Back on the 1st January 2015 I wrote this post. I think one of the best things about blogging is being able to take a moment to reflect on the year that has passed us by, have a read over old posts and then to make goals and feel refreshed and ready for 2016. The Christmas break has been wonderful for that, I hardly touched my laptop at all and it felt so good to have a little break away from the online world. I am now ready and prepared to enter 2016 in all aspects of my life.
But before I move forward and close the door on 2015, I wanted to take a moment to reflect and do a round up post on the year we have had. 2015 has quite simply been the MOST incredible year. If I had to sum it up in one word I would say that it has most certainly been our year of adventure. We have travelled a lot, both far away from home and just around the corner, and I still can’t believe the amazing experiences we have had. If I thought at the start of the year that we would have travelled anywhere near as much as we have, I would certainly have never believed it.
Travelling has always been my passion, from backpacking around Asia when I was 18, to working in the travel industry for 6 years before I had Mads, it’s always just been ‘my thing’ I’ve spent my hard earned money on and luckily Mr E signed up to join me on our adventures when we got together. But I still can’t believe that in 2015 we have got to have so many adventures as a family- it means the world to me to have experienced it with my little girls and hopefully I will pass my love of travel on to them.
But while there have been some incredible moments away from home, I will never feel more content than when I am in snuggled up in our little three bedroom home with my family by my side. 2015 has also been a year for nesting and making our home exactly how we want it. It’s not our forever home or our dream home, but I adore the little space we have created and we have worked hard to create a home that feels so welcoming when we flop down on the sofa at the end of the day. As we speak we are also getting a extension built, just a small ground floor one to extend our living room out a little, but it will be a welcome space for our growing family. It’s something I never thought would happen and we have been saving for years, so it is a huge, huge deal for us. We have decided to stay in our home for a few years now, instead of moving, so I am looking forward to relaxing and enjoying our home in 2016.
I often feel like this blog portrays a perfect life. While I write about the ordinary moments, the not so good ones, and many of the ones in between, for the most part this blog is full of images of smiling happy family times and tales of far flung adventures, or just the love I have for my children and of my feelings of motherhood. I feel like sometimes it might not portray ‘real life’ as much as it should, for writing about the holidays and gorgeous happy photos is a lot more interesting than writing about the fact that Mads got sent to bed at 6pm for being cheeky or that LL had a tantrum so bad that it made me cry too.
But in all honesty our life is really good. I actually worry about saying that, like somehow I might jinx it and that I am tempting fate by saying it aloud, but the truth is we are very lucky. Of course there are times I lie in bed and cry because I’ve had a crap day, my children have been driving me mad and have been naughty, I’ve had a disagreement with Mr E or another member of the family, or I have been worried about money, work has got on top of me or I’m having general life stresses, but we really can’t complain. Nothing is perfect but life is happy and this blog reflects that.
Social media in general portrays a certain element of perfection. Yes the premise behind the photo might have been a happy one, a smiling snap on a family day out, but you don’t know the whole story behind the photo. While the day may have been great, we only get a limited number of characters or visual aspects to explain it. Nobody can see behind the photo that it could have taken five attempts to get the children to agree to standing there, or just minutes before a husband and wife could have had a disagreement over something so small it could be forgotten about already. There may be some stresses or problems behind the smiles. All families have them. But all you see when you look at a blog, facebook post or instagram photo is a happy smiley family staring back at you. Nothing is perfect and I think we should remember that when we look at social media, but at the moment life is good for us at least.
I’m well aware that life can change in an instant. Sad things can happen, a great marriage could suffer a setback, something tragic can happen at any time and of course we can never take for granted our health. But at the moment our life for the most part is very happy. Every year I think that it can’t possibly be topped, but all the years that pass by are amazing in their own way. They all teach us a bit about ourselves, about each other, about growing as a family, and they each have their highlights and of course their harder times too.
Blogging is an utter privilege. You don’t need a specific set of skills to do it, just an Internet connection and a desire to record the memories. The fact that over the years, people have wanted to read about our ordinary life and our sometimes not so ordinary life, still makes me smile all these years later. And the fact that likeminded brands want to work with us, well that’s just the icing on the cake. If you don’t have a blog and are thinking about starting one, definitely make 2016 your year to do that. You won’t look back.
Without further ado here is our round up of 2015….
January is a month for reflecting and setting plans for the year ahead, while also feeling a little melancholy after the excitement of Christmas. Our January 2015 however was not your average January, when in the first week of the New Year we jetted off to Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean with Beaches. (I wrote about it here, here, here and here) To say it was the most amazing holiday was an understatement, it was one of the most beautiful places we have ever been to and I hope we can visit again one day as it was one of the best holidays I have ever had and the resort was just stunning. I can’t think about it even now without getting goosebumps. It was also the first time that the girls had been on a long haul flight (it was four flights over the course of a week) but they surprised me with being amazing.
We also signed a year long partnership in January to work with the car company Subaru which was very exciting indeed- we received a beautiful white XV crossover car which we have become so attached to over the year. (it goes home in a few days and I am already sad about it!) We have had so many adventures in our car and we love it. We also had a film crew film us on one freezing cold day at Rutland Water- it was definitely a surreal moment but fun all the same (even if our fingers nearly dropped off by the end of the day!)
In the last weekend of January we headed off to Norfolk for the weekend. We found the cottage by chance on Air BnB and to this day it is one of the most stylish we have ever stayed in, I even dedicated a post to Harleston Cottage as if I could redesign my home I think I would use all their ideas. Just before we went we got treated to the chicken pox from Mads and she was covered in them but luckily she stopped being contagious by the time we headed off.
Other posts I loved in January blog wise, were this one ‘The Countdown’ about how we were on a countdown to Mads going to school in September (and the photo of her and her Daddy is still one of my favourite ones ever!) and also a post talking about me attempting a year of fitness.
Here are some of my favourite photos of January…
In comparison to January, February was a quiet month. We saw our littlest lady turn 2 on the 11th and with it I wrote her one of the semi regular letters I write to them both. We had a quiet day on the actual day and then headed off to the cinema to watch Peppa Pig at the weekend.
We gave our boring, small front hallway a little makeover, with some gorgeous pictures that we had made especially for us. I also went on a girly weekend to Center Parcs with three of my favourite people- Jenny, Lucy and Morgana,which was so much fun and that we will definitely have to do again some day. There is nothing better than spending quality time with likeminded ladies.
Here are some of my favourite photos of February…
March started off busy with me celebrating my birthday during a busy weekend. We were lucky enough to be invited to visit The Grove, one of the most gorgeous hotels I have ever stayed in the UK and I also completed my third ever half marathon, getting a record time of 1:50:04, I hope I will get back into running once the baby is here as I really enjoy it.
I took these photos of my sisters for our monthly project Siblings and to date they are still some of my absolute favourites due to the light and their bright coloured coats. We also gave our mustard and purple living room a little mini refresh and put our girls into a joint shared room which we still love to this day as it is so colourful and happy. I was so nervous about them sharing a room but it has been a reasonably smooth transition, bar the non stop chattering when they are supposed to go to sleep.
Here are some of my favourite photos of March…
April started off with a extremely wet weekend to Bristol as we were invited to go by Visit Bristol. (And another post here too!) I love Bristol as I worked down there a fair bit before the girls were born, but it literally didn’t stop raining the whole time we were there. Still it didn’t stop us having a nice time.
We then had a lovely long weekend for Easter, where we had numerous egg hunts in both my Mums and Dads garden, as well as seeing my Grandparents who were visiting from Wales. I wrote a post that still makes me emotional reading it about the day a cycle helmet made me cry, as well as finding out that we didn’t get the school we wanted for Mads.
I wrote a really honest post about the fact that I had lost my way with my fitness mission after I ended up losing a bit too much weight. April also saw something incredibly exciting happen with my husband handing in his notice and beginning working from home. It’s been amazing having home the last few months and I will enjoy it while it lasts, as we never know when he will have to go back to work. To celebrate we turned our small bedroom into a shared workspace, I love it and will be so sad to see it go when the baby is six months old and needs a room of his own!
Here are some of my favourite photos of April…
May was a month of amazing travel adventures. The start of May saw me head off to Ikos Oceania in Greece with Sovereign Holidays (I wrote about here and here) on my first solo press trip without my family. It was certainly different not having my crazy bunch there, but amazing to be treated to non stop food, spa treatments and some excellent company with other bloggers and journalists.
I was then home just a few days before jetting off with all my family to Lanzarote with James Villas. (I wrote about it here and here) Having visited Lanzarote many times as a child, it was great getting to experience it with the girls and we had a quiet family week in the sunshine.
Here are some of my favourite photos of May…
We started off the month taking some photos in the gorgeous yellow rapeseed which we do every year, I really do love these photos. We had a day trip to Legoland which our lego mad big girl declared was her ‘very best day ever’ and the sun shone all day.
We also had another yellow photo shoot, this time when we went for a picnic in the buttercups which I also love. (wow I am missing the sunshine looking back at these photos!)
We got an out of the blue phone call saying that Mads got into a different school which resulted in a difficult decision. We decided to go with the new school, which is the one she is at now, and I am so thankful we did as we all love her little primary school. I also wrote this post about working together after a few months.
At the end of the month we headed off to our favourite place in the world, Mark Warner Levante Beach Resort (I wrote about it here and here) where we had an incredible holiday full of fun and memories. It was our second year of going there, after being ambassadors the first year, and we just love it.
Here are some of my favourite photos of June…
July saw us starting off the month pretty quietly. I wrote a post about feeling motherhood guilt from time to time. I also wrote a post about Mads being a tomboy, which has one of my favourite photos of her on.
We were lucky enough to head to one of the top 5 places on my bucket list, Stockholm in Sweden with Visit Stockholm (I wrote about it here and here) which was absolutely amazing and we had a great long weekend in this family friendly European city. I still can’t quite believe how much we have travelled this year.
Here are some of my favourite photos of July…
We started off August by going to our annual trip to the lavender farm. I adore the photos I take here each year and I have no plans of stopping soon, with 2015 being our third year of going there.
I finally upgraded and redesigned my blog which was a mammoth job. For years I was on a quite frankly not very proactive blogging platform called Joomla and I finally made the move to WordPress. I adore my new look blog and I am so very thankful to Mr E for sorting it out as it was not an easy job at all.
We also announced we were going to be Huggies Pull Ups ambassadors, something which we were thrilled about. We have been using pull ups for a while now, but are determined to potty train our littlest lady before she turns three in February. To work with one of the biggest baby brands in the UK was definitely an honour and I loved getting advice from the experts at Huggies.
I loved these black and white photos I took of my sisters, which I really think capture the emotion between them.
We did one of the most exciting things that blogging has brought us in August, starring in a film campaign with Cath Kidston centred around children starting or going back to school. It stirred up a lot of emotions in all of us, and I still get a little teary when I watch the beautiful film that they created.
I also took some impromptu photos in a cornfield that we randomly passed, that I love. I love that blogging helps me photograph so many things that I might not have done otherwise.
We went on a lovely weekend away with our friends Alison and co (and Space In Your Case colleague) to the Peak District, where we stayed in a gorgeous little cottage courtesy of Skyes Cottages. Blogging has brought us SO many things, but the friendships we have made are up there with the best.
At the end of August we went on a weekend away to Hampshire which was a lot of fun and the perfect trip to finish the summer.
At the very end of the month we got our little girls christened in a small family ceremony. Afterwards we had a lovely meal in the hotel we got married in which was very special. The day before we found out that we were having another baby so it was really special having that secret and no one else knowing.
Here are some of my favourite photos of August…
September was a big milestone month for us, with our big girl starting school. It was an emotional time and some days I still miss her a lot, but we are so proud of the way she has settled in. We went on a weekend away to the Cotswolds with Hertz which was really lovely, but at the time I was in the midst of horrendous first trimester sickness. Still it was nice just to relax after her first couple of weeks of big school.
I had a lovely evening at the MAD Blog Awards with my friend Jenny, who was lovely and put up with me even though I was so sick! I didn’t win an award, but Jenny and many of my other friends did and I was so thrilled for them all.
Pregnancy symptoms and other life bits and bobs meant that I had a bit of a blogging block, where I lost my blogging inspiration for a while and finally we had a lovely trip to Essex to see our besties Lucy and co, where they kindly took our family portraits for September- it is great having a blogger as a best friend!
Here are some of my favourite photos of September…
At the start of October I wrote this post about struggling to sleep and our nighttime visitor. Everything sort of took a backseat as I struggled with awful headaches for a couple of weeks due to pregnancy. I took these last minute but smiley photos of my girls for our Siblings project.
We finally told family and friends our secret- that we were expecting our third baby. We made this little video and I absolutely love watching it back, again it is something we will be able to treasure forever thanks to blogging.
One of my childhood dreams came true at the end of the month, when we went on holiday to Orlando in Florida with Thomson. It was the most incredible holiday, literally the holiday of a lifetime and I still can’t believe that we were there experiencing things like Disneyworld. There were many times that holiday that I burst into tears and I am so thankful to have been able to experience a holiday like that with my girls. I wrote about the first part of our holiday to Florida here (I still have a couple more posts to write that I will publish soon!)
Here are some of my favourite photos of October…
After an utterly crazy October, November was a lot quieter. I wrote this post all about how I had found the first trimester of my third pregnancy. I also gave our bedroom a little festive makeover (much to Mr E’s horror!)
I went to Blogfest courtesy of Coca Cola, which was great fun, and I loved learning more about the company, including its charity initiatives and also more about the products themselves.
We had a private gender scan as I quite frankly couldn’t wait and we found out that, all being well, the final member of our family is a little boy. We made this little video on the day we told the girls they were having a baby brother, which again I love, and I am so pleased that we have these memories to look back on.
Here are some of my favourite photos of November…
We started off December by heading to the Peak District to visit Darwin Forest. We stayed in the most beautiful lodge and had a lovely weekend, although it rained most of the time. I truly can’t put into words how thankful I am for all the travel experiences we have had this year and it was the perfect place to finish off what is quite frankly an incredible year of adventures.
We also had our annual festive day which we do every year, when we put the tree up and have a snuggly family day. I also wrote a post about getting the house cosy for winter which I love doing. Over the last few months we had been working on an exciting partnership with Wickes, who were helping us create our dream kitchen- this was finally finished in December and we still have to pinch ourselves every time we walk into the kitchen. Our kitchen makeover looks amazing and we are thrilled with it.
We also took part in almost a month of ‘Vlogmas’– where we made a little video every day. It was hard work but I really enjoyed doing it and have plans to do it more in 2016.
We had a super quiet if not slightly overwhelming Christmas (two hyper children and trying not to let them run amok through families houses) and for once I didn’t actually take many photos at all, preferring to have a break and enjoy the time with my family.
Here are some of my favourite photos of December…
And there you have it. Our 2015. Even as I type these words, look back over old posts and upload the photos, I can’t quite believe that we have had all those adventures. It is almost as if I am looking at another family having these times, not us. It somehow doesn’t feel real that it is us who have experienced all those amazing things happen.
It is hard to explain in words how thankful I am for all that blogging has bought my family in 2015, and indeed for all the others things that have happened to us this year as well. Blogging often comes with long hours, it can be unpredictable in terms of income, and it’s hard to switch off as there’s always something else you could be doing, but it is the BEST kind of work there is and I am so thankful that I started my blog all those years ago. I say to my husband every day how grateful I am that I randomly one day decided to start this blog and that it is still going 5 years later.
2016 is going to be a very different kind of year, I presume one that involves a lot less time on airplanes and a lot more time at home. But I hope that, all being well, 2016 brings a different kind of amazing to our family. I hope and wish with all my might that our little boy is born safe and well in Spring and that we can spend the year growing as a family of five. (with a few adventures along the way too I hope!)
I will always treasure all that 2015 has bought us.
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL. WISHING YOU A HAPPY, HEALTHY AND AMAZING 2016. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO READS THIS BLOG AND FOR ALL THE BRANDS WHO HAVE WORKED WITH US IN 2015. xx