OUR SUMMER ROUND-UP

I knew this summer was set to be full of fun and adventures, and it didn’t disappoint. I take far too many photos on a daily basis, so I picked out most of my favourites and decided to document them here, because let’s be honest, they’ll only be drowned in my mammoth “photos to be sorted” file otherwise. So here’s our summer 2017 in pictures.

First stop, a night away in sunny Bristol for Father’s Day: 

We spent a weekend in Butlins celebrating my sister’s 30th birthday. 

Summer sunshine came to an abrupt holt as soon as Archie broke up from school for the holidays. We didn’t make it to the beach half as much as I’d have liked to go this year; the sandy bags, toes and bums really aren’t worth it unless the sun is shining. On one occasion we made it to the sea shore, we dipped our toes in the cold water and also went crabbing for the very first time. This was right up Archie’s street. Both him and Millie held a crab, even though they pinch! 

Where you would have found little Miss Ebonie this summer; in her highchair, or causing mischief!

We had a lovely night away at Carey’s Manor in the New Forest. The hotel is set in lovely grounds, and there’s no denying the beauty of the New Forest. The reason for the road trip was to go to Peppa Pig World, but on the day it poured and it poured and it poured… so after Millie & Ebonie got to see the real Peppa Pig, we ended up heading home much earlier than planned.  

Craving some sunshine and poolside fun, we headed for a last minute trip to Marbella. These four days away were by far my most favourite of the summer; relaxing by the pool and just enjoying the company of my sweet little family. 

[Onslow Steam Rally, August Bank Holiday]

Releasing Archie’s home grown butterflies … probably a highlight of his summer! 

Archie’s birthday always brings summer to a sweet end. 

ARCHIE’S PARTY OF DREAMS

Ever since we went to my nephew’s treasure hunt party back in June, Archie had his heart set on just that for his birthday. His Taid & Naini were more than happy to take on the task of ‘treasure hunt party organisers’, but I was in two minds as to whether five and six year olds would be old enough to take on the obstacles, follow the clues and find the hidden treasures set up by my parents. Archie was not going to be swayed, so a treasure hunt is what he got, and he literally had THE BEST DAY EVER!

Fifteen little treasure hunters accompanied us for a few hours of fun. After opting for an easy ‘Happy Meal’ lunch, we returned to my parents’ to let the hunting commence. We had five groups of three, and they were all set on task in fifteen minute intervals, and the quickest team home would be the winners. As well as finding little ‘treasures’ along the trail, each team had to return home with an assembled Mr Potato Head, and they had to follow ribbons and clues to find all of the hidden pieces.

Archie’s team set off at speed, determined to come back in record time. Of course, Mamerazzi was out in full force, and as I followed his team around the course, I could see how much he was really loving his day. His team did arrive home in the fastest time, but were equalled by another team, who went on to win the deciding penalty shoot out. He was later crowned ‘Treasure Hunt Expert’, and received a ‘REAL’ trophy, making his best day ever even better!

Seeing as we have a nature loving boy in Archie, the party theme was ‘bugs’. We had insect inspired cup cakes, worm jelly, snake sweets and the most amazing birthday cake made by Archie’s Aunt Bessy. The ‘treasure’ found along the trail was also all insect related.

Two adults accompanied each team, merely there to supervise and ensure all children arrived home safely. It seems that maybe they also needed their own supervisors, as not one, but two of them fell in the river. It made the day a bit more memorable for them, and us 😉

All fifteen little treasure hunters embraced the party, and went home possibly exhausted, but happy.

A LETTER FOR MY SON

Nope, it can’t be true. It just can’t be. Somebody hit fast forward and our first born is six! Six years old. This is more than half way to ten. This is big!

Archie, I have spent the last six years with you, guiding you, teaching you, and learning from you. For all that I have taught you, you have taught me so much more. Motherhood has been a massive learning curve, and I am forever grateful that I got to experience all the ‘firsts’ with you, my first baby.

You’re just the best big brother to your two doting sisters. Although you’re only a couple of years older, you love that you’re the oldest. You’re patient with them, and love to teach them new things. It goes without saying that they can be a nuisance and Ebonie sometimes messes up your line of perfectly parked cars, but I know, given the chance, you wouldn’t actually “send them back”. You’re genuinely proud of them, and they’re very lucky that they’re a l w a y s going to have you looking out for them.

Unbeknown to me, at some point this year, you’ve grown too big for me to carry. Of course I can pick you up if I really try, but it no longer happens. I love to watch you grow and change, each new milestone is exciting, but if only I knew the last time we would share a moment, I would slow down and soak it in a little more. You can now run faster, climb higher and in your own time you mastered the monkey bars at school. You’ve learnt to read, to write, to add, to subtract, to multiply; you’re like a sponge taking in so much information. Over the summer I’ve seen a change in your character; your self confidence has grown, and you feel happier to try things without me holding your hand. This makes my eyes swell, but makes my heart swell more.

You’re growing into the most lovely, thoughtful little person; a son I am immensely proud of. A true Mummy’s boy, that I can always count on for a cwtsh. You like to think you’re the “boss”, and you sulk like nobody’s business, but this is what makes you, you. Just like your skinny, little legs, my love for you keeps growing and growing.

Thank you for being kind and loving, and more importantly, thank you for being mine.

“I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.”

BACK TO SCHOOL

So this week brings the return of routines, school runs, and an added pre-school drop off. Millie has started preschool two mornings a week, and she really loved her first session. Before leaving, she decided she needed to pack her “shchool” bag and was adamant the contents were required! Who was I to argue?

All I’m hearing is, “Three is big Mummy, I’m a big girl” … yes sweetheart, you are so very big now. At least it’s only two mornings a week to begin with, to ease me in gently 😉

Archie went back to school and up to year 1. He has a new teacher, and wasn’t too happy that his group had to “work” all day on his first day back. By today, Mrs W is flavour of the month and he tells me he was allowed to play on the computer. So, all in all he seems to be having a good first week back.

I decided to start a new little tradition of asking them a simple questionnaire at the beginning of each year … I’m hoping the answers will be fun to look back on in years to come.

What would you like to be when you’re a grown up?
Archie: A postman (see instagram for explanation)
Millie: A Mum (how sweet)
Ebonie: [waffle]
What’s your favourite colour?
Archie: White
Millie: Pink
Ebonie: Dub Dwb Da
What’s your favourite animal?
Archie: Butterfly
Millie: Tiger
Ebonie: [You pay most attention to ‘bow wows’ and ponies]
What’s your favourite thing to eat?
Archie: Sausage
Millie: Crackers
Ebonie: [everything!]
What’s your favourite film?
Archie: Batman
Millie: Boss Baby
Ebonie: [101 Dalmatians]
Who’s your favourite character?
Archie: Batman
Millie: Rapunzel
Ebonie: [Peppa Pig]
What’s your very favourite toy?
Archie: His bike outdoors and toy red car indoors
Millie: Rusty – her super-dog soft toy
Ebonie: [Dolls pram]

 

FLOWER FIELDS OF DREAMS

Last month we took a road trip in search of Shropshire Petals‘ confetti fields, and my gosh did they make for the perfect backdrop for me to get snap happy. The rows and rows of delicate flowers were absolutely beautiful.

Both Millie and Ebonie were a tad under the weather, poor Ebonie wasn’t happy unless she was glued to my hip, hence the lack of pictures of her. The weather was also so unpredictable, one minute too sunny, the next it was raining; but I still managed to capture some beautiful photographs that have made it into my all time favourites 🙂

 

BRINGING THE INDOORS, OUT

Anyone else have dreams of al fresco dining all summer? C’mon British summertime, bring back that glorious sunshine and let us enjoy the last of the summer evenings in style. Let us fling open the doors and bring the inside out.

Since we built our home 3 years ago, the garden has been an on-going project, and it’s so satisfying to see it all coming together. This summer seen the construction of the pergola, and it quickly transformed the patio and created an extension to our open plan kitchen.  We invested in some long lasting, weather proof garden furniture and the area has become an extended dining room, bringing home-like vibes outdoors. Our Rebo In-Ground Trampoline was installed and in between the showers, the children have played non-stop on it all summer. Finally, we replaced the lawn with artificial grass, and the big “jobs” were all complete!

Bringing the indoors, out:

I aimed to create a space where family and friends would be drawn to. A space that will be useful for our day to day family life, all year round. Our large bifold doors instantly open up the kitchen into the garden, and this makes the whole indoor/outdoor idea so achievable. The outdoor area is so accessible, and the doors are always open at every opportunity. The children come in and out as they please, and the space outdoors is now safe and secure for them.

Creating a stylish outdoor space was key for me, and being the Laura Ashley addict that I am, I browsed through their AW17 catalogue and was inundated with items suitable to add the homely touches to our patio area. I added in some accent scatter cushions, a throw, a basket of hydrangeas and some lanterns and the outdoor space instantly became so enticing. I love adding the little details to any project, and I opted for a vibe that will see us through to Autumn. The area includes some floral, fresh, pastel, Summer accents, while the darker purple shades incorporate a warm, cosy feel ready for the cooler days.

(Brass Finish Tealight LanternLarge Brass Effect LanternLemington ThrowWisteria Printed Duck Egg CushionLittle Vines Printed Hedgerow CushionLarge Round Wicker Basket)

(Kubu Oval Storage Basket)

Now, if the weather ever decides to play ball, we could have more moments like this – I have no idea who she takes after 😉

To add the finishing touch to our outdoor space, it needed lighting. I bought some battery operated festoon lights from Festive Lights and fixed these to the pergola. The lanterns are undoubtedly my favourite part of the outdoor area, and Laura Ashley have a vast amount to choose from. Along with the light fixtures and festoon lights, the lanterns create an inviting glow in the evenings, and this is when I feel the area really comes into its own.

Creating a stylish outdoor space opens up your living arrangements, and it’s a great place to unwind, to enjoy some family time and even some peace and quiet to yourself from time to time.

This post is in collaboration with Laura Ashley – my very favourite UK home interior brand 🙂

A SNEAK PEAK THROUGH OUR FRONT DOORS (in collaboration with Laura Ashley)

As my first house and home post, I feel really nervous writing this, so please bear with me.

Since we built and moved into our home three years ago, life has been pretty hectic and finishing our interior has been a never ending task! Always at the bottom of my daily to do list, it’s still not finished but I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Our hallway has always been my biggest bugbear. The big open space left me lacking vision, but last month I finally got round to ordering some pieces of furniture from Laura Ashley, and at last it all started to take shape. I’ve always been a massive fan of Laura Ashley for their timeless, yet modern touch, and I wasn’t disappointed by the choice available. In fact, the only problem was too much choice! For more information on the individual pieces of furniture see the Laura Ashley Blog where I have shared all the details.

Adding the accessories to a room is always my favourite part, and although most things featured are indeed from Laura Ashley, I also found some lovely bits and bobs trawling through Instagram. The chunky knit throw on the sofa is from @chun-kees and it’s so soft and comfy.

I couldn’t have a “finished” room without a mini photo wall, it really wouldn’t me my style not to have a space to hang even more pictures of my little tribe. I also included some prints by the lovely @sweetheartfoils to coordinate with the room decor.

I hope you enjoyed the little insight to our home … will hopefully pluck up the courage to share more soon 🙂

Bluebells …

It’s becoming somewhat of an annual photo opportunity to step into a sea of bluebells and attempt some staged photographs of our growing family. It’s lovely to look back at the pictures and see how much they’ve grown each time, even if it does make me a tad emotional.

2015: Millie was very similar age to Ebonie here. I remember her being so calm to photograph, where as today Ebonie seemed so much cheekier and she really plays up to the camera (maybe it’s because she’s never known life without a camera lens in her face!)  

2016: Forever the attentive big brother. Some things never change. Millie seems to have grown so much since last year.  

2017: 

Archie’s always eager to step behind the camera, and I’m always secretly pleased to find maybe one or two out of every hundred taken that I am happy to share. These capture Ebonie’s cheeky character perfectly, playing her favourite game:

Thanks for looking, Rhi xx

MILLIE’S UNICORN INSPIRED 3RD BIRTHDAY

Thank you all so much for the birthday wishes for our sweet three year old. Millie had a magical day and we had such a great weekend throwing her party. I can’t believe my baby is three years old!     

She’s engrossed in make-believe, princesses and magic, and the fact that she made a wish for a Unicorn was pure coincidence as a Unicorn inspired party had been planned in my head for months. That said, apart from her flower crown, nothing was ordered and no one was invited until the Monday before her party [queue panic stations]. I’m always last minute organising a party at the best of times, but I was lacking enthusiasm to organise another so soon after Ebonie’s. Millie was adamant that she wanted a party, and precisely asked for a Unicorn cake so that she could blow out “fwree” candles. Knowing how much it meant to her gave me some motivation, and her excitement in the run up to her special day was really lovely.

The weather was perfect for our little ray of sunshine. Up went the bouncy castle and the little guests were all entertained, outdoors! I’d decorated our shelves in a Unicorn theme, with a Meri-Meri Unicorn Garland and a Unicorn print from Wonderdust Designs. We had the usual party food; sarnies, crips, biscuits and jelly. I’d made some themed cup cakes using Meri-Meri Unicorn Toppers. I managed to buy some last minute personalised party bag fillers from PaperPixi, and I made the party bags myself the morning of the party!

Onto the birthday cake, and the hardest task of the party for me! This style cake has popped up on my Instagram feed numerous times and although I knew exactly how I wanted the cake to look, I really wasn’t confident I could pull it off. I was super duper happy with the finished result. Millie had made the inside sponge cake with me on the Saturday, and she kept insisting that it needed to be white and not the sponge colour she could see. I reassured her that I’d get to work on it as soon as she was in bed, and sure enough the next morning her first words when she came downstairs were, “where’s my cake?” She loved it! As soon as her little friends started to arrive she kept leading them to see her “wokin horn” cake! #proudmummymoment

However, the cake was soon to be over-shadowed!

Millie’s Unicorn top was made very last minute by Rocket & Rose, her tutu was from Next, her cloud socks from Miley & Moss and her spectacular Unicorn flower crown was from Aurora Fawn.

Then came the main star of the show, the Unicorn! I pulled in a huge favour from my pony obsessed little sister and she delivered the best surprise ever! While the party guests were entertained on the bouncy castle, we took Millie to meet her Unicorn. Her little face lit up. She couldn’t contain her excitement. When she asked him if he’d flown here he even nodded in response … that was magic! As she rode him to greet all of the party guests she said, “Here’s the wokin horn. It’s a wokin horn. Here he is. Do you like him?” As her friends gathered round, she sat on her Unicorn proud as punch, feeling on top of the world! That moment will stay with her for a long time. My sister gave each of her friends a turn to ride and some spent the whole of the party taking it in turns to have a go. It was definitely worth all of the effort.

Her party was so much fun, she was smiling from ear to ear the entire day & loved it all!

365 Days of Ebonie

I did it. Well, almost! I missed a few days here and there, and some days I resorted to a shot of her sleeping in her cot because I’d forgotten during the day … but I am so pleased with the finished project. The difference between our tiny, sleepy newborn, compared to the cheeky, full of life one year old we now have, is clear to see. All of her days were recorded, from the mundane days, to the days full of adventure, it’s all there in the tiny squares.

Here’s our squidgy, fresh newborn on day 1:

Compared to our butter wouldn’t melt, fiery one year old on day 365:

I first completed a #project365 for Archie in 2013 after coming across the idea on instagram. He was 15 months when I started and that was a really fun age to document as he had so many ‘firsts’ to record in that year. I still love looking at the collage now, and it instantly brings back memories from the days we spent together during that year. A project doesn’t have to be to document a baby’s first year. Our little people grow up so quickly, and looking back over any year when they used to be smaller is so sentimental, whether that be when they were 1, 5 or 10.

I love taking pictures of our day to day lives, and completing these projects made me think outside the box in an attempt to get an interesting picture each day. My photography skills improved no end. I learnt so much about using my big camera in manual mode, but most of the pictures were taken with my iPhone camera so I also learnt a lot about framing, composition, and most of all about the necessity of good natural light!

If you’re considering starting your own project, just do it! I set up a separate instagram account where I could keep a record of all of the pictures together, and it was easy to download them all using InstaBro when I was ready to make the collage. Now, I am no wizz kid using photoshop (that’s on my extending to do list), but I did manage to make the collage using the software with the help of an online tutorial. If anyone wants any help with this then please just ask, I’d be happy to help if I can.

There was a sigh of relief when Ebonie’s project was finally finished. Don’t get me wrong, part of me loved taking the pictures and I’ve captured some memories I will always want to remember, but it did become a bit of a chore on times to take a picture every single day (hence why some days were missed). I will probably get the itch to attempt another project at some point but I’m thinking more along the lines of a whole family project, because let’s face it, there’s rarely a day that goes by without mamarazzi appearing!

The final result is something I am very proud of, and it will be framed and hung (sometime in the next 10 years) next to Archie & Millie’s, for us all to gush over as my little family grows older!