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A Lovely Week At Center Parcs...

on Wednesday, 17 September 2014.

Last week we went on a little week long break to Center Parcs with our good friends Lucy and her family.  After having a lovely long weekend trip last year we decided to add an extra night this year.  I was really looking forward to it, but was prepared for it to be a little hectic, with four young children in a pretty small villa.

It turns out it was the perfect week.  The children were all so well behaved, thoroughly enjoying each others company and making us smile with just how cute they were with one another.  Yes it was hectic, but we also got some relaxing time in the evenings when they all went to bed.  Lucy and I managed a spa evening which was just bliss, while our husbands cemented their bromance by two nights out.  

We all loved swimming, last year Mads was a bit unsure in the water but this year with swimming lessons and lots of trips to the pool this Summer, she was a changed girl, jumping in and splashing about without us holding her.  LL is also a little fish, loving all the slides and generally being more of a daredevil than her big sister.  I loved watching them in the amazing Center Parcs pools.

It's so lovely to be able to find a family to go on holiday with who have similar aged children, whenever we go away with Lucy and her family it just seems to work so well and we did genuinely have a great time- I felt so sad to come home on Friday with so much washing and cleaning to do.  It almost feels like this little break signals the end of our Summer.

Head over to Lucy's blog too as she has posted a video of our adventures too.  We were going to do a joint one but us and technology don't mix clearly!

Here is a snippet into our week through photos and a video...

 

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I love this photo capturing my girlies cuddling- they really are that affectionate with each other, although they do fight nowadays too!

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Her little Toy Story characters come with her everywhere, she loves them.

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It is compulsory when you are little to share a bath with your friends.

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It is also compulsory for your Mummy to take photos of you to make you laugh when you are older.

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These two were absolutely adorable together and we often found them cuddling up on the sofa.

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Her hair is so long and unruly, and she absolutely hates having it brushed but I couldn't bear to cut it.

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Whereas this little one is getting exactly the same curls as her sister.  I do love my little curly mop heads.

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Too much cuteness.

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These two are looking so alike nowadays, and their bond is growing stronger every day.  Although she's still a Mummy's girl.

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Two peas in a pod.

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The Roberts.

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Weeeeeee.

 

A little video of our adventures.... Roll on next year!

 

'My Fitness Mission'- August.

on Monday, 15 September 2014.

Seeing as we are nearly half way through September I thought it was about time that I wrote how I got on with my fitness mission for August.  I can't believe that I have stuck to exercise and (relatively) healthy eating for eight months now.  I still get a fair few emails and messages saying I have inspired people to take up running, and I still can't believe that anyone would actually find me inspiring- I have never kept up regular exercise before now.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it really has changed my life.  I have bad days, or bad weeks, and I have phases where I feel really unmotivated, but it is like it is a part of me now, and I don't think I will ever go back to being unactive again.  


Exercise

 

The main thing that happened to me exercise wise this month was that I ran and completed my first ever half marathon.  A HALF MARATHON.  I cannot actually believe it.  On the 17th August I ran 13.1 miles round the local area where I grew up alongside 437 other runners.  I hadn't done that much training before hand in the form of long runs, bar two 10 mile runs a couple of weeks before, so to say I was nervous was an understatement.  I wanted to run it in under two hours, but due to the fact that the course was quite hilly and I hadn't prepared properly in terms of fuelling, I wasn't holding out much hope.  However my official time was 1:58:36 which I was so unbelievably happy with.

It was so tough and there were points in the last mile where I honestly didn't think I could carry on, but I did it in the end.  My wonderful husband saw me in the last quarter of a mile and could see I was struggling and because he knew I wanted to get in under two hours, he ran the last quarter of a mile with me.  It sounds cheesy, but it was just so kind and supportive and I don't think I would have done it without him.

I learnt a few things from doing my first half marathon.  First is that crossing the finish line is such an incredible feeling, and now I know what people talk about when they say you get a runners high.  The second is that throughout the race I said I wouldn't do it again, yet as soon as I crossed the line I was already thinking about the next one.  And thirdly, I really need to train more and learn more about fuelling, I didn't experiment with any gels before hand and therefore was reluctant to take them during the race, and by the end I was really weak.  Overall it was an amazing experience though and I have another one to complete in October.

Other than that my fitness wasn't that exciting in August.  I ran probably once or twice a week, mainly 5k runs as they are the easiest to fit into my busy life.  I have still been doing my kettlebells in the evening, only for about ten minutes about twice a week, but I definitely have got something resembling abs trying to poke through my wobbly tummy!

 

Food

 

I think I am always going to struggle a little with food.  After being really good at losing the initial weight, slowly month by month I have started to let more treats and 'bad' things creep back into my diet.  I think the fact we have been away a lot over the Summer has meant it has been hard to resist meals out and sweet snacks.  I haven't been great in August, but yet at the same time, I no longer need to lose weight, just maintain the weight I am at now and I need to remember that.  I don't believe in denying myself treats, life is too short, but I definitely need to get back into more of a healthy routine again.

We are still being pretty good with evening meals, eating relatively healthily and not eating such big portions, but I do find that when we have sweet treats in the house I cannot help but eat them.  For years I couldn't stand banana but because they are so good for you I have been eating them in the morning with greek yoghurt and honey- it's a delicious breakfast and keeps me full until lunchtime.  For lunch I will have chicken in a wholemeal sandwich thin (they are great) with either some fruit and either wholegrain crisps or some popcorn.  We are pretty boring when it comes to our evening meals, but they are usually pretty healthy bar fajitas once a week (my weakness- I usually eat four!) and the occasionaly family pizza night.  I still am terrible with drinking water so I really need to work on this, diet coke is still my biggest weakness.

 

Overall

 

I just measured my waist and I thought I would have put on some weight after a month of not being as careful about what I eat, but in actual fact I am exactly the same, meaning that overall I have lost 6.5 inches from around my tummy area since I started my fitness mission in January.  My tummy is still a little wobbly and the bottom area still is a little rounded , especially in the evening when I am bloated from the day.  I think I will always have this though due to the fact my skin stretched and my abs separated so much during pregnancy.  I am loving that I am starting to see ab muscles in the top half of my stomach though and this is definitely from kettlebells and running.

Unfortunately when I lose weight, the first place I lose it are my boobs and bum, and so I definitely need to do exercises to make my bottom more pert.  Overall though I am happy with the fact that I am maintaining my new shape, yet also not letting it take over my life.  I think I have hopefully found the perfect balance.

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It poured down with rain before my half marathon which just added to my nerves.

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Yay first ever half marathon completed in 1 hour 58 minutes, and a shiny medal to keep.

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What did we do before we instagrammed our food?  If you haven't tried the Pizza Express Superfood Salad you must immediately- so healthy and good for you!

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And the not quite so healthy.  We went to The Breakfast Club for brunch and I may have eaten both of these.  Oops. 

 

(You can check out the rest of my fitness posts here)

{The Ordinary Moments 14} #34 'Friendship'

on Sunday, 14 September 2014.

I have never really had a 'best friend'.  I had my closest friend growing up at school, but also was in a little friendship group of four other girls, each of us as close as the other.  Then at university, I had a little group of special people, who I lived with and spent an amazing three years with.  Since I was twenty one I have had my husband as the best friend in my life, we were close friends for two years before we got together and I don't really remember a time in my life when he wasn't in it.

I have moved around a lot, living in Cambridgeshire, Leeds, London and back to Cambridgeshire in my adult life.  As such I have made friends in all of these different places.  I am still especially close to my uni friends, and I am still in touch with my school friends, but being in different places means we don't see each other as much as we would like too.  I tend to live 'in the moment' meaning that I am constantly in touch with my 'baby' friends who live near me and who I met through having Mads, but sometimes I realise I need to make more of an effort to see my oldest friends too.  That said, whenever we do see each other, it's like we saw each other yesterday, which to me is a sign of a true friendship.

One thing I didn't bargain for when I started blogging, was making friends online.  To me, online friendships were a bit strange, not something I could have ever imagined doing.  Although I wrote my blog and chatted to people I didn't know on social media, I wasn't one of those 'weirdos' who met up with people online.  Fast forward and three years later, I class my 'online' friends as some of my closest ones.  I speak to them most days, and there's a few select ladies who probably know more about me than some of my oldest ones.  I meet up with different people regularly at blogging events.

One thing I definitely couldn't have imagined was that we would make such amazing family friends.  I  think finding friends who you can socialise with as a couple are quite rare, it always tends to be that one of you is closer to them than the other.  This isn't a bad thing, but I do think it's often the case.  And then I think finding friends who have the same family dynamic as you is even harder- we have close friends who don't have children, or who have older children, and this often makes days out or weekends away not quite the same.

When I first started talking to Lucy on my blog three years ago I had no idea we would become such good friends, and I definitely didn't think that we would all become so close.  But ever since our families met at a blogging event, we just seem to have clicked and I would go as far to say they are definitely the closest friends we have.  Our children are very similar ages and love to spend time with each other, our husbands have a quite freaky bromance going on, and when we are with them it just works.  We have a great time together (mainly as we all have a sarcastic sense of humour!) and as we don't live too far away from each other, we tend to meet up relatively reguarly.

This past week has been spent at Center Parcs (another post on that soon!) where we spent a lovely few days with the Roberts family.  It was hectic, with four children running loose, but it was full of happy times, laughing until we nearly cried, and lots and lots of banter.  Our children couldn't have been cuter together, our husband's were actually probably more sad to leave each other than we were, and we just had a fantastic time.  It's our third little break away together (check out here and here) and I definitely think it has become a yearly tradition.  

It's lovely to think I have blogging to thank for bringing a friendship into our lives that I know will last far beyond my blog.  And that in years to come we can look back at our little spaces on the internet and smile at all we got up to.

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A Day Shopping At Westfield London.

on Friday, 12 September 2014.

Since having my girls shopping is no longer considered as much of a treat day out as it once was.  While I still enjoy a good browse round the shops, it definitely isn't stress free now I have two small people, a buggy, all their paraphernalia and then shopping bags on top of that to carry around.  Actually Mads and LL are pretty good when it comes to shopping and I have no worries about taking them out on my own for the day, as long as we have 'sit in the buggy' snack bribes on hand.  But it definitely isn't as much fun as it was before children.

Therefore when the lovely people at Westfield London asked if I wanted to come and visit for a day of shopping (and a lot of eating) I couldn't have been more excited.  At first I thought about taking one, or both of the girls, before deciding that I needed some much needed 'me time'.  Entrusting Daddy to pick them up from nursery a little bit later than usual, my little sister and I headed off to Hammersmith for a day of sisterly bonding.

Having been to Westfield a couple of times before, the one thing that strikes me as I enter each time is just how big it is- it is literally huge and the design is beautiful- there are two floors of all the shops, boutiques, stalls and eateries you could imagine, and we were both in heaven as we contemplated where to go first.  If I lived any nearer I would definitely a) be broke and b) be the size of a house because all the food is just so good. 

All the main high street stores are there, plus the designer zone and a cinema as well, and you could easily spend more than a day there without running out of things to do.  Indeed we arrived at 10am and didn't leave until just gone 8pm as we were having so much fun we decided to stay for dinner.

Here is a little glimpse of our day in iPhone photos...

 

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We started off our day with a delicious juice from Tossed.  The most amazing thing about Westfield in my opinion is the dining options- it is literally full of everything you could imagine, including places I hadn't heard of before.  I went for a healthy detox juice, with kale, cucumber, mint, and apple.  

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Westfield from above!

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We decided on lunch at Byron as it's one of my favourites- who can resist a big juicy burger?  The Byron at Westfield was on the second floor and we had a window looking out over the shops below which was great for people watching.

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I went for my usual 'skinny' burger with skin on fries, washed down with a diet coke.  It was delicious and the lady who served us was so lovely.  I can't rate Byron highly enough and I did a little dance when they opened up in Cambridge a while ago.

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It was lovely spending time with my sister.  She is ten years younger than me but we get on so great as we both have the exact same sense of humour.

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I was really excited to visit Snog because it is yet another of my favourites that I haven't had for ages as they are only in London.  We took a mid afternoon shopping break and had a large frozen yoghurt each.

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My Snog would have been healthy until I added Oreos and white chocolate stars.  But it was delicious!  

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As this is a family lifestyle blog, I couldn't not mention the family facilities at Westfield.  I last went when LL was really tiny and I was still establishing breastfeeding so as such was a little unconfident at doing it in public at that stage.  They have pristine clean family rooms, with cubicles with comfy chairs to breastfeed in, plus lots of great changing facilities.  This time without children I may have looked slightly creepy taking photos of the family room but luckily no one was about to spot me!

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We did a lot of eating!  As we were having so much fun we decided to stay for dinner- we went back to Tossed where I had a delicious grilled chicken, halloumi and roasted pepper salad.  So good.

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Yum.

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We spent far too much money, here are a few of the things we bought- I was after some dark denim skinny jeans which I found in Topshop and I couldn't resist some little Converse for my LL.  My collar obession shows no signs of leaving this Autumn- so I bought a a cropped grey jumper and shirt for me and a shirt and sweatshirt for Mads.  I also was on the hunt for a leather jacket as although I have a perfectly lovely old one, since I lost weight it was a little too big. 

 

We had such a fantastic day at Westfield, it was great to have a day shopping without the girls, I don't think I have done that since before they were born.   It was also lovely to spend time with my sister as well, as normally when Mads and LL are about we don't get to chat as much as they won't leave their 'Auntie Annie' alone.  Westfield is amazing, and if you haven't been before I definitely recommend checking it out.  Just don't go if you are counting the pennies or on a diet as you will basically want to buy and eat everything!

 

 

NB:  Westfield very kindly gave me a £200 giftcard to enjoy our day out, but we also spent plenty more of our own money on top of that.  All opinions are are entirely my own.  We can't thank them enough for a lovely day together!

 

 

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