2017 | A Year In Review

I am linking up with Lauren’s Share Your Year link-up

2017 has been a busy and bizarre year for me. Here is what we got up to. I am linking up with Lauren’s link-up to Share My Year and as her format makes so much sense, I am going to do the same.

JANUARY, FEBRUARY & MARCH

January started off with both amazing news and really sad news. Olivia was born at 6.52am on the 8th of January and then my Dad passed away early on the 9th of January, having been in hospital since the 23rd of December with a foot infection that unfortunately turned into sepsis. January was a really busy month as we had Steve’s grandad’s memorial service, my Dad’s funeral and my own birthday.

February was quite a busy month. I became a Britax mumbassador once again which has seen me review the Britax Holiday stroller and give away one of their car seats. We also had our first family day out to Paradise Wildlife Park as their ambassador. Unfortunately my ambassadorship is now over but we hope to head their again soon.

March was quite a quiet month – we didn’t really have any days out as Jack was busy with school but we did review and giveaway a few things.

Favourite posts: How Much Do Children Really Understand?, Our First Family Day Out At Paradise Wildlife Park, Mums; Hallmark’s Hidden Heroes

APRIL, MAY & JUNE

In April, we headed to Legoland for the very first time and Jack loved it there – we are planning on heading back very soon. Blog wise, we had some cool Lego to review and had quite a busy month.

In May, I was starting to find it tough without my Dad – it finally seemed to sink in and now that Steve and my Mum were both back at work and Jack was at school, I was finding life to be a little lonely.

June was an incredibly busy month. Right at the beginning of the month, we visited Chessington World of Adventures with our Merlin passes. We also went away over the Father’s Day weekend – my friend works for Haven and gets really good discounted deals so her, me, Steve, the kids, my Mum and our other friend all went away over the weekend. It was really nice to go away and spend some time with friends and family. I also managed to keep really on track with my weight loss which was good.

Favourite posts: Visiting Legoland This Easter With My Merlin Annual Pass, Finding It Tough, What It Is Like Being A Mum Of Two

JULY, AUGUST & SEPTEMBER

 

July was a little quiet. We started weaning Olivia, we took Jack to the cinema for the first ever time where he saw Despicable Me 3 in 3D. It was nice to have a quiet month as we knew August would be fairly busy,

August was a busy month with Jack being off for the school holidays. We went to the cinema again to see The Emoji Movie and we even visited Alton Towers. We also spent a lot of time with family.

September saw Jack entering Year One and my first month as the breadwinner of the family – stressful times. Jack did a charity race for Cancer Research UK, set up by my Slimming World consultant, Em. He raised over £180 – I am so proud of him. We also did quite a few YouTube video reviews – something Jack is keen to continue in 2018.

Favourite posts: 5 Funny Things About Jack & Olivia, Now You Are Going Into Year One…, Back To School As An Adult, How Jack Raised Over £180 For Cancer Research UK

OCTOBER, NOVEMBER & DECEMBER

October saw my Dad’s birthday roll around for the first time since he died. It was a little strange but myself, Steve, my mum, my sister, my brother and a sister in law met for a few drinks on the day and to celebrate his life. Jack received a Hatchimals Surprise for review – I was so happy to be able to surprise him with this as it was something he had been asking about for ages. He was very lucky to receive quite a few items to review over this month – only problem is that space is becoming an issue now since his birthday and Christmas have now also passed!

We visited Warwick Castle during the October half term for their Halloween events but were disappointed in the lack of stuff for Jack’s age group. We hope to head back very soon and hope that there is a little more for him to do when there isn’t a Halloween event on. We also went trick or treating on Halloween evening and met up with a friend of Jack’s to go visit houses and get some sweets. Jack had so much fun!

November was the month we went to our local fireworks display and headed to the fair, Jack received a kids smartwatch to review, I published a Christmas gift guide or two in preparation for the festive season and again Jack had some fantastic toys to review – as did Olivia!

December has been, of course, a busy month. We started off the month with Jack’s birthday and his birthday party. He invited a select amount of friends and had a laser inflatable party which was one hour of laser in the inflatable with 2 x 25 minute games which was then followed by 30 minutes of food. Jack had a lovely party at the weekend then celebrated his birthday on the Monday. He got to wear a crown in class and they sang happy birthday to him in his class. His school also do some lovely things for the children during their birthday week – they can invite a parent in to have lunch with them on their birthday plus one friend of their choosing (if their birthday falls at the weekend or during the holidays, the school will arrange a date with them to have their birthday lunch) and on the Thursday after their birthday, they have a birthday assembly in front of the school and their parents alongside other children who have had a birthday in the same week. They get to take one of their presents in and talk about it, they receive a card from the school and get to blow candles out on a cake.

I published my last few gift guides, I had some amazing giveaways running with Sarah from Life In A BreakDown, I even gave away a Britax carseat worth £250 to a lucky reader who I know has received it and is happy – always a great feeling to know someone is so happy with a prize they want from me.

We headed to Toby Carvery when Christmas shopping one day and then to Frankie & Benny’s where Olivia enjoyed her first proper meal out in a restaurant.

I talked about my business aims for 2018, my 2018 travel bucket list, where I get my inspiration from as a writer and my 2018 fitness goals. I was keen to talk about what I wanted to achieve in 2018 and what inspires me in my work. I have got so much I want to do next year, I really hope I can.

We had a lovely trip to Willows Farm for their Santa Spectacular where the kids met Santa as siblings for the first time. We had a lovely time with family for Christmas (the kids received so many presents) and can’t wait for New Year’s. We haven’t got much planned, just a trip to another Merlin attraction should the weather allow, and staying in to watch the New Year’s celebrations on TV.

Favourite posts: You Are Growing Up Too Quickly, My Son, Kurio Watch 2.0 | The Ultimate Smartwatch Built For Kids, My Business Aims For 2018, My 2018 Travel Bucket List, Where I Get My Inspiration From As A Writer, My 2018 Fitness Goals

My year has been varied – happy at times, absolutely devastating at times, busy at times, quiet at times. I wonder what 2018 will bring.

Scrapbook Blog

Our Big Butterkist Christmas Movie Night In

We were sent a Butterkist package full of lovely goodies and a NOW TV pass to help with the creation of this post #ad

With Christmas so near, last night we had our very own movie night watching Christmas films, thanks to Butterkist (#ButterkistNightInDelivered). We were sent a variety of Butterkist items including popcorn, a NOW TV pass. a Butterkist notepad, pen and USB stick.

We were sent three different flavours – choc mallow which didn’t all make it to the movie night (oops), toffee popcorn and sweet & salted popcorn which is the perfect compromise for everyone. We don’t get much time to watch movies together – Jack is always at school and I am always working so settling down to watch some TV and movies with our NOW TV pass was lovely.

 We even added some chocolate to the popcorn for some extra crunch! Olivia even sat down and watched some of the movies with us – we watched some classics including Home Alone! The run up to Christmas always has some fab films on TV and some fantastic TV shows too – whether they be repeats we all know and love or new dramas, comedies and entertainment shows.

We love Christmas TV and the run up to Christmas – there is so much to watch – but nothing is better than watching Christmas movies, is there? I don’t think we or I have watched quite enough just yet in the run up to Christmas.

It was lovely last night to settle down and chill out to watch a film together. Olivia is still a bit young to sit down and watch films but she has recently been sitting down a bit longer to watch films and TV shows which is great – really makes an experience better if you don’t have to keep placating a baby! We all know their attention spans can be quite short so it has been fab to actually be able to do something altogether as a family.

Our 3 month pass has already been well used and we will be using it lots over the next few months. We were given a 1 month code for kids, 1 month code for entertainment and 1 month code for Sky Cinema – very handy! We also have a day pass for Sky Sports.

I really enjoyed our Butterkist Night In as did the others – and we really, really enjoyed the popcorn – especially the Sweet & Salted.

Do you like to have a movie night in with your family?

5 Dating Tips We Are Always Told But Don’t Always Follow

When it comes to dating, we think we know it all. Whether you are dating around because you are single or are actually dating someone regularly, we all think we know best and tend to ignore the tips we are given for making it a success. But perhaps we should actually think about following those tips every once in a while.

I never used to follow any dating tips I was given when I was single – and look where that got me? Nowhere. Taking the time to relax and not worry about it (think of this as an extra little tip) saw me meeting Steve and here we are eight years later with two children, engaged to be married! So what tips do I have for you today?

Keep Your Identity

When we meet someone new, it can be so easy to drop everything that is unique about ourselves to fit what we think they want us to be like. Don’t do this! Keeping your identity keeps you balanced and is definitely more attractive to a partner.

Try Something New

Get out of your comfort zone every once in a while and try something new. You can maintain your identity whilst giving something new a try. Perhaps salsa dancing or life drawing has been suggested as a date idea; don’t completely pass it off as a no-go.

Trust Your Gut Feeling

If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right. We all get that weird feeling in our gut if a situation doesn’t seem all it is cracked up to be. Don’t continue because you’ll feel bad otherwise; if you have a bad feeling about it, get out of there.

Learn From Your Past

We probably all have a bit of a chequered dating history and it is important to learn from this. Work out why your previous relationships failed and if you played a part in their downfall at all. Work on any issues you have so any future relationships are not affected.

Don’t Make Assumptions

It is easy to assume the best (and the worst!) in someone but we really shouldn’t. We could be disappointed or we could be surprised but we could also find ourselves in a situation we aren’t happy with.

Do you find yourself usually ignoring these tips? We all do at some point but they are there to help you – be sure to remember them next time you are on a date. If you are still single, there’s a number of dating sites out there looking for some new singles – why not give Worcestershire dating, Peterborough dating, Galloway dating or Hereford dating a try? Find the right site for your local area!

Collaborative Post

Big Changes Ahead

We have big changes ahead in our household. In the next few months, our whole dynamic will change. Steve has been looking into changing his career for quite some time now and is looking to head into teaching. To do this, he will need to retrain so he will be heading back to university (well, Open University). Working full time and studying alongside a family life would never work so Steve is actually going to be going part time which means I will have to step up and be the breadwinner.

I’m actually having quite a successful year so far and I hope it may continue – however whilst Steve was off sick recently, I managed to get so much more work done, invoice for so much more and actually earn quite a bit that I actually earned the same as what Steve would have earned working 42 hours+ a week. With this in mind, Steve is going to be at home more and helping out with the kids and around the house, giving me more time to work.

This enables him to also get studying and also go part time in a job that he enjoys more than what he is doing now – he’s applying for loads of different things at the moment and has a few things in the pipeline. He also has a definite job to go to (with his boss from a few years ago) if he doesn’t find anything before September. He will be keeping the holiday he’s accrued and getting paid for that as well as his normal wages so August should be a fairly comfortable month.

These are massive changes and they could be quite stressful but I am so looking forward to the challenge and for Steve to be in a happier, healthier place doing what he loves. I feel it will be so much better for our family, getting to spend more time together. Wish us luck!

What It Is Like Being A Mum Of Two

Some people ask me what it is like being a mum of two – and honestly, I can say that not that much is different at all. Yes, I’ve had to spend time adjusting to life with two children. Jack has had to adjust to not being the only child anymore and whilst he adores his sister, this hasn’t been easy for him. His behaviour hasn’t been that great since Olivia was born – whilst we try to give him one on one time with us too, it can be so difficult with a baby who is constantly needing you. However Steve and I both make the effort to take him to places on our own, to put him to bed, to read him a story or have him read his school books to us.

Life as a mum of two isn’t easy but it wasn’t necessarily easy as a mum of one. Yes, there is one more person to worry about, one more mouth to feed, one more body to clothe. But you adjust to this, you work things out and soon it doesn’t seem like much difference at all. I’ve been through it all before with Jack so whilst having a young baby isn’t ever going to be a walk in the park for me, at least I’ve been here before and know what I am doing.

Having a daughter isn’t much different to having a son – of course there are the obvious anatomical differences – but Olivia has a similar temperament to Jack when he was a baby, she does so many things like he did it is unreal. I get to dress her in cute little dresses and tights which is great – and does cause my bank balance to take a bit of a hit – but for the most part, not much is different at all.

The only thing I am currently struggling with is my work/life balance. With Jack at nursery last year and at full time school this year, I had got used to having a select amount of time in which to work. Now I have to work around Olivia as I couldn’t afford to take maternity leave being self employed. This can be quite difficult at times, especially when you add school runs and appointments into the mix. In the school holidays, Jack is quite happy to amuse himself some of the time but I obviously have to make time to spend with him so my work/life balance really takes a hit.

I wouldn’t give up being a mum of two for the world but it certainly isn’t a walk in the park. However, we make sacrifices for our children and do things to keep our children safe and happy. If work has to take a hit, so be it – I won’t ever get these times back.

Do you have more than one child? How do you find it?