I am now writing this post almost a week and a half after we returned from our holiday to Lanzarote and almost a week after I wrote our first post. Our tans have definitely started to fade already, but our memories haven't and I have loved going back over these photos and having another look. I wish we still back in our little villa, enjoying the sunshine with my little family.
Here is Part Two of our holiday to Lanzarote in photos and another little video... (I just love making these videos so much!)
Sister cuddles. On the third night of our holiday we went to a beautiful marina called Puerto Calero- if you are visiting Lanzarote I highly recommend a visit as it was so lovely to walk around and look at the boats.
Everywhere we went the girls got given these sticky, horrible lollies, usually AFTER they had already consumed an ice cream for pudding as well. We couldn't say no as they would look forward to them every meal but they definitely weren't as exciting for myself and Mr E who were worried about their teeth!
Look at my happy girly, she was all smiles all holiday.
Little freckle nose playing the 'minion game' on Daddy's phone- she was obsessed with playing it with him all holiday.
Puerto Calero harbour.
I love this photo of my girls- after all what is there not to love about golden light sunshine and sisters holding hands?
I'm a lucky lady to have these three to call my family.
Oh golden light sunshine you will always be my favourite. My Grandpa was looking at my blog the other day and he said 'why do you always take these hazy photos?' I think it might only be me whose a fan of these beauties! ;)
Love, love, love, love this photo of myself and this beauty. Mr E is getting better at the photo taking, as long as I set up the settings beforehand for him!
I think I might like this one even more. Does anyone else talk about owning a yacht when they walk round a marina or is it just us?! Puerto Calero was beautiful and definitely worth having a walk around, it was only about fifteen minutes drive from where we were staying.
Villa Ventura had a private pool and it was amazing to see how happy the girls were swimming around each day- Mads is a complete and utter water baby.
Two little crocs in the water- they look so similar in this photo I think.
I love the little bit of tummy poking out on this photo- this girl has got class! They lived in their Konfidence jackets as they do every holiday, they give us such peace of mind when being near water.
Both of the girls have got so much more confident going in the pool over the course of this holiday, I guess that's one of the benefits of having a private pool in your villa.
Cool dudes. Evening light. Yippee.
It was lovely to go for a walk in the evening, it stayed so hot even up until when the sun went down 8ish- the main promenade was wide enough that meant they could walk along without me worrying they were going to run into the road.
I am so proud of these two- love their Little Bird outfits too, Mads loves that blue playsuit, she is on an anti pink stage and so loves anything blue.
I am not quite sure why she was jumping in this photo!
I'm a big succulent fan (is there such a thing as a succulent fan?!) so I loved all these cacti on someone's front steps.
The girls loved the fact that the tide came in overnight and made big water pools, it meant they could splash and play to their hearts content. I love the beach but who else finds with children that the sand just gets absolutely everywhere?
Serious sandcastle building.
Sitting on Daddy's lap to eat her ice cream. You never know what to expect from restaurants on holiday but we can definitely recommend the areas of the Puerto del Carmen old town harbour and Puerto Calero, where we found a fabulous selection of tapas, fish and meat dishes. Plus they all had plain pasta and pizza for the girls which means it's always a winner in my eyes. ;)
Our last evening out and the last lolly of the holiday!
I love their happy smiles in this one.
Here is the second little film I made of our time in Lanzarote...
Overall it was a fantastic holiday, full of memories, happy times and laughter. Indeed if I had to sum it up in one word I would say smiles, of course you don't go on holiday to have a bad time, but I don't know what it was but it was just relaxed and laid back from start to finish. Sometimes going on holiday can mean the occasional grumpy day as routines change and the inevitable later bedtimes make for over tired children, but the girls were so well behaved from start to finish. We got into a routine of them both having a long afternoon siesta which meant that we could keep them up until around 8.30/9pm, therefore we actually managed to get out and have dinners out rather than just staying in our villa.
We went on lots of villa holidays before the girls were born, but this is the first time we have done one with them. It's hard to say which is my favourite- I love the luxury of a hotel stay, the fact that your room gets cleaned and you have your pick of nice food, but there is definitely something more relaxed about being in a villa. We could come and go as we pleased, weren't held to timings and the best bit for us was having the private pool area, which meant the girls could sit inside for a bit of shade and have a little watch of the television, but we didn't have to go in with them as we could sit less than a metre away in the sunshine.
As for Lanzarote, having been a few times in my childhood and teens, plus once in my early 20's, I admit to having a few tiny worries before I went away, mainly around it being quite commercialised and British- but in actual fact we couldn't have asked for a better location. The villa was in a quiet area but with the action not too far away. We were a stones throw away from the beach and there were really fantastic playgrounds dotted all around us, which were great fun for the girls. The whole resort was spotless, the people were friendly and we wouldn't hesitate in going back there again- there really was so much for us to do.
Looking back on these photos makes me get a little teary. I am just so, so incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to experience things like this with my little family, but more than that I am just so grateful to have these three in my life. I must have said to my husband 'we are so lucky' at least three times a day. Because we are. We have those two beautiful little girls, whose faces were full of smiles all week just at being able to have their Mummy and Daddy all to themselves. Day to day life is hectic, busy and at times I am the first to admit I am not always completely present- we work hard, the girls go to nursery, or there's cleaning to be done, jobs to be doing or meals to be made. I relished the opportunity to switch off and spend a week with my girls, away from the stresses and mundanity of day to day life, and I know they did as well.
Yes you read that right. My four year old still has a nap most days. It's hard to write that without sounding smug, but indeed I am really lucky in that both my girls love a good snooze. I remember before I became a parent the one thing that everyone used to say to me was things like 'Sleep while you can' and 'Welcome to sleepness nights for the next eighteen years.' Mads was born and it was just a blur of sleep deprivation, it completely hit me lie a ton of bricks. I remember some nights literally slapping myself around the face while I was feeding her trying to keep myself from falling asleep- I was so scared that I would suffocate her or drop her off the bed because I was that exhausted.
Of course when both of them were tiny we had the real sleepless nights, but looking back they never seem as bad as they did when you were living through them at the time. LL was definitely the worse of the two, but I wonder whether it was because I wasn't as strict with our night time routine because I was worried about disturbing Mads. I do remember them going through stages where we had to let both of them grizzle in order to learn how to settle themselves, but for the most part from the time they were six months and in their own rooms they were pretty much sleeping through.
I have always been really strict when it comes to their sleep and nap routine and I am not ashamed to admit it. When I say strict, I am not standing there at the door with them screaming to be let out or anything far fetched like that, but I have always put them down for naps at the same time and I made sure that both of them napped at the same time so I got a tiny bit of peace or time to work in the midst of a busy day of parenting. When they were both smaller and even now still, I will leave whatever we are doing to come home for them to sleep- over the years I have missed out on full days out with friends, but unless we are doing something really exciting I would rather keep to their routine.
For as long as I can remember both of them have gone down to sleep at 1.30pm (or 2.15pm if it's a nursery day) and have slept until at least 4.00pm. Over the years Mads nap has got shorter but at four years old she still has one at least a few times a week. I remember all my friends children stopping napping much earlier and them saying 'Katie she needs to drop it soon, she can't still be napping when she goes to school.' But I know my daughter and although all the research says that children don't need a nap past two, (I think) Mads thrives on a bit of chill out time. Even if she doesn't nap, she will lie in her room and have 'quiet time' where she reads or plays with her toys. LL still sleeps until 4pm and every day I have to wake her.
They both sleep twelve hours at night and it's very rare they are up in the night, in fact it is only ever if they are sick, even when they are poorly they seem to sleep more. They have been sharing a room for the last couple of months now and I must admit I was really worried that they were going to become worse at sleeping, but so far it seems ok. Of course it's not all been plain sailing, we now put them down to bed at 7pm and some nights they chatter and cause havoc for up to two hours, usually about an hour, and we have to go up there most nights to tell them to be quiet. But they never ever get out of bed and as long as they eventually fall asleep and they don't get up we don't mind what they get up to. They adore sharing a room and it's actually quite sweet to hear them laughing upstairs together.
Sleep and a good night time routine is just a really big thing for our family, we are pretty relaxed and laid back in a lot of ways and as the children have got older we definitely break the rules every now and again and let Mads have a sleepover in our bed, or let them go to bed much later. But for the most part we know that our children get grumpy if they don't sleep. Grumpy chlidren equals grumpy parents, so it's just best for all of us if we sleep well. Therefore when I was approached by Slumberdown to see if I wanted to be one of their sleep ambassadors for the year, I was really honoured. Slumberdown is a company that believes a good night sleep is something that every family deserves- and that's something I couldn't agree more with.
Over the next year I will be working alongside two other amazing parent bloggers, Lucy and Tara, we will be road testing the latest Slumberdown products, taking part in family sleep challenges, and above all representing and having fun with this fab brand. The other day I got a big parcel in the post and in it were some amazingly comfy pillows for the whole family- I told Slumberdown about how I had been getting a bad back since the girls were born and how I really didn't find my existing pillows very comfy at all- they came to my rescue and now my head couldn't be happier when I go to the land of nod! You can follow Slumberdown on facebook and twitter, and do stay tuned to see how we get on over the next year.
I know I have been so lucky with the girls sleep up till this point, my Mum always tells me that they will pay me back big time when they are teenagers and are wanting to stay out tlll all hours of the morning. But in the meantime, if they want to sleep in until 7.30am (when was that ever considered a lie in before?!) then that's perfectly fine by me!
My motherhood journey seems to be broken down into stages. There's those big stages- the newborn days, the baby days, the toddler days and the days before school, the big milestone days that get ticked off one by one. First smile... check. First tooth... check. First time in a big girl bed... check. First time on a play date without Mummy... check. Every stage that passes and every milestone reached, however great, I seem to mourn. I mourned the day LL stopped wearing babygrows, I mourned the day Mads no longer called me Mama but Mummy and I mourn them getting older on a regular basis. I am an emotional sap and I find the slightest thing about my children can set me off. But at the same time I find myself saying 'This is the best it's ever been.'
And it's true, for every stage that passes that feels so utterly bittersweet, there's actually a better stage ahead. The newborn days, they are oh so delicious, with those soft baby heads and endless hours breastfeeding, snuggling and marvelling at this little person you created. There's those teeny tiny onesies, washed over and over again, the night feeds where although you are exhausted you feel like it's just you and your baby against the world. But as much as I love to look back on them with fondness (and remember the hardness at times), each stage that we get to really is the best of all the moments that have been before it. That's the beauty of watching these girls grow up.
So what is motherhood like right now with an 'almost four and a half year old' and a 'turned two a couple of months ago year old?' Well of course, yet again, it's the best it's ever been. These days being a Mum means going from moments of utter frustration to just absolute proudness and love in a few moments. Sometimes I feel like the days are never ending- hour upon hour of constant questions, grumpy children or just the daily humdrum of life. Life can be tedious at times, of course it can, routines and structures set in place, eating the same thing every week, going to the same soft play and playing the same games over and over. Sometimes I go to bed in the evening and feel so incredibly guilty- I feel guilty for not giving them my full attention, not fully participating in the same boring game of making plastic pizza with olives and tomato, of not being completely present. Or I will feel guilty for losing my patience too easily, for shouting over something that didn't really need to be shouted over.
But for the most part, motherhood just feels good to me. Of course it's always felt good, it's a blessing and for the most part I've been lucky to have it pretty easy all things considered. But this stage we are at right now? It's fun. Mads is on the brink of going to school and I know life will change dramatically then, but for the next few months I have her all to myself bar the days she's at nursery. She's like a sponge, she wants to learn, she wants to understand about the world she lives in and above all she is just the most funny little character. She's a joker, she is never serious and she always has a smile. Yet she is incredibly sensitive, affectionate and loves to be near you. At times that can become a little stifling, she is constantly asking questions, wanting to play, but she's also pretty easy. She knows the consequences of her actions at four, she knows how to behave. You can tell her to do something and she will do it most of the time. Of course the odd meltdown can still occur, but for the most part she is such a well behaved little girl.
And then there's LL. My baby. Who actually really isn't a baby anymore. In the last couple of weeks all traces of baby have gone. Instead we have a little girl, a happy, cheerful little girl whose character develops on a daily basis- we are loving to get to know her properly and find out who she is and who she is going to become. Her speech has exploded and we love her feisty little personality. She's more stroppy than her big sister, who often gives in to her for an easy life. She has the occasional serious temper tantrum, of course we are well in the 'terrible twos', but I have the benefit of experience this time round. It doesn't phase me. Yes that person just had to step over my wailing, screaming child who has just thrown herself on the floor of Tescos because I wouldn't let her hold a pack of frozen chips. (true story) Do I care? It doesn't phase me in slightest. The second time around you know that you haven't given birth to a wannabe sociopath just because of a few tantrums. You know it's just a stage and that she will grow out of it soon enough, hindsight is a powerful tool in this motherhood journey.
Both my girls are so much fun to be around. I think it's even better because they compliment each other so well. They are learning to play with each other properly, rather than simply co-existing and being sat there playing next to each other with separate toys. Sharing a bedroom together has made them even closer and I hear them at night chattering away, of course a lot of time LL doesn't make a huge amount of sense, but judging by the giggles, it's non stop fun. And quite simply it's fun for me too. I am the lucky one who gets to take part in these adventures. To experience their imaginations and the way they are with each other. To experience the cuddles, the kisses and the happy smiles. I get to experience the days where I cannot wait for them to get to bed- where I breathe a sigh of relief that they are away from me so I can get some peace, only to go upstairs and see them fast asleep, their bodies contorted into funny positions because they have obviously been getting up to mischief and I get to feel that emotion of pure love that comes with watching my sleeping babies. All parents must get that feeling when they check on them at night- that feeling 'These little people are mine', the way the love just rushes through you and you want to wake them up.
I have no doubt that there will be more stages in the future. Harder stages, stages where it all goes a bit difficult, I remember in the early days my Mum used to ring me to check in and say 'How's it been today?' because Mads was going through a stage of having tantrums and LL was teething and grumpy. I had days where I would pace the living room just waiting for Mr E's key to turn in the lock. But those days rarely happen anymore, sure I have bad days where I say to my husband 'Please let me go and have a bath for an hour just to have a break' but they are few and far between. Parenting is tough, those stages will come back, periods where Mads drives me mad, where she tests the boundaries again, or where LL repeats them all just a couple of years behind.
But motherhood right now? It feels good. It's always good but it feels really good.
Of course when you are on holiday you end up taking more photos than you do when you are just going about your day to day life. On our recent trip to Lanzarote my big camera came out with us every evening and I loved taking photos of my girls. I took so many of them together over the course of the week but for my Siblings post this month I wanted to focus on one evening as the remainder of the photos are for another post, plus I like to have a series of shots and a sort of story behind them.
I am definitely not exaggerating when I say that my daughters make me feel so proud every day, of course they do, they are my children and I love them- all parents are proud of their offspring. Yes they also drive me mad constantly and sometimes parenting is incredibly tough, but of course they make me proud- that's a given. But the thing that is guaranteed to make me feel the proudest is the way they are with each other.
Mads and LL have such an amazing bond and it really is just such a wonderful thing to witness. My Mum, who sees them a couple of times a week said to me the other day that the bond they had was really something quite special. Of course they argue, mainly over the usual things like sharing toys or the iPad more than anything else, but to be honest they don't even really argue all that much. They are the best of friends and their bond is really quite intense. Sometimes in day to day life I don't really stop to appreciate it but then I will look back over photos or videos that I have made and it is just obvious how much they love each other.
I am so incredibly proud of that.
On holiday they seemed to get even closer, I actually think it's more the fact that every day LL is becoming more and more communicative and it's enabled them to really start to play properly with each other. They have imaginative play more than ever, making up stories and running around the house pretending to be police officers, or a head chef and a sous chef. The dynamics between them are funny, LL really is like Mads shadow, she follows her everywhere and you can tell the way she looks up to her by the look of admiration in her eyes. But then Mads is the more affectionate of the two, she always wants to cuddle her and play with her ears which is her source of comfort. And LL definitely is the boss although she is the youngest, poor Mads often gives in to her demands for an easy life. LL definitely rules the roost.
These photos were taken on the first night of our holiday, when we went to the local harbour for dinner. Again although they are really similar, their differences are obvious to me in these shots. Mads is such a tom boy, she is happiest in shorts and t-shirts, whereas at the moment LL seems to be living up to the girly stereotype of loving what she calls her 'pretties'- basically a selection of plastic jewels plus also she is obessed with shoes.
As they ran round the harbour hand in hand they got many smiles from people sitting in the outdoor areas of restaurants eating their dinner, with a few kind people commenting on how lovely they were. As a mother I don't know anything more lovely when you are out and about than someone complimenting your children on their behaviour- these kind of comments stick in my mind even from years ago but generally it doesn't happen enough and it's so nice when people take the time to do so. Again I was struck by just how proud I was of them. They have their moments, one day it could be one that has made me frustrated and the next day it could be the other, and I can definitely see glimpses into the future of how having two headstrong, feisty little ladies is going to be a handful at times, but I really hope that they remain the best of friends.
I put this quote on my instagram the other day and I think it totally sums up my two girls...
'Sister to Sister we will always be, a couple of nuts off the family tree.' - Author Unknown
I can only hope that my two little crazy nuts have this bond for the rest of their lives.
No girls, this isn't what Mummy wants for photos on her blog. ;)
It wasn't until I looked closely at this photo that I noticed they were holding hands.
This month I am sending you over to have a look at Lucy's beautiful blog- head over to see what her little twosome have been getting up to.