Pregnancy update: Finding out

Most of you will know by now that we are expecting baby number 4 in June 2015. This post has been in my drafts since the day after we found out I was pregnant, and I feel the time is right now to share it with you.

A few months ago, we decided that we would try for our fourth, and final, baby. There were several reasons behind this, and behind the timing, but our main reason for trying now was the age of Max. At 18 months, we knew that if we were lucky enough to fall pregnant quickly, he would be 2 when the baby was born. There are 2 years between Gemma and Jacob, and it’s a lovely age gap – they are close enough to play together beautifully, they share a lot of the same hobbies and interests, and they just seem to get on so well. We decided we would really like the same sort of sibling relationship for Max. Although the older 2 dote on him, and play with him a lot, we felt that he would really benefit from a brother or sister closer to his own age.

And so, we started trying. Within 2 months I had that feeling – my boobs were tender, I felt exhausted and nauseous, and so a test was purchased and it wasn’t long before we were staring at this:

positive pregnancy tests

I felt a mixture of emotions all at once – overwhelming joy and excitement that we were to be blessed with another child, terror after a previous miscarriage, and a little bit of ‘oh my goodness, we are going to have 4 kids, how will I cope?!’

I haven’t really stopped smiling since. Despite the exhaustion, the horrible sickness and the general run down feeling, it is amazing to know there is another little person growing inside me. Seeing the 12 week scan last week was such a relief – despite knowing I was pregnant, I don’t think you really believe it until you see a baby on that screen, bouncing away, wriggling its arms and legs and showing us all that wonderful heartbeat, which just fills you with pride and anticipation. 

I am now 13 weeks into the pregnancy, and heading into the second trimester. It’s been a long 3 months, keeping it a secret, but I am now looking forward to sharing this journey to becoming a family of 6 with you all. 

Tips to get children to sleep on Christmas Eve

Getting kids to sleep on Christmas Eve

Christmas is a hugely exciting time for children, with a heady combination of presents, Father Christmas, family visits and plenty of sweets and treats to keep them on maximum overdrive! However, it is all too easy for the festive season to become both physically and emotionally draining for both you, and the little ones. Excitement and over-stimulation can rapidly lead to long, broken and sleepless nights! So what can you do to help your children sleep – particularly on Christmas Eve, when they are tempted to stay awake and see the reindeer land on the roof!

 Keep them active during the day

Physical activity is key to tiring children out. Don’t let them stay cooped up indoors and slumped in front of a digital screen! Wrap them up warmly, rope in a willing relative, and take them out for a long walk, bike ride or adventure trip of some kind. A forest walk, dog walk, beach-comb, or playground session will help to use up their energy and give them plenty of fresh air and exercise!

Stick to routines

Christmas Eve can rapidly descend into hysteria without the calming nature of familiar routines. Start the day with a proper breakfast, make sure the children do their regular jobs and activities, and keep things as normal and calm as possible – with fun treats scheduled in at planned intervals. Don’t resort to sugar and TV to keep them entertained, try art and craft activities, or baking.

Make bedtime calming

As bedtime approaches on Christmas Eve, take time to wind down. Give the kids a bath, read a Christmas story and give them a warm milky drink for relaxation. Dim the lighting and opt for Christmas candles for a calming glow; this will relax the pace down as much as possible. Ensure they have a comfortable and warm bed to climb into. Little hands will soon start to rub eyes, and bedtime will follow – especially when you remind them that Father Christmas only comes when children are asleep…

  This post is a collaboration with Children’s Bed Shop.

Household bills – how do you manage them?

Did you know that 26% of households don’t read their utility bills properly and over a million households don’t open their bills at all? 

Household bills

This time of year can be really difficult. There is already so much to juggle, with Christmas gifts, food and decorations to budget for, and often utility bills can be pushed to the back of your mind. But actually, in the middle of winter, it is really important to make sure you have a supply of gas and electricity so you can keep warm, keep the house lit and have hot water.

Utility bills are one of those things I tend to forget about. We pay for our bills by monthly direct debit, just so that  I know it is budgeted for every month, and to make sure that there is always power, no matter what time of year it is. Every so often, usually when the deal I am on runs out, I will shop around for better deals – sometimes this means changing utility provider (which isn’t as scary as it sounds), and sometimes it’s a simple case of swapping to a new deal or tariff with our current supplier. Either way, I try to make sure that we are on the best deal we can be – every penny we save on utilities is a penny we can spend on other things, such as presents, days out and other things the children need.

TV and internet bills are another area which can often be forgotten about – you sign up with one company and then leave it ticking over without checking whether you are still getting the best deal. It’s worth a call to your provider to see if any changes can be made, whether your current bills can be adapted to make sure you are getting a tailored package offering exactly what you need. One phone call could save you a lot of money.

Even if you are finding things tough, please don’t avoid opening the bills – it will just make things worse. Call the companies – they will often help you with a payment plan to ease the pressure. There are some great deals to be had too, if you need to cut back on a few bills. The Santander 123 current account helps reduce bills by up to 3%, – and that 3% could buy the turkey this year, or pay for a family day out. 

Do you have any top tips for saving money on your household bills? 

* This is a collaborative post *

10 great crafty Christmas gifts for kids

If you are still looking for stocking fillers or gifts for all the kids in your life, then why not try something crafty? All children love to make their own creations, adding their own touches – it could be anything from a drawing of Mummy and Daddy to an elaborate bead design. No matter what it is, we all treasure those special things that the children make don’t we?

Crafty Christmas gifts for kids

I have found 10 great crafty Christmas gifts for this year, which I know my own children would love to receive.

1. Mini gem craft jars – perfect for creating all sorts of delights, from thank you cards to firework pictures, and the jars can be easily refilled too.

2. Mini canvas – somewhere your child can draw or paint their best picture, and it’s all ready to display!

3. Make your own dreamcatcher kit – with beads, feathers, string, metal ring and cord included, your child can make a beautiful dream catcher ready for peaceful bed times.

4. Engraving art sets – my daughter loves these, they provide hours of fun, and look beautiful when they are finished – something the child can be really proud of.

5. Customise your jewellery holder – ideal for the slightly older child/teen, this jewellery tree comes with gems, glue and glitter glue so it can be transformed into a work of art.

6. Wooden model set – build a plane, car, bird house and a bird feeder with this great set of pre cut wooden pieces that can be slotted and glued into place. Another set which allows your child to create great items they can show off!

7. Paint your own paper lantern – this is a lovely, fun kit with everything you need to make a wonderful bedroom feature.

8. Mug makeovers set – personalise mugs with the paint provided in any way you choose – these then make great gifts for others too!

9. Wooden stationery set – a must have for any crafty home, this beautiful set allows children to create all sorts of artistic wonders.

10. Monsters activity book – packed with everything from doodles and colouring to mazes and puzzles, this is perfect for the long Christmas holidays, and can be shared by all the family!

All these great value gifts can be found at The Works.

Tried & Tested Tuesday

Welcome to Tried & Tested Tuesday! It means such a lot to us to have so many lovely people who join us almost every single week and, alongside those, new faces linking up.  One of the things we love most is how many different people with such very different blogs link up, meaning we are introduced to a fabulous variety of different products, days out and anything else that pops up!  We do our best to visit you all each week, but of course we can’t promise to get round everyone especially as the linky gets more and more popular!

*We are going to be taking a short break from Tried & Tested over the festive season whilst we, and you, enjoy spending time with our families so this week will be the last Tried & Tested of 2014* 

If you’re new to this linky then welcome along! You can find out more about it and how to join in here. If you’re a regular then welcome to you too! Crack on, link up and share some commenty love – lets face it, that’s what makes linkys work.

Each week, as you know, we like to feature two of our favourite reviews from the previous week.

This week we have loved:

#TriedTested featured blogger

LUSH hair treatment review from Hayley from Home. It’s such a detailed review covering a wide range of gorgeous looking products, and with some ideas for last minute Christmas gifts too!

#TriedTested featured blogger

Wrap.me wrapping paper review from Coombe Mill. We have never seen such amazing, personal paper, and we think it would look amazing under any Christmas tree this year.

If you link up please do make sure you visit your hosts Family Fever and We’re going on an adventure to leave a comment as well as a couple of others if you can – we know that people really, really appreciate the feedback!

We do ask that you link a maximum of 2 posts each week to keep things fair for everyone – if you choose to link up an extra post please make sure you visit extra posts in the linky to balance it out.  (Additional posts will be deleted out of fairness).

We do our best to visit each post and leave a comment, as well as tweeting from @FamilyFever and @Lollinski but as we’ve mentioned we can’t promise to get round everyone every week. We would love it if you grabbed our badge and popped it on your post too!

Family Fever



Creating the perfect Christmas

Creating a perfect Christmas

Is Christmas a fun time for you or do you feel constantly stressed? With cooking the Christmas dinner, trying to keep on top of the housework, overspending on presents and pressure from the kids, the festivities can really build up on your stress levels. But it doesn’t have to be a stressful occasion. Christmas is meant to be a fun time with your family and friends, eating delicious food, singing merry songs and catching up with people you haven’t seen for a while. This year, don’t let everything get on top of you. Take charge and make it work for you, so that you can make this Christmas the best ever for you and your family. Decide what’s most important to you at Christmas and prioritise it to ensure you have a Christmas to remember.

Make sure you get in the festive spirit
Without Christmas spirit, Christmas doesn’t really exist. It would certainly be very boring without it. Christmas is an exciting time of year, especially for the Children. Take them out to visit Santa at your nearest Santa’s grotto, listen to Christmas tunes and watch Christmas films, you’ll be surprised how festive you feel. Also don’t forget your Christmas jumper! On Christmas day, think about why you love Christmas. Christmas is a time that lightens up winter, where we remind each other how much we love and appreciate one another. The best way to get you in the festive spirit is think about what you’re grateful for.

Choose the right turkey
If you going for the classic Christmas dinner this year, you will save yourself trouble by buying the perfect turkey. M&S sell gorgeous, juicy British turkeys which will look great in the centre of your table. Don’t forget all the delicious trimmings because what’s Christmas dinner without potatoes, stuffing and sprouts?

Surprise your loved one to a weekend away
Nothing beats seeing the face of a loved one when they receive a present they love. Instead of getting those clothes or gadgets that you get them every other year, take them on a weekend away. Making memories is more special than any other gift. You can find some great deals on sites such as UK Breakaways and other online sites so it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

Volunteer your time and contribute to others.
The feeling of helping others makes you feel amazing, especially over Christmas as you spread good vibes all around you. Why not help out a neighbour, help out at a soup kitchen or try a bit of babysitting to let your friends go out that haven’t been out since the baby was born. Thoughtful gestures are always appreciated, especially at Christmas time, a time of year that means so much too many.

The Family
What else can make Christmas perfect than spending time with the family? It’s what Christmas is all about being together as a family! Soak up the room as everyone is happy and opening up their presents. Enjoy the sound of laughter and screams of excitement. If you have kids, Christmas is even more magical! Enjoy every moment.

Tips for finding the best deals in the January sales

January Sales

Christmas means many things to many people – family, food, booze, time off work, etc. But for some people it means a chance to rack up some great bargains in the January sales. Some even use it as an opportunity to get some Christmas presents for next year!

Here’s how to get those bargains and ensure your January sales shopping is successful…

Get there early

If you want the best bargains then you’re going to have to get there as early as possible or someone else will snap them up and you’ll be left with all the dregs at the end that you don’t really want but may end up buying anyway so it’s not a wasted journey. Most shops now start their sales on Boxing Day, so if you really want the bargains you’ll have to fight through the Christmas Day hangover and get down the shops.

Stores such as Next have their sales start at about 5am in the morning, so you’ll have to be the early bird if you want to catch the discounted worm.

Have a plan of what you want to buy

If you just go browsing in the sales then there’s a good chance you’ll come away either empty handed or with an armful of stuff you didn’t really want. Taking a random example, if you’re in the market for electric freestanding cookers but spend half your time looking at integrated washer dryers to see what offers they have then someone could swoop in and get the deal you wanted. Know what you want and go for it!

Venture off the beaten path

The big stores will have their sales but they will also be crammed with people all trying to do the same as you, and so it might be worth checking out some of the smaller, independent stores that may also have sales on but will be a lot quieter.

Check the online sales

There’s a good chance you did most of your Christmas shopping online, so don’t forget the internet when it comes to January sales either. In fact, some websites even start their sales before Christmas in order to entice people. You can get some absolutely fantastic deals if you’re willing to browse around and some places even have exclusive online deals.

Voucher codes websites are your friend

You may already be savvy when it comes to voucher code websites but if you’re not then you should really check them out. Sites such as www.vouchercodes.co.uk are well worth a look and can get you even more money off. Some say that they can’t be used in conjunction with any other offers but a lot of sites also publish deals and offers as well as voucher codes so could provide you with a few bargains.

Don’t buy for the sake of it

A sure-fire way to waste your money is to just buy things you don’t really need but do so anyway just because they’re discounted. Remember – just because it’s a bargain, it doesn’t mean you’re saving money.