need to go all out. It’s not a competition. 
  2. Who to invite. You may be on a limit of who you can invite, maybe by price, location or a certain activity you’re doing. Many people seem to invite the whole class, and this seems to work well if you’re not under a limit. No one gets left out, and it may be a good way to get to know classmates (and their parents!). If you’re under a limit ask your child, don’t go by people you like, sit down your child and ask who’d they’d like there. If they’re not sure on names you could always ask their teacher who their friends are. Please don’t leave just one or two children out when the rest of the class is invited. Just because you don’t like the parent or think the child’s a troublemaker doesn’t mean you should penalise the child. Remember the class will most likely talk about it, and that child would feel very left out. It’s not kind, don’t do it. 
  3. Party food. Food is a hard one I feel. When we were young it was all junk food and fizzy. Then there was a craze of healthy food. Personally I feel that you should provide a good selection of both healthy and junk food. Kids can be fussy, pizza and nuggets are always a winner. Fruit probably wouldn’t go down too well depending on age, but there are plenty of healthy alternatives out there. I’d much prefer fizzy to not be on offer until they’re much older. Avoid nuts, and consider if any child has any intolerances. Alternatively, avoid meal times, and just have drinks and cake! 
  4. Party bags/favours. Remember as a child you got a bag of tat? A mix of random little things that either broke very quickly or were pointless? These still exist. Don’t go there. There are plenty of other options. Most go for sweet cones these days, which are obviously always a hit, and fairly cheap to either buy or make yourself. Give a pot of playdoh and a cutter or two for younger kids. DIY science experiment kits can be a hit for older kids. One party we’ve been to gave out a book to each child which I think is a fantastic idea! Again, there’s loads on pinterest. Be creative and choose something that you’d also be happy to have at home, nothing annoying!
  5. Have fun. Don’t get stressed about it all, a party is supposed to be fun for everyone, organisers included. Your child will enjoy it more if you’re enjoying it too. Get help from family and friends if you’re doing it yourself. Take a moment to step back and watch your child having fun, take photos, join in. Birthday parties are there to remind you that your child is growing up. They’re only little once. Relish in the moment.

    Obviously there’s lots more to parties than that, but I think they’re some important things to think about. Now, if you are a parent of an attendee there is also a couple of things to consider:

    1. Presents. I’m sure this is at the front of most people’s minds once the invitations have been sent out. For some kids you know exactly what you’ll get them, but other kids you may not know so well, or at all, so what do you get them? Whatever you do, don’t go overboard. Set a limit on what you’ll spend. Ask your child what you think the birthday child would like. Consider the age of the child and how well your child knows them. Personally, I go for a book for most parties, if Logan knows them well and is a really good friend then I’d get them something more, but I think books are perfect, there’s always a book to fit the birthday child’s needs. If you’re really unsure, or don’t want to spend much then rally together with a couple of other parents and buy something between you. Remember, don’t feel you have to spend a lot, never forget presence over presents. 
    2. Don’t force your child to join in. Parties can be quite overwhelming, loud and down right scary places to be, especially for small children. There may be people they’ve never met before there. There may be an entertainer who is a bit too much for your child. They may not want to run around with the other children, kicking balloons. Don’t force them to join in if they do not want to. Parties can be unsettling and new. Let your child soak it all in, let it be their decision on when to join in. Stay with them, and point things out, explain things, encourage but don’t push, experience it with them. Most kids will warm up, some don’t, and that’s okay. If it’s a drop off party then explain to the birthday parent, they should let you settle them before leaving or even stay the whole time. If your child isn’t a party animal don’t ever feel the need to apologise about them, don’t worry about if you leave early or even not attend the party. Everyone has to enjoy themselves and if you have to make that decision for the better of your child then you are doing a great job knowing their needs.

    Hope you can take something away from this, or maybe you feel I’m not qualified to tell you how to organise a party due to never actually doing so myself. However I’ve attended a fair few (two for this week!) and discussed it a lot with other parents, so feel I’ve had a good insight. Happy party planning, and remember, if you’re attending a party, don’t forget to have something to hand for that inevitable headache you get from the shrill shrieks of a group of small children. 

    Photo shows a cake that Mr Heberling made for logans 4th birthday, it did have dinosaurs on, but we took them off for the eruption! 

    Due Date Anniversary & Mum Emotions 

    I’ve always been an emotional person, I’d say I was quite sensitive, but could handle or hide my emotions well, most of the time. Yet nothing quite prepares you for that initial rush of emotion when your child is born. Nothing hits you as strongly as the sudden emotional roller-coaster you’re thrown on to when you become a mother. Every mother will know what I’m talking about, you don’t know over-emotional until you become a mother. You never understand how mums can post such ‘soppy’ posts on Facebook, and I bet most people will promise themselves not to go mushy all over their own child. Nothing prepares you. 

    Today is my due date anniversary. Again, if you’re not a mother you’re probably wondering why on earth do I care? But I do. I get over emotional about a lot of things to do with my kids, but around birthdays it definitely goes in to over drive. 

    The emotional roller-coaster starts as soon as a baby is conceived, and you climb that hill until you peak at birth, and from then on it’s a crazy ride. Loop-the-loops and all. You can cry at anything, especially in pregnancy, any little thing can set you off, an advert, no ice cream in the freezer, a kind gesture. And you can forget about watching sad movies any time from now, unless you’re well prepared with tissues at hand. If you hear a baby/child cry, whether on screen or real life prepare for your heart strings to be well and truly tugged (and for those breastfeeding mummies, make sure you have breastpads on 😉). Yup, you truly did not know what emotional was before kids. 

    So, two years ago I reached my due date for Taya to be born. My guess date if you wish, as no one truly knows when a baby shall be born, they come in their own time. Only 4% of babies come on their due date. So with that in mind, 2 years ago I decided that I’d still go with Logan on his preschool trip to Banham Zoo! What better way to encourage little miss to make her exit than walk round a zoo all day?! The hospital was a half hour drive away, which was the same distance as our house to there, so I didn’t see the problem. I took my hospital bag and my birthing partner, my sister, with me just in case. Lots of people asked when I was due, the look of surprise on their faces when I answered with a cheery “Today!” I’m guessing most people thought I was utter crazy. However Logan had an amazing day with one of his best friends, and I had a great day with my Mum, sister, one of my best friends and future best friend of Taya! And the exercise must of helped, two days later and Taya was here! But I think I’ll save that story for her birthday. 

    Mums often get some slack for being over emotional, especially about our children, but why should we? We made them, we grew them, we birthed them, we have helped raise them, we are emotionally bound to them. I’ve heard a term before which I’ve always wanted to use. Wombfruit. They are our Wombfruit, our children, and quite often our everything. We should be proud! We should be emotional, it’s human nature. We don’t want our babies to grow up, but at the same time we want them to flourish in to a wonderful human being, with us every step of the way, guiding them, supporting them, loving them. 

    I’ve found this emotional journey a lot more extreme the second time round, maybe as I think Taya may possibly be the last baby I carry. The second, and probably every child after that, goes so, so much faster than you can imagine. Cherish every moment has so much more meaning as you try and cram everything in to daily life, as you try and balance the children’s wants and needs, and your partners wants and needs. Those moments in family life when time seems to go slowly are ever so precious, but very few and far between. No wonder people need time to unwind, to gather their emotions and sort though them. Life with kids can be so chaotic, so emotional, but is also the most rewarding job anyone can have. So what if we’re proud, so what if we’re upset of the changes, so what if wish time would stand still? Can you tell I’m in that “oh my God, my baby is another year older” stage? It’s real. It hits you hard. However it’s a time to celebrate, and that’s exactly what we shall be doing this week, especially as one of Tayas best friends is also turning 2 this week, so celebrations all round! I’ll leave you with my due date bump photo! 

    Guilty Pleasures 

    The other day I read a blog post talking about said persons guilty pleasure, and it got me thinking, everyone must have at least one guilty pleasure, probably more, something that may not necessarily be good for you, but you enjoy it anyway. Maybe it’s doing something that makes you feel happy, but isn’t really that worthwhile, or a good way to spend your time. Then I had the thought of why we even perceive them as a guilty thing, why should our choices make us feel guilty? Is it how they’re percieved in society? Peer pressure? Maybe we should stop thinking of them as guilty pleasures, maybe we should stand by our own informed choices, but then on the otherhand, maybe some need to stay as guilty pleasures, maybe you’ve got a bad habit that you should probably give up? They should probably remain as guilty, as that way they may help you towards giving up on them. 

    So what are my guilty pleasures? I had a good think, and I believe there are a couple of things that I should probably consider as guilty. Things I should probably cut down on. Things that may have been mentioned in the heat of the moment, or when talking about improving my health. If you know me personally, maybe you could hazard a guess? I’ll bet you’ll all guess at least one! So, here goes:

    1. Diet coke. I’ve got a sweet tooth, always have, and probably always will. I don’t remember what age I was introduced to diet coke, but it’s always been a firm favourite. Normal coke makes me throw up, literally, but I’ll happily drink coke zero if we haven’t got diet coke. I tend to drink a glass a night generally, yet when the dentist asks if I drink regular fizzy drinks I say no. For some reason I just never mention it. Probably as I’m terrified of the dentist, and he already goes on and on about me not flossing that I’m worried what he may say. I should probably at least cut down on it, but in my head I reason with myself that I don’t drink any alcohol so surely this is better? Yea, I know…
    2. Cake. Again, sweet tooth. I have always lived by the mantra that life is for living, might as well enjoy yourself. And then there’s the “never say no to cake!” I literally have no self control. I’m really surprised I’m not the size of a house the way I eat. I’m always craving something sweet, and I love a good cake. There are times when I can resist, sometimes, and I think I’m getting better at saying no. Slowly. 
    3. Facebook. I think a lot of people can probably relate to this one, probably with social media in general, but I do tend to spend a lot of time on Facebook particularly. Most of the time I just sit and scroll which is probably a big waste of time, but I follow a lot of groups and pages, and their posts often genuinely interest me. One group in particular is my true guilty pleasure, “Babipur Hangout” is such a friendly group, and with people sharing photos of their buys from Babipur I could sit for hours and fantasise about owning them. I think everyone who knows me knows I have a slight obsession with Babipur, which is great, as I get so much inspiration from them and their group. They sell amazing products that are ethical, eco, engaging, educational and aesthetically pleasing. Check them out. You can see from what and how much I’ve said that I love them, I could waffle on a lot more, I’m pretty sure that not a day goes past without mentioning Babipur somehow. My one problem? We’re not particularly loaded with money, we’re nearly always on a very tight budget. I’d probably own half their products if we weren’t. This is one guilty pleasure that I’m really not that guilty about, although I do feel like I should apologise to Mr Heberling for going on so much about Babipur and their goodies, I hope you understand why I love them. Our latest parcel just arrived, ready for the youngest Heberlings 2nd birthday! Rather than ramble on any more, I promise to try my hardest to put my phone down more. 

      So, they’re my guilty and not so guilty pleasures. I’m sure I could have added more, I’m sure Mr Heberling will point some out to me tonight. I hope that while reading this it may have brought to your attention any guilty pleasures of your own, feel free to tell me! Remember you don’t have to feel guilty for choosing to eat/do/watch something that makes you feel happy, as long as it does you or no one else any harm then there’s no reason to not do it, and you shouldn’t have to feel bad about your own informed choice. Own your decisions!  

      P.s maybe I should have added Hot Chocolate to my list… But that’s a necessity isn’t it? Perhaps just without the cream and marshmallows!