This week, in most ways has been all rather ordinary. We have had a few more mornings of mad dashes to school than I would have hoped for, and we have our usual trips across to soft play and a swim with some friends too, but then in and amongst all of the ordinary day to day stuff of parenting and family life, we have celebrated 9 years or marriage, walked with friends across the Humber Bridge, and on Monday evening I had a lovely evening out to see Fame – The Musical.

This weekend has been another good one, with seeing the kids do a presentation at church, and yesterday we spent the day with friends remembering their baby girl who was also stillborn almost 3 years ago. The weather was lovely and we met on the South bank of the Humber bridge, then in the lovely Autumn sunshine walked across to the North bank. Once there we enjoyed our picnics, chats and a balloon release in her memory. It was a lovely way to spend the day, and they are a truly inspirational family –  we were glad to be able to share in something so special.

Grateful For

This week I feel really grateful and have so many things to be thankful for too! Here goes …

I am grateful for my marriage and to be married to such a wonderful man. I am grateful for all that has been created in life because we fell in love and married 9 years ago and, I am grateful for the love he gives me in life!

As I mentioned, today at church the kids had their annual presentation – It was all about the creation and God Plan for us! I thoroughly enjoyed hearing them all sing and watching each child give a little talk and I am grateful for the confidence of my kids, for their willingness to do things like this, and for the teachers at church that take the time to love and teach them about the gospel. I am also thankful for their simple presentation of things that mean so much to us and the reminders of good things in life! I am grateful for them both and their goodness!

Finally this week I am also grateful for opportunities to be with people that understand loss and talk openly. I am grateful to have gone swimming with friends from the village and I am grateful for my therapist and the great session I had yesterday afternoon! I am grateful for sunshine and beautiful scenery and opportunities to think and understand.

Succeeded At

This week I succeeded at gaining another year of marriage with Mr Smith. I love him greatly and I am so thankful to be celebrating 9 years of marriage! Whilst we haven’t officially celebrated, we did mark the day with some posh food at home (Lidl spec haha) and nice drinks (who says romance is dead?!). We are looking forward to planning a night away together (or 2) once we have half term out of the way and once we actually decide where we want to go!

Found Beauty In

Yesterday was a very beautiful day – the Humber bridge and the autumn leaves were really lovely and I enjoyed walking over the Humber bridge chatting with people! I always find it a little nervy, but it is also an incredibly beautiful and exciting thing to do. It was beautiful to see a family remember their baby and to see balloons a plenty with loving notes attached float off up to “heaven”!

I also found beauty in seeing Megs and Alice play so lovely yesterday in the leaves and in the car, whilst Ethan was out with his Grandma. I found beauty in Ethan and Megs singing today and in the general loveliness of the whole thing!

I have found beauty in driving around where we live this weekend and I have seen beauty in our marriage and lives together. I have also been blessed this week to have opened my eyes to find more beauty in motherhood and that was such a good feeling. I often mix up the mundane house keeping stuff with motherhood and then it doesn’t always feel so great or I find the days unfulfilling. But when I focus more on being a mummy and enjoying my children, then I feel like it is such a wonderful and incredibly thing. I feel far more blessed and it feels a much more beautiful life, than cleaning and laundry!

This week has been especially beautiful and one with much to be thankful for. Six more days to our Italy trip, and I truly am thankful for that too.

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I suppose it’s a little sad to be writing about a date night we had a couple of weeks ago (people have them all the time), but it was both a novelty for us and an absolute bargain – so for those reasons I had to share with you all!

So, as I say a couple of weeks ago Mr Smith and I enjoyed a lovely date night out to ASK in Beverley! For once it did not consist of us sat in joggers with a pizza and Netflix – This one was totally legit, with the added bonus of only costing us a fiver too! Anyone who is a parent can appreciate what a novelty it is to be able to go out for a meal kid free, dressed up and on the cheap! And we were incredibly grateful to his mum for offering to have all 3 kids to sleepover last minute, to enable us to actually go out.

 Date night to me is an essential part of the week and something I really look forward to. Our lives are so busy and full on, and whilst that’s mostly a good thing, we often have weeks where we are like passing ships, and we tend to feel a little disconnected from one another. We like to talk, laugh and snuggle (obviously – we married each other), and life prevents this some weeks. We text all day and we obviously talk when we are going to bed (mostly), but for us we have always enjoyed set aside time each week to relax together, reconnect and just catch up. And so date night has become a scared time … time to be us as a couple and not parents (though chat of the kids often come up), and time for us as individuals to relax, have time for us, and time to reconnect and catch up. It is our time where our phones are off and we catch up properly without distraction, enjoying something we both love, and I love this time just being us together.

Life is forever shifting and changing, and when at one time we could be spontaneous about when we had a date, or when time was flexible to go out and do all kinds of amazingly fun things and eat delicious things, these days we need it to be planned and fairly cheap to ensure it happens around busy parenthood and family life!

Forgotten Vouchers! 

 This date night was made extra special because we only spent somewhere in the £5 region, but how?

Well, my sister recently told me about how her clubcard points from Tesco had added up without her realising, and she had been able to get several vouchers for both Prezzo and ASK (Tesco boost them up significantly) with them, for their day nights! “Oh” I wondered… “I wonder  if I have some too?”! I thought it unlikely as I know I usually send the vouchers they post out, but low and behold I had some forgotten vouchers from the last 2 years – £10 worth to be precise, which we quickly swapped for a £40 ASK voucher!

I couldn’t believe our luck – an offer of a babysitter, AND an alomst free meal out! Living the dream moment of life!

I’ve never been to ASK before, but it was lovely. I had the bruschetta to start, Nath the Burrata Caprese. Then for the mains he had the salmon and me the prawn and lobster tagliatelle with extra chilli. It was all so yummy and fresh, and the raspberry lemonade a great accompaniment.

I love date night with my love – spending time together, talking, laughing, holding hands, and discovering new places and delicious foods. I find it is so important in order to maintain being us around parenting. And whilst some weeks that is incredibly hard with 3 kids in the mix and a million things to be done, I am thankful for moments when it all comes together and we have a lovely time together.

If like us you are on a budget and love a deal, log into your Tesco account, and see if you have any forgotten vouchers you can upgrade for a lovely (and very bargainous) meal out together soon!

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I have mentioned before on here, but we don’t tend to make a massive thing of Valentines between Nath and I. We see it as just a bit of fun, and therefore usually buy each other a soppy or flirty card, and then a cheapo gift with some cheesy slogan on it. Our budget every year is always £5 max and we welcome how inventive that enables us to be in sharing our love through a gift.

I usually end up with some tulips (which are my faves) and chocolate of some description with a reason why he bought it (Eg, Milky Way stars with “You’re out of this world amazing”)! I of course enjoy the challenge of being creative, and making him some cute and fun love notes on a treat, and have in the past given him anything from a bag of chocolate bars to a pack of muffins saying “You’re such a Stud muffin”! Like I say – It’s just a bit of fun and it always makes each other smile.

We use the day now (since having kids), as an opportunity to teach our kids about dating and take them out on a family date somewhere special. We big it up and give them a little treat each, and then reserve the evenings for us to have a sneaky dinner date from M&S (or take out) whilst watching a Rom Com! We have had some lovely dates with them for Valentines and is a tradition we really enjoy.

We used to have a goal of going away together but with the more kids we had this kinda fell by the way side and we felt it better to turn it into a family event of love, which is working wonderfully whilst we share our love in our own way.

In true thrifty style I have been on the look out for lovely things to get for Valentines that are under £5, so I though as a bit of fun (and just in case you too want some frugal gift ideas), I would share them with you on the lead up to V-Day!

Valentines Gift Ideas under £5

M&S Sweets 

When I saw these sweets in M&S last week I literally jumped for Joy. I instantly felt they had stepped right out of my mind! Nathan and I will be getting them for the kids as we thought they were so cute, but for £2.50 each they make for a lovely little gift for a loved one.

Glasses and posh pop

I saw these glasses in Poundland for £1 each and thought they were really lovely. Whilst they go with nothing else in my kitchen I still had to have them and think they would be great for a date night tradition. Why not buy a couple with a bottle of something lovely and write a letter to your loved one about how they fill up your heart with sweet fizzes!

Love Frame and some chocs!

I love this little frame I found in Asda on Tuesday and thought it would make a lovely gift for someone with a special picture in it and perhaps a £3 box of chocolates or even £1 ones from the pound shop. They had it in 2 different colours but I loved the pink and gold.

I am going to find a picture of me and Nath from back in the day to put in the lounge on our soon to put up picture rails!

Chocolate gift basket with slogans

I did this for one of the first years of us being married and Nathan loved it. I bought loads of chocolate bars and then wrote a love note on each one and popped them in a little basket. I believe he still has the notes, though the chocolate of course is long gone!

Reeces Pieces – Love you to Pieces
Galaxy – You are the best in the Galaxy
Maltesers – You are such a tease!
Peanut M&Ms – I am nuts about you
Wispa – I want to Wispa sweet nothings to you
Mars – I’d go to Mars and back to show you how much I love you
Starburst – My heart bursts for joy each time I see you

I know I had a few others but I can’t remember them!

Muffins/Doughnuts 

Posh or not this makes for a lovely little gift for a loved one or crush! Buy them a pack of doughnuts from Krispie Cremes and slap on “Doughnut what I’d do without a hubby like you”! (Or Boyf, Girl friend, Wifey etc).

And then of course the one I already mentioned. I bough Nathan some Chocolate chip muffins from the bakery and left them with a card that said “You are such a stud muffin!” – He LOVED it!

Flowers/Chocolates

Whilst the old cliche of valentines, these always go down a treat! A traditional rose can be picked up cheaply and most supermarkets are doing boxes of Thorntons and other lovely chocolates for about £3.

Shopping in Aldi or Lidl, you can buy bunches of Roses, Tulips and other lovely flowers for about £3 and then maybe give them with a big bar of Galaxy or like their favourite pouch of chocolates. Use my slogan idea to make it more cute and fun!

Dates for the year 

This is a gift that barely costs anything and yet is rather romantic and shows commitment. Making a little box or envelope with monthly dates inside of it to give to your love shows how much you are thinking of them and that you want to set time aside to do these things with them.

You could include; The cinema, Massages, A picnic, Rock Climbing, Trampolining, Ice Cream Parlour, A new City, Golf, A new restaurant, Farm/Zoo, Chocolate making etc. Sit down and write out some date ideas and give them as gift this Valentines with a commitment to have proper dates each month together!

Valentines to me isn’t about money and isn’t an excuse to get a pricey item we’ve had our eye on. Its about love and sharing your feelings with others..sharing a day with those we love and making it memorable and a little out of the ordinary and special. I love the opportunity each February to be creative and find ways to tell Nathan how much he means to me through the cheesy gifts and laugh out loud slogans I give to him! I love our family day dates and making it a day the kids can be excited for too and I love that we also use it as an excuse to spread love to friends and neighbours through heart shaped baked goods and little crafts.

How will you spread love this February?

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Nathan and I have just celebrated 8 years of marriage together and even though he is saying that this milestone makes him feel old, at the same time 8 years has gone by incredibly quickly and has been a great adventure. It was great to once again have a child free night away and some time to reflect on our past and future together.

I adored Nathan long before we became a couple, and continue to feel incredibly grateful for him in my life and by my side. I feel so happy that that affection was (eventually) returned, and his love, loyalty and friendship are a wonderful thing and something I treasure greatly. I love that we fell in love so long ago and now are here  – making each other happy, and strengthening and loving each other through daily life, whilst having fun in the process!

I love that we have our own little happy family and inside jokes…our flow and lots of adventures. I love that he loves me more than I could imagine, and makes me feel so special and of great worth! I love that we are still so happily married and in love! I know that marriage and family life aren’t plain sailing, and they obviously have their ups and downs, but I can honestly say that we are happily married, and deeply in love! That may sound a little cheesy but its true, and just as we hoped (and yet is so very different and more special than we imagined) when we made that commitment 8 years ago.

8 Years Married – How we celebrated

We always have at least one night kid free night away for our wedding anniversary, and combine that with an activity around the traditional theme of anniversaries.

Our night away this year led us only a short distance up the Yorkshire coast to Scarborough! We realised that this was the first time in 8 years of marriage that we have had a child free break at the seaside! Up until now it’s always been city breaks to see historic places (except the countryside adventure of last year), and filled with a lot of culture and business of sightseeing. This break was far more laid back and included a George Michael Tribute!

The Hotel was found on Groupon and for the first time was a deal I kinda regretted! It was a lovely location and Scarborough was rather nice, but the hotel felt tired and a little bit of a let down! I ended up complaining about our room shortly after arrival, and thankfully was able to be swapped to something nicer and more comfortable. The food was mediocre and everything just needed a revamp! But on the plus side the company was excellent and sea views splendid so it was all great too. We loved the fun of a tribute artist and relaxing together, and all in all it was such a laugh.

It was a place we wouldn’t naturally choose, but where curiosity got the better of us. There are probably far nicer places on the coast to stay in but to look back on this little baraginous anniversary trip, it has filled us with funny stories and lots of tat to laugh about together!

8 years of marriage is traditionally celebrated with a gift of pottery or Bronze! So in keeping with our tradition of finding an activity around this we ended up dabbling in a bit of pottery painting at a small place in Scarborough on Saturday morning! We had discussed everything from spray tans (“bronze”) to jetting off to a hot island to catch some rays (no money for that one) … and even clay pigeon shooting!

When we talked about a pottery activity I envisioned a bit of a ghost scene, but Nathan did not, and instead we sat deep in concentration painting things already made. It was for the best as neither of us are that creative, but like all things we do for our anniversary, its an opportunity to break out of our norm! He did a bowl with an “8” and me a tacky flamingo on a jug. We stamped them with the year underneath.

We have talked a lot recently about how life until “us” is almost irrelevant these days because it has little significance to what is now. They are lessons learnt, experiences had and memories made of course, but together in 8 years we have grown together, over come together and we have loved and lost together. We made a family from 2 to 6 and have had some wonderful trips and some awful emotional days at home! But each day from regular life to the great and extra ordinary moments have built us into people different from who we were 8 years ago, and instead have made us into people we perhaps (I’m almost certain) we couldn’t be without the other.

We have helped each other achieve, succeed and overcome failures. We are building our dreams and because of all of these things (and many more I probably can’t even remember), my love for him and his for me is great. It is strong and real and means that life now with each other feels so natural and familiar that its almost like it’s always been this way. I look into his eyes, and hold his hand and it feels such a comfort and snug place to be! We talk and laugh and seem to know what’s coming next… we try new things and joke along the way. We make plans and dream, and we look forward to what life has in store for us now! 8 years of marriage does make us feel old, but when we hope our marriage will be forever, I guess we’re really only just beginning!

Happy 8th Anniversary to the man of my dreams and bestie! It’s a wonderful life we share!

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