Monday, 31 March 2014

Mother's Day 2014

Yesterday was a lovely Mother's day.

I may not have got the lie in I was hoping for (in fact Sam made an appearance into our bed in the early hours), but the boys were brilliant.

Playing in the morning, making me laugh, making me cherish those little smiles.

The smiles and laughter that makes everything seem perfect-the boys at the moment really are very cheeky with each other and are making up new ways to make each other chuckle most days!

They really are very silly together <3

I love how the sun shone through the windows in the morning, so even after the clocks moving forwards we had the motivation to get up for a family breakfast.

The boys got me a beautiful pink and purple bunch of flowers, and Alex had written out the card which was wonderfully written still very proud of how well he can write with help from us.

I'd had his preschool card and pot of mud (which I hope I manage to grow the seeds and not kill them like I usually do!) early on in the week, so that has been proudly on display. Something so heart warming receiving a handmade card from your child.

We made the most of the nice weather and packed a picnic.

We arranged to meet my parents at Savernake forest which is a short car journey away.

We haven't been for at least 2 years but I think possibly more-which is bad really; it seems to take a special, meaningful day for us to go out somewhere slightly further out than normal!

The boys loved the picnic, and were helping themselves to my parent's also-they really do have big appetites.

They burnt all that energy off though, chasing after their footballs whilst we sat and watched or joined in.

Then we packed up and went for a leisurely stroll in the forest, the warmth from the sun on our backs-perfect!

Sam in particular loved climbing the large logs from the trees probably fallen in the storms of winter.

Alex as ever was cautious with climbing-something we need to work on is his confidence in many situations.

We even came across a rope swing-my Mum being first to have a go, next up was Dad, Alex refused but Sam loved it, thankfully there is no photo evidence of me on there to show ;)

He was actually loving this and kept saying "woah" and giggling!
Apart from me standing in dogs do it was a great outing, my Dad even spoilt the boys to an ice cream at the end-which worked well as a bribe once Alex starting getting tired!

We quickly popped to see James' Mum to drop her bits off and wish her well, then headed back to my parents for a delicious roast with my brother's too, the first time we have all been there for a meal for a while!

Now maybe next year I can get the chocolate cake that Alex said he was going to make me ;)

I wish we could have more weekends like this-so nice to be out in the open, with space for the boys to run and be free.

It was so relaxing, and much needed after a bit of a manic day beforehand (and a late evening baking cookies for our Mum's and making their cards)!

I hope you all had a lovely Mother's Day, I hope it was gentle to all those who perhaps don't have a Mum around any more or a child missing from you xx

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Thursday, 27 March 2014

Our holiday to Disney World: Hollywood Studios

Now I will be honest, this was probably the least favourite of the parks for all of us. Not that there is anything wrong with it but with the children being younger there wasn't much for them to enjoy here-I think it is catered more for the tween/teen age and up.

This park has many shows-which with a 1 and a 4 year old isn't easy and many of the rides weren't suitable for really young children. I didn't really go on any rides in this park as I chose to stay with Sam.

Our favourite rides
Alex loved the star tours ride-and came off beaming, as did the rest of James' family too!

Shows we watched
We watched the Indiana show and managed to get front seats somehow, this is a very clever and jam packed show-I won't ruin any of the surprises though but well worth a watch, Alex at 4 was into it but didn't quite get what was real or not, however James' 5 1/2 bother loved it.

We also watched Lights, Motors, Action! Stunt show, which Alex being a car lover enjoyed. I found this quite a slow pace, it would almost be better to do the whole show and then explain how it is done rather than lots of stopping ans starting, or perhaps a little more audience interaction. It is very loud and has fake gun shots too, so if you have little ones beware for some tears/having to cover their ears.

With all of the shows it's best to queue up before, take drink and snacks for little ones whilst you wait.

Places to eat
We actually didn't eat out at this park as we took packed lunch with us. However if you are after a snack I definitely recommend the churros if you are a cinnamon lover which can be found on some of the stalls. Just avoid the salty Mickey pretzels, they literally taste as if you have poured the whole pot of salt into your mouth!

Meeting their favourite characters
We had to go and find Mike and Sulley from Monsters Inc for Sam, he has loved Sulley since just before he 1 after us renting our Monsters University. Funnily enough Sam was scared of the characters until meeting Sulley-he even roared at him and his smile was priceless!

Alex got the excitedly see Lightening McQueen in the car show-which made his day!

My Views
I can't feel I can give an honest opinion of this park as we only went there for a day and a half in the whole 2 week holiday, therefore we didn't see much of it or see and do many of the things. We had wanted to get fast pass tickets for the Toy Story Mania ride but despite getting to the park at opening time were unable to as they only free up so many per hour, and we couldn't get any, any other time or day we tried, there was no way I was waiting nearly 2 hours to go on it. I think this ride was only so popular as it is really one of the only rides suitable for younger children. The scenes around the park were excellent, they were refurbishing a main ride, and the park was clean like all the others. I would have liked to have gone to see the history of Walt Disney, but it would not have been practical with Sam! Also the Fantasmic show is meant to be brilliant, but with it starting at 7pm (bedtime) I didn't think it would be worth at as the boys were pains in shows at the best of times, so perhaps we will do this if we were to go back one day :)

I just feel like this park needs to be made slightly more child friendly, perhaps a Pixar area as those films are always popular with the younger (and older/me) ones!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Siblings in March

Some lovely memories from our holiday last month, the boys really were the best of friends (for the most part) and loved it.

They really are two cheeky monkeys!

dear beautiful

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Our holiday to Disney world: The Magic Kingdom

Or the 'Castle park' as Alex called it.

This park caters for all ages, but really mainly for the little ones who believe the magic of Disney-Alex really believes that Mickey lives in the castle, that idea set in stone by actually seeing Mickey through a window after the fireworks "is Mickey going to bed now", my heart may have melted a little.

There are plenty of places to meet and greet characters from Mickey and the gang to Buzz, and princesses-if you time it right you might not even have to queue long, just stalk them when they walk out and too their post ;)

Our favourite rides
We obviously didn't do rides to satisfy our wants and stuck to the children's rides, but to be honest there aren't huge roller coasters in this park anyway. Alex's favourites being the Tomorrowland speedway and Buzz Lightyear's space ranger spin. The Monster's Inc show is also fun (perhaps actually more so for adults) very clever as it's interactive with the audience.

Some time out
Sometimes you just need to get away from the hustle and bustle or out of the queueing.
The Walt Disney World railroad is great if you need a bit of a sit down and especially more so if you have a train mad child like Sam! It goes around the whole park so it is nice to have a good look everything-it can even get babies to sleep too!
Some other rides that are good for a bit of a break (and great for after a meal) are 'it's a small world' and the Tomorrowland Transit again you get a bit of a sit down (often these don't have as big queues either unless really busy on the day).
On a hot day the kids (and big kids) will love the Casey Jr, splash and soak area to cool off.
As I was waiting with Sam whilst James and Alex were on some rides I also found a path that never seemed busy, it runs from the back of Goofy's Barnstormer and ends in tomorrow land, it was wonderfully peaceful and was just what I needed when I found it all a little too much!

Places to eat
We had our heart set on trying to get into Beast's castle, a new restaurant in new Fantasy land but alas it has been fully booked in advance for months. However if you take a minute walk around the corner you can find Gaston's tavern where you can taste amazing pork shanks, the biggest cinnamon buns I have ever seen and a delicious but ever so sweet frozen apple drink with toasted mango marshmallow topping-a winner in the boys and my eyes!

Top tip- If you've booked your holiday well in advance book some restaurants then too as the popular ones do get booked up quickly, you can always cancel nearer the time. 

Don't worry we shared the cinnamon bun between us!!

The lights and firework show
If you want a spot at the front along main street you need to get there early and park your bum on a curb-to be honest I wouldn't bother so much-the show was a little, odd. But the kids enjoyed all the lights and music.

Top tip- If you do want to get close make everyone go to the toilet first and grab food to keep the younger ones amused whilst waiting-everywhere gets busy just before the parade!

The fireworks are shortly after, if you are in main street it is really busy, so make sure little ones are kept close. The fireworks are really amazing as well as the light show on the castle-they really are big and quite amazing. 
We actually viewed the fireworks in 3 different places over the holiday
-once with everyone else on main street in front of the castle which was nice but just too crowed
-once on a beach at the Polynesian resort over looking the lake and Floridian resort, this was my favourite so peaceful and quite private, plus no crowds to fight through afterwards!
How beautiful and peaceful
-once to the right of the castle on a bridge, so close to the fireworks you feel them thundering through your chest with each bang which was quite something.
The fantastic light show on the castle just before the fireworks-it really is clever

My views
As lovely as this park is I felt I always seemed a little stressed out here, I think the volume of people is just too much for me, topped with longish waits for rides you haven't fast passed. Having said that seeing the magic work on your little ones faces is absolutely priceless, and as with every Disney park it was meticulously clean and cleverly themed-even down to the fences surrounding rides not yet open!

Talking of magic moments when on the Peter Pan ride Alex said "wow Mum we are actually flying!" and he really believed-perhaps that's why the wait is always so long!

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Our holiday: The flight

Read below for my tips for flying with young children.

Not going to lie I hate travelling, flying probably being the worst form.

I'm not afraid, but it's the whole not being able to get off, and out for some fresh air that gets me.

That and being stuck like sardines in a tin.

I've personally never flown long haul, the longest flight I have been on was my first to Cyprus, so I was quite apprehensive.

Off course throwing in 2 lively boys  into the equation too make me more so!

Sam was sat on our laps, so we had 3 seats, I'd forgotten how little leg room you get in cattle class economy (not that I have ever flown any differently)!

We didn't have the only young children which was a big relief to me too.

They had the on screen entertainment which was great for the kids, however it wasn't very touch sensitive so it wasn't great for Alex as it kept moving the seat in front, something for Virgin to work on I think. The actual content that was on them was more than enough-just a shame Alex to a liking to the games that require touching the screen a lot.

Talking of the chairs in front. They were a bit rude as a couple, ignoring the air hostess when she asked them to do something before take off and having to ask 2 or 3 times. I had a feeling that wasn't the end of it.

They reclined as soon as they could (despite not actually sitting back against the chair), baring in mind we had Sam on our laps-we really didn't have much room at all.

Now considering the flight was about 9 1/2 hours and the time waiting to take off I don't think the boys were too badly behaved. For the most part they were quiet, a little fidgety but nothing I wouldn't have expected.

Alex literally knocked their seat a few times over the 9 hours, and often when he was trying to get past to go to the toilet or to see James' parents a couple of rows back-every time we slightly moved I felt their burning stares at us!  Had they moved their seats forward there would have been little issue at all.

Border control was the most intimated I have ever felt, they really are very serious and Alex was in a jokey mood!

Anyway that all went by in a distant haze, I'd almost forgotten about it until the nerves returned for the flight home.

Thankfully it was only 7 1/2 to 8 hours on the way home so that was a saving grace.

The boys really were very good, it was Sam's bedtime when we took off and he was already asleep. Alex watched and played things and fell asleep after some of his dinner.

I suddenly felt very ill, although thankfully wasn't physically so had a few rough hours but we got through it!

My top tips

1. Bring snacks with you, flight food still isn't great.
Savoury snacks like bread sticks, rice cakes, and biscuits went down well with the boys. 

2. Bring a bottle of water.  

3. A pack of sucky sweets for take off and landing for children (and yourself).

4. If you have a baby or toddler that is bottle fed, bring plenty of bottles and buy milk before take off-it can keep them quiet for a short while!

5. Take a couple of stories, tablet, and sticker books to keep the kids occupied. 

6. Take a deep breath-it probably won't be as bad as you think!

Monday, 3 March 2014

Things I learnt on our holiday to Florida

1. Airport control always makes me nervous-even when I know I've done nothing wrong!

2. I can't eat before flying due to nerves. 

3. 9 1/2 hours is a long time with a 4 and 1 year old in a confined space. 

4. When the people in front recline their seats and then moan if our boys accidentally knock the back of them (despite Sam sitting on our laps) I get irate (on the inside) and cared less if the boys did it again!

5. 9 1/2 hours is a long time for me to be stuck in the air!

6. Coming off the plane in a t-shirt and feeling hot instead of freezing is a very odd feeling. 

7. American boarder control makes you feel like a criminal-ever had your finger prints taken as soon as you land? 

8. American cars really are BIG!

9. American's are incredibly polite and friendly (where we visited at least).

10. Disney world is HUGE!

11. Disney world is much better organised and well kept and run compared to Disneyland Paris. 

12. Animal Kingdom was my favourite park to be in. It's perfectly acceptable to go on the safari ride many, many times! 

13. Sun makes people happy. 

14. Having a pool and hot tub in our back garden is perfection.

15. American water tastes like cleaning products!

16. Alex really believed in the magic of Disney. 

17. Toddlers look cuter in shorts and summer shoes. 

18. It was such a relief that Sam was happy to walk around sometimes too-he stole the crowds and got lots of cute comments!

19. Alex is a bit of a wimp when it comes to rides and water. 

20. Alex loves playing in sand whilst Sam loves playing in water. 

21. Family events such as engagements are very exciting-and even better when you don't have to hold the secret any longer!

22. Sitting on a beach and watching the fireworks in the distance is pretty awesome. 

23. Fire dancing keeps both my boys entertained when watching a show. 

24. Family time, away from technology is so important and so needed. 

25. Getting an afternoon and evening together without the children was amazing and so needed after not having it for such a long time. 

26. Alex has good taste in hats and grabbed a lot of friendly attention with it wherever we went. 

27. Two weeks go too quickly when you are having fun. 

28. Orlando airport needs some reorganising on the queuing front!

29. I can't watch the films on the flight, it makes me feel travel it feels even longer despite it being a shorter flight home!

30. I should never eat plane food even if I feel starving!

31. England felt very cold and grey upon return. 

32. Our little house felt even littler when we got home!

33. Jet lag is a horrible thing-especially when the kids and I woke up at midday the next day (unintentionally going straight back into the Florida time zone) oops! 

Monday, 10 February 2014

Siblings: February 2014

My boys are real boys. It's all about cars, trains, planes, and trucks!

Alex has always jumped up to the lounge window when the rubbish and recycling lorries come rumbling around the corner, and it appears Sam is following in his big brother's footsteps. 
They really are the best of friends at the moment and I just had to capture this ordinary moment, because actually it is really special. 

* Apologies if I don't get around to commenting on peoples sibling posts this month we are off on holiday for 2 weeks tomorrow!*