I am now writing this post almost a week and a half after we returned from our holiday to Lanzarote and almost a week after I wrote our first post. Our tans have definitely started to fade already, but our memories haven't and I have loved going back over these photos and having another look. I wish we still back in our little villa, enjoying the sunshine with my little family.
Here is Part Two of our holiday to Lanzarote in photos and another little video... (I just love making these videos so much!)
Sister cuddles. On the third night of our holiday we went to a beautiful marina called Puerto Calero- if you are visiting Lanzarote I highly recommend a visit as it was so lovely to walk around and look at the boats.
Everywhere we went the girls got given these sticky, horrible lollies, usually AFTER they had already consumed an ice cream for pudding as well. We couldn't say no as they would look forward to them every meal but they definitely weren't as exciting for myself and Mr E who were worried about their teeth!
Look at my happy girly, she was all smiles all holiday.
Little freckle nose playing the 'minion game' on Daddy's phone- she was obsessed with playing it with him all holiday.
Puerto Calero harbour.
I love this photo of my girls- after all what is there not to love about golden light sunshine and sisters holding hands?
I'm a lucky lady to have these three to call my family.
Oh golden light sunshine you will always be my favourite. My Grandpa was looking at my blog the other day and he said 'why do you always take these hazy photos?' I think it might only be me whose a fan of these beauties! ;)
Love, love, love, love this photo of myself and this beauty. Mr E is getting better at the photo taking, as long as I set up the settings beforehand for him!
I think I might like this one even more. Does anyone else talk about owning a yacht when they walk round a marina or is it just us?! Puerto Calero was beautiful and definitely worth having a walk around, it was only about fifteen minutes drive from where we were staying.
Villa Ventura had a private pool and it was amazing to see how happy the girls were swimming around each day- Mads is a complete and utter water baby.
Two little crocs in the water- they look so similar in this photo I think.
I love the little bit of tummy poking out on this photo- this girl has got class! They lived in their Konfidence jackets as they do every holiday, they give us such peace of mind when being near water.
Both of the girls have got so much more confident going in the pool over the course of this holiday, I guess that's one of the benefits of having a private pool in your villa.
Cool dudes. Evening light. Yippee.
It was lovely to go for a walk in the evening, it stayed so hot even up until when the sun went down 8ish- the main promenade was wide enough that meant they could walk along without me worrying they were going to run into the road.
I am so proud of these two- love their Little Bird outfits too, Mads loves that blue playsuit, she is on an anti pink stage and so loves anything blue.
I am not quite sure why she was jumping in this photo!
I'm a big succulent fan (is there such a thing as a succulent fan?!) so I loved all these cacti on someone's front steps.
The girls loved the fact that the tide came in overnight and made big water pools, it meant they could splash and play to their hearts content. I love the beach but who else finds with children that the sand just gets absolutely everywhere?
Serious sandcastle building.
Sitting on Daddy's lap to eat her ice cream. You never know what to expect from restaurants on holiday but we can definitely recommend the areas of the Puerto del Carmen old town harbour and Puerto Calero, where we found a fabulous selection of tapas, fish and meat dishes. Plus they all had plain pasta and pizza for the girls which means it's always a winner in my eyes. ;)
Our last evening out and the last lolly of the holiday!
I love their happy smiles in this one.
Here is the second little film I made of our time in Lanzarote...
Overall it was a fantastic holiday, full of memories, happy times and laughter. Indeed if I had to sum it up in one word I would say smiles, of course you don't go on holiday to have a bad time, but I don't know what it was but it was just relaxed and laid back from start to finish. Sometimes going on holiday can mean the occasional grumpy day as routines change and the inevitable later bedtimes make for over tired children, but the girls were so well behaved from start to finish. We got into a routine of them both having a long afternoon siesta which meant that we could keep them up until around 8.30/9pm, therefore we actually managed to get out and have dinners out rather than just staying in our villa.
We went on lots of villa holidays before the girls were born, but this is the first time we have done one with them. It's hard to say which is my favourite- I love the luxury of a hotel stay, the fact that your room gets cleaned and you have your pick of nice food, but there is definitely something more relaxed about being in a villa. We could come and go as we pleased, weren't held to timings and the best bit for us was having the private pool area, which meant the girls could sit inside for a bit of shade and have a little watch of the television, but we didn't have to go in with them as we could sit less than a metre away in the sunshine.
As for Lanzarote, having been a few times in my childhood and teens, plus once in my early 20's, I admit to having a few tiny worries before I went away, mainly around it being quite commercialised and British- but in actual fact we couldn't have asked for a better location. The villa was in a quiet area but with the action not too far away. We were a stones throw away from the beach and there were really fantastic playgrounds dotted all around us, which were great fun for the girls. The whole resort was spotless, the people were friendly and we wouldn't hesitate in going back there again- there really was so much for us to do.
Looking back on these photos makes me get a little teary. I am just so, so incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to experience things like this with my little family, but more than that I am just so grateful to have these three in my life. I must have said to my husband 'we are so lucky' at least three times a day. Because we are. We have those two beautiful little girls, whose faces were full of smiles all week just at being able to have their Mummy and Daddy all to themselves. Day to day life is hectic, busy and at times I am the first to admit I am not always completely present- we work hard, the girls go to nursery, or there's cleaning to be done, jobs to be doing or meals to be made. I relished the opportunity to switch off and spend a week with my girls, away from the stresses and mundanity of day to day life, and I know they did as well.
My motherhood journey seems to be broken down into stages. There's those big stages- the newborn days, the baby days, the toddler days and the days before school, the big milestone days that get ticked off one by one. First smile... check. First tooth... check. First time in a big girl bed... check. First time on a play date without Mummy... check. Every stage that passes and every milestone reached, however great, I seem to mourn. I mourned the day LL stopped wearing babygrows, I mourned the day Mads no longer called me Mama but Mummy and I mourn them getting older on a regular basis. I am an emotional sap and I find the slightest thing about my children can set me off. But at the same time I find myself saying 'This is the best it's ever been.'
And it's true, for every stage that passes that feels so utterly bittersweet, there's actually a better stage ahead. The newborn days, they are oh so delicious, with those soft baby heads and endless hours breastfeeding, snuggling and marvelling at this little person you created. There's those teeny tiny onesies, washed over and over again, the night feeds where although you are exhausted you feel like it's just you and your baby against the world. But as much as I love to look back on them with fondness (and remember the hardness at times), each stage that we get to really is the best of all the moments that have been before it. That's the beauty of watching these girls grow up.
So what is motherhood like right now with an 'almost four and a half year old' and a 'turned two a couple of months ago year old?' Well of course, yet again, it's the best it's ever been. These days being a Mum means going from moments of utter frustration to just absolute proudness and love in a few moments. Sometimes I feel like the days are never ending- hour upon hour of constant questions, grumpy children or just the daily humdrum of life. Life can be tedious at times, of course it can, routines and structures set in place, eating the same thing every week, going to the same soft play and playing the same games over and over. Sometimes I go to bed in the evening and feel so incredibly guilty- I feel guilty for not giving them my full attention, not fully participating in the same boring game of making plastic pizza with olives and tomato, of not being completely present. Or I will feel guilty for losing my patience too easily, for shouting over something that didn't really need to be shouted over.
But for the most part, motherhood just feels good to me. Of course it's always felt good, it's a blessing and for the most part I've been lucky to have it pretty easy all things considered. But this stage we are at right now? It's fun. Mads is on the brink of going to school and I know life will change dramatically then, but for the next few months I have her all to myself bar the days she's at nursery. She's like a sponge, she wants to learn, she wants to understand about the world she lives in and above all she is just the most funny little character. She's a joker, she is never serious and she always has a smile. Yet she is incredibly sensitive, affectionate and loves to be near you. At times that can become a little stifling, she is constantly asking questions, wanting to play, but she's also pretty easy. She knows the consequences of her actions at four, she knows how to behave. You can tell her to do something and she will do it most of the time. Of course the odd meltdown can still occur, but for the most part she is such a well behaved little girl.
And then there's LL. My baby. Who actually really isn't a baby anymore. In the last couple of weeks all traces of baby have gone. Instead we have a little girl, a happy, cheerful little girl whose character develops on a daily basis- we are loving to get to know her properly and find out who she is and who she is going to become. Her speech has exploded and we love her feisty little personality. She's more stroppy than her big sister, who often gives in to her for an easy life. She has the occasional serious temper tantrum, of course we are well in the 'terrible twos', but I have the benefit of experience this time round. It doesn't phase me. Yes that person just had to step over my wailing, screaming child who has just thrown herself on the floor of Tescos because I wouldn't let her hold a pack of frozen chips. (true story) Do I care? It doesn't phase me in slightest. The second time around you know that you haven't given birth to a wannabe sociopath just because of a few tantrums. You know it's just a stage and that she will grow out of it soon enough, hindsight is a powerful tool in this motherhood journey.
Both my girls are so much fun to be around. I think it's even better because they compliment each other so well. They are learning to play with each other properly, rather than simply co-existing and being sat there playing next to each other with separate toys. Sharing a bedroom together has made them even closer and I hear them at night chattering away, of course a lot of time LL doesn't make a huge amount of sense, but judging by the giggles, it's non stop fun. And quite simply it's fun for me too. I am the lucky one who gets to take part in these adventures. To experience their imaginations and the way they are with each other. To experience the cuddles, the kisses and the happy smiles. I get to experience the days where I cannot wait for them to get to bed- where I breathe a sigh of relief that they are away from me so I can get some peace, only to go upstairs and see them fast asleep, their bodies contorted into funny positions because they have obviously been getting up to mischief and I get to feel that emotion of pure love that comes with watching my sleeping babies. All parents must get that feeling when they check on them at night- that feeling 'These little people are mine', the way the love just rushes through you and you want to wake them up.
I have no doubt that there will be more stages in the future. Harder stages, stages where it all goes a bit difficult, I remember in the early days my Mum used to ring me to check in and say 'How's it been today?' because Mads was going through a stage of having tantrums and LL was teething and grumpy. I had days where I would pace the living room just waiting for Mr E's key to turn in the lock. But those days rarely happen anymore, sure I have bad days where I say to my husband 'Please let me go and have a bath for an hour just to have a break' but they are few and far between. Parenting is tough, those stages will come back, periods where Mads drives me mad, where she tests the boundaries again, or where LL repeats them all just a couple of years behind.
But motherhood right now? It feels good. It's always good but it feels really good.
Of course when you are on holiday you end up taking more photos than you do when you are just going about your day to day life. On our recent trip to Lanzarote my big camera came out with us every evening and I loved taking photos of my girls. I took so many of them together over the course of the week but for my Siblings post this month I wanted to focus on one evening as the remainder of the photos are for another post, plus I like to have a series of shots and a sort of story behind them.
I am definitely not exaggerating when I say that my daughters make me feel so proud every day, of course they do, they are my children and I love them- all parents are proud of their offspring. Yes they also drive me mad constantly and sometimes parenting is incredibly tough, but of course they make me proud- that's a given. But the thing that is guaranteed to make me feel the proudest is the way they are with each other.
Mads and LL have such an amazing bond and it really is just such a wonderful thing to witness. My Mum, who sees them a couple of times a week said to me the other day that the bond they had was really something quite special. Of course they argue, mainly over the usual things like sharing toys or the iPad more than anything else, but to be honest they don't even really argue all that much. They are the best of friends and their bond is really quite intense. Sometimes in day to day life I don't really stop to appreciate it but then I will look back over photos or videos that I have made and it is just obvious how much they love each other.
I am so incredibly proud of that.
On holiday they seemed to get even closer, I actually think it's more the fact that every day LL is becoming more and more communicative and it's enabled them to really start to play properly with each other. They have imaginative play more than ever, making up stories and running around the house pretending to be police officers, or a head chef and a sous chef. The dynamics between them are funny, LL really is like Mads shadow, she follows her everywhere and you can tell the way she looks up to her by the look of admiration in her eyes. But then Mads is the more affectionate of the two, she always wants to cuddle her and play with her ears which is her source of comfort. And LL definitely is the boss although she is the youngest, poor Mads often gives in to her demands for an easy life. LL definitely rules the roost.
These photos were taken on the first night of our holiday, when we went to the local harbour for dinner. Again although they are really similar, their differences are obvious to me in these shots. Mads is such a tom boy, she is happiest in shorts and t-shirts, whereas at the moment LL seems to be living up to the girly stereotype of loving what she calls her 'pretties'- basically a selection of plastic jewels plus also she is obessed with shoes.
As they ran round the harbour hand in hand they got many smiles from people sitting in the outdoor areas of restaurants eating their dinner, with a few kind people commenting on how lovely they were. As a mother I don't know anything more lovely when you are out and about than someone complimenting your children on their behaviour- these kind of comments stick in my mind even from years ago but generally it doesn't happen enough and it's so nice when people take the time to do so. Again I was struck by just how proud I was of them. They have their moments, one day it could be one that has made me frustrated and the next day it could be the other, and I can definitely see glimpses into the future of how having two headstrong, feisty little ladies is going to be a handful at times, but I really hope that they remain the best of friends.
I put this quote on my instagram the other day and I think it totally sums up my two girls...
'Sister to Sister we will always be, a couple of nuts off the family tree.' - Author Unknown
I can only hope that my two little crazy nuts have this bond for the rest of their lives.
No girls, this isn't what Mummy wants for photos on her blog. ;)
It wasn't until I looked closely at this photo that I noticed they were holding hands.
This month I am sending you over to have a look at Lucy's beautiful blog- head over to see what her little twosome have been getting up to.
There's a certain point at the beginning of the holiday that is guaranteed to make me excited and that is when you first step out of the plane doors into the heat of a new country. Of course, a lot of the time you end up walking down a gangway first, but sometimes you get straight off the plane and into the open air. The heat and warmth often just hits you after being cooped up on a long flight and I love that feeling- the feeling of wanting to take off your jacket and feel the sun beating down on your shoulders. There's that relief of being at your destination after the plane journey, that excited feeling of anticipation of seeing where you are going to be staying, and that sense of relief that comes with leaving day to day stresses far behind you, even if only for a week or so.
We go away for different reasons- whether it's a visit to see family or spend time with loved ones, a city break to visit the cultural sights, or just quite simply to get a bit of sunshine. Our recent holiday to Lanzarote was going to be about the latter- a week of sunshine, sea and relaxing with my little family. We had no plans, other than to switch off from our busy schedules and enjoy precious time together. And that's exactly what we did.
I spent ages browsing the James Villa website, trying to decide on a destination. In the end we decided on one of the Canary Islands, being that it was sun we were after and knowing that early May would mean pretty much guaranteed sunshine. Growing up, I visited Lanzarote a fair few times and knew it was a great place for a week of easy going family fun in the sun, so we decided on there and found the perfect villa for us- Villa Ventura. Ventura was situated in the main resort of Puerto Del Carmen, but in a quieter location,just a stones throw from the beach with sea views and it's own private pool. It also stated on the website that due to the location you didn't need to hire a car and being that we just wanted a week in the sun without particuarly having a thirst to explore, that sold it to us and we booked it up, counting down the days until it was time for our holiday.
Although we only really wanted sunshine and a pool or the beach, I must admit to having some slight niggles about Lanzarote before we travelled. Having been there a few times in the past, I know that especially the main resort of Puerto del Carmen has a bit of a reputation for being quite 'British'- think an 'Al's Cafe and 'The Golden Lion' pub bar kind of place and there is definitely a distinct lack of culture in that part, with quite a big cheesy nightlife vibe. However when we arrived, I couldn't have been more happy and proved wrong. Yes, of course there is still a lot of restaurants and areas catering to tourists, but we were in a quiet part of the resort about twenty minutes from the main night life strip- we had a fantastic mix with lots of restaurants and amenities for families, but also a quiet location which was actually really pretty. It honestly couldn't have been better.
Villa Ventura was in 'Playa de los Pocillos' - a quiet suburb of Puerto Del Carmen but still less than a mile from the action. It is one of the newest areas of the resort and is popular with families with young children, meaning that of course it was perfect for us. In recent years development funds from the European Union have been used to create a wide traffic free promenade connecting the resort centre to Matagorda in the north and Puerto del Carmen some 3km to the south, the girls loved strolling down this promendade every evening and I loved to run along it every morning. But more about that later.
As usual I took so many photos and two videos, so I will let them tell the story of our holiday as we go along...
Here's the first part of our holiday in photos (apologies but this blog is going to be full of holiday spam for the next week or so!)
The flight time to Lanzarote is just under four hours, we flew from Stansted with Ryanair, which was actually really good on the way out there. But of course we had to find ways to entertain ourselves, including covering ourselves in stickers. Obviously.
How gorgeous is Villa Ventura? It was such a quaint, lovely villa, but to be greeted on arrival by this private pool was definitely the most exciting of welcomes.
Having stayed on a fair few villa holidays before, this was the first time we had stayed in a villa with both our girls. I love both a hotel holiday and a villa holiday for different reasons, but the main reason for loving a villa stay is the fact that you have your own space. The girls could go in and out as they pleased and if they wanted a quiet ten minutes watching television, it meant that we could still sit outside and watch them from the comfort of the terrace.
On the first evening we took a short taxi ride from our villa to the 'Old Town', from visiting Lanzarote I knew that this area was a little quieter than the main strip but still with lots of restaurants set around a delightful harbour. I love this photo of my smiley, happy pair- both myself and Mr E commented that the whole holiday all they did was smile.
What a lovely trio to be dining with.
I absolutely love this photo of Mads having a good old swing. There were lots of great little parks dotted around the resort, including this one at the Old Town harbour which we just had to visit after we finished dinner.
The girls loved having our own outside area to chill out- they went out early most mornings (I say early but due to them going to bed much later than normal they lay in until about 8.15am most mornings!) and ate their breakfast al fresco.
On our first full day we headed down to the beach, which was literally about a minute walk from the villa. Of course we stopped off to buy the obligatory buckets and spades first.
Testing out the water- let's not lie it was pretty chilly.
When we went to Rhodes last Summer Mads tentatively put her feet in the sea, but wasn't hugely confident.
This time however there was no stopping her, she absolutely loved the sea and she splashed and played in it for absolutely ages, squealing in delight and covering herself from head to toe in sand. Both myself and Mr E said we don't think we have ever seen her have as much fun.
Being in a villa meant that we had the luxury of both worlds, so we got into a routine of eating out one evening and then in the following evening, although I must admit we did struggle to find much to cook. I don't know whether it was because we didn't have a car, but the local Spar supermarket to us didn't have any fresh meat and the fruit and veg wasn't the most desirable. We ate a LOT of carbs during the week, but if we stayed in to eat dinner we would still go out afterwards to have ice cream or go for a walk.
Oh the light. Regular readers of this blog will know that backlit photography is my favourite type of photography and the sun was the perfect height when we went out in the evenings for me to take lots of photos of my favourite kind of light. I love this photo of Mads and Mr E.
Joined by another little beauty. (I must admit to going a bit overboard on the matching outfits on holiday- oops!)
Could someone tell my baby to stop growing please? I am relishing every single moment I can with her before September when she goes to school.
This holiday was the holiday that she started to get little 'sun kisses' on her nose. I used to hate my freckles growing up but I hope she realises just how beautiful they are.
My new favourite photo.
I don't know what it was but this little person grew from a baby to a little girl over night on this holiday. She seemed to grow a foot taller and her speech has just exploded, she tries to copy everything you say and although her pronunciation isn't the clearest, it's getting better by the day. We are so proud of her.
Another new favourite photo of my cheeky girls- they loved strolling down the promenade every evening, there really was so much to do there for small children and they loved stopping off at the different playgrounds.
One morning we hired a quad bike from a company called Easy Bike and cycled down the promenade to get an ice cream- the girls absolutely loved down this and waved to everyone as we passed by.
Ice cream sharing. We ate rather a lot of ice creams on this holiday, I didn't realise just quite how many until I was looking at these photos and editing the video. No wonder my jeans are tighter!
One evening we took a stroll along the beach- the beach next to our villa was called Playa de los Pocillos and it was a lovely stretch of sandy beach, which was spotlessly clean. The sand in Lanzarote is blacker, volcanic sand- according to Mads it was perfect for sandcastle building.
Nothing cuter than a little lady in a towelling playsuit. I took lots of photos of their outfits on my iPhone and I might do a post on them in the next week or so.
I adore this photo of my big girl- four is such a delightful age. We definitely have weeks or 'stages' where she can be sometimes be difficult, but for the most part she really is just so lovely to be around- her enthusiasm for the world around her is infectious. And look at that smile!
Here is the first of two little videos I made of our time in Lanzarote, I think this might be my favourite video I have done so far...
Part Two of our holiday coming up soon...
NB: Thanks so much to James Villas for inviting us to stay in one of their lovely properties. All words and opinions are entirely my own.