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Me and Mine: A Family Portrait Project 2015- April.

on Thursday, 30 April 2015.

April has been and gone in a flash as usual, I can't quite believe we are heading into May and into Spring time.  Summer is definitely within our grasp now and I can't wait for the weather to be nicer and for us to enjoy lots of lazy days outside in the sunshine. We have even managed to squeeze in a few picnics already, although we have worn jumpers and coats.

It's been a funny old month here.  We have mainly been adjusting to working alongside each other, with Mr E having almost completed a month of working for himself.  So far it's gone great, I really love the flexibility of having him work for himself, plus on the day's the girls are at nursery and I work from home, it means that I have company.  He makes me laugh non stop but we do get work done as well.

The other big news around here was that Mads unfortunately didn't get into her first or second choice school.  I, like millions of parents up and down the country sat at midnight and refreshed the application screen hoping that we would have good news.  To say I was upset was an understatement, but now I have calmed down, I am managing to see the positive in the situation.  We have reapplied for a couple of schools a bit further away that have spaces left, so we are waiting until the end of May to find out whether we have been successful.  Even if she does end up in the school that has given her a place, we will make the best of it I am sure.

Other than that, our month has passed us by in a blur of lazy weekends, busy ones and day to day life.  I was lucky enough to attend a press trip last week to Greece, it was fantastic to go and meet a new group of people, plus of course sample the beautiful family friendly resort, and I will be writing it up next week.  It was really strange to go somewhere like that without Mr E and the girl's, especially as I was away for four nights, I missed them a lot, but they had a great time up in Manchester seeing Mr E's side of the family.  May is set to be a reasonably quiet one, bar we are away on a family holiday the first week of it.  

For our photo's this month, I yet again left them till the last minute.  It is partly because we haven't done anything particularly exciting to warrant getting the tripod out and taking a photo of the four of us, but next month I am hoping we will be able to be a little more organised.  Still I didn't want to just take some at home again like last month, so yesterday I made us all traipse to our local country park to take them there.  We actually took some pictures there for our Me and Mine photos almost two years ago, and it feels really strange to look back on them.  I think we all look so much younger, obviously Mads and LL do but then LL was only five months, but I think Mr E and I do as well.  The country park is really beautiful and holds lots of special memories for us as a family as well.

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I think this is my new favourite photo of us all- I love how happy we look. Although I think I say that every month!

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Mads face.  She always crosses her eyes at the moment- thanks to whoever in our family taught her to do that! 

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Mads is wearing her 'nursery jeans' as we had just picked them up- they are the oldest, most worn things, but she insists on wearing them whenever she goes.  Her teachers must think we don't buy them clothes, when that couldn't be further from the truth!

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Love this one! :) 

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I had to include this even though it went 'wrong'.  The sun suddenly came out which meant my camera settings were wrong and also LL was trying to escape from my arms.  Which was funny enough, but then when I got home and looked at them I realised that Mr E had George Pig down his trousers, presumably looking after him so we didn't lose him.  Seriously strange but amusing all the same!

*****

This month I am sending you on over to Jenny's blog Lets Talk Mommy to have a little look.  Jenny is one of my closest blog friends and an all round lovely lady.  Her blog is full of love and family adventures so head over there to have a nosey!

{The Ordinary Moments 15} #17 'Early Evening Picnics'

on Sunday, 26 April 2015.

We are a massive picnic family.  Anything that saves us washing up is always a hit in our books, but more than that, my girls' seem to think that eating on a blanket on the floor is really exciting.  We often have carpet picnics on a weekend, where we eat our lunch on the floor of the living room, but now Spring is officially here we have already managed to squeeze in two picnics outside- we really do all love them.

Mr E and I are still getting used to working alongside each other, it's been less than a month, but so far it is going really well.  The change, although huge and very scary, has been absolutely wonderful for our family.  It's great that he can be a lot more flexible than when he was working for another company, so on the odd occasion he has finished early to allow me to get more work done on a day I don't normally work, or helped with childcare if I have needed to pop out somewhere.  But above all we are just a team and we share and work together nicely.  And of course, sometimes working for ourselves can be wonderful when it comes to other things as well.

On Tuesday's the girls' go to nursery all day, it's their one day of the week that they do a full day.  But last Tuesday the sun was shining and we both decided to finish work a little earlier so we could go together and pick them up a little earlier than usual.  Both of them were really excited to see both of us there, normally I drop off and Mr E picks up or vice versa, but we stopped at the shop on route for essentials and then headed over to their nursery.  We then told them we were off for an early evening picnic to which they both so happy about, it really is the littlest things sometimes that make them smile the most.  We parked up at a little bit of open greenery near where we live, and armed with Peppa Pig cupcakes and other yummy treats, we headed off to find the perfect picnic spot.

The sun was setting and the light was gorgeous, and I took these few photos on my iPhone.  I sat eating my pasta salad and watched my two girls laughing and giggling together, sharing their food, and chatting about what they had got up to at nursery that day, and I honestly felt a real feeling of contentment.  There's been lots of big changes in our family recently and we are both working so hard, sometimes I don't feel like we ever switch off, and it can make me feel stressed and on edge.  Working from home and for yourself appears to be amazing on the outside, and for the most part it really is, but it can be hard to find that work/life balance and it can be tough at times.  But as I sat there on our picnic blanket watching my little family relaxing and having fun, it really brought home to me exactly why we do it.

For us.

For our family.

 To be able to be spend time with these girls and watch them grow.  

And to enjoy the most simplest of ordinary moments.

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My Fitness Mission Update: Losing Too Much Weight and Losing My Way A Bit.

on Tuesday, 21 April 2015.

On the 1st January 2014 I set myself a goal- to get healthier and tone up.  By no means was I overweight, but I had a spare tyre on my tummy and I seriously hadn't done regular exercise since I was at school.  I decided to document my monthly progress on my blog, in order to keep me motivated and help anyone else who might have been doing the same.

I ended up doing really well and I drastically changed my lifestyle.  I lost two stone of weight, toned up a bit, started really thinking about what kind of food I was eating, and above all gained a passion for exercise, especially running.  I went from not being able to run half a mile to running two half marathons and other shorter distance races.  For a year regular exercise and eating well just became a part of my life, although of course I allowed myself treats as well.

I love reading 'real life' stories of fitness and healthy eating, and it seemed that others felt the same as I got lots of emails saying how I had inspired them to do exercise or start running.  I posted a 'before and after' photo on my instagram account at the start of the year, and I was all set to delete it after a few minutes as I wasn't entirely comfortable showing it- but actually it was my most popular photo to date.  However you may have noticed (or may not care in the slightest!) that I haven't posted any fitness updates recently.  And well to be honest that's because I feel a bit of a fraud and I haven't really had anything to say.  But I wanted to do an update regardless as this is my blog and I want to look back on it all in years to come.  

In February 2014 I started getting really poorly every once in a while.  It was so strange and there was no pattern to it- it could happen a couple of times in one week and then not happen for a couple of months, or it could happen constantly for a couple of weeks.  There was no rhyme nor reason to why it was happening, but I would have ridiculously uncomfortable tummy cramps, an upset tummy and then feel incredibly sick- more often than not I would be sick too.  I went to the doctor and was told to keep a food diary, which I duly did, and they couldn't find anything, I was referred to a specialist at the hospital a couple of times and again they couldn't find anything badly untoward.  It really was horrid as I never knew when it would strike- my best friend's hen do and a press trip to Palma being two of the worst times.  I had to cancel and change plans a lot due to it as well.  It was really strange but this on top of the exercise and the healthy eating, meant that I lost a lot of weight.

At my lowest weight I was just under eight stone.   Obviously weight is relative to you, your height and your build but I would say a comfortable, slim weight for me is around 8 stone 6- that puts me in an 8-10 dress size.  But in October last year, I went to see the specialist who checked my BMI and said that I was now classed as really quite underweight for my height and frame.  And that scared me a lot if I am honest.  I have never had an issue with my weight or my body image, I've always been a comfortable size 10-12, (creeping up to a 14 after I had LL) happy with myself and reasonably confident.  Sure I have hang ups like everyone else from time to time, or days where I look in the mirror and think 'bleugh' but for the most part I have always felt pretty normal and average.  

But hearing a professional tell you that you are now classed as underweight is actually pretty scary.  I want my daughter's to see me as a role model, I want to teach them about being healthy and confident.  We also may one day want more babies, and being underweight isn't a good thing for fertility either.  Looking at myself in the mirror I could see that I no longer looked toned, but actually too thin.  My legs had no fat on them at all and my face looked gaunt and tired.  Around this time in October I had my second ever half marathon and Mr E took a photo of me- I think I look way too thin.

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I'm not saying that I had made myself too thin deliberately or anything like that- far from it, but I think that finding a love of exercise, getting down to my goal weight really quickly and then being poorly just perhaps meant it all was a bit too much pressure on my body.  So from October onwards, I sort of lost my way a little.  The weather became worse, Winter came and I lost the motivation to run as much.  I have a definite mind connection between eating and exercise, if I exercise I am less inclined to eat 'bad' things like biscuits, cakes and chocolate, but if I don't then I find I eat more.  Then Christmas came and of course party season means you eat lots, but I was still trying to exercise, just not quite as much as before.  

On January 2nd I took this photo of my progress and that's when I think I was at my best, I was still toned but healthier than I was in October.  But then we went on holiday to the Caribbean and my exercise sort of dwindled down to almost nothing.  So of course the vicious circle happens where I eat more rubbish because I am not exercising.  My running was really sporadic, I would run three times a week one week and then not run for two weeks.  But the main thing is that I was back to not particularly eating well at all.

a year of fitness

It wasn't all bad- I ran my first half marathon of 2015, the Cambridge Half Marathon at the start of March, after hardly any training and I was thrilled to complete it in 1.50.04.  But I allowed my main weaknesses- chocolate, biscuits etc creep back into my diet.  I am not one to starve myself from these kind of things, I think they are fine in moderation and I enjoy having them- but I went back to eating them most days.  That combined with less exercise like kettlebells and lots of going away and eating out in restaurants (puddings are impossible to resist!) means that I am now far less toned than I was at the start of the year.

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So what now?

The thing I struggle with at the moment is balance.  I either go the whole hog and watch what I eat constantly, exercise lots and am strict, or I don't exercise as much and therefore snack on rubbish.  I need to find that happy medium, one where I exercise regularly, eat healthily but don't deny myself things I enjoy- after all life is too short for that.  I am now what I class as a healthy weight for my frame (8 stone 7), but I have lost some of those ab muscles I worked so hard to get last year.  So my main aim is to get those back.  I want to get toned and feel strong.  I am also still running, but I want to get back to enjoying it again, rather than finding it a chore, which is how it has got at the moment.  We are so busy at home and I feel like it's just another thing to have to do when I rarely get a chance to relax as it is- but I know how much I loved it last year so I need to get back to that stage.  I have three more half marathons booked in this year- one in August, one in October and one in November, and I want to make sure I train well for them.

It seems that my health problems have finally eased- I haven't had a episode since we were in the Caribbean on holiday in January, and even then they are few and far between now.  I have no idea what it was, whether it was something to do with my diet, a bug that wouldn't clear up and affected my immune system, or some sort of reaction to something, but touch wood I feel a lot better now, so fingers crossed it stays that way.

In terms of food this is the main one for me, I want to make sure I try and find a balance- where I eat well, with the odd treat, and don't snack on rubbish- that's my main weakness and it's not healthy.  Overall my diet is pretty good but I need to stop eating quite so many snacks.  For the last few weeks Mr E and I have been making smoothies as we bought a Nutri bullet- we are really enjoying these and it also means that the girl's are having lots of hidden goodness that they wouldn't ever dream of actually eating.  We have lots of lovely trips and things coming up over the Summer, and life is too short not to enjoy them and eat what I want, but I just want to get back to the outlook I had last year of finding healthier choices rather than eating half a pack of biscuits!

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The last couple of weeks I have been back to exercising more, especially working on my abdominal area and I took a photo of myself yesterday morning so I can see how I get on over the next few weeks...

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 I have noticed an improvement on my abs even after doing exercise on them for a week or so.  

 

So there we go, a ridiculously long and ridiculously overdue fitness update!  Apologies if these aren't your thing- normal service will resume tomorrow!

 

{The Ordinary Moments 15} #16 'Against The Garage Door'

on Sunday, 19 April 2015.

Around a year ago now I randomly decided to start taking photos of my girls as we left the house each morning.  I don't really know why I started doing it, I just decided to take a photo one day as Mads was wearing a particularly sweet outfit, and she wanted to send a picture to 'show Grandma' who had bought it for her.  The next time we did it, LL joined in on the photo too, and soon I was taking a photo of them on a regular basis.

The location is not exactly glamorous- it's in front of our white, slightly peeling, garage door, but for some reason we have taken a photo in front of it at least a couple of times a week ever since.  My girl's are reasonably good at having their photo taken, especially considering I often have my camera pointed at them, but I find that as soon as my DSLR comes out, if you ask them to look at the camera you inevitably get a silly face or no response at all.  When it comes to my DSLR, it's a lot better to capture them naturally rather than asking them to look.  But bizarrely, they absolutely love taking these iPhone photos in front of our garage door, so for whatever reason it has become a real ordinary moment of ours.

I absolutely love dressing my girls, I am a really big fan of children's fashion and I love finding outfits that match without completely dressing them the same- whether that be colours, styles or other little ways of making them a little coordinated each day.  I know that in years to come I will love looking back at the outfits they used to wear, long after we have given all the old clothes away.

But more than that, I love that by taking a photo of them in the same place each time, I am getting to see how much they are growing and changing.  They are growing at such a drastic rate and I can't quite believe how different they are from even less than a year ago.  I also love capturing funny things they bring out the house with them- they generally always have to bring a toy or some other random little object from home with them when we go out.  Plus of course, I love it when I take a photo of them interacting together or smiling happily.  

It's a strange little tradition to have started, but it's definitely become an every day part of our lives.  Mads and LL leave our front door and straight away walk towards our garage, even when it's a nursery day and we are in a hurry, or I wasn't actually planning on taking a photo of them.  I love that we will have them all to look back on in many years to come. 

against the garage door

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