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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!

 

 

My Sisters In September.

on Wednesday, 10 September 2014.

As you read this we will be at Center Parcs with Lucy and her family.  This weekend has been a bit of an intense one to say the least, we are having our bathroom redone which I am really excited about, but on Sunday when Mr E was ripping it out he hit a dodgy pipe and water leaked through to our living room below.  Having no water, plus trying to pack, and having our house turned upside down has been slightly stressful.  I thought I was organised and all ready to go, until I realised that my Siblings post was due this week.  Cue a little panic as I hadn't taken any photos for it.

But in actual fact, sifting through my phone in a mad dash to find any suitable, I couldn't have not used the following photos this month, even if I had taken the most beautiful photos with my DSLR.  These photos completely sum up my sisters this month.  I have a bit of a thing about using too many iPhone photos on my blog, while I love my phone and it is the camera I use 90% of the time, I often feel like my phone photos aren't the best and I should make an effort to take my big camera out more.  However I just haven't had the time, and as such my phone has been my only weapon of choice the last few weeks.  I have mentioned before that recently Mads has really got in to developing her own style and choosing what to wear, and as such I have been taking a photo of her each day in front of our slightly scabby garage door.  We take a couple before she gets fed up and says 'no more photos' but the last few times we have done it, LL has decided to get in on the act too.

They both stand there and giggle and pose, and every morning they ask to go and have a photo outside even if I wasn't planning on taking one.  Bizarrely they actually love it and it's the only time they will willingly let me take a photo of them!  It's become sort of a strange, weird little tradition, and one that really makes me smile.  Since LL started walking, their relationship has grown and developed and it's just the most incredible privilege to watch them together.  

So although technically I forgot this month, actually these photos couldn't portray my sisters any better...

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*****

This month I am sending you over to have a look at Jess and her gorgeous pair of siblings.  Jess needs no introduction, her blog is one of my favourites and has been ever since I started blogging.  If you haven't already been over there, you most definitely should!

M is for Mads... (And Mango!)

on Monday, 08 September 2014.

One of my favourite brands is Innocent- not firstly for the fact that I am a little bit obsessed with their Innocent Veg Pots (Yum!) but also because I have always had a secret yearning to work at Fruit Towers- it looks like the best place to work ever.  When Innocent got in touch to see if we wanted to be one of twenty six bloggers spelling out the alphabet for their Alphabet Challenge, we said yes of course.  We would happily sell our souls in exchange for some free vouchers.  (That bit might not be entirely true)  

We got given the letter M so of course M is for my Mads.  And Mango.

*****

Little over a year ago I wrote this post.  In it I wrote down all my feelings about Mads potentially starting preschool, about how it was the end of an era and how about we should treasure all these precious moments together.  I read it back today and almost cried, I look at those photos of her running around in her little pink tutu clutching some balloons and she just looks so young.  I remember that day like it was yesterday, yet so much has changed.  She has grown at least a foot taller, those little ringlet curls have got looser and are now almost down to her bottom, and she has changed so much in the face.  Gone are the not quite a baby/not yet a girl features, instead now she is a little girl through and through.  This Summer has seen the arrival of a splattering of freckles, sun kisses as we call them, over her little button nose.  

I'm feeling very nostalgic at the moment, and a little sentimental too.  Seeing proud parents post photos of their children all over social media, smiling in their slightly too big, ironed and crisp new school uniform, I am well aware that next year that will be us.  It's something that every parent goes through, we have known it was coming even from when she was tiny, when the very idea of school seemed like a far off dream.  But slowly we are ticking those milestones of the list- she's been at nursery/preschool almost a year now, she can write her name, she no longer needs her little musical doggy to send her off to sleep at night.  Tick, Tick, Tick, another day passing, another milestone achieved.  

She drives me mad on a daily basis, she takes about fifteen minutes to get into her car seat especially when I am in a rush, and she can throw one hell of a wobbler if she doesn't get her own way on occasions.  But for the most part, we are best friends.  She is completely innocent, still sucks her fingers and plays with ears when she is tired and still believes we are the centre of the world.  While she realises there are bad people in the world, or that bad things can happen, she doesn't truly grasp that concept quite yet.  She lives in a world of rainbows, fairies and Toy Story characters that come to life.  And I am not ready to leave that world behind.

Growing up hurts sometimes, it hurts us parents who watch them leaving those precious days behind- those tiny, wailing newborn days, those days where you feel like you will never get off the sofa without a child attached to your breast, those terrible twos where they won't eat anything but fromage frais, and those funny days where they learn word after word and pronounce them wrong.  But that's life.  We change.  We grow.  We don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, let alone a year from now.

So I had to dedicate my letter in the Innocent Alphabet to Mads.  My precious little girl, who over the next year is going to change and grow more than ever.  Who one day won't think her Mummy is the centre of her universe.  Who a year from now I will have to let go of just a tiny little bit, as she learns to become the person she is meant to be through the help of her hopefully special and memorable school days.   We will enjoy the next year together, the lazy days, the days where we don't have to rush around for the school run, and the days where it's just the three of us.  We will bake cakes, see friends, go to the playground and make smoothies.

M is for Mads.  And Mango.

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{The Ordinary Moments 14} #33 'A New Ordinary Friday'

on Sunday, 07 September 2014.

I have spoken many times before about how I am a creature of habit and how we have our little 'during the week' routine down to a tee.  Most afternoons are taken up with nap times, so it's only really mornings we need to fill.  On a Monday we see my Mum, Tuesday and Thursday morning the girls go to nursery while I work, Wednesday we go to see one of my closest friends and her children and then for the last couple of years Friday's have been taken up with seeing the friends I made via my NCT class way back when I was pregnant with Mads.

For a long time I had guilt about putting my girls into nursery.  When it was just Mads, she went to our wonderful family friends while I worked three days a week but I was in a really fortunate position after having LL that I was able to hand my notice in and work freelance.  However because I work from home sometimes I felt guilty about the fact they were at nursery, but at same time I couldn't work while they were in the house.  Nowadays, I feel we have the balance just right for us, they have time to learn and grow without me, I get some time to myself, and I also work in the evenings when they are asleep.  I don't feel guilty anymore for enjoying the time I get away from them, as I think it makes me a better Mummy when we are together.

However as of last Friday our routine changed again.  For a while now we have been considering putting Mads into nursery an extra session, partly because we feel that it will help her be more ready for school next year (the jump from two long mornings to five full days seeming quite a lot) and partly because we felt LL would thrive on having some one on one time with Mummy.  While I know every child is different, Mads was talking non stop at LL's age whereas LL still hardly says a word, and we just felt that it would be nice to dedicate some time just to her as it is something she has never had.   

Mads first extra session has coincided with her moving up into the big 'pre school room' so the change has made her a little unsettled, while she is all smiles when I pick her up, when I drop her off she is a little clingy as she misses her keyworker in her old room.  This of course has set off the guilt all over again- I feel guilty that technically she doesn't have to be there, that she is not there because I am working, but because I am enjoying time with LL.   When I dropped her off last Friday I genuinely felt a little strange and emotional.  A lot of it is because I am aware just how quickly she is growing up, how this time next year it will be me posting proud photos of her in her school uniform and waving her off on her first day.  I feel like we are almost on 'borrowed time' before school gets her and our life changes dramatically, and this week I have felt a real sense of treasuring these moments even more than usual.  Coupled with the fact that she was a little bit teary about going, meant that I felt really bad as I drove off and I wondered whether to turn round to go and get her and take her with us out to lunch to meet our friends. 

But then I went home and snuggled on the sofa with my little LL.  It was almost like I saw her in a different light.  We spent an hour or so at home where we played with almost every single toy in the toy box, her never leaving my side and glueing her little bottom to my lap.  She giggled and smiled non stop and was visibly so excited to have my one on one attention.  We then went out to lunch where my friends commented how happy she was.  And I realised that we both need this time together, I enjoyed every single second of it and I know that she did too.  She made me smile all morning and I loved watching her.  We went to pick Mads up and she was happy and excited, telling me all about her day in the 'Lions' room and how was thrilled that she got to do Gymnastics on a Friday from now on because a man comes from outside to teach them.  I know now we have made the right decision to change our Friday routine.  

Because looking at this little face and the smile that didn't leave it all morning, I am looking forward to giving her the one on one attention that she quite rightly deserves.  And I am looking forward to the cuddles when I pick Mads up even more...

 

happyLLSept14

 

 

 

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