In one week’s time, my eldest girl will be twelve. I cannot even comprehend how she is 7 days away from being 12yrs old because I remember the morning she was born like it was yesterday. But more on that next week! For now, I am still planning her party – apparently, when you turn twelve, inflatables just don’t cut it anymore. So I’ve had to up my party game a few notches. Planning a party for a tween girl {whose ungirly} has been quite tricky – but we cracked it in the end. 

She decided on a Party Bus {without a pole, thankfully! None of that just yet, thank you!} followed by a Movie themed party at home. Think candy floss, hot dogs, a chocolate fondue with fruit skewers and more. There may even be seven tween girls sleeping in my living room, so that should be fun! 

Party planning aside, we managed to visit a funfair that is on in Carrickfergus at the moment. Cullens Amusements have set up quite the attraction and we managed to enjoy it in between some downpours on its opening day. We had a rare day of just having our littlest lady with us, as the older children were at their Dads. But taking our youngest sprout to these sort of things makes me very aware of how much of a thrill seeker she is; and how much of a coward, I am. I mean, when she saw the below amusement she shrieked “Mama! I want to go on that thing!” – you can imagine my response.



Hook the duck prize



Carrickfergus Funfair

Our first family pet

We didn’t spend too long at the funfair because, if I’m honest, it cost £2.50 per person to get on the rides so the urge to stay fizzled out quite quickly. We would have been broke in no time at all if Annabelle got her way. Plus! We inherited a new addition to the family and he needed to be taken home and put into a proper tank. Not to mention we dodged a mammoth downpour {just about!}.

I’ll be sure to update you guys on how my daughter’s birthday party goes {and if I survive the tween girl sleepover!} – I’m rather looking forward to it, truth be told. I love bringing the wishes of my children to life and seeing the happiness on their wee faces. It makes everything leading up to it all, 100% worth it.

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I am a Mother to five children. Five. You can only imagine the laundry load. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I saw the bottom of our washing basket, or if I ever have! Then, when I became a ‘Football’ Mum, well, I needed some serious cleaning ammo to tackle those grass stains and stinky socks. However, as well as having the football crazy son, we had a toddler. A deadly combination. 

Everybody knows toddlers are renownedly known for their destructive and impressively messy accomplishments. For some of those days, I didn’t know whether to cry due to the extra mess that had my name on it or to award her for her achievements. I mean, the speed they destroy and make a mess in is impressive, right? Most of my days consisted of removing grass stains from my son’s favourites football shorts and spaghetti bolognese from our walls.

The toddler and my football-crazed son weren’t the only messy folk in the house, oh no. Because my Husband and my two teenage sons were and still remain to be contenders for the award of messiest monkey in our family home. It doesn’t surprise me though because due to an article online that stated 45% of parents think that their teenagers are the messiest in the house. Whereas, research conducted by the global laundry brand ACE Clean revealed the results that 30% of you claim that your husbands are the messiest.

In our house? My Teenagers & husband are neck & neck in the messy awards. And yes, even though we have a four-year-old at home too and yes they can be messy, the ACE uncovered that only 12% considered our littlest toddlers to be the masters of the mess.

The results of this survey were surprising but I love that ACE can see the crazy side of parenting. When my youngest was a baby and a young tot, I had milestones cards. These were the obligatory “I’ve cut my first tooth” or “I sat up for the first time” milestone cards. However, ACE Clean have developed some honest and funny baby & toddler milestone cards that I reckon you guys will love and they are ones I certainly wish I had when my littlest lady was still little.

Baby-cards-1
Does your child love to wear their dinner, or some days refuse to eat anything except snacks? 

Is messy play taken too literally in your house, and has your toddler discovered splashing around in muddy puddles yet? 

When was the last time you had to scoop poo out of the bath or scrub away baby sick out of your clothes? 

Did your baby refuse to sleep through the night {again} or break the record for their longest tantrum today? 

Has your child ignored all attempts at potty training and spent the day pretending to be a dinosaur instead?

ACE Clean have the full set of milestone cards available for you to download free here and you can share your photos of using them on social media with the hashtag #ACEParent.

*This is a collaborative post.

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It’s no secret that we’re a big gaming family; I don’t think there is a day that goes by that one or more of us is on a gaming console. Of course, the children have to earn game time in our house but when I shared the news with them that we were going to be working with Xbox UK on their Minecraft Family Campaign, I honestly believe the opposite side of the planet heard their excitement. I’d be lying if I didn’t let out a little nerdy yelp too!

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Spending time together as a family is so important and it’s something that we’re guilty of not doing enough. So, when I saw a bucket list idea over on What the Redhead Said blog, I knew we had to join in & make a family bucket list of our own.

Every year we have this habit of making plans together and 9 times out of 10 they fall through. Life gets in the way or money will be short. This year, however, that will not happen! Because I plan to do as much, if not all of these amazing, fun {some on a budget, other’s we’ll save for} things on our list throughout the year.

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A few weeks ago I was sitting in a bar with one of my best friends and I don’t know how it all came about, but we started to talking about my Mum. On December 4th she will have died 3 years ago to the day. Half of me can’t believe that length of time has passed and the other half of me still thinks it’s some kind of cruel joke.

I ended up showing my friend some photos of the views from my Mums beautiful Spanish home and she recognised what my Mum called “Sallys Mountain”. Apparently, her Mum owns an apartment not far from where my Mum lived and coincidentally, where she is now interned.

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Wow, what a Halloween weekend of spooky, fun-filled celebrations. It’s been so much fun and even though right now, at this very second, I could sleep for an entire week! {Thank goodness it’s half term!} I’m glad we did everything over the past weekend, because, it’s all about making memories, right?

We have been pumpkin carving, celebrating with family, dazzled by fireworks and generally just enjoying every Halloween festivity that we could. We don’t drive, nor do we enjoy traveling far with the kids because, you know, three year old! Need I saw more. So we looked around to see what Belfast had to offer on the Halloween front and we started to plan our spooky weekend of frightful festivities.

Our first stop was a family Halloween party. Lots of amazing costumes, young and old dressed as Dracula, blood-soaked nurses, mini Frankenstein’s and adorable witches and ghosts. Everyone looked amazing and we all had the best time. We watched the fireworks, played some old-fashioned Halloween games and I honestly think my kids ate their own weight in Haribo! But it was a lot of fun and the kids loved having a late night and I have to admit, it was the most stress-free evening I had personally had in a long time.

Halloween weekend

The next day, thanks to the clocks going back the night before we all enjoyed an extra hour in bed followed by a very slow morning and afternoon. I don’t know about the kids, but the husband and I needed it! But we got back into our Halloween fancy dress costumes {bar the husband, because, you know…bore!} and headed over to the annual Monster Mash event the Titanic slipway in Belfast City. This was out first time there and if I am honest, we should not have ever bothered. Too many crowds, not enough food stalls to meet the demand of the crowds and yeah, a very disappointing event. The kids were pretty bummed {and cold} but we made it up to them with a visit to a local Pizza hut.

Halloween weekend

On Halloween itself, we made a trip over to my Sister in laws for the little cousins to go trick or treating together. This was Annabelle’s first-time trick or treating and she absolutely loved it. She could not have been any closer to people’s doors as they opened them and she’d shout {and jump with joy} “TRICK OR TREAT!” It was honestly, the cutest thing! All the kids had a blast and came home with the most candy-filled buckets I had ever seen!

Halloween weekend

The evening finished off with visiting more family for great food, great company, and a pretty epic fireworks display. Needless to say on the taxi ride home we were all pretty tired. Annabelle was that deliriously tired that she was talking to us in her sleep and as the rest of us giggled it wasn’t long before we were listening to her snoring on the journey home.

Halloween weekend
So once we got home, tucked the little sleepy tot into her bed {still dressed as a werewolf, little black nose and all} we all collapsed into a heap surrounded by buckets of candy and smiles on our faces. What an amazing Halloween! Memories were most certainly made and that’s what it’s all about, right? 

How was your Halloween?

D xx

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Building forts have to be up there with every child’s favorite past time. In fact, whatever the age, you have to admit, building dens and playing in them are pretty fun. So, when DFS sofas got in touch and challenged us to get involved in their sofa fort campaign, how could we refuse. 

We try to make time during our crazy family days to spend actual quality time together. No TV, no homework needing to be done, no tech babysitters, just good old fashioned hanging out time as a family and teaming together to make this very simple sofa fort was just what we needed.

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This week, my youngest son….my little dreamboat turned eight years old. Eight. It’s so hard to believe. He is no longer my little deliriously adorable boy, but a {deliriously adorable} young man who is growing up to know what he loves and wants out of life. 

His eighth birthday started with presents {naturally} and this year he asked for four things. He really wanted a Northern Ireland football kit, Christiano Ronaldo VR trainers, Fifa 16′ {which his Dad bought him} & a Gaming chair.

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As a Mum to five beautiful children {I’m biased, I know!} I have so many amazing moments of what made each of my children giggle. Whether that giggle was their first one or not, having those little snippets of time to cherish is amazing.

But for this particular post, I am going to focus on my fifth and final child’s #soundofhappy moments, because…those moments will be the last time I experience them with any of my own children. Queue a little sound of my heart breaking.

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When those words, “Mama, you’re my best friend!”, came out of the rosebud lips of my youngest daughter, my heart melted. I was lost for words and as I tried to hold back the tears, I took a deep breath and replied with “You’re my best friend too bubba”.

When you’re 3-year-old child says something like this to you it makes everything else fade into a land of insignificance. The tedious repeating of “Mama! Mama! Mama! MAMA!” asked over and over and OVER again, fades. 

Those nights when they’ve been bitten by the hyperactivity bug and make bedtime ten times harder than it should be, fades. 

When they point blank refuse to leave your local shop without an ice-cream or a slushie, even if it is raining outside, fades.

Fighting with them to get dressed, fades.

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Storing away spare pennies for that ‘rainy day’ is such an important ingredient for life and you don’t have to have a family of your own to see the benefits in saving. Saving money each week or month is in my opinion, a smart move especially if you have something that you really need or would like as a treat.

For example, the darling man and I saved up from just after Christmas 2015 until the end of June 2016 to give the children {and ourselves} a super fun-filled family holiday. It wasn’t easy and we had to make some cuts here & there {needs must when you need to save} but every single penny was 100% worth it because we all had an amazing time.

However, holidays are a luxury and there are so many others things that we need to save up for to help us provide for our children and our home such as; school uniforms, school trips, days out, new appliances {as they always break in 3’s don’t they!}, general house bills and so much more. Not to mention Christmas!! So, I thought I would put together just a few simple and handy tips on how we save to help us get through each year as a larger family.

Packed lunches: Dinner money for school can cost, on average, £2.50 per day per child. That’s £10 per day, per child if they wanted to have school dinners. Then the darling man would spend around £5 {sometimes more} per day on food for his break and lunches. So we try to save money by making everyone up packed lunches, which just don’t have to be cold sandwiches all the time, as you can incorporate warm meals {such as stews and pasta} into those lunches too.

Switch those lightbulbs: Energy saving is such a big deal and more so when we’re trying to lessen the household electric bill. So swap all of those light bulbs in the house for energy saving light bulbs and you will see the difference because we do.

Insulate your loft: This is actually something we have planned to do before this year’s Winter sets in, because having an insulated loft can save you up to £200 off our heating bill, per year. It is even a job that you can do yourself {just remember to wear goggles and gloves} and you’re saving money again by not having to have someone out to do it for you.

Use voucher codes: These can be little life savers in the world of saving money, especially when you have a child’s birthday coming up, or Christmas gifts to buy. Every little 10% or 25% discount helps, believe me. I love using voucher codes, such as ReVouchers and you can check out this website to find any that may suit you & your family.

Get points from your loyalty cards: I love using my store cards to collect points because through the year those points add up and they can really help you out with gifts needed for occasions etc. So collect those points and don’t let them go to waste.

And lastly….

Switch off those unused appliances: I am pretty bad at doing this which is why I am thankful that my partner is so good at doing it. Switching off those unused appliances will help save you money throughout the year. Appliances such as microwaves, computers, and TVs eat up lots of electric when left on standby, so just getting yourself into the habit of switching them off, will help you save those pennies. 

Do you have any little handy tips or tricks that you do to help you save money? If so, leave me a comment below as I’d love to hear them.

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post with ReVouchers. 

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