A couple of weeks ago I went to a small but fantastic blogger event in Birmingham. You may have the seen some of the photos of the event on my Instagram, and my ‘real life’ friends may have heard me chatting away about it this week.

The #BloggerTikiParty was organised by Kirsty from Kirsty Leanne. It’s not the first event of Kirsty’s that I have been to – I went to one back in September and really enjoyed it, so had been looking forward to this one for weeks. It was held at The Island Bar in Birmingham city centre, and if you hadn’t already guessed by the name of the event, it was Tiki themed.

Well, of course, trying to find an outfit suitable was a challenge. I knew there was going to be a prize for the most Tiki themed outfit, and I knew straight away that was not going to be me. I settled on a bright yellow DKNY skirt that I bought years ago (and was shocked to actually fit into!), and a black vest top. Not very Tiki, but bright and summery nevertheless. I did dig out a flowery wristband thingy that was in my BML16 goody bag, in an attempt to get with the theme!

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Buying Second Hand

Buying Second Hand |www.coffeecakekids.com

Like millions of people in the UK, we are on a tight budget. When something breaks down, needs replacing or the kids have a sudden growth spurt and need new clothes, it can be a bit ‘oh s**t, where is the money for that going to come from?’ However, over the past few years, we have saved ourselves an absolute fortune by buying second hand, or even going on freebie sites. We have had everything from furniture and appliances to clothes and toys. Thankfully, thanks to places such as eBay, there is no longer any stigma to buying second hand, and quite rightly so. After all, no one would bat an eyelid at someone buying a used car – what’s the difference with other items?

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Sport Medal Crafts #BostikBlogger

Sports Medal Crafts | www.coffeecakekids.com

This year certainly is a summer full of sport, with the Euro’s, Wimbledon and the Olympics. Here, in this house, we are big football fans and watched most of the Euro games. I’m sure we will also be caught up in the Olympic hype – last time it was on I was on maternity leave with Harrison, and I was glued to the swimming and the gymnastics!

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Review: Lost My Name Personalised Books

It’s no secret that I love personalised stuff. It makes a gift that extra bit special and turns it into a keepsake. I especially love personalised books. I have three little bookworms, but seeing their name in print is an excellent way of encouraging a reluctant reader to pick up a book!

Lost My Name is an idea dreamed up by four friends who were on a mission to create the most amazing personalised book that they could. Once they had their idea, they took it to Dragons Den and it’s all gone from there. I have to say, looking at the books that Harrison, Alex and Benjamin received, that they have more than hit their goal of making fantastic personalised books. They are breathtakingly beautiful!

Review: Lost My Name | www.coffeecakekids.com

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A Week on Instagram #9

It’s actually been a week since I last did an Instagram post…I’m actually keeping up with my own blogging schedule finally. It’s been a bit hit and miss over the past few weeks, but I *think* I’ve finally got back into it and got myself all organised again. Having a fresh new look and a blog name that I actually like and don’t cringe at probably helps!

It’s been a busy old week again, and I have to admit I’m now counting down the days until the summer holidays (7 more get-ups!). Not that it will be any calmer or quieter – three children aged five and under kind of put a stop to peaceful days, but at least there will be no rush in the mornings for a few weeks.

Here is the past week on Instagram!

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Review: The SML One Week Challenge

The SML Diet One Week Challenge | www.coffeecakekids.comIt’s no secret that I struggle with my weight. I’ve written before about it, and in the past have tried a couple of very low-calorie meal replacement diets. I’ve done really well on them, and have really enjoyed them, so when SML gave me the opportunity to try out a week’s worth of meal replacement products, I jumped at the chance.

SML stands for Slim and Maintain for Life, as the founder, Ally, believes that with the right support and guidance, we can all lose weight and maintain it for life. The whole idea of the plan is that after consuming very few calories on the diet for a couple of days, your body enters into a state of ketosis, where your body will begin to use your stored body fat rather than glucose for energy.

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Back to Blonde #MySundayPhoto

After months and months of hating my home-dyed, multicoloured ratty looking hair, I finally went to the hairdressers on Friday and went back to blonde! I was really pleased with how light it went, as I was expecting it to lighten just a little bit. I had about an inch taken off the end and some ‘bangs’ put in at the front!

It’s not just my hair that has had a makeover, though – what do you think of the new blog name? I had fallen out of love with Parenthood Highs and Lows a while ago, and I don’t think that helped with my feelings about blogging. Now, with a new name and a new look, I feel inspired again!


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Review: Degustabox {June 2016}

Review: Degustabox June 2016

In May, we received our first ever Degustabox and we were all really impressed with it. We loved being able to try new food and drink products that we wouldn’t necessarily have picked up in the supermarket, so we were really looking forward to our June box.

Degustabox, for those of you who don’t know, is a monthly food and drink subscription box. For just £12.99 a month, you get a box filled with all sorts of lovely things delivered to your door, and they guarantee that the contents of the box comes to much more than the monthly fee, so it is definitely worth it.

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6 Tips for Quitting Smoking

6 Tips for Quitting Smoking

I’ve written before about my dad and how just over a year ago, he quit smoking. He had been a heavy smoker for over 40 years, so I think it is a massive achievement. He gave up smoking cigarettes by switching to vaping instead. Of course, vaping isn’t for everybody. It hasn’t worked for Graham. When you’re making the decision to quit smoking, you need to find a way of doing it that will suit you and your lifestyle.  I’ve never been a smoker, but I can imagine and appreciate how hard it must be. I’ve collated some tips and tricks from people that I know who have successfully quit smoking, and they’ve all said how much better they felt almost straight away.

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Garden Fun with HiPP Organic

Garden fun with HiPP Organic | www.parenthoodhighsandlows.com

Harrison, Alex and Benjamin all absolutely love being outside. As soon as they wake up, whatever the weather, they are asking to go outside. Of course, we are pleased that they love the great outdoors so much – it means that they are getting fresh air, exercise and burning off energy instead of sitting in front of the TV. They’re out there, exploring and learning about the world.

We have been asked to be HiPP explorers and share our outdoor adventures, which we are really excited about. We love HiPP products – they were a brand that we trusted when we were weaning the boys. The range has over 120 products for every step of the weaning process, from first tastes of cereal and individual fruit pots, to jars, pouches and tray meals.

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What’s in my handbag?

What's in my handbag? | www.parenthoodhighsandlows.com

I never ever thought I would do one of these posts. I mean, why would anyone actually care? But then I remembered I did one about my bathroom cabinet last year and it had absolutely loads of views. I guess it shows how nosey we all are!!

I’ve read a few of these posts before (Yes, I am a nosey cow!) and they’re all lovely and clean and organised handbags. That’s not what you are going to see here. I have three children aged five and under, two jobs…having an organised handbag is the least of my concerns!

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A Week (and a bit longer!) on Instagram #8

I think I need a new title for this series..it’s always more than a week! Anyway, the last time I did one of these posts was 14th June, and so much has happened since then!

A few weeks ago, the boys made these cute little flower key holders from Baker Ross. My dad came round and loved them, and asked if he could have one for their house. They stuck it up using Sugru, and it looks great!

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Summer Holiday Plans

Summer Holiday Plans | www.parenthoodhighsandlows.com

Here in Birmingham, there are just three full weeks of term left before we break up for the summer holidays. My contract at work finishes at the end of term, and although I will be really sad to finish, I can’t say I’m not looking forward to being at home with the kids! Because the kids go to the school, and I am a member of the PTA, I’ll still have lots to do with the school anyway, so I’ll still get a chance to see some of the staff that I have made friends with.

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My Boys and Me #MySundayPhoto

Hello! It’s been a while since I’ve joined in with this for various reasons. Graham took this photo of the three boys and me for a magazine article. I had been asked to send a photo of us to the editor, and it dawned on me that we only have one photo of me with the children, and that was really poor quality. This one isn’t perfect – but it’s an important one for me. I’m always the one behind the camera, and I’m going to make sure I remind Graham to take more of us. I don’t want to look back in 20 years time and there be no photos of me with the children!

My Boys and Me #MySundayPhoto | www.parenthoodhighsandlows.com
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My BML16 Weekend

Anyone who know me in ‘real life’ would know how much I had been looking forward to BML16. I booked my tickets back in March, thanks to my lovely sponsor childcare.co.uk.  For the past two years, I’ve followed the event on social media and everyone looked like they were having an absolutely fantastic time, and were coming away full of creativity, inspiration and tips for making their blog even better.

Did I come away feeling like this? In a nutshell, no.

In previous years, the event has been held over two days – the Friday afternoon and the Saturday up until about 4pm. This year, it was from 9am Saturday morning until 7pm until Saturday night, which is a long day, especially if you have to travel. I think this was possibly the main reason why I struggled so much – it was so jam-packed and intense, and I was bloody knackered from my 4am start! I had got the train from Birmingham in the morning, and had a booked a room at a local Travelodge for the night, intending to go home Sunday feeling refreshed. That didn’t happen – I’ll explain more about that later.

I have only been to London once before and was nervous about the journey. I did a bit of work on the train and enjoyed a coffee, and I had arranged to meet one of my blogging besties, Zara from Mojo Blogs,  and Jenni from Odd Socks and Lollipops at Euston, so we could navigate the tube and walk to the venue together.

BML16 | www.parenthoodhighsandlows.com

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Enjoy More Water with Robinson’s Squash’d

I’ve always quite enjoyed drinking water. When I was teaching, I always had a big bottle of it on the go and would swig from it throughout the day. When I became a stay at home mum, I pretty much stopped drinking it. After all, I had unlimited access to the kettle!

I’ve always tried to encourage the boys to drink water, which is a little hypocritical when I don’t drink it myself much. They will drink it, reluctantly. When it’s warm outside, I do worry about keeping them hydrated.

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Having a Bath and Breaking Barriers

On the weekend, I’m off to BML16. I’m looking forward to a weekend with lots of lovely bloggers, learning something new and having a laugh. I’m staying in a hotel room on the night by myself, and do you know what I’m looking forward to most of all?

Having a bath.

Really. I’m really looking forward to having a long soak in the bath. I haven’t had a bath since we moved into this house in February – we have a shower enclosure instead. 90% of the time, I love it. It’s one of those spa-type power showers and it’s really lush in there, but sometimes, all I want to do is run a really deep hot bubble bath, light some candles, pour a glass of wine and lie in the bath with a book.

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A Little Life Update, A Crisis of Confidence and Blogger Block

If you’re a regular visitor to my blog, you will have noticed that things have been a little quiet lately. There are a few collaborative posts on there, but for over a week, there has been nothing personal, nothing about us. In fact, for the past few weeks, it has been a little bit like that.

Life has been really busy the past few weeks, in a good way. I’ve known all year that June was going to be crazy, and normally I would have been my usual organised self, scheduling posts for the days I where I wouldn’t have time to sit and do anything. The problem is I’ve had a wobble, and a bit of a confidence crisis when it came to my blog and my writing.

I know that I can write good ‘factual’ posts. I can write well about a day out we had or something we have tried. I can write well about what the kids have been up to. Sometimes, though, I want to write something that’s a bit, well, ‘more’. It’s really difficult to explain, but I follow lots of bloggers, and sometimes, I read something that is really beautifully written, and I feel sad because I know I can never write something like that. Does that even make sense? After a good couple of weeks feeling like that, I gave myself a much-needed kick up the arse and realised that it’s pretty daft to think like that. I’m not a particularly deep thinker. I take things at face value and I’m pretty matter of fact about life. I’ll never be able to write deep, beautiful posts because, well, that’s just not who I am as a person. Instead of worrying about what I can’t write, I need to focus and concentrate on what I can do and what I am good at doing.

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Garden Planning

We have never, in any the houses we have lived in, had a nice garden. In fact, I would go as far as to say they were horrible, and not somewhere where we would have wanted to sit out in, let alone spend any money on.

Until now.

We have a really lovely, and fair sized garden, and for the first time ever, we want to spend money and do what we can to keep it looking nice. We have patio doors leading out onto a small paved area, which is separated from the grass by a bamboo fence. At the top, we have a shed, and my favourite part of the garden – a large decked area which is perfect for sitting out on.

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A Week on Instagram #6

What a week!! It has been absolutely insane. On Wednesday I went on a school trip with year two to Dudley Zoo, and it was so, so hot. Thursday saw me going on a coach down to Weston Super Mare with year one. Thankfully, it was a bit cooler, but three hours each way on a coach with 40-odd 6-year-olds wasn’t exactly my idea of fun. The children enjoyed it however, and that is the main thing.

Saturday was the absolute highlight of our week though – it was Harrison’s 5th birthday. We had promised him a small party, which although there were only 9 children, it ended up wiping us out for the weekend. Sunday, and the beginning of this week have passed us by in a blur, with me having a rather nasty viral infection and bug.

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Hey Duggee Talking Soft Toy Review

Alex and Benjamin (and I suspect Harrison as well!) are big fans of Hey Duggee. For those of you who might not have heard of it before, Hey Duggee is a children’s TV show based around an after school club where Duggee is the leader. Like Beavers, the children have to complete tasks in order to earn badges.

The boys were absolutely thrilled when we were sent out a Hey Duggee Talking Soft Toy, wich is aimed at children aged 10 months and over.

Hey Duggee Review | www.parenthoodhighsandlows.com

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Jungle Binoculars #BostikBlogger

Easy Jungle Binoculars for kids | www.parenthoodhighsandlows.com

Whenever we go to visit my nan, the first thing Harrison and Alex do is head straight for the cupboard where my nan keeps a pair of binoculars. They love looking through them and playing explorers, so when our latest Bostik Box came with a theme of’ ‘jungles’, I knew exactly what we would make: jungle binoculars!

We were a bit short on time this month, and this craft literally took us a few minutes with minimal supplies. You can spend much longer on them, but for something quick, easy and fun, this is perfect.

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