There’s something about the dawning of a new year that really makes me want to sit and reflect, to hatch plans and set goals. I bought a new diary planner a couple of months ago, yet the other night at some random hour when I was feeding our baby boy I ordered another one. I like the idea of starting afresh and filling the pages and getting organised and prepared for 2017. I have a new notebook, it’s pages blank and pristine, ready to write to do lists and plans of what I want to achieve. But first I want to look back on 2016 and all that it gave us. This time last year I sat down and wrote a round up post all about our 2015. I really enjoyed writing it and reflecting on the year, so I thought I would do it again.
Last year I said that my one word to describe 2015 would be adventure, as it certainly did bring us more adventures than we ever could imagine. I however can’t really begin to choose just one word to describe 2016, it’s been all sorts of things rolled into one, but the one fundamental thing that I have taken from it is a feeling of change, growth and also contentment. Of course the biggest highlight of the year has to be the arrival of our baby boy in April and of course a lot of the year has been dominated by the amazing times that having a baby in the house brings, but yet at the same time the stresses and the tolls too. Our year has been tough in parts, mainly due to all trying to cope with sleep deprivation while trying to both work from home and be good parents, but it has never not been worth it. It’s been an utter joy and an even bigger privilege to welcome our little bird into the family and he’s done a good job of simultaneously feeling like he has always been here, yet also bringing the hugest amount of happiness to our lives as well. We quite simply adore him and 2016 was the year our family became complete.
My blog and indeed my online life has even succeeded what I thought I achieved last year, and I quite simply don’t think 2017 will be able to top it. I still have to pinch myself that I call this work, that I get to do these things and work with these brands. I can’t believe that brands I could only dream of working with actually contact me and want to work with my little family. It is surreal and wonderful and words could never ever express how grateful I am. I have been working on my blog full time since LL was born, handing in my notice at my old job a fair few years ago now, but yet I still haven’t quite got my head around the fact I get paid to do these things. 2016 was a year where it all ramped up just that little bit further, with more brands doing more exciting campaigns and also with more video work too. I can’t wait to see what 2017 will bring in that respects and I can only hope it will bring more of the same. Some women I hugely admire have done INCREDIBLE things online this year, it’s such an exciting time to have a space and presence online, and I can’t wait to see what will happen next for other people I love and admire.
But while I adore blogging and working online, I have also really struggled with a work/life balance this year and one of my biggest goals for 2017 is to try and work on that a little more. Both Jon and I work from home and while Mads is at school and LL is in nursery two days a week, of course at the moment our baby boy isn’t in any sort of childcare. At points in the year we have both really struggled with getting under each others feet, or competing for who has the biggest workload, and I’m not going to paint a perfect picture, at times we have really argued about it and it has caused a lot of discontentment between us. Our baby boy doesn’t sleep well and isn’t in much of a nap routine either, so it means that there have been a lot of 1am bedtimes or hastily done work at 11am in the morning only for me to ask Jon to watch him for half an hour because he has woken up after 10 minutes and not really napped. I am hoping 2017 will bring some changes in that respect, as firstly we are having a simple garage conversion done meaning that he will have his own bedroom (in the hope of better sleep!) and also we will have an office that either of us can escape to when we work. Jon has said until our baby boy goes to nursery, which won’t be until the summer and only for one or two mornings a week at first, that he might be able to take an afternoon off a week to let me work, and I am determined to stop this random work pattern I have got myself into, and try and have at least a couple of evenings off a week to switch off.
Anyway I am rambling now. Here is our 2016…
We started January quietly and slowly getting prepared for the arrival of our little boy. I wrote a post all about my 2016 goals and I have found it really interesting reading them back. I said that I wanted to blog more for me and to use my big camera more, something which I started doing in January with gusto but slowly I fell back into the same habits. I said I wanted to grow my You Tube channel and while I am not on my way to becoming the next Zoella, it is growing all the time and I am proud of what I am doing in my own little way. Jon bought me the most gorgeous planner for christmas and I spent a lot of time in January faffing about with it and making it pretty, it lasted until about June and then I got fed up with constantly decorating it and I just used it as a normal diary. I also wrote about how I wanted us to travel more and go on adventures, although I said that we would probably not go on as many due to having a newborn- however we certainly didn’t end up letting that stop us towards the latter part of the year!
Keeping with my goal of taking more photos with my DLSR, in January I took two sets of photos that would actually end up being some of my favourites of the entire year. I took some in this post Just Because and also Just Her and Me, and I still adore all of those pictures. It has inspired me to get out and take more photos with my DSLR in 2017 too.
Here are some of my favourite photos of January…
February is normally a pretty ‘meh’ month I think, but in 2016 one big thing dominated ours and that was the completion of our new living/dining room extension. It had been something which we had wanted to do for absolutely years but after saving and saving (and a little bank loan) we finally managed to get it done. I was thrilled with it then and I am even more thrilled with it almost a year on, I can’t believe how much it has changed our living space. Our house is only little but it has made all the difference. I wrote about our makeover here and here.
Our gorgeous LL also turned 3 in February and we celebrated in a simple but happy way. She still seems so little to me and I can’t believe she will be starting school in September, she still doesn’t talk much and is so quiet, but is the happiest and most chilled out girl I know.
We worked with Cath Kidston again, who are still one of my absolutely favourite brands to work with ever since we did their bags to school video in 2015. This time we worked with them on a Mothers Day post and we had all my favourite ladies round for afternoon tea- looking back at these photos I look seriously anaemic and tired! It’s always a privilege to work on long lasting relationships with brands.
We also went on a little mini break to Somerset in the February half term, which was a lot of fun as well, staying at two different hotels and exploring the beautiful city of Bath.
Here are some of my favourite photos in February…
I started off March writing a rambling, emotional post about being their mother. My rambling posts are still my most favourite to write but I haven’t written as many recently- definitely something to think about for 2017. I also love the photos from these so much, even though I realised afterwards I have lipstick all over my teeth!
We had a lovely day trip to Wells-Next-The-Sea where we all had such a nice time, one of those near perfect family days until Mads managed to fall into the sea and me being me hadn’t bought a change of clothes with me. I love the video we made of this day too, I really enjoyed making more videos in 2016.
I must have been emotional in March which would make sense as our lives were about to change dramatically, but I wrote this post all about the last time and I remember crying while writing it, in fact I have just read it back and it has made me cry again!
We went on another weekend away, this time on a babymoon to Hampshire, when I was nearly 38 weeks pregnant and I spent the day walking around Paultons Park. I was aching so much afterwards and also on the car journey there and back, but it was a lovely last weekend away before our baby boy arrived in April.
I finally finished off March talking about having been blogging for half a decade and I celebrated by putting loads of my favourite photos all in one post, it was nice taking a little trip down memory lane.
Here are some of my favourite photos in March…
April was of course dominated by one thing- our beautiful baby boy arriving into the world. I started off April writing a rambling post all about going from two to three children as part of an ongoing collaboration I signed with Cosatto, one of our favourite baby brands by far.
On April 18th our lives changed forever and we welcomed our baby boy into our lives, how can something seem so long ago yet like yesterday at the same time? I was really unsure as to whether to film his birth, and not least put it on the internet but I still love this birth video, (although bizarrely I haven’t been able to watch it since he was born, not even once, as it makes me too emotional) and I felt it was a happy medium for me of being not too personal. I also wrote his birth story out fully while it was still fresh in my mind.
I wrote this post the week after he was born and it to date is one of my favourite posts I have ever written- it just captures that exhausting, intensely happy time after birth and it still makes me get a little teary reading it.
We also took our first photos as a family of five and I still love them, we all look so tired and deliriously happy.
Here are some of my favourite photos in April…
May was all about getting to know our boy, recovering from my c-section which took me a lot longer than the previous times, and above all just enjoying the newborn period. I filmed a video all about our baby boy’s first week and again as yet I haven’t been able to watch it back as I just feel too emotional about it all, very strange I know, but I just can’t believe how quickly it has gone.
I loved these photos I took of the three of them, I had those matching pj’s sat in the drawer for ages and I couldn’t believe they were finally using them. I also wrote a bit about having three children a month in, plus I wrote our baby boy his one month letter which I have been hopelessly bad at keeping up with- oops!
Here are some of my favourite photos in May…
The start of June was spent enjoying the warmer weather and also getting more to grips with having a newborn in the house again. I took this photo of LL which to date is still one of my favourite photos ever and we enjoyed getting out the house and enjoying the sporadic sunshine.
We celebrated Father’s Day where I wrote all about how much we love our favourite person, however much he drives us mad.
Myself and our baby boy went to BML #16 where I was shortlisted for an award in the video category. I didn’t win but we had a fantastic time with our friends and also having some one on one time together.
We took part in a campaign with Cadbury Dairy Milk Buttons which involved our faces being on billboards quite literally EVERYWHERE. It was slightly surreal yet exciting to have people send me photos of them with our faces, it’s crazy the things we have done as a result of blogging.
We ended the month going on our first holiday as a family of five, to the beautiful island of Majorca with Sovereign. I definitely didn’t think we would be travelling with a nine week old baby, but it was a resounding success and one of the best holidays we have had. I couldn’t be more grateful for the travel opportunities I get through my blog, and I absolutely love that our children are becoming as passionate about exploring the world as we are.
Here are some of my favourite photos in June…
We started off July still in Majorca, relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. Whenever we travel as a family it can be hard at times to find that happy medium between creating and getting photos and video content that the brand want, plus also having a holiday at the same time, but I feel like we nailed it perfectly on this holiday, and it actually was quite relaxing and really special too.
The weather was relatively nice and we had a summer evening bbq at my mum’s where I took these photos, I absolutely love them and that golden light is still my favourite type of photography. We had a lovely day out to the Suffolk Coast as well, where we took these rather failed attempts at family photos.
Towards the end of the month I was suffering with a bit of mum guilt so we threw a birthday party for Pongo and Baa Baa, it is definitely the simple things that often mean the most.
Here are some of our favourite photos in July…
School was out for summer and we spent the first weekend in Liverpool in a fun collaboration with Virgin Trains. We had a lovely time exploring and being together, although Mads definitely had a case of ‘justfinishedschoolitis’ and was a bit of a handful for the first week or so of the summer.
We did something which we had been wanting to do for so long and we finally gave our garden a makeover. Jon did most of it, he surprised me while I was away at Brit Mums Live for the weekend, and in August we got artificial grass fitted which was the finishing touch. It’s amazing and I hope that we get a nice summer this year so we can enjoy it even more. I also had a little blog makeover too, getting rid of my old logo and colours, and adding a new one, plus new features like my map (which needs updating badly-oops!), a little section about why we love travelling and also a new work with us page (which also needs updating!), plus updated pages with new photos.
I started the year thinking we wouldn’t travel as much with a newborn, but we headed off to Portugal in August for a long weekend. The resort we were staying in was high up in the mountains and just gorgeous, and Portugal was having a heat wave and it was ridiculously hot. It was probably a little crazy just going away for a long weekend with three small children, but we love an adventure and a challenge.
I also wrote a bit about being the third baby. Finally we ended the month with another collaboration, this time with Thameslink trains where we went to Brighton for 12 hours, which is quite possibly one of my favourite places in the UK. It was so much fun and we had such a great August getting out and about.
Here are some of my favourite photos in August…
After a crazy August, we settled into life and normal routines as Mads went into year one. Her first year of school passed so quickly and I sometimes look at her and she takes my breath away with how grown up she is. I wrote a letter to her on her first day of year one.
We had a failed annual trip to the lavender as all the flowers had pretty much gone!
Our baby boy, LL and I had a really lovely treat as an end to the summer as we went on an overnight stay at The Elms Hotel as part of a collaboration with Optiwell. It was so much fun and I had a great time with a small group of lovely bloggers, where we laughed non stop.
One evening I went to the MAD Blog Awards where I truly couldn’t believe it but I won the best photography blog. I have been shortlisted in this award a couple of times but never won it, and I am so proud that I did. Photography is my biggest passion and to be recognised for it is something which means a an awful lot to me. My award has pride of place on my desk in our office. I also had a lovely time with some of my favourite blogging friends.
We signed a really exciting year long deal to work with Pampers and in celebration I took these photos of my baby boy which I adore. I still cannot truly believe that I get to work with such high profile brands, I never ever take it for granted.
We ended the month having to go into hospital with our baby boy for a bizarre condition called a hair tourniquet which I still find baffling that it actually happened, and we also took these photos which are some of my favourite family photos of the five of us. Proof that it doesn’t always have to be about fancy cameras and sometimes your phone does the job.
Here are some of my favourite photos in September…
October was a ridiculously jam packed month that makes me tired just thinking about it. A couple of years ago we went to Amsterdam on a campaign with KLM and at the start of the month they invited us back to go and see the newly improved Schiphol airport. We spent just 36 hours in Amsterdam which was slightly intense due to never ending rain and a lost drone, but all in all we had a great time.
I also went to the prestigious Family Traveller Awards, which are travel industry awards recognising categories such as Best Cruise, Best Family Airline and Best Tour Operator to name just a couple. This year they had a Best Family Blog category and I was absolutely gobsmacked to find out I won. It was chosen by the public, but mainly by judges in the end, and I still am so remarkably proud that I won. Literally so thrilled. I don’t think I will be able to even come close to topping it in 2017.
I started working on a three month campaign with Boots Mini Club, which was so much fun and I loved styling the children and doing mini photo shoots with them. I also wrote all about the charm of having a third baby too.
At the end of the month we did something that was a dream come true for us and we headed off to Orlando with Visit Orlando. The trip was absolutely incredible and the very best thing we have done as a family by far. I have never went to Florida as a child so to give my children a chance to experience it something which makes me feel very emotional. I got on so well with all the guys at Visit Orlando and have been in touch with them ever since, I still have more posts to write so watch this space!
In comparison to October, November was a little bit quieter. We started off the month having a nice relaxing autumn walk and blowing away the cobwebs.
I wrote a post in collaboration with Dove which I am really proud of, centred around body image and it to date is one of my favourite posts as it s a subject I feel quite strongly about. I also shared quite a personal photo on instagram and I was a little overwhelmed with the lovely response.
We worked with Virgin Trains again at the end of the month, this time on a campaign highlighting Christmas festivities, with us going up to Manchester, and it was lots of fun. I do love weekends away with my little family.
Other than that it was a quite month in terms of family, although I was super busy behind the scenes getting lots of work done ready for December. We had a bit of a breakthrough with our baby boy, but that didn’t unfortunately last long before sickness and bugs got in the way. We had a week where he was very poorly and had a stay in hospital and as such blogging took a bit of a back seat.
Here are some of my favourite photos in November…
The final month of the year is always hectic, with lots of festive going’s on and work to catch up on. I decided to do Vlogmas again this year, which meant that the majority of my spare time was taking up doing a video each day and editing it each night, as a result I must admit to neglecting my blog a little. I just can’t multi task. I did really enjoy vlogmas however and pushing myself to film every day. We did a lovely little festive video all about our annual festive day which was a really nice day, despite our baby boy being quite poorly.
Much of our December was marred by the fact we were victims of quite a large bank fraud. I spoke about it in my videos but basically we had a lot of money taken out of our account, pretty much our entire savings that we had saved up to pay our tax bill. It was a very stressful week and a half which basically involved a lot of tears and both of us spending hours on the phone to the bank each day. At one point we were told we weren’t going to get it back, which was horrific, but luckily we managed to provide new evidence and they called us a couple of days before christmas to tell us that all the funds had been put back into our account. It was a horrible time, but nothing in comparison to what some people have to go through. Luckily it is all over now, but as a result my blog really took a back seat.
We did manage to squeeze in a lovely overnight festive stay at The Grove, one of the most beautiful hotels we have stayed at in the UK, and it was nice to get away and have some quality family time after a stressful month.
We spent a lovely but hectic Christmas seeing different family and of course my big girl turned six on Christmas Eve too. I even managed to switch off for a bit, which was definitely well needed.
Here are some of our favourite photos of December…
And there you have it. Our 2016. As I type these words, look back over old posts and upload the photos, I truly can’t believe what a busy and jam packed year it has been, and also all the incredible stuff that has happened. Of course social media, videos and blog posts only give such a small section into someone’s life, they only show the things you want to talk about or share- everyone has their own struggles or things going on behind the scenes, but for the most part 2016 has been such a wonderful year.
All I wanted when the clock struck twelve on New Years Eve was for our baby boy to be born safely. That was the only thing I truly wanted. I am so thankful he is here and he is safe and he has completed our family. I wasn’t ever expecting to have a baby boy and it is so incredible, I am absolutely loving every second, even though I am still so sleep deprived and it hasn’t always been easy in parts.
I will always treasure all that 2016 has bought our family and while I can’t see how 2017 will be able to top it, I hope that we will have a lot of fun along the way and enjoy some amazing times together as a family of five. I can’t wait to watch my babies grow and change.
At the start of this post I said that I couldn’t pick just one word to describe our 2016, but in actual fact I can. Gratitude. I’m just so grateful to have my little family, to have my three babies and for all that this blog brings us as a family. I will never not be grateful.
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL. WISHING YOU A HAPPY, HEALTHY AND AMAZING 2017. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO READS THIS BLOG AND FOR ALL THE BRANDS WHO HAVE WORKED WITH US IN 2016. xx0