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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For many parents taking their kids for immunizations is an ordinary part of their early years. I am aware that some parents choose not to and understand some of their reasoning for not wanting to, but we choose to and as little E is quickly growing up he had reached the age (last yr) for his pre-school booster. This was one that I actually was concerned about giving to him, I was very aware of the stuff previously in the news questioning its link to autism and other issues, but when we weighed it up with the extreme alternative of possible death from the illnesses it is preventing against we favoured to give him it and so here we are this week with me FINALLY calling and booking him in. Over the last few months we have had 5…yes that’s 5 letters saying Megs is still due her 3rd set from being 1? Whilst I was adamant that she was up to date I booked her in too just to be sure. Yes I may be mad taking them both together to get them but it seemed wiser to get it all done in one afternoon.

When I picked them up from pre-school on Monday I let them know that the next day they would be having some immunizations at the DRs which might sting a bit with a needle but if they were really brave we would have a treat afterwards. “OOOOO how great, yes thank you mummy” was the response…”erm you won’t be thanking me tomorrow” I thought! Tuesday came and I’ve never seen 2 kids so eager, every 5 mins they were asking when they could go. When the red books came out, well that was just fuel for their excitement and both practically ran their with their little books under their arms all the way there.
I couldn’t stop laughing as I knew they had no idea what was in store…
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I was right, Megan didn’t need hers but got some stickers all the same. Ethan enthusiastically jumped on me knee for his, but soon jumped out of his skin when he had it done, I laughed (and cried a little) at his little face, but he didn’t even shed a tear. What a big brave boy he was, he strutted out of there with his plasters on his arms, his stickers on his coat and he couldn’t wait to call his Grandma’s and tell daddy after work how brave he had been. He loved walking to town to choose a treat and enjoyed every mouthful on the way home. Everything we do is made so much more exciting and fun with these 2. They turn very ordinary moments into adventures and laughs.

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Last Year we were told our baby had a serious form of CHD (Congenital Heart Disease) during that time Avicii had this song out – “Wake me up” – The words became our theme song, the one we would crank up on the way back from every fetal medicine appointment…all we had to go off was her beating heart, it guided us to fight for her life, fight for her care, fight to know her. We never knew what the outcome would be, we never knew then she was the 6% caused by a (lethal?) chromosome abnormality. The Drs told us we were dreaming, we didn’t get it, but as long as my heart warrior fought, then as her mother I would fight too. At times it was like a dream but unfortunately the weight of this diagnosis was our reality:

Feeling my way through the darkness
Guided by a beating heart
I can’t tell where the journey will end
But I know where to start

They tell me I’m too young to understand
They say I’m caught up in a dream
Well life will pass me by if I don’t open up my eyes
Well that’s fine by me

So wake me up when it’s all over
When I’m wiser and I’m older
All this time I was finding myself
And I didn’t know I was lost

I tried carrying the weight of the world
But I only have two hands
Hope I get the chance to travel the world
But I don’t have any plans

Wish that I could stay forever this young
Not afraid to close my eyes
Life’s a game made for everyone
And love is the prize

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When we think of an Anchor we imagine a great big metal object used by boats to hold them in place (at least I do). Grief, like an anchor can keep us stuck in one place for a long time whilst the tides of life change around us, the more the horizon and sea changes the scarier it becomes to lift up anchor and keep going on our journey. It often feels like your lost at sea, stuck and not sure which way is best to sail…meanwhile all around you life carries on, the sun sets and it rises, the tides change, the creatures continue in their lives, oblivious to you not moving because you don’t know where you are going!

I haven’t had a counselling session since November, at times since then I know talking to someone would have been helpful but I got through all the same, about a week or so ago I had a wonderful session with my bereavement councillor – it sounds strange that doesn’t ? How can counselling over bereavement be wonderful? But it was because it gave me confidence as  I realised that I am doing really well, that I am moving forward and that I am finding healthy ways to carry Poppy with me without letting the pain of loosing her dominate my life and emotions. I of course still have the most awfully painful dragging of days, the days where Im afraid to open my eyes because I remember what happened, what I lost and how that day Im just not strong enough to deal with the pain, I’m not strong enough to smile and say “I’m doing okay” because those days my life is far from okay. We spoke of the anchor of grief and where as I have been and felt stuck in life I’ve also reached a point where I realise that I can pick up my anchor (the grief) and I can take it with me, whilst its a heavy load, when it gets aboard my ship it just becomes a part of it. As you sail on your journey you still hit stormy seas, we have times where we drop anchor and stop for a while but the important thing is that I realise that anchor (Poppy and loosing her) can always be with me, will always be with and is now apart of my structure!

The anchor connects me to Poppy, I sometimes am afraid to laugh and be consistently happy, sometimes afraid to move on with life because grief connects me to my baby, grief reminds me how much love and hope I had for my 3rd child..another cheeky girl. But part of healing is also realising that it can come with you through life, you don’t leave it, you don’t forget it, you learn to live and work with it.

This week has had me stuck, not to the sea bed but my own bed, it really hurts and the skies feel quite grey! My asthma has also been playing up which has meant I need to take it easy, but like with any negative thing it triggers a series of reactions that all come back to “life is rubbish..my baby died”! Its so tiring trying to move forward in a storm, smiling and saying “life is good/I’m okay” when I feel anything but. Its all I know to say as not many have time or energy for the alternative. This week I have dropped anchor, i’m stuck for a bit grieving because carrying the heaviness of the anchor through choppy waters doesn’t work for me yet. I know I can take it with me and things will be okay but I don’t want to end up shipwrecked and so some days, or some weeks its wiser to stay put, hold tight and hope for calm and tranquil waters.

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