A Whole New Way To Shower

[AD] When it comes to designing a bathroom it can be a bit of a minefield with so many different options to chose room.

Shall we have vanity unit or shelving? shall we get roll top bath or just a shower unit? shall we tile the whole room or add paper?

The list can go on and on but ultimately what you need is something that is going to suit the whole family and everyone’s needs and I know for us we couldn’t be without a shower.

For us the speed and efficiency you get from having a shower is something we definitely need as having a large family utilising our time well is an absolute must; and this is certainly one way to save a lot of time in the morning when there are so many of us trying to get ready and leave the house.

A shower is also way more energy efficient than a bath. It has actually been calculated that a 10 mins shower only uses 25 gallons of water compared to the 70 it takes to fill a bath, making it is better for the environment and kinder on your pocket which are two things that we think about a lot in our home.

My eldest son is lucky enough to have an en-suite in his room and this is the perfect place to have a shower but due to the limited space a wet room would actually be something that for us would probably work a lot better than the usual shower unit for many reasons:

Space Saving – Wet rooms optimise the use of space in bathroom by taking out the need for bulky shower trays and doors and making way for a free flow area which creates a lot more space.

Having to make the entire space waterproof also means you are less likely to get any leaks like you could with a traditional shower unit.

Interior Heaven – For me the sleek design you can get with a wet room is a big pull for me. Floor to ceiling tiles that fill the entire area creates a modern, seamless look that won’t date easily. You can keep the design as simple as you want with minimal accessories and all of those much needed products stored away in cabinets to keep it clutter free, giving you a more relaxing experience.

Squeaky Clean – One of my pet hates is cleaning the shower. Having to try and squeeze round tight corners to get in and give it a good clean is a real pain and something you avoid with a wet room. Plus you are removing the need for grout which we all know if a nightmare for breeding mildew which is a nightmare to get off!

Easy Access – This one for us is a real bonus when it comes to showering the little ones. They always opt for a bath as a shower unit makes them feel claustrophobic and uneasy when the shower door had to be closed shut. This problem is taken away with a wet room and the openness is far more appealing to little ones.

Our January…

Last year I started a series called “Celebrating The Small Things” were every week I would do a round up of all the little things I had to be thankful for such as one of the children learning to tie there shoes or the excitement of seeing the first flowers of spring.

Being the unorganised and scatty person that I am, committing to getting this done every week all got to much but I still wanted to keep something going this year so I’ve switched things up about with a round up style post of our month and I hope you like what you see.

We kicked the year off in a pretty amazing way with a visit to Center Parcs. This is by far one of our favourite places to get away too but the price isn’t always to attractive. We managed to get a great deal and had a few days to relax, try out some new activities, swim to our hearts content and eat our body weight in pancakes.

After a pretty hectic Christmas and a trip away we decided the rest of the holiday should be dedicated to relaxing, recouping and enjoying our new home. I am always on the look out for the next thing to do and after a discussion with the kids we decided this year would be the year to take things at a slower pace and enjoy things like movies nights and playing board games instead of always being out chasing a new adventure.

I’m truth if was Frankie that really made me feel terrible about the amount of time we spend out as he informed me he never gets a chance to just go to the park and ride his bike as I’ve always planned something. I know you mum guilt hits you all the time but I really felt terrible at the fact I must have been putting so much pressure on them.

It was Frankie’s birthday at the beginning of the month and we celebrated him turning seven with a his first day back a school which didn’t go down to well and a steak dinner. Next year it’s my mission to not let the December and January birthdays go so unnoticed.

I jumped on the keep fit bandwagon with the majority of people and got myself back into David Lloyd more regularly again. The weight had certainly piled on again over Christmas and I was eager to hit those goals again this year.

After a bit of a nightmare with going backwards and forwards to hospital and orthodontist visits, both Izzy and Archie are finally on their way to getting perfect teeth after having their braces fitted.

I’m sure most of you feel the same and get pretty bored of the same old meals everyday. I was as bored of cooking them as the kids were of eating them so I dusted off the cookbooks and tried some things I’ve never had before. All I can say is move over Wagamama as I can now cook a pretty mean katsu curry!

I’ve been adding a few pieces to the house to put our own stamp on it, but with things being a little tight I have been trying to my good friends EBay and the bargain corner at IKEA and found some great pieces. It always makes me feel happier to know I’ve got a bargain.

We rounded the month off with our first event of the year and it was a good one to say the least. We headed to Islington for the release of How To Train Your Dragon. Not only was it an amazing movie they you all need to see but the interactive event was amazing and the boys literally felt like they had been transporting the Isle Of Berk.

Lapland UK – Creating Traditions

The moment the boys clapped eyes on the familiar little box from the end of the hallway they immediately knew that it was a gift from Father Christmas inviting them to Lapland UK. The mere sight of it had filled them with joy and they hurriedly opened the box that had been pre chilled by me as it had come from the cold climbs of Lapland UK. The pretty wax seals were delicately opened and I was over the moon that Frankie could read his invite this year which really added to the magic.

For me when it comes to Christmas there is nothing as special as having traditions that you can create year after year and through the familiarity bring something a little bit special to this magical time of year. For instance a trip to the farm with a pit stop at the pub has been something we have done on Christmas Eve for many years and making our own mince pies to leave for Father Christmas is a lovely thing to do each and every year and I hope that these little things will be passed down to my grandchildren.

I’m sure that a visit to Father Christmas is always on the list for most people and after speaking to friends this can also be the point in which a lot of children begin to question the authenticity of Father Christmas.

‘Why did he have blue eyes this year Mummy?’, ‘Why does his house look different this year?’. These are all little questions that come into inquisitive little minds and if  like me you want to keep the magic alive for as long as possible then visit that brings you the same wonder, with familiar surroundings and of course the most authentic Father Christmas you are ever going to see then Lapland UK will never be topped.

After last years visit where I was brought to tears and Frankie left exclaiming he had seen ‘the real’ Father Christmas I knew that this was an experience that would never be topped and one that would keep the magic alive for years to come.

Last year we visited in the daytime and I thought it would be good to see Lapland UK in all its glory when it was dark and the christmas lights were at their best. We pulled into the carpark and there were squeals of delight from the back of the car – even from Izzy who is a non believer now.

We headed towards the entrance and picked up our passports and Jingles (Lapland UK currency). Its these little touches that really make you feel you have been transported to somewhere else.

It wasn’t long before we were greeted by the friendly elves and their special ‘elf wave’ that the children had remembered from last year and before we new it we had started out journey. We all loved listening to the story of Lapland UK and hearing what was going to be expected from us all on our adventure.

We then headed off in our teams which are either team reindeer or team husky through the huge wooden doors that unveiled a snowy winer wonderland that really is something to behold.

The children hurried onto the Toy Factory while I took it at a slower pace to enjoy the amazing detail that goes into everything. No stone is left unturned when it come to detail here, they really do get everything just right. When we arrived at the Toy Factory the small folk, as the children are referred to at Lapland UK head in through the super cute little door and take to their seats, whilst the big folk later around the sides leaving the children to feel extra special by stating the task on their own. Ordinarily in situations like this Frankie is terrible and clinging to me and nine times out of ten will refuse to join in. It is however a completely different story here and he is more than happy to get stuck in and they all throughly enjoyed stuffing their toy penguin that is then left at the factory to give to little girls and boys on Christmas Eve.

From here we headed to Mother Christmas’s Kitchen where we were treated to a story from Mother Christmas who is as warm and loving as you would imagine and then they set to decoding their gingerbread men that Oscar and Izzy demolished in seconds, whilst Frankie packed his away to give to Father Christmas on Christmas Eve.

The small folks work was now done and we were given some time to explore the village which was even more spectacular in the dark. The snow cover trees and colourful lights set the most amazing atmosphere for us to take to the ice, grab a bite to eat and dose shopping.

I am not a fan of ice skating at all and the fact that they offer special attachments for the little ones shoes makes me so happy. The can then skate with ease so I can concentrate on keeping myself up right! All of that skating calls for something to warm you up and I have it from my little babychinno expect that Lapland UK offer the best babychinno he has ever had.

The bauble shop is always one of my favourite places and somewhere you can get a lovely momento of your trip. The children adore the toy shop which had changed around slightly this year and to me offered some amazing toys that were very reminiscent of Santa Claus The Movie and brought back some lovely memories for me.

The children love to select some goodies from the sweet shop where there is just to much to choose from and again a lovely place to pick up a little treat…or two!

It was now time to see the main attraction – Father Christmas, so we made our way along the snow cover path looking at the little eves homes and stopping to greet the reindeer on our way. One of the highlights for the boys last year was definitely making some reindeer food to take home and they were very excited to do this again whilst also keeping an eye out for all their favourite reindeers.

Our last stop was nearly upon us and after a very short wait we were taken by a very excitable elf to see Father Christmas. The children sat on the little bench outside full of excitement and anticipation and butterflies filled my tummy at the thought of seeing their little faces one we were inside.

Father Christmas was exactly as we had remembered him, the children were grinning from ear to ear and yet again aa tear came to my eye as he spoke about thing the children had been up to and wether or not they had made it onto the good list this year.

All as pleased as punch they had made it onto the list they received a gorgeous golden bell and cuddly husky, but I think above anything that little bit of time spent with the ‘real’ Father Christmas again is what made our trip.

Yet again Lapland UK gave us an afternoon of magic and winer that we will never forget and something that doesn’t easily get forgotten about once you get back home. The love they have for their huskies is there all year and they come on many a day out with us and being able to scatter the reindeer food and putting the gingerbread man out for Father Christmas on Christmas Eve means that a trip to Lapland UK really is a gift that keeps on giving and one we will never forget.

* We were invited along to Lapland UK for the purpose of this review and they are all my own honest opinions.

Investing More In Creating New Memories

Memories are wonderful things. They can transport us back to precious times and amazing places as well as allowing us to remember moments that may not have been so pleasant. Regardless of how the memories make us feel they can aid us in the future decisions we make which is oh so important.

I was very fortunate to have a wonderful childhood and my parents have built some amazing memories for me that I love to think back on. Many of which I probably bore my children with time and time again and lots that I use to recreate those happy time with my own children.

At this time of year especially I think back to all of those wonderful christmas traditionans my parents created and have probably been passed down through the generations. One that my Mum will certainly agree with is letting the children decorate the tree and then as soon as they are tucked up in bed completely rearranging it again!

My blog was first set up to capture all of these memories we make and as a digital tool to look back on in years to come, an online diary that can be accessed as an when we need to see all the amazing adventures we have shared as a family over the years. But last year I realised that it was all of the big things that were being documented and those little moments that are just as important were getting lost and probably forgotten about in the fast passed, hectic lives we live today.

This is what got my “celebrating the small things’ section of my blog started so that each week I can record all those precious little moments such as losing a tooth or getting an award at school – simple little things that actually mean a lot!

Due to the nature of my work I find it pretty easy to get out with the younger children and create precious memories but as a family on a whole with my husband working long hours and the older children having their own social lives or being drawn to the online world rather than getting out and about; making these memories can sometimes be pretty challenging.

This is why in the new year I am setting a challenge that at least twice a month we will all get together and do something as a whole family so that we have precious moments to look back on and hopefully this will help to shape a good memory bank of things to look back on in their adult life a give them experiences to relate back to when they start to stand on their own two feet.

How do find ways to create precious memories with your families? Do you agree with me that events and memories from your past shape your decisions in the future? I would love to hear your thoughts on this and hopefully I can pick up some tips and ideas for my New Year challenge.

*collaborated post

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Forty Six

This week on ‘celebrating the small things’ we’re talking Christmas books, Wagamama and Sunday roasts.

Christmas Books – We love bedtime stories in this house and at this time of year we dust off the Christmas books every evening to get into the Christmas spirit! I think I actually love this more than the kids!

Wagamama Trip – Frankie spends a lot of time at different hospitals for all his ailments bless him. A hospital he doesn’t seem to mind visiting though is St Thomas’s in Westminster.

We visit for his allergies a few times a year and he always get treated to a trip to Wagamama as it’s one of the best allergy friendly restaurants you can visit.

Sunday Roasts – Dinner times in our house are pretty erratic and during the week we never get to sit together and enjoy an evening meal. Now the colder weather has set in we try to make sure we sit down to a roast every Sunday and spent some quotient together…even if it is more like a chimpanzee tea party!

Getting Christmas Ready With Pines And Needles

For the past two years now I have been lucky enough to celebrate Christmas round one of Pines and Needles beautiful Nordmann Fir Christmas trees.

Pines and Needles offer a completely unique service that allows you to choose your tree from the comfort of your own home or go along to one of those many stores and select your own which they can then deliver to you or you can take home with you there and then.

If you want a little more than just a tree they also offer decoration service ranging from a fully decorated tree or simply threading of the lights which I know is a job that I always hate doing!

Something else that is always a pain is the disposal of the tree after Christmas but Pines and Needles have this covered too. They can simply pick up and dispose of your tree after you have stored away all your precious decorations or even come into your home to remove and carefully wrap your decorations as well as removing the tree and tidying up all the mess.

We have been over the moon with our tree each year and can’t wait for this year and if this sounds something that you would be interested in in then there is a summer offer that is still running until the end of this month which gives you 10% off your order. Just add the code SUMMER10 when placing your order and enjoy all that Pines and Needles have to offer.

Getting Teens Into Board Games With Staccups:Review

A while ago we decided to dedicate a Sunday evening to games night. With life being so hectic and a lot of down time spend online I think it is important to take a bit of time out and connect with the family and playing games together is the perfect way to do just that.

The younger ones are easy to please and are more than happy to join in but the older ones are harder to please and it takes a lot more to prize them away from their phones and gadgets.

There are a huge number of reasons why they are good for you and I have listed a few below:

Leaving The Digital World For A While – Our whole family spend way to much time on social media and the like, and taking time away from the screen allows you to pull yourself out of the digital world and contact with real time for a while which can’t be bad for anyone.

Reducess Stress – Life can be stressful for everyone, especially teens. To break away from everything for a few hours and immerse yourself into something fun and engaging can be a great stress reliever.

Increases Brain Function – Board games allow you to stimulate the brains areas that are responsible for thought and memory forming as well as improving decision making and cognitive skills.

Brings People Closer Together – I think playing a board game together is probably one of the rare times that we really engage with each other. It gives us the chance to chat, laugh and play and simply just enjoy each others company.

We had been getting a little board of the same board games we have at home so I was really please when we were asked to try out a new game from University Games called Staccups.

It is a two player games which is ideally suited to children over 8 years old. The aim of the game is to be the first player to stack all their cups. Cups must be stacked so that the colour of the top of the cup matches the colour of the cup below which means a pretty high amount of concentration is needed as well as speed.

We are a pretty competitive family so this was absolutly perfect for us.

It saw plenty of tense moments, lots and laughter and a few arguments over people putting the cups in the wrong order!

It was a great game for the teens and adults alike and I’m sure its going to be a favourite from now on.

* we were given this game for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

David Lloyd Clubs:The Start Of Our Family Fitness Journey

All the start of the year I wrote a post on the reasons that I wouldn’t be making any resolutions this year and was going to aim for longer term goals so there was no pressure to getting a huge long list of unobtainable goals completed by the end of the year.

Plenty of changes have sprung to mind with being more organised and procrastinating less…I can safely say this one is very much still a work in progress. One of my lifestyle changes however was to rekindle my love for fitness along with the rest of the family.

Going back three years…pre blog! I was an absolute gym bunny and nothing would get in the way of my daily training. This was all well and good but at times the Mum guilt would set in and I would feel bad for prioritising this time just for myself. This alongside trying to work hard to build my blog meant that sadly my exercise was the thing that I let go.

So with a pretty substantial weight gain and the pressure of spending quality time with the family I wanted a facility that could entertain, motivate and bring pleasure to us all through exercise and I knew this was going to be no mean feat.

The majority of gyms are solely for over eighteens and if the do have crèche facilities the hours tend to be limited and due to this very hard to book into. Then comes the teens and preteens who are often not allowed to use the gym equipment or join in with classes because of their age so get left out completely.

Thankfully David Lloyd Clubs have come to my rescue and asked me to try out their very family mined facilities for the next few months to see if it is possible to enjoy fitness as a family.

David Lloyd – Purley has recently undergone a huge makeover and no stone has been left unturned when planning this club which in one of the largest in the area.

There is something for everyone from a game of tennis on the numerous indoor and outdoor courts, the chance to take a dip in one of there two pools or just relax in the hot tub or sauna. There are workouts galore from a huge variety of group fitness classes to doing your own thing in the state of the art gym area.

If relaxation is what you are after then they have a fabulous cafe bar offering a huge variety of hot and cold meals, giving you the opportunity to grab a quick coffee or sit down with the family to have a tasty meal.

Your meals can even been served in the dedicated children’s area that has its own soft play area.

But for me the real attraction is their DL Kids facilities that allow the children to be cared for in the creche, older children have a huge variety of activies to take part in allowing them to have fun and meet new friends.

There are even specific classes put on for the family to take part in together such as family circuits and family spin they we can’t wait to try.

I really have only scratched the surface of what they have to offer here so please keep an eye on my Instastories to see what we are getting up to and I will be back on here very soon to let you know how we are getting on with this new and exciting journey.

*We were given a family menership for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

Making Boredom Fun

Today I woke up to a miserable, grey day with no plans and no intentions to leave the house at all. This of course an absolute bombshell drop on my children!

With their eyes out on stalks they looked at me in sheer disbelief and repeatedly chanted, “what we’re doing nothing at all”.

I take full responsibility for this as I feel the need to continually occupy the children and fill their days as much as possible. A weekend rarely goes by where I haven’t tried to arrange something exciting and the times there is not much on I always feel the need to get out of the house and do something, no matter how small.

This has certainly had a detrimental effect on us and I feel I have taken away the children’s ability to amuse themselves and be happy in their own home with their own time and space.

I remember as a child making shops with my sister, playing fashion shows and thoroughly enjoying simple things such as colouring or dancing around my room; yes of course I remember those times where I moaned to my parents about being bored but there was never that expectation to be occupied every waking minute, it was down to me to make my own entertainment.

Being bored allows children to explore their own imaginations, to be creative and inventive and to find activities that they have a real passion for.

Society has made us feel that we should be continually stimulate our children, to make their weekends as jam packed as possible and to be enrolling them on every activity possible where their entertainment is already structured for them and limits the chance for them to use their own imaginations.

After the day from hell with the children continually craving my attention, demanding to be amused and begging to be taken out they finally found their own entertainment and settled down to word games and books that they wouldn’t ordinarily pick without being promoted, they made up their own workout routine and the youngest two baked a cake together with little intervention from me.

To them this has obviously become learnt behaviour and so I have come up with a list of things I am going to stick to the fridge to help then get started with enjoying their own free time:

Read a book
Do a puzzle
Dress up
Paint
Draw
Play with playdoh
Make a cake
Make a Lego creation
Have a puppet show
Have a teddy bear’s tea party
Play football
Skip
Bug hunt
Jump in puddles
Make an exercise circuit
Make up a dance
Make a show
Practice magic tricks
Climb a tree
Write a story
Build a cardboard car/house
Junk modeling
Make paper aeroplanes

I would love to add to this list and know how your little ones spend their free time.

Teaching My Children To Make Non-Resolutions

In the past the 1st January has never filled me with hope and longing for the fresh New Year ahead but more of a sinking feeling that so many of those resolutions I had made the year before had not been achieved and probably more accurately been broken within the first week.

It heralds a time when society tells us that we need to compile huge lists of goals and aspirations for the year ahead that whist writing I am already in my head knowing that trying to fulfil all these dreams and wishes within such a short space of time is going to be unrealistically achievable.

I know that for many of you the dawn of a New Year is the perfect start to clean the slate and achieve new goals and I applaued you for this but it is simply something that has never worked for me.

As my children grow the tradition of New Years’s resolutions are obviously something that they have become interested in so this year I have decided to introduce non-resolutions.

Instead of looking back on the past year and highlighting the things we haven’t achieved I will be earging them to highlight the positives, even if they may have seemed insignificant at the time, its all of the little things that go unnoticed I want them to reflect on and celebrate.

Instead of setting goals within an arbitrary time frame I want them to create life goals they can strive towards and achieve when they are good and ready, have hopes and dreams they can fulfil within a time that suits them and most importantly celebrate simply being who they are and be proud of whatever they achieve whenever they choose to do it.