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“wock climbing is fun…i yuv wock climbing” Megan gleefully shouted as she effortlessly climbed to the top of the kids wall. She was so fast I had to leg it over to spot her and then try to stop her from falling off as she learn’t dancing and rock climbing don’t mix!

meg climbing

Rock climbing was an activity we used to do regularly and absolutely loved. It began last Winter when I was in search for more indoor places to take the kids to let out their energy. It was Nath’s mum who 1st suggested that with 2 crazies like mine it would be ideal. As they already used most of our home as a climbing frame I figured it would be worth a shot; they would hopefully love it and tire out thus becoming a little more chilled and I could hopefully teach them that there is a time and place for climbing and that the kitchen cupboards are NEVER either!

Once Ethan overcame his fears and gained some confidence with it all he absolutely loved it and  I loved taking them most weeks. Megan was always too small to do it but enjoyed the ball pool and slide and was occupied with the chalking wall and other toys they had around too and so would be engaged with all of those whilst I would encourage Ethan. We would set off for a rock climbing adventure about once a week and we all loved it, but with all that has happened since last summer we just haven’t been able to go for a few months and so as we try to piece our lives back together and regain some more normality and find joy in the things we used to, I felt it was time we got back into climbing together.

When I picked them up from pre school I told them I had a surprise for them, of course they assumed it was food. When we got there they were so excited they hurried in and it was great to see them get stuck in, especially for Megan who is now old enough to go on it too.

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The climbing walls are located about 10 mins from school and so we have decided that every Monday we will go for an hour or 2 before going to pick daddy up from work. I loved being back there and seeing how much joy it brought them as the scrambled over boulders and played their little games of running and hiding from the monsters. I liked their competitiveness with one another and seeing how much Ethan’s confidence has increased with it all, It really is an ideal activity for my 2 with their energy and love of adventure.

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Since being married we have always used valentines as an opportunity to go away together for the night. We rarely do this on the actual day, infact I think one year it was mid March by the time we “celebrated valentines”, but we always get a card  and some inexpensive chocs for one another with a cheesy message. Last year it was peanut M&Ms for Mr Smith with a “I’m nuts about you” note attached (you know silly things like that) its one of the only times in the year that the stuff I’ve pinned I actually use and we both love chocolate so its a guaranteed win! I think I see valentines as a bit of fun and to save the mushy love stuff for our anniversary.

As we recently went away for our Christmas pressie to Prague, and now the kids are older we decided it might be nice to make Valentines day about them and give them little heart treats, a nice day out, family meal and let them feel the love. We hope over the years it will teach them about dating for when the day comes they have their own valentine.

All week I’ve made a big deal about it, telling them its a day to tell the people you love how much you love them. We had a mass baking sess with my sister in law and their cousins on Thursday where we made some delights for their friends and teachers and I baked some heart shaped brownies for Naths work! They ran with excitement to school to hand them over and everyone seemed so touched and joyful (we love spreading joy) and Nath reported reviews were 5/5..delic and heavenly (Domestic goddess? I think so).

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This morning we exchanged chocolates and cards to one another and are still indecisive of how we will mark it (I expect a midweek meal out) and then gave them a little chocolate treat each. We quickly got ready (a rare occasion on a Saturday these days) and then took them on a “date” bowling. We haven’t bowled as a family in over a year and so they didn’t remember that the had been when they were teeny tiny…both of them were a pair of giddy kippers and loved everything about it, from proving their strength with carrying the balls to wearing the silver shoes; they went crazy and cheered when even just one skittle was knocked down and it was lovely to see the way they were with one another. We certainly had a lot of fun together doing something  a little different for the day, and I especially loved beating Naths score – a 1st in our relationship!
Ethan bowlingmegs bowling

I had my new sewing class  for a couple of hours this afternoon and so Nathan took them both to soft play to keep the day feeling a little spec for them and then we had a chilled dinner out at a local pub, where the food was nothing special but the kids behaviour was and so it was a lovely family meal out.
I feel so joyful and blessed today for my little family and love to reflect on how in 6years this is the result of marrying a special valentine!!! I hope your day was special in some way too and made you smile 🙂
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When I first started my blog I wanted it to not only be a place to share our families adventures and battles but also a place that could educate, raise awareness and hopefully help others that are unfortunate to have to go through these things too. I love to write about our lives, the ups and downs, I love to share every part of life that makes it what it is, but I love the most when I can share Poppy and her story. Whether I blogged or not my kids and our family would continue to make memories and write the chapters of our life, but Poppy’s chapter was only small and for it to continue it will by me, her mother sharing it and sharing her memory.

If you read my post the other day you will be aware that this week is CHD awareness week and for this Louise over at “Little hearts, Big Love” asked me to write a guest post and share our story of Poppy and her CHD diagnosis in helping to raise awareness of CHD for “CHD awareness week” (too many CHD’s?) of course I was very much into it and even a little excited to be writing as a guest for someone else. Our story is a painful one – yes it has moments of joy, being pregnant, seeing wriggles on scans and then seeing a perfect baby girl, but the ending is always the same , you can share the good points but its always a sad story in the end and not many want you to share. Despite the pain I like to share it, I like to know others are reading of my daughter, learning of the journey some families have to take. I was very pleased she asked me to share it.

When I read Louise’s blog and of her gorgeous girl Jessica it takes me back to our diagnosis at 20 weeks and her life is how I imagined ours would be with being told our daughter had congenital heart disease and like them hypoplastic left heart, we learnt of all of the surgeries, we imagined our little girl with her scars. Unfortunately as you see with the reality of our story CHD can also be a killer and many (not just ours) children and babies die from this condition.

So if you would like to read my guest post just click HERE and I hope you enjoy (as much as you can) reading a more detailed post of our experience with CHD.

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One of the things we find most difficult about Nath being a student is our low income! We love the flexibility of life, we love the investment for the future and I know Nath loves learning but occasionally we just want a bit more dough in the bank (who doesn’t)! Don’t get me wrong, we are very independent financially and have lovely things, rarely miss out on things, eat great food, buy nice clothes, go to soft play and other kiddies things and even still go on holiday but it takes a little bit a lot of planning and budgeting to pull it off sometimes. Overall we don’t mind too much as we both know that in the long run it will mean so much more to our family than these couple years of being a bit skint and I love the memories we are making and the adventures we find ourselves on.

A few weeks ago as we travelled home from Prague, I asked Nath where he fancied going with the kids in the summer…Being a cautious Colin and being aware holidays aren’t cheap he didn’t think we would be able to afford a summer holiday outside of the UK this year. “PFFFFFTTTTT Nonsense” I thought, he obviously under estimates me and my ability to pick up a barg! This fuelled me to say “Oh don’t be ridiculous, I bet I can get the 4 of us a week away under £400, we are deffs going away!”…. He of course agreed as long as that’s all I was spending. Commence #missionCheapHoliday…

Last  night we booked a week away at Lake Garda (Italy) for the 4 of us and the total? £402 – Okay I was £2 over budget but only because I didn’t account for booking fees, but come on…how many families can have a week away in the summer, in Italy for £400??? Here’s how, I’ll share my secret  –

1. Keep your ears out for a deal and don’t be afraid to tell people you are looking for —– on the cheap:
This is exactly what I did, When you are on a budget you can’t expect a 4/5* hotel all inclusive by the beach, your looking more at camping or an apartment self-catering, once you come around to this idea and think of how much fun it will be with the kids your ready to go.

I firstly found out about Eurocamp which at the time had a big sale on and so found we could get accommodation for under £200. Then on Saturday some friends were telling me about the “Sun Holidays from £9.50” offer, to which I just laughed my head off, I’ve never bough the Sun and probably never would (no offence if you buy it by the way) probably not even for a cheapo holiday. It turns out the codes are on NetMums though hahaha (Thank you NetMums) and so after playing around with dates we found one that worked for us and at a location that looked rather nice with a kids club, 2 pools with slides and a generally gorgeous location. It was £30 pp for 7 nights and then we paid £49 extra for cleaning and laundry (I am on holiday after all)!

2. Book Flights yourself:
I rarely book us a package holiday. I’m all for Groupon deals (and others) and know they offer some great package deals, but I have found that if you book flights and accommodation independently it often saves a lot. I always use “Skyscanner” and again tried a few airport options and found flights from Stanstead for £56 each return. I originally found them for £46 but as we went to book Mr Smith noticed I was a day out on dates HAHAHAHA Whoooopppsss!!!

3. Don’t go over your budget:
Ok so I broke this by £2 BUT its £2 im talking like £40+ over if you have set a budget its because you don’t want to or can’t afford much more than that. If you shop around and can be flexible (we can as the kids are 4&2) then you WILL get something great!

I know we still have to pay for travel and food, but our argument is we would be spending money on fuel and food at home so that won’t make a huge difference to expenditure come June. Why not get yourself on Netmums and see if you too can have a little break on the cheap, its such a great feeling!

I am so unbelievably excited to be going to Italy to explore a new country, the kids are so excited to be going on a plane again and chilling or rather going nuts by the pool every day and the hubs is excited that I only spent £400 hahaha ooooo we better get saving some spending money …

Piic from company website

Piic from company website

 

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