2 weeks ago Alice turned 1 and it’s taken me a little while (what with the move and everything), to sit down and write up about that day! I keep seeing the cute little pictures we snapped of her with her cake, and she looks so scrummy I couldn’t just miss it out. Each one gives me a feeling of gratitude for her in our lives and I had to share when Alice turned 1!

The day was simple and filled with her favourite things, which turned out to be just right. Whilst I toyed with the idea of a little tea party (or even soft play) and mixing things up from our usual traditions on first birthdays, the combination of being in a new place, just moved house, and the fact it is only 1, it seemed best to keep it simple and low key. After taking the kids to school, we caught a train to the coast and met my Mum where we had a little boat ride, shared some fish and chips and ate seafood together. Alice loves fish and loved being spoilt with fresh ocean delicacies, a little sausage and a few sneaky licks of an ice cream at the seaside!

We rounded the day off playing together with bubbles in the garden, and a tacky caterpillar cake (which she devoured in seconds!). She received a new wooden walker and some building blocks, a couple of outfits and lots of love!

With each new major milestone that Alice reaches, our lives are filled with mixed emotions beyond that of the usual “time please slow down” emotions. But mostly she is reminding us how fun life with little kids in it really is. So at 1 year old I want to remember how she claps whenever we say “yay”. How she cries and laughs at the same time when she sees milk! How she laughs her head off when we pretend to do spiders on her arm, and how she smiles so sweetly at us! I want to keep in my heart how she touches our faces and is never short of a cuddle…how she loves megs and Ethan and gets so silly with them. I want to remember how she practices standing in her cot at night tome instead of sleeping (yes I see you Alice).

Alice turning 1 wasn’t easy to lead up to, but having a 1 year old is so much fun and the last couple of weeks have been a blast – Happy (belated) Birthday Little one, we have loved the last 12 months with you in them!

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As happens with most of my birthdays these days, I tend to go through a period of self evaluation leading up to the big day. I ponder on things such as “am I where I wanted to be at this age?” and “if not am I happy with the alternative?”, “Have I done what I hoped to since last year?” etc. I don’t really freak out too much anymore about getting older as I am learning that age really is just a number, and my 30’s have become a phase of life where I seem to be most comfortable in myself. I would say though that I panic more over how fast time is going generally and how there is so much I want to do with/in my life that I wonder if I will have enough time to get it all done. Does that make sense?

Since becoming a mum I have felt pretty accomplished in life and over time become content that this is life right now – raising kids! The growth of our family makes me feel I am doing great things by raising (hopefully) good humans and I see it as the best use of my time now. There are still many lists of countries I want to visit, life things I want to do, charities I want to work with and things I want to become educated in, but I know in time and year by year with my little goals and plans I will get there!

But being a mother also means that now there are moments before birthdays where I think my birthday potentially will be boring, or rather like any other day. I don’t live too near my family and my friends are either my sisters/sister in laws or all random people now who I share one to one relationships with as oppose to a tight knit group, so I almost feel like life has naturally shifted away from girly nights out and partying together. That to me is a bit of a shame and if i’m honest makes me a little sad as I do love a night with good friends, and at times I do wish more than anything for that again, but life shifted around a lot after loosing Poppy and with age too, it isn’t what it once was and that’s okay…I am happy for those in my life right now who make the effort and want to help me feel special, who love me and get together when we have the time, but mostly I am just grateful that (even if it was a reminder from facebook) people everywhere from my life took time this year to wish me a good day. I just love that about social media and it certainly made me feel blessed and loved, and I can honestly say that 32 was a joyful day!

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This birthday was joyful because that is exactly what I wanted it to be. I had a cake (surprise) with Nath’s family Sunday when we met for dinner, and I know something with my family will pan out soon. Friends hadn’t asked to do anything prior, so I didn’t bring it up and Nathan took the day off work. I didn’t want it to be like any other day and so I decided I would spend it with him – my bestie (and of course little Alice too), and it was an extraordinary day of lovliness! Being a new mum combined with motherhood generally could equate to a mad day like every other, but with some planning it was far from that, and so here’s what we did to help you see how to have an amazing birthday filled with fun even if you are “just a mum”!

1. Snuggles, songs, breakfast and dancing – This basically summed up the chunk of time between waking up and heading to school. The kids all came into our bed early and sang to me, kissed and cuddled me before giving me some chocolates, flowers and a mummy pig card! They were far more excited than me at that point and I just loved seeing how desperate they were to celebrate that day and that it was “mummy’s birthday” – It was perfect!

We had a lovely pancake breakfast which I made whilst we danced to birthday rap songs and “I’m feeling 22” by Taylor Swift (which I feel far from).

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2. Cinema – It has been way too long since we went to the cinema and I found out recently that almost every cinema has baby sessions where you can go with baby and its appropriate sound lighting and atmosphere for parents. And so off we went…only it wasn’t the baby showing at all, but Alice was AMAZING and we laughed our way through the whole film whilst I snuggled her and she slept…the film was brilliant and the whole experience was so much fun.

 3. We ate out…for lunch (or you could do dinner, though lunch is easier as most of the kids are in school). We went to Nandos and Alice chilled in her car seat whilst we enjoyed a lovely lunch with out crowd control in the mix.

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4. Bake a cake – When you’re the mum there isn’t usually anyone to do this for you, but it doesn’t mean you need to pay loads for shop bought either. I made mine the day before whilst Alice was napping and the kids watched a film after dinner. It was everything I had been dreaming of – Chocolate and peppermint frosting!

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5. Kid free shopping (kind of)…The plan was to go kid free shopping with just Mr Smith and Alice but sadly we had to go to the hospital to see a very sick family friend, and so that was put on hold. The idea was nice and maybe you can be more successful at it than I?

6. No house work! The house is a dump today but that’s okay. Nathan insisted I went out and had fun with him yesterday…doing things out of the ordinary to ensure it isn’t a mundane boring day like any other…and it was just that. No laundry to hang, no dishes to wash, no sweeping, bed making or any thing. The house was left and we drove in peace chatting and singing along to the radio!

So Mum’s, embrace the kids you have as the blessing they are and have a little dance party with them, make a special breakfast, cake and treats, and do something with your day you have been dreaming of! It doesn’t matter that you’re a mum now or whether family and friends are close. Fun and joy are created by us and by making some effort it honestly makes for a very happy birthday indeed! I have a gorgeous little family, a wonderful husband, brilliant family all over the place, my new little baby and pockets of friends I see here and there when we have the time who each bring great things to life – I am happy and I am excited for what I will accomplish at 32…

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Believe it or not that blog title up there is an almost perfect summary of what this weekend was all about, and what a weekend it was… to be honest I am completely done in by it and welcome a lazy Monday to rejuvenate! I wonder some Sunday nights where the time went and where was the opportunity to relax from packed weekdays and school runs? But in reality we just seem to pack our weekend schedules too with various jobs, outings and get togethers, and it seems to be our ordinary to start the new week tired and done in and needing a rest, only this week we are all feeling a little queasy too!

The craziness began on Friday when Ethan turned 6! Like most birthdays with our kids these days it has been the topic of conversation for a good few weeks, and the boy that now understands more of time, numbers and can write, made himself a countdown chart to help him see how many days it was until the “big day” … he also made a point of reminding me on a daily basis too..just in case I forgot!

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At 6 years old Ethan has a passion for adventure like me and has developed his own style. He loves riding his bike and scooting, doing the usual lego, cars, den building types of play and much to my frustration seems to struggle with listening. He often argues back to me, uses an array of made up insults to people and has the most annoying screech he lets out several times a day… he has made me cry on several occasions and I realise most days I am out of my depth with each new stage of parenting. But there is compensation in the moments we relax together, have adventures together and I see the sweet, kind, funny and helpful Ethan; the boy who loves nothing more than to dance, listen to music and look at disco lights, and who thinks i’m cool when I put his favourite JT song onto YouTube and dance around the room with him. There is joy in the moments when he realises he is not too old to still hold my hand and when he is bursting with excitement to tell or show me something. I love that he can write me love notes and that we can have such fun and laughter! With his love for music, dancing and silliness, I guess it was inevitable really that for his 6th birthday and party year, we would be celebrating with a disco party complete with light up shoes and a sequin waistcoat….that’s Ethan really!

The party apparently was the talk of the playground all week and he had planned out every finite detail. I loved watching him (despite the mess he made) every evening after school putting his disco light on and “practicing” for his party…its no surprise then that there were many disappointed faces and a few tears when Ethan was sent home sick…like real sick all over his desk at school. I felt so bad for him and spent the remainder of the day stressing over what to do. In the end we decided to keep the party, take the risk as everyone had been at school with him anyway and hope it wasn’t anything catching. It was absolute madness, but a lot of fun too and a moment we will remember for a long time. He played traditional games with his mates, had glow sticks, dancing, disco lights, cake and the much desired party bags finished off thankfully with no more sick but 2 very sleepy kids!

Saturday we kept the fun going with a quick stop off at Hull fair, a couple of rides each and lots of smiles. But sadly that didn’t last with Sunday seeing a sick Megsie and now a queasy mummy and daddy too…evidence would suggest it was more that excitement on Friday with Ethan and I am just hoping I am not THAT parent that makes everyone elses kids sick!! Its a drop back down to the reality of the ordinary moments of family life.

When they placed that gorgeous baby boy in my arms 6 years ago I never could have imagined what life with him in it would be like. He made me a mother and often nowadays he makes me go nuts, but that is life and there are surprises at every turn. When I look back at this weekend, aside from the unique opportunity for a disco with friends and a bug thrown in; the rest of the adventures are the ordinary moments we look forward to each time October comes around. It is all about Ethans birthday, fun fairs and cake (and our Anniversary which seems to always be celebrated weeks later) and we love it. I sometimes wonder if he will be my only boy, if Alice really is the last, but either way and despite the challenges he gives me, I am over joyed he is mine; my oldest boy, my little buddy, the crazy fun big brother and the cheeky older cousin. I am grateful that we can celebrate his life and presence in ours each October the 14th and I am blessed to have a son that is just as nuts as me and always up for some fun and laughs!

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