BIG SISTER IN WAITING!

It seems Iike no time at all since we were bringing you home from hospital at one week old so it’s hard to believe that any day now you will be earning the title of ‘big sister’!

Every day now you giggle as you tell us that you’re Mummy’s girl…….. Daddy’s bird……… and Nanny’s angel. Daddy is still by far your favourite but it’s always mummy that you call in the middle of the night!! And when nanny’s in charge you tell her you’re going out for tea and cake! (that’s my girl – well taught!)

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WHAT I’VE LEARNT ABOUT POTTY TRAINING!

** Disclaimer – this is definitely not a ‘how to potty train your toddler post’ This is more of an opportunity to laugh at myself and allow you to laugh along with me! **

I should start by saying that Hannah has been using a potty since she was seven months old – she had constipation issues and we introduced the potty in the hope she could comfortably go on it and she did. She has been using it morning, evening and after nap time since then and often at other nappy changes so she was familiar with it and happy to use it. It certainly was a help when it came to actual potty training.
Lots of people ask about potty training and the dos and don’ts and what worked and what didn’t, these are such hard questions to answer as every child is so different and they train at different ages and over different time frames. But I thought I would share a few thoughts about what I learnt along the way, we really do learn so much from our children!

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PARTY DETAILS

Recently it was Hannah’s second birthday. So while I still could I wanted to plan a sweet little tea party for her with a bit of a bunny rabbit theme as I’m all too aware that over the coming years she will choose her own theme and characters for her party and her cake!

I really enjoy planning for little family gatherings like this, note pad in hand, scribbled ideas and too much time spent on Pinterest is just my thing!  As I planned everything in my head it soon developed into a vintage tea party with a touch of rustic and the colours pink and gold crept in as I decided on pretty tableware and decorations, so I thought I would share some photos of the set up and the lovely bits I used to pull it all together.

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TEA CUP SUCCULENTS

Last week Hannah turned two! We had a tea party, Hannah loves tea (and bunny rabbits) so I built a little theme around that. It was a simple family affair with lots of treats and cake (and tea!)

So while planning I got thinking about making some cute decorations using teacups, and considering mum and I have a plethora of vintage china I knew it would be just perfect to fit in with our theme.

So here goes, this is you’ll need to make some pretty teacup succulents:

Teacups & saucers

{Check out ebay and your local charity shops where you’ll find loads to choose from.}

Cacti or Succulents

{I picked these up in our local garden centre, ranging from 99p to £2

Small pebbles or stones

Potting soil

Moss

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HANNAH – MY GIRL AGE 2

I can’t quite believe you are two already!

How did that happen so quickly!

When did you get so tall and start looking so grown up?

Where have all those words and all that chatting come from?

It seems like only yesterday that you arrived into the world in such a hurry, and from that instant you’ve changed our lives in a way we could never have anticipated! The last two years have passed in the blink of an eye, we could never have imagined they would pass so quickly, we have learnt so much from you, and would do well to be as chilled out and carefree as you!

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HOLIDAY ADVENTURES

Last month we set off on our holidays as a family of three with a bump! This was our first family experience travelling on a plane so it was always going to be an exciting and nerve wrecking adventure!

We jetted off from Belfast City Airport to sunny Malaga, neither of us have ever been on a package holiday in Spain but we choose Benalmadena and felt a touristy location with a swimming pool, nearby beach and lots of bars and restaurants would be exactly what we’d need when taking away an almost two year old! Our flight was about two and a half hours with a transfer from the airport of approx. 30 minutes so we felt this would be more than long enough for our first holiday abroad with a little person!

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7 EASY WAYS TO GIVE TO CHARITY THIS CHRISTMAS

It’s the season of goodwill but also the season when we spend a lot of money on Christmas gifts and food. I like to try and spread a little Christmas cheer by giving to charity at Christmas, it really is easy and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. There are heaps of worthy charities out there and so many ways to give, here’s our top seven this year:

SHOEBOX APPEAL (Operation Christmas Child)

Last month we packed a shoe box and sent it on its way through Operation Christmas Child, this is something our family have been doing for many years and something I myself sis as a teenager. See details in my previous blog post here.

LETTER FROM SANTA (Diabetes UK)

This year we received a personalised letters from santa through the charity Diabetes UK. After filling in some details online and for just £4.99 you will receive a beautiful personalised letter as well as a free text from Santa, a good behaviour certificate, an activity booklet and a photo of a reindeer! There are a few charities out there offering this service but this is a charity close to our hearts as my husband Chris has been a type 1 diabetic since he was a child. See here for details.

CHARITY SANTA VISIT (Children’s Cancer Unit, Royal Victoria Hospital)

We also visited a charity santa! I’m a bit of a sucker for a santa visit! (I will be an embarrassing mummy!) We visited the local Christmas Market in Belfast and their santa supporting the Children’s Cancer Unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children. Hannah wasn’t very taken by him but at least she didn’t cry! For £10 we received a little gift and a family photo with santa!

COLLECTING USED STAMPS (RNIB)

Its rare to receive a letter with a stamp on it except perhaps at Christmas and birthdays. Used stamps from Christmas cards can be sent to the RNIB used stamps appeal were they are sorted by volunteers – they are usually sold by weight, but if they can identify any valuable stamps they can be sold for a higher price. They expect to receive around £10 for one kilogram of British stamps, and up to £15 for a kilogram of overseas stamps. So quite literally for the price of a stamp you can post off your used stamps and help people with sight loss, How easy is that!

CHARITY CHRISTMAS CARDS (RNLI)

There are loads of charity Christmas cards out there and if you send cards its another great way to give a little to charity. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is another charity close to our hearts, we are both volunteer lifeboat crew for our local station in Bangor and Chris is also the station mechanic, so this is our go-to charity for christmas cards. There are many charity cards available on the high street and in supermarkets but there is not always a high percentage of the sale going back to the charity so why not consider purchasing directly from the charity. This can be as easy as popping into your local charity shop on the high street, there are many fantastic charities to choose from. Alternatively some people choose to give a donation to their favourite charity rather than sending cards.

FOODBANKS (Neighbourhood Food Collection Tesco)

Christmas can be a such a difficult time for individuals and families who are already just about getting by on extremely tight budgets. With increased winter fuel bills, and the pressure of choosing between heating and eating, can sadly push many families into food crisis. It is so easy to purchase an extra few items in your grocery shop to give to your local foodbank, many supermarkets have onsite collection points making it super convenient to drop off your purchases! We have given items through our local Tesco, their two charity partners are The Trussell Trust and Fare Share There are many foodbanks operating locally that need your support all year round.

{This photo is from last year, so far I haven’t had a chance to take one this year!}

CHRISTMAS JUMPER DAY (Save The Children)

Let’s be honest, who doesn’t have a Christmas jumper? From the crazy elf look, to the one with a flashing nose its becoming something we all have stashed in the wardrobe! This year Christmas Jumper Day was on Friday 16th December, Hannah’s nursery was getting involved and having a fun day for the kids! By asking parents to get involved and send their kids in their Christmas jumper and bring a £1 donation they were helping support the charity Save The Children.

I intended to have this posted much sooner but where has this month gone?! I hope it will be thought provoking and you will use it as inspiration for next year.

Thank you for reading and for all your support this year, wishing you all a very HAPPY CHRISTMAS!

Christine, Chris & Hannah xx

 

 

SLIEVE DONARD POLAR EXPRESS

When you get up in the morning and the note in the advent calendar says ‘VISIT SANTA’……. how exciting is that! (and that’s just me getting excited!)

Back in August we booked Santa’s Polar Express at the Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle. I had heard endless good reports about it and thought we better see what we were missing! We weren’t disappointed!

We arrived at the Polar Express Station (The Percy French) received our tickets and awaited the next departure….. we boarded the train and Hannah was enchanted with the lights and sounds as we headed off on our magical journey to visit Santa. We disembarked outside the grand entrance to the hotel which looked magical against the night sky and headed into the beautifully decorated foyer of the hotel and followed the elf to Santa’s workshop.

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GIVING AT CHRISTMAS

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For some years now our family has supported Operation Christmas Child, I can’t say for sure how long it is but as a young teen I remember bringing our packed shoe boxes into church to be sent off. Mum has continued to pack shoe boxes over the years and now it’s something we want Hannah to do each year in the run up to Christmas.

We donate through Operation Christmas Child, OCC is an initiative of Samaritan’s Purse UK, a Christian relief and development charity working amongst communities in need across Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

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FORAGED WREATH

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Inspired by the lovely Emma’s recent visit to Victoriana floral in Whitehead for a wreath making workshop I thought it would be fab to have a go at some DIY wreath making! I gave my good friend Claire a shout to see what she thought and we decided we’d be mad enough to give it a go!

Anyone who knows me well knows our garden is a work in progress (that’s putting it politely!) we inherited this crazy unkempt wilderness with huge shrubs and 60 foot evergreens when we bought our home two years ago and much as we try to manage it it requires a huge amount of work but what a joy it is for foraging….. copious amounts of various ivies, a blackberry bush, variegated holly, berried holly, berried shrubs, the colours and textures are endless! Whats not to love about the array of autumn colours mixed with the evergreens and all the berries appearing for the birds, I really enjoyed foraging in my garden.

Claire also took a stroll through the local Clandeboye estate and my dad got in on the act foraging through the hedgerows of the family fields ‘at home’ in Portadown. What an array of finds we gathered, enough for ten wreaths i’m sure!

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