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Three Christmases- Our Christmas 2014.

on Monday, 05 January 2015.

I know, I know it's January and people are sick of Christmas by now.  The tree has been taken down, the new toys have all their found new places in the home, and people are thinking about Easter, at least they are if the Easter egg adverts that are already on television will have you believe.  But I wanted to take a moment to reflect on our Christmas 2014.  

We ended up having three Christmases this year- one with my Mum and that side of the family, one with Mr E's side and one with my Dad and his side.  We aren't a large family by any means- although different members of the family popped in to say hello, but I am lucky enough to have all four of my Grandparents still around.  This, coupled with the fact that my parents are divorced, means that we end up having a lot of different celebrations which of course is most welcome.  The girls don't actually receive a lot of gifts from any one person, but inevitably with three sets of Grandparents, an Aunt, an Uncle, two step Aunties, two sets of Great Grandparents and some very close family friends, it does end up that they receive some truly lovely gifts.

As we have Mads birthday on Christmas Eve, it does end up that the girls are pretty hyper and tired on Christmas Day, but all in all we had a lovely time with my Mum's side of the family.  We started off the celebrations with a Christmas Eve party at my Mum and Stepdad's house, where our close family friends came over.  This has become a annual tradition and is pretty much my favourite part due to the anticipation. We stayed at my Mum's house for the night, before heading to my Grandparents house after a lazy Christmas morning in our PJ's.  This year we came home to our house to sleep and had a quiet evening just myself and Mr E, which was actually quite welcome after the madness of tired, hyper children all day.  Then we headed off to Manchester early on Boxing Day morning.  We had a great, relaxing time up there, having another 'Christmas' on Boxing Day itself and a quiet lunch out on the 27th, before it was back home on the 28th for our third and final Christmas at my Dads.

We have really enjoyed some quality family time, after all that is exactly what it's all about for me, and we have all thoroughly switched off which was exactly what was needed.  No one checked their emails, phones or social media for a good few days (apart from the odd instagram photo- you can't just abandon instagram!) and Mr E didn't go back to work until the 5th which was just lovely.  We relaxed and enjoyed each other's company and I actually prefer the period between Christmas and New Year the most- the pace of life just slows down a little yet you are still in the throes of the holiday season.

Here is our Christmas in photos and a little video...

 

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Hooray he has been.  We put their main presents they have asked for from Father Christmas in their stocking, plus a couple of little bits too, which I know is a little different to others, it's just the way my Mum always used to do it.  It does mean Father Christmas gets all the glory though- this year he bought Mads a big Buzz which she was after for absolutely ages.

christmas 2014 b

Emptying their stockings.  LL didn't really know what was going on and was most interested in the Peppa Pig bubbles that came in hers.

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Matching Christmas PJ's with my sister and a cringey staged photo.  Awkward.  Sorry for putting this on the internet Anna.

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I loved the girls beautiful Poppy England dresses they were wearing- here they are having a little dance while we were waiting for everyone to come outside to go to my Grandmas.

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Such a pretty light- we were so lucky with the weather over Christmas as the sun shined the whole time even though it was freezing.

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Still dancing.

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Curly, mop heads.  Their hair is so frustrating to brush as it gets so tangled but I couldn't bear to cut it.

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When I was younger, even as young as about 12, I was always allowed one Babycham only on Christmas Day.  I wouldn't allow my girls to drink alcohol at that age but it was different then.  My Grandpa got me some babycham to relive the good old days- I love it still!

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I love a good brussel sprout and it's the rules that even though Mr E doesn't like them he has to have two- my Grandma checks to make sure he has them on his plate. ;) 

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Most of us don't like Christmas pudding so my Mum always gets this amazing Malteaser cheesecake from a local deli- it's absolutely delicious.

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Christmas tree lights.

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Boxing Day was spent at Mr E's Mum's with his side of the family.  I love this photo of LL and her Baa as she really does take him everywhere with her.

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All of a sudden she is just looking so grown up.

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Our third and final Christmas was back in Cambridgeshire with my Dad.  

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I love this photo of my terrible twosome.

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We always take (and treasure) some photos with my Grandparents- my Grandpa is 92 and my Nana is 89.

 

Here is a little video of our 'three Christmases'...

 

Reflecting on 2014 and Looking Forward to 2015...

on Thursday, 01 January 2015.

On the 2nd January 2014 I sat down and wrote this post.  In it I outlined what I hoped 2014 would bring our little family.  That week I had handed in my notice to work, something which was scary and exciting in equal measures and I had no idea how it would work me working freelance and for myself.  I also wrote about how I was determined to try and lose weight and to change my lifestyle, something which I have never been able to stick to before.  It's now the 1st January 2015, the start of a New Year and time to say goodbye to 2014.

What can I say about 2014?  It was a truly special year.  We had no significant milestones or events, but we have grown as a family and it has been really exciting.  I feel like I have learnt so much about myself and where and who I want to be.  About the balance between being the best Mummy I can be but yet finding an identity that isn't utterly defined by my children.  When I handed in my notice I had no idea what to expect but it turns out it was one of the best things I ever did.  I work harder than I ever have before, way more so than in my old job where I could more often than not switch off at the end of the day.  I have to fit in work around my girls, with them going to nursery two long mornings a week, but other than that I do things whenever I can- mainly at nap times and during the evenings.  

I have to sacrifice occasionally- I often go to a local hotel to sit in the bar and use their wifi on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon when I really want to be at home or having fun with my little family and some evenings Mr E and I don't talk a word to each other hardly, but for the most part working for myself is more than I could ever have hoped for.  It's flexible, I love the clients I have, and coupled with blog opportunities means that I am helping support our family and bring money in each month.  I say it a lot but I genuinely feel thankful every single day for what my blog has brought into our lives. 

I turned 30 in March and this definitely made me reflect on life.  I started running back in January last year and if you had told me a year ago I would still be doing it I would most definitely not have believed it.  I have never stuck at fitness fads for more than a couple of weeks before this year, but I have two half marathons under my belt and plans to do lots more in 2015.  I have a whole post on a year of my fitness mission coming up in a few days but I most certainly have stuck at it, I have lost two stone and although I have periods where I don't exercise (hello Christmas) and my weight fluctulates a little, overall its become a way of life for me now.  

This year we finally became a little more comfortable with money.  Don't get me wrong, we certainly aren't flash but our ridiculously high five year fixed mortgage rate ended and so we have a little bit more than we are used to.  It had been a tough few years, especially with Mr E basically being made redundant when I was on maternity leave with Mads, so while we still are very careful with money, the pressure has eased off a little.  

As such we have had done some updating to our home this year- we had our living room redone in a yellow and purple theme, we completely gutted and redid our bathroom (I love it so much!) and we also had our bedroom redecorated in a pink, white and gold theme too.  We have plans in 2015 to put the girls in a joint room so we can get our study back so expect a few more interior posts coming up!  

We have had some amazing adventures this year, I feel so lucky to have made some incredible memories as a family.  Travelling has always been a passion of mine (I worked in the travel industry for six years) and so I love that we are taking our girls on adventures.  We went on some really love mini breaks in 2014-  a magical weekend away to a treehouse in Wales, a weekend glamping adventure, a trip to Center Parcs with our Besties and a trip to Brighton with my sister.  I've also been honoured to work with some great travel brands this year, including being chosen to be a Mark Warner Ambassador and work on a campaign with KLM where we went to the beautiful city of Amsterdam.   I hope that we will continue to travel and make adventures in 2015- already we have a holiday booked, a hopeful trip to Disneyland Paris and a potential trip away with our besties again, as well as my first girls weekend since I was at uni bar hen do's!   In November I became part of an exciting project- Space In Your Case is a website dedicated to family travel that I am part of with three other bloggers and I am excited to hopefully see that grow over the next year- I am honoured to be a part of it.

It's been an amazing year but it's not been perfect.  I am well aware that with a blog you only see a very small part of someones life.  While I will always be honest and talk about the not so good times as well as the fabulous ones, inevitably when you post about adventures and memories, they generally will paint a picture perfect document of family life.  And sometimes I feel like people may think it's a little nauseating- but this is our life and for the moment we are happy.  We are lucky, we are blessed and life is good.  Of course life is mundane and sometimes stressful- we argue, we have family dramas, we have life worries or money worries, but for the most part it is good.  

This year I have struggled with my health a fair bit- I have touched on it here and there on my blog but in January I started getting sick and having tummy pains- they go away for a while and then come back with avengence.  This hasn't been easy and I have had some tough times this year, but luckily I am under consultant care now and hopefully they will get to the bottom of it soon.  At the moment I am having a good stage so let's hope it continues for a while.  After all your health is by far the most important thing of all and we will never take it for granted.

 

So what do I want from 2015?

 

 

It sounds a cliche to say it but I just want my family to be safe and happy.  Ultimately that is all that matters to me.  You take away the opportunities, the fun days out and the material posessions and all that matters is our family.  As I get older, I inevitably reflect even more.  Becoming a mother has made me realise how quickly life can change for both the better and for the worse and I just want to enjoy the little things and the ordinary moments with my family.  I am not one for particularly making resolutions, but I do make goals.  My main one for 2015 is to enjoy every minute, I have done that this year, but I want to put my phone down a little more, to really play with my girls and to try and switch off as much as I can.  Myself and Mr E work so hard and I wouldn't have it any other way, but I want to try and find a balance so I can enjoy the evenings with him more.  

Blog wise, I want my blog to grow of course I do, however in 2014 I decided just to blog when I felt I had something to say and I am sticking to that in 2015.  Sometimes I feel like I should write about more topical things, or do more posts that people may find interesting- like gift guides, blogging related things, style posts, recipes or things like that, but if I am honest I just can't get to grips with them.  I often worry my blog content is pretty boring if you aren't a long term reader- I just write about our life nowadays, but I find it hard to think about what else to write about.  I sometimes think I should be blogging every day or writing more reviews (some of my favourite bloggers post most days), as I really admire the people who do, but I can't seem to do it.  Therefore I shall continue just writing about our adventures and slightly boring, mundane life and hope that people want to continue to read them.   

I would like to improve my photography and also learn more about video.  I am loving taking videos of our adventures and learning more about it, although I am a complete beginner.  I wish I had started sooner as while photography will always be my number one passion, there is something so lovely about looking back on our videos.  I would love to grow my You Tube channel, but I really have no clue what I am doing.  I am still going to be recording our Ordinary Moments each week as I love that I am documenting things I might otherwise forget, and I am still going to be taking part in Me and Mine and Living Arrows too.

Fitness wise I want to continue the way I have been, although I have been a bit lazy the last couple of weeks.  I started off the year doing quite a few tummy exercises with my kettlebells, but I got lazy towards the latter part of the year.  I want to try and get abs as they were starting to peek through but have now got hidden behind an over excess of cheesecake and Quality street at Christmas time.  I have a few more races that I have signed up for, including two more half marathons.  I started off the year drinking lots of water but the last few months I have become awful, I hardly even drink a glass a day.  I am going to really make an effort to drink more water and less Diet Coke- of course I won't be able to give up my number one vice totally, but I do need to cut down a little.

I want to make more time for my friends, for my husband and for my girls.  I know I am a pretty good wife, Mummy and friend, but I want to be better.  I need to take more time to call friends I haven't seen in a while, to touch base and tell them I am thinking of them.  I have a husband in a million who supports me every single day, and sometimes I need to look after him a little more- even just little things like cooking more, letting him sneak off for a bath in the evening or sending him a little card to tell him how much I love him.  Just little things to show I care.

And that's it.  Like I said, the main thing I want to do is enjoy life with my little family, to continue making memories and having adventures, and to make the most of every minute.  They may be simple goals but they are the ones that mean the most.  If I succeed these things in 2015, then I couldn't be happier.  

Thanks for the memories 2014...

 

Here are a few of my favourite posts and photos from the last year...

 

Just click on each photo to read the post.

 

5 years 

alittlephotoshootbeaut 

dec sisters fav pst 

christmas favourite post 

a scarborough trip

child friendly amsterdam1 

autumntitle 

a bathroom renovation

a motherhood

atriptobrightontitle1

aug-fav-camping

aug-fav-post

aweekendatwedfest

a colour

a before and after pic

these kind of days

a magic adventure

and it was all yellow

pink white gold bedroom 

intense fav post

sometimes you just need to forget

ourlovelylongeasterweekend

atriptotheseaside

retro inspired living room makeover

30th Birthday Weekend

arainydayfavouriteposts

alittlebirthdayphotoshootfavouriteposts

abugpartyfavouriteposts

itsthemiddleofthenightfavouriteposts 

abouttimefavouritepost

 Happy New Year everyone...

xxxx

A Christmassy 4th Birthday...

on Tuesday, 30 December 2014.

As I sit writing this if I glance to my right the Christmas tree is still there but it looks slightly depressed- no presents, a little uncared for now the big day is over, and in that limbo period where we all kind of want to pack it away but are also trying to cling on to the festive spirit for just that little bit longer.  

We are actually still in the throes of the holiday season.  Mr E is fortunate that he doesn't go back to work until the 5th January so we are enjoying a lovely long break together.  Christmas came and went in a flash (I have one more post on that to come before it's time to say goodbye for another year) and we had a great time.  In fact until yesterday nap time I hadn't even touched my laptop or really checked social media, bar the occasional instagram photo.  It feels good to have switched off, relaxed and really enjoyed time together as a family. We plan on doing lots more of that too.

It's been exceptionally hectic yet pretty chilled if that makes sense, and although I wasn't going to blog until the New Year I thought I would write about Mads birthday before it's too far past the date.  On Christmas Eve my beautiful little lady turned four and we had a great time celebrating.  Her birthday's have become a little bit of a tradition- we head out to the garden centre to see Father Christmas with friends and have the obligatory cake, before going for some lunch and then heading back home for a while.  In the evening we head over to my Mums where we have a little Christmas party with some of our closest family friends.  

This year was no exception and we had a great time, although it is quite hectic and full on having your birthday the day before Christmas and it means that Mads is utterly wired and exhausted before the big day even even begins.  This year my Mum spent the whole day with us and took us out for lunch so that was really lovely.  I didn't take many photos as the light was so bad but here are the few I took and a little video of my biggest girl's special day.

I can't believe she is four!

mads 4th birthday b

I got Mads a cute little top with the number four on for her birthday which she thought was the coolest thing ever.  We went to the garden centre with three of her little chums and we ate cake for breakfast.

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Meeting the big man himself.  The grotto was so good this year as you only went in with the people you were with.  Father Christmas and his elves sang Happy Birthday to Mads which made me get a tear in my eye.

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Mads loved Father Christmas but LL wasn't quite so sure.  She didn't mind him when he was at a distance but when she sat on his knee she wasn't convinced.  Still she didn't cry at least.  

mads 4th birthday

My super talented friend made these Toy Story cupcakes for the birthday girl as she is Toy Story mad.  She absolutely loved them and they tasted delicious.

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Too good to eat.

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They were so excited to put a mince pie out for Father Christmas.  Mads insisted that he just wanted milk although Mr E tried to explain to her that he would probably prefer wine!

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This little lady was super excited even though she didn't really grasp what was going on.

 

A little video of my birthday girl...

 

It still feels surreal to think that our biggest daughter is now four.  I can't quite believe it.  Hopefully the time will slow down a bit so we can fully enjoy her last few months before she starts school in September.  I say it every year but for some reason four is actually making me feel a little emotional, it is the first year I have thought that she is growing up far too quickly.

 

{The Ordinary Moments 14} #48 '5 Years'

on Sunday, 21 December 2014.

On the 20th December 2009 I awoke to bright blue skies but a blanket of snow on the ground, and with butterflies dancing around in my tummy.  Later that morning, I walked down the aisle in a pretty little boutique hotel ten minutes away from where we lived, and married my best friend in a perfect, happy winter wedding.  A mortgage, a lot of holidays and adventures, and two small children later, we are where we are today.

Yesterday we celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary.  We aren't big celebrators of our anniversary, the fact it is five days before Christmas means it inevitably it gets brushed aside for the excitement of other festivities, but as it was a mini milestone year of five years we decided this year to have a fun family day to celebrate. 

Five years has really flown by.  Without making this turn into a soppy post, my husband really is my best friend.  We were best friends before we even got together and since I met him almost ten years ago all he has ever done is support me.  He drives me insane and we can bicker and argue like cat and dog but I genuinely feel so lucky to have found someone who will love me unconditionally through all my bad traits and habits too.  He is a kind, generous and truly special person and he has given me the greatest and most precious gifts in the form of Mads and LL.  I love and adore him for giving me the family I always dreamed of.

But soppiness aside, we had a fantastic family day yesterday.  We went ice skating in the morning and were thrilled to find that we had the whole ice rink to ourselves after thinking it would be ridiculously busy.  I was worried that it potentially could have turned into a disaster and that the girls may not have enjoyed it, but I couldn't have been more wrong.  LL absolutely loved whizzing round on the plastic sleigh and Mads was our little star ice skater and didn't want it to end.  We had a lovely time together and laughed non stop.  

After a brief cake stop and a walk around the garden centre and the farm shop to get some yummy steak for our anniversary meal, we headed to the hotel where we got married.  It's only ten minutes away from where we live but we rarely visit anymore as it's quite expensive and not particularly child friendly, although they are always good when you do go in with little ones.  We stopped and had a drink and Mads and LL were on their best behaviour.  It was lovely to walk around and remember our special day.

Then it was home for a carpet picnic, but not just any old carpet picnic- it was a festive version, with little snowflake chocolate brownies and christmas tree crumpets and sandwiches.  Then LL and Mads had a long sleep while Mr E and I relaxed, (and I wrote this post and did this video in record speedy time!) before we got up and went on our annual tradition to drive and go and find the best Christmas lights.  Mr E then cooked us a lovely dinner of delicious steak and sweet potatoes before we snuggled with a glass of bubbly and watched some films in front of the sparkling Christmas tree lights .  

It was a lovely day to celebrate a special mini milestone anniversary.  I say it a lot but I really am thankful to be living our ordinary yet happy life.

 Here's to ten years!

 

Here's some photos from my iPhone and my big camera, and a little video as well...

5thanniversary j

Getting their skates on.

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My little skaters.

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I actually love this photo that one of the staff took of us all- I can't believe we were the only ones on the ice!

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The fake snow was magical- LL and Mads loved it.  A failed attempt at a family selfie.

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The hotel where we got married- it was just so sentimental visiting with the girls- it's the first time we have been inside with them.

5thanniversary

Who would have thought we would have two small people five years later?  We went on our honeymoon to Mexico and Miami and discussed starting a family while sat sipping cocktails on the beach on Christmas Eve 2009.  Exactly a year later Mads was born.

5thanniversary a

It's such a beautiful place and it holds so many special memories for me.

5thanniversary c

Love this photo of my cheeky girl- I walked down these stairs with my Dad on my way to the room where we got married- I was so nervous!

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Hat hair.

5thanniversary b

This is the orangery we got married in- obviously the tables were moved but the light was gorgeous with it's whitewashed brickwork and real trees.  We had a harpist sat in the corner who played Fields of Gold as I walked down the aisle.

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Looking far too grown up- so nearly four!

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We posed for photos with our family and friends outside these doors- how times have changed!

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A family selfie- I love this one!

 

A little video too...

 

 

*****

It's the last 'Ordinary Moments' of 2014 as I am off to enjoy the festive break with my little family.  I think I will more than likely take a bit of a break from this blog other than to maybe put up my usual letter to Mads on her birthday on Christmas Eve.  I have loved seeing everyone's posts over the last year and love that people join in with this little project of mine- I definitely have captured and recorded so much more of those little moments I would have perhaps forgotten than I would have done without it.

I definitely will continue with it in 2015, so if you want to join in next year, whether that's every week or just every once in a while then we would love you too!  

See you on January 4th for the first one of 2015 and Merry Christmas everyone...

xxx

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