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Elma Family Kitty Pip PR Collaboration

Sleep is for the weak – the challenge of holidays, children and bedtime

02/07/2015

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Our trip to Cornwall was utterly wonderful, but H and I came home absolutely shattered (perfect timing with Blogtacular that weekend then!).  We all loved playing on the beach, and in the hotel pool, and running around on the headland in the sunshine, and I’ve been wanting to go to Eden for so long it was amazing to finally get there, and to find it was everything I’d hoped it was fantastic, but by the end of the trip I think we were both largely being fuelled by fudge, and I know I had a snooze on the long trek back up the M5 and I rather suspect that when it was my turn to drive, so did H.

The reason for the exhaustion, beyond the sea and sunshine, was sleep.  Or rather a lack thereof.

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I never thought that we were particularly bound by a schedule; we’ve always tried to tune into the children’s natural rhythms and use that to loosely plan our days but I suspect that the side effect of three children is that you almost unwittingly end up with a very distinct routine.  And when it comes to bedtime that goes supper, bath, story, milk for those still nursing and then night night.

We tried to stick to it as best we could but with the girls having naps in the car as we drove some decent distances around the west country and then being so excited by Grandpa and swimming pools and hotels and interconnecting rooms and all the rest of it, they either really struggled to calm down for bedtime or were just so overtired that they got a second wind.  And little master Pip Squeak rather fed off that energy.

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It’s not terribly easy to persuade a baby into being sleepy when he’ll nurse for a few seconds and then pop off to have a nice little look around, and then some more milk, and then another look, and you can see how it goes.  In the end on one night I took him out for a walk wrapped up in the sling and he was asleep before we reached the top of the hill and on the other his exhausted sisters had already been put to bed by H before the rest of us came up from supper so it was a little easier.

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But with Pip we also had the challenge of the travel cot.  At first I thought his hatred was directed specifically at our travel cot, it’s a nice innocuous green with pictures of apples on it but perhaps Pip doesn’t like green or apples; but then he showed similar distain for the hotel travel cot and we knew it was the genre he objected to.  If we were lucky we’d get him asleep and lying in the cot, but it never lasted very long and the usual reaction to my trying to lower him down was a howl of dismay from a boy I could have sworn was utterly and completely fast asleep.

I think I may have worked that one out though, I think our boy just likes his home comforts and isn’t terribly impressed by a travel cot mattress after his nice comfy spacious cot at home.  This theory is largely promulgated by the occasion one night when he was roaring indignantly as I went to pick him up.  I lifted him out, the wailing stopped instantly, and when I laid him down on my bed, just while I got us sorted, he produced a beatific smile, closed his eyes and promptly went back to sleep without another word.

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Suffice to say there were some long nights, for us and probably for anyone staying in any of the rooms near us.  But I feel that there’s something we’re not doing that we could do to help.  That or I’m just desperately hoping it’s not a phase I just have to go through.

So as we love to travel, and are planning all sorts of adventures for the summer, I need your help, all you experienced travelling Mamas, and more specifically your top tips for encouraging little ones to go to sleep in the summer.  I’m contemplating getting some travel blackout blinds, we try to keep to the routine as much as possible, but I’m going to stop short of getting Pip a travel double bed with memory foam mattress – what am I missing?

Thanks to Mattressman for the prompt for this post. If you are interested in collaborating on a post, please take a look at my Work With Me page

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giveaway PR Collaboration

Tommee Tippee {a giveaway}

20/05/2015

Is there anyone out there who’s child’s first sippy cup collection did not include one from Tommee Tippee?  All three of my children have had them as their first cups, we’ve had blue, green, pink, orange and even a couple with stars on and they’ve all been well loved, and well used. Which is what made it so lovely when Tommee Tippee got in contact to invite us to the Baby Show for the launch of their new range of sippee cups. For starters, my ears pricked up at the sound of new cups, and then from a brand whose products we already think are great.  It was a very easy “yes please”!

Pip at very nearly almost nine months old has just about mastered picking up his own cup for a drink, and the infinitely more useful, waving it around the room until it splatters your sister with water and she squeals in surprise, which is apparently very very funny.  His favourite is blue, with a blue lid and it’s one of the very basic sort, hence the flying rain game.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

But it all seems very lo-tech compared to the new range.  They’re all non spill cups, the first (suitable for from 4 months) with a nice squishy soft spout to introduce babies to the concept of having a drink,the second a bit bigger and much more like the cups we’re used to, only with curvy handles with a little rubber grip on them (and a very cute carrot on the front), and finally the Tommee Tippee Active cup for 12 months and up which has an insulator in it to keep everything cool.  Elma has a sports bottle with something similar inside it and it was brilliant last summer for keeping drinks nice and cool when we went out to the park for a while.

The all look a lot of fun and the best news is that I have a set of all three to giveaway.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

Plus do you see that even tinier very special little bottle on the end

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

It’s possibly the cutest USB stick I’ve ever seen.

The giveaway is open to anyone in the UK, just fill in the Rafflecopter form below and entries will close on 31 May 2015 – good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations Rosie! I’ve sent you an email to sort out sending you your lovely prize!

Disclosure: we were guests of Tommee Tippee at the NEC Baby Show and were given all these lovely bits and bobs to giveaway to you.

Baking Elma Family Garden Kitty Photography PR Collaboration

A fairy garden party for Spring

25/04/2015

Our neighbours have fairies in their trees.  I know this because every night Kitty and Elma peek out of their window and we can see the lights in the magnolia tree. It must be fairies, mustn’t it?

There’s a lovely openness to their imagination at this age; anything really is possible if they want it to be; they’ll happily accept the possibility of fairies in the tree, pixie moments, and just possibly a black hole under the bed that eats socks.

I think it must have been in one of our stories that Kitty first heard about the idea of a fairy tea party and from then on it was fixed in her head as something that would surely happen one day; one day she’d tiptoe into the garden, or around the corner of the path through the woods, and there before her would be a fairy glen with the tiniest table laid for tea, with cakes and sandwiches and all sorts of lovely things, just perfect for a little girls and her fairy friends.

I’ve written before about how much I love playing up to that imagination and letting a few of their dearest dreams come true; when they’re so simple and so easily achievable it’s irresistable; I know it won’t be many years before their dreams are way out of my budget and idea of common sense.

But this, with a little help from some friends, this we could do.

So we spent the morning doing a little baking, making cupcakes and gorgeous butterfly biscuits and then after lunch we drew the lounge curtains, shut the door and told Kitty and Elma that they were invited to a very special fairy picnic.  They got dressed up in their fairy princess skirts and found their wings from  wherever they’d last been abandoned and they and their flower fairy dollies sat giggling waiting for us to say that it was ready.

I laid the table and H refilled the bubble guns and then finally it was the moment they’d been waiting for, and they peeked out from behind the curtain, and then came running through a shower of bubbles.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And from the looks on their faces, I think it was everything they’d hoped for.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

A little path of eggs purloined from the Easter egg stash leading to the nearest we could manage to a fairy glen, the shady post under next door’s beautiful magnolia tree, with their little art table borrowed out of the lounge and a few tablecloths and play silks to set the scene.

The bunting I borrowed from their room; two of the strings have their names on them and usually hang across the curtain rail and the other says Happy Birthday on the back and the ribbons in the bushes are actually their streamers (9ft of ribbon on a stick – they use them for twirling, think ribbon gymnastics sort of thing).

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And when they got close enough to see the table there was a feast! Well a little one, just perfect for two small girls, the poor fairies having been abandoned in the lounge in all the excitement!

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

 

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

 

They started with bread and butter cut to a flower shape on tiny plates borrowed from the girls’ toy tea service, together with lemonade in my favourite mini milk bottles, and the most gorgeous pink and white stripy straws, and then moved on to little St Clements’ flavour sponge cakes topped with orange icing and pink sugar paste butterflies.Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Half of the cakes were in plain cases and then dropped into garden cupcake wrappers, and the other half I baked straight into pink tulip cupcake cases.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

I really can’t decide which ones I like the best, I’m just so glad I didn’t have to choose, the pink tulip ones look just like flowers and I love the mini garden round the side of the wrappers. Plus if you’re careful enough with the wrappers you can save them to use again another time.

And if all that wasn’t enough, inside the green and white stripy bags were the butterfly biscuits that they’d helped to make in the morning.  It’s a really clever cutter, there’s an inner cutter that is just slightly shallower than the main cutter so it makes a nice deep imprint of all those lovely swirls but doesn’t cut all the way through unless you overdo it, or use the cutter the wrong way up (which Kitty seems to do with every cutter ever no matter how obvious the correct way).  I’ve amassed a number of butterfly cutters over the years (you’d never guess the butterfly love around here would you!) and this is by far and away my favourite.  Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

I know I’ve shared these pictures before but I can’t resist putting them in again; they are some of my favourite ever pictures of Elma, and they sum up the whole afternoon.  Kitty loved the bubbles and the butterflies on the cupcakes while Elma said the biscuits were her favourite, and I loved setting it up and watching them giggle their way through.  They spent the rest of the day dancing around the garden dressed as fairies, every now and then nipping back for a cake or a nibble of biscuit, and at the end of the day all that was left was the crumbs and a lot of happy memories.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family lifeSpace for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family lifeSpace for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

So it is a big thank you to MeinCupcake (who also have an English language shop here) who sent the butterfly cutter, stamps to make the sugarpaste butterflies and the sugar paste itself, pink stripy straws, the green and white chevron bags, and pretty cupcake cases and wrappers to make two little girls’ dreams come true.  Their site is a thing of wonder and joy for anyone who likes baking (my sister and I spent at least an hour on there texting each other and then facetimeing so we could show each other what we found) and the delivery was a piece of cake despite coming from Europe, my parcel came by courier, arrived inside a week and was tracked the whole way, perfect.

An afternoon that they definitely won’t forget any time soon.

Exploring Family PR Collaboration

Holidays and Heatwaves

23/04/2015

Last Thursday morning, after much much refreshing of the emails, the website and keeping half an eye out of the kitchen window for the postlady we got the news that we had been expecting. Kitty has a place at our village school. It wasn’t as nerve racking a wait as for some, we knew that if she didn’t get a place someone had to be hiding 30 preschoolers in a basement somewhere between us and the school and thankfully that turned out not to be the case.  But it did drive it home how little pre-schooler time we have left.  We’re already in the summer term here, it ends on 17th July and from then on we’re the parents of schoolchildren until 2032 at the earliest. Yes, you read that right, 2032. Eighteen years in which we can only go on holiday in the school holidays.

It made me wonder whether we ought to have planned some wonderful around the world adventure while we can still take advantage of cheap holidays, there seems to be some sort of accepted wisdom that once your children are in school you can only go away if you also happen to be a multimillionaire lottery winner. I don’t doubt that there are some places where the end of July sees a massive price hike, but if we’re going to load up all three children and their accoutrements to go on one of our dream trips I want them to be old enough to remember where we went.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And I know from experience that it isn’t impossible.  My Father was a teacher for his entire professional life, he was tied to school holidays before I started primary school and long after I left for university, and yet he and Mum made it work, and we had some amazing adventures.  The summer I was seven they planned out a trip to Greece, to go sailing around the islands and to meet up with the parents of a pupil who had become family friends.  My little sister was four, dainty, cute, and very very blonde. Which turned out to be a huge advantage, because what you may not remember about the summer of 1987 was that there was a huge heatwave in Southern Europe.  Just about everywhere in Greece reached temperatures of 45C or more, and the islands were no different.  So there we were, Mum and Dad, my little sister and me, on a four berth yacht named Illustrious whose awning was an old tablecloth and whose ‘fridge’ as I remember ran off a large block of ice.

Every port we were in my Mum and sister headed off to buy ice with the latter smiling winsomely at the shopkeepers.  Little blonde girls must have been a bit of a rarity because she was generally adored and admired everywhere we went, and we did manage to buy the ice we needed.

Now that I’m only a few years younger than they were when we went I can see how much planning, organising and hoping must have gone into it, and some bits I can look back on with a wry smile; the matching bright turquoise outfits for the two of us to make sure we were instantly spotable for example, or the decisions they had to make the day when it was so hot in port that we set sail, Mum helming us out with her feet in a bucket of water to try to keep cool.

So often I think your childhood memories can be influences by photos, sometimes you’re not sure whether you remember the event or just the photo but I know I really remember Greece, and I’m glad we went when I was old enough that I could.  There are things in my memories that aren’t in any photos; the feeling of the heat, the taste of watermelon in sunshine, watching the little silver fish who would swarm around the melon if you threw it in the sea,  eating cake on the last morning as we sailed back because that’s all that was left, and huge meals of meatballs eaten at the outside tables of little cafes, the four of us and the five of our friends on one huge table with a red checked paper tablecloth, drawing pictures and playing games on the cloth to pass the time while we waited for the food.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And I suspect it cemented my idea of a good holiday: boat, sunshine, book – sorted.

We’ve taken the girls on holiday, Kitty to Venice and both of them to Southern Spain and I know they both had a wonderful time when they were there, but Kitty has already forgotten Italy and they’d be doing well to remember Spain when they’re grown up.  So for now we shall make our plans for adventures slightly closer to home and one day, school holidays or no school holidays we shall take them all on the kind of adventure that they really remember. Preferably without the heatwave.

 Thanks to First Choice for the inspiration