Some exciting news!!!

I’ve wanted to write this blog post for about six weeks. At times, it’s felt like I would never get the chance to write it. But now, after weeks of worry, excitement, nerves, happiness, sadness, anger, disappointment and just about every other emotion someone could possibly feel, I can actually write it down. It’s a long one, I warn you!

This Birmingham born and bred family are moving house…to North Wales.

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If you had asked me two or three months ago would we ever uproot ourselves and move 130 miles away from our family and our friends, I would have laughed. I couldn’t visualise living so far away from everyone. Then our situation changed.

It’s a really long story, but basically, the landlady of the house we are in now, after promising that she wanted long term tenants has decided to sell the house after just six months of us living here. We found this out at the beginning of the summer holidays, and as you can imagine we were heartbroken and worried. We’ve moved five times in five years, and we thought we had found somewhere to live that was secure. We were due to go on holiday a few days after being hit with that bombshell and decided to put it out of mind until we came home.

Our holiday, as you know, was to North Wales – in a little village just outside of Prestatyn. We have been on holiday to that area a few times now, and we absolutely love it. We’ve always said that the area is perfect for raising a family but never thought for one minute we would ever be raising our family there.

On the journey I home, I pretty much cried the whole way home, knowing we were leaving somewhere I felt safe to go back to Birmingham – a city that I absolutely loathe and detest – and all the stress of finding a new house. The next day, we started the horrible task of looking for a house and realised just how much we didn’t want to live in Birmingham anymore. It was so much more than post-holiday blues, but a feeling that we just needed to get away. It’s not a nice place to live – it’s dirty, and the areas we could afford to live in are some of the most deprived areas in the country. We phoned my mum and dad that evening to tell them about our landlord selling (we had decided not to tell them until after the holiday) and the first thing my mum and dad said was ‘move to Wales’ before we even said anything. It sounds ridiculous, but that was the point we knew we would do everything in our power to make it happen. We had nothing to lose. My work goes wherever I go, and Graham is out of work at the moment, so no worry about him losing a job. The kids are young enough to adapt to new situations. The next day we booked viewings.

It took us three trips to Wales to find our little bungalow by the sea. We saw many houses, all of which we loved, but like all rental properties, there were at least three or four applicants for every house. Unfortunately, we were always on the backfoot because of me being self-employed and Graham not having a job there immediately. We began to think it would never happen, until the third, and our final trip there.

I’ve never been superstitious, not in the slightest, but since the whole process of house hunting started, I’ve become a nightmare for looking out for signs. It was our third time going there (third time lucky!), we saw a double rainbow (sign of luck!), I heard one of my favourite songs on the radio, that I haven’t heard in years (Ocean Drive by Lighthouse Family – apt or what?) and quite a few other things that told me this house was ours.

It’s been a long process with the referencing, but yesterday we FINALLY had confirmation that we had been accepted, and we pick the keys up to our little bungalow by the sea next week and move in officially the weekend after.

It’s not perfect. It needs a lick of paint. But we are SO excited. It’s a three bedroom bungalow in a quiet little estate, which I think is mostly older people. It’s just outside of Rhyl, which in recent years has had a massive regeneration and is a beautiful place to visit. We have a beach about ten minutes walk from our bungalow, and believe me, we will be making the most of that!

At the moment, I’m just excited, but I know over the next few days it will hit me that I won’t be able to pop around and see my mum and dad, brothers and nan at the drop of a hat. I’ll miss them all a lot, as I will my friends. But…it’s only 130 miles away. It’s not the other side of the world. We can back in Birmingham in a couple of hours, and we will come back at least once a month hopefully to spend a weekend here. A blogger, and I can’t remember who, told me that when she moved away from her family, the time she did spend with them was much more appreciated and special, and I’m holding onto that. My parents adore the area as much as we do, and I know they will come and visit us as well. My mum works in a school so can come and stay a few days in the holidays, which will be lovely. I watched Harrison play with his friends at a party the other day, and I felt sad knowing I’m taking him out of that. I really hope he stays in touch with his besties, but I also know he will make new friends as well.

It’s going to be a huge change for all of us. We will literally only have each other to begin with. They’ll be no date nights or child-free days out because we don’t know anyone in the area to babysit. My dad won’t be ten minutes away when we need something fixing or to borrow a tool.  It’s probably going to be tough at times, but I know, without a doubt, that the benefits of living there will outweigh any negatives. It’s going to be a much better way of life for us all – and I can’t wait to be in our bungalow by the sea.

 

How do parents relax around the home?

With three boisterous boys aged five and under and being self-employed, I rarely have time to sit and really chill out. If I’m not sorting them out, or doing the housework, I’m writing and blogging. The few moments that I do get, I like to sit and watch a film or read a book with a cup of tea or glass of wine. I used to love having a soak in the bath, but as we don’t have a bath in this house, I can’t do that anymore!

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Bath Time Adventures with HiPP

Bath time has always been a favourite part of our day. All three kids are little water babies and love nothing better than a splash in the bath. Sadly, in our house, we don’t have a bath. Instead, we have a huge walk in shower. Luckily, ever since they were little the kids have had showers as well as baths so are used to it. It means they don’t get the fun of a splash around quite as often these days, but they still love getting in the shower!

As part of our HiPP Explorer role, we were asked if we wanted to try out their new bath time range. Of course, we said yes – we are huge fans of HiPP Organic food, so I knew we would love them!

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We’ve been pretty lucky that none of our children have ever had sensitive skin, but I still worry about what nasty chemicals are in the products that we use on their skin, so I was pretty pleased to find out that just like the food, the HiPP Bathtime products are completely free of nasties.

The new range includes:

  • Foaming Hand Wash (and refills)
  • Goodnight baby bath
  • Baby Shampoo
  • Head to Toe Baby Wash

Of course, the boys couldn’t wait to jump in the shower to try the shampoo and body wash out! We tried it out after a particularly grubby day – we wanted to see how it would stand up to dried baked beans and ice cream in their hair, and plenty of dirt from the garden!

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It got a massive thumbs up from us. There were no tears when we rinsed the shampoo out, and the body wash had a lovely subtle fragrance, leaving the kids smelling lovely and clean. Their hair was silky soft as well. I loved the fact that the baby wash was in a pump format – nothing more annoying than trying to fiddle with opening a bottle when you have wet, slippery hands.

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We also loved the foaming handwash. It looks absolutely adorable on the bathroom sink, and the fun design makes the kids want to wash their hands without me nagging. I think it is great that you can buy the refills for it as well – much better for the environment!

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The HiPP Organic Free From Bath Range is available exclusively at Tesco, and you can find more information about the products on their website.

*We were sent these products and some bath toys as part of our HiPP Explorer role. All thoughts and opinions are our own. 

 

Choosing a Baby Name

Pretty much every day over the past few weeks, I’ve logged on to Facebook to see pregnancy and new baby announcements – it’s like there is a little baby boom going on amongst my friends! The one thing I always look forward to seeing and hearing is what my friends call their babies. Naming a child is one of the most difficult decisions that you have to make, and I love hearing why people have chosen particular names.

It got me thinking about back when we came up with the names that we chose for our boys, and why we chose those names. Being a teacher, I’ve taught a lot of children and been put off a LOT of names. I was absolutely in love with a boys name for years and ended up teaching a child with that name. He was an absolute nightmare, and now whenever I hear that name I shudder. Imagine if I had met that child after choosing that name?!

Choosing a Baby Name | www.coffeecakekids.com

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Bidvine Review

One thing I hate doing, almost more than anything else, is getting quotes for something. It’s boring and it is time-consuming and to be honest, probably ends me costing me more because of my pure laziness.

For example, last week we needed someone to come out and put a new tyre on our car. Our usual garage couldn’t get out to us that day, so I was tasked with finding someone to come to do it. I phoned up the first local place that came up on a google search and booked them in. I possibly could have saved us a few quid if I had phoned around a few places and got a few quotes, but to be honest, I hate doing it so much!

Bidvine got in touch with us and asked us to review their website, which helps you to find quotes for various services in your local area. This sounded like something that would make my life a lot easier, and probably save us some money, so we gave it a go. I was tasked with finding a photographer in our local area.

It’s a really simple and self-explanatory system. You visit the Bidvine website, type in the service that you require and your postcode.

Bidvine online quote service | www.coffeecakekids.com

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Lottoland

I’ve never really been a big lottery player. I’ve never won and I’m terrible for losing tickets or forgetting to check them. I like the odd scratchcard, but again, they end up in the bottom of my handbag or put on the side, never to be seen again. When Lottoland got in touch and asked me to review their website, I was keen to give it a go. It’s all online, so no risk of losing my tickets, and even better, gave me access to all sorts of different lotteries that I might not otherwise have played – for example, the Irish lottery or the American Powerball lottery, which had a £1 billion jackpot earlier this year – can you just imagine winning that sort of money?!

Lottoland | www.coffeecakekids.com

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The 5 Best Family Friendly Cruise Locations

If cruising with your kids isn’t something you’ve considered when planning a vacation, then maybe it’s time for a rethink. Cruise lines have been updating, expanding, and prices are constantly becoming more competitive. This means that not only are they more affordable than ever, with last minute cruise deals and all-inclusive cruises like NCL Cruises and Holland America combining luxury and value, but they’re now becoming small floating cities.

Many cruise liners now have shops, cinemas, spas, gyms, pools, climbing walls — if you can imagine it, you can find it on a boat. With so many activities, no matter what age the kids are, there will be something to entertain them while you slip away for some spa time. Not only that, but with cruises from the UK becoming more popular, there’s no navigating busy airports and baggage regulations, no hotel check-out times, and no buses to catch. A cruise is perfect if you want to give up stressful travel itineraries, sit back, and just enjoy your holiday.

So when you’ve decided a cruise is the way to go, where should you visit? From theme parks to tropical paradises, here are five amazing options to inspire you — whether you’re a family of adventure junkies, beach bums, or a mixture of both.

The 5 Best Family Friendly Cruise Locations

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Degustabox August 2016

We look forward to our Degustabox being delivered every month, and this month it came just a couple of days after we came back from our holiday, which was a bonus. If you haven’t heard of Degustabox before, it’s a monthly food and drink subscription box, costing £12.99. The products in the box vary every month, and it’s a great way to try out new things without breaking the bank.

Degustabox | www.coffeecakekids.com

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Preparing for a Family Adventure

One of our favourite things to do is get out and about exploring on a weekend, whether it is to a new park, a new city, the forest or even a trip to the seaside. Our kids love being outdoors and finding new places, so we do it often as we can. It’s taken us a few years, and lots of mini-disasters but I think we have finally nailed being prepared for an adventure. Autumn is one of the best times of years to go out on an adventure – everything is just a little bit prettier and more colourful – so I thought I would share some of these tips with you.

Preparing for a family adventure | www.coffeecakekids.com

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Oreo Chocolate Truffles

Now, before I start, I need to give full credit to my mum, because I haven’t even attempted to make these! She’s made them a couple of times now, experimenting with different ingredients, but this is the one that we all agree is the best. They’re very rich – even a chocoholic like me can only manage two at the most – but they are utterly delicious.

Oreo Chocolate Truffles | www.coffeecakekids.com

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The Duke of Lancaster

Every time we have been to Wales, we have driven past an old rusty ship, in Mostyn. We never managed to get quite close enough to see it properly until last weekend when we went to Wales for the day. We found the pathway that led down to where the ship was moored to get a better look at it.

I’ve also been really fascinated by rusty ships, but I also think they’re really creepy. They’re the perfect setting for a ghost story, and are usually full of history. We managed to get a couple of photos of the ship before the rain came down, but as soon as we got home I researched it as I finally knew the name – The Duke of Lancaster. 

The Duke of Lancaster | www.coffeecakekids.com

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Transforming Your Bathroom

Living in a rented property means very little choice or freedom over what your home looks like. We can give it a lick of paint when and where it needs it, but that’s about it. Luckily, this house is ok, apart from the bathroom.

Don;t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with it as such. It’s in fairly decent condition (we have lived with some horrors in previous houses!), but it’s very, very basic. There is a toilet, sink and shower cubicle, and that’s it.

As much as we love having a huge shower, the kids and I really miss having a bath. There’s nothing like having a long soak in the bath after a long day, and the kids used to love having a splash about. Still, that’s something we don;’t have much of a say over.

Transforming your bathroom | www.coffeecakekids.com

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One of Those Days

I think we are pretty lucky with our three boys. When people realise we have three boys, all aged five and under, they look amazed and comment on how difficult it must be. We laugh along and nod our heads, but generally, it’s really not that bad. They can have their moments, but they’re generally very well behaved. They’re all really close and get on well, so there’s rarely any bickering.

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Monarch Airlines: A Spanish Fiesta

A few weeks ago I attended probably one of the best blogging events I have been to so far. It was a Spanish themed event hosted by Monarch Airlines to celebrate the very best of Barcelona and Madrid.

It was a lovely intimate event, with just a small group of us being treated to a real Spanish experience, involving lots of sangria, tapas, and flamenco dancing, all at the beautiful Amantia restaurant in Birmingham city centre.

Spain is such a beautiful country, and I love anything associated with it, so to spend an evening immersed in its culture with two of my best blogging buddies, Zara from Mojo Blogs and Louise from Birds and Lilies was my idea of perfection.

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Being in the Picture

A couple of months ago, I was asked to send a photo to someone for an article. The photo needed to be of me and the kids. Hours of searching through the many, many photos I have saved (and I am talking thousands!) and all the pictures on Facebook proved pointless. There wasn’t any. Not a single photo of the three boys and me. We had to try and get one really quickly on the sofa, in really poor light.

Being in the picture | www.coffeecakekids.com

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The Soothing of the Sea

Up until about six years ago I was never really a fan of the beach. It was alright for a few days, but the sand used to irritate me, and I’d much prefer looking around the towns than going to the seaside when we were on holiday. I was definitely a city girl.

Then something changed. I’m not sure exactly what made me feel so different. A couple of months before I found out I was pregnant with Harrison, we went on a big family holiday to a cottage in Wales. It was up in the hills in North Wales, with no mobile phone signal and no local shop. It was surrounded by countryside and overlooked the beach. It was stunning.

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