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  • InFamily

    Why Getting A Dog Was Our Best Decision This Year

    I can hands down say that welcoming Murphy into our family in January was the best decision we have made this year.

    I’m a strong believer that a dog makes a house a home and he really was the missing part to our family puzzle. I also think that having a pet is a great way to teach responsibility, especially in children. Having a dog in our lives again has been wonderful.

    However, it is a HUGE commitment and not something that we rushed into. I knew right from the get go that I didn’t want a puppy. They are of course very cute but also there is a lot of hard work that comes with training a puppy. So we decided to look into getting a slightly older dog that was already house trained.

    We got super lucky with Murphy as he was only just a year old when we got him and was fully house trained. He’d also been to puppy classes and was crate trained too. There are so many different breeds of dog that we considered but we’d both always loved Cockapoos. And the fact that he is just so incredibly cute meant we basically fell in love with him before we’d even met him!!

    Ten months in and he has slotted into our family perfectly. I’m pretty sure he is the soppiest dog ever. He’s happiest when around people, other dogs or running outside. He loves a cuddle and will happily be picked up and cradled like a baby. Which Josh does regularly with him. The children adore him and Murph loves them right back. They love to feed him his breakfast and dinner which is actually very helpful and goes back to teaching them all about the responsibility that comes with having a pet.

    One of the things I think I love most is that it has got us outside so much more. Family dog walks at the weekends are one of my favourite things. Fresh air really does do wonders for my mental health. If I ever feel like I need to clear my head, Murph and I will head outside for a walk and I always come home feeling so much better for it.

    I can’t believe it’s almost been a year since we brought Murphy home. I’m looking forward to his first Christmas with us and totally intend to do him his own stocking. I’ve already been browsing online pet shops for ideas like a crazy person! Although I am slightly nervous that he may pull down the Christmas tree and eat all my nice baubles. Eeeek!

    *Collaborative Post but all opinions are of course my own*

  • InFamily

    Summer Snaps

    Oh hi, hello, remember me? Apologies for my radio silence over the past couple of months. It seems the summer holidays were much more full on than I anticipated! But after a well overdue blog refresh I’m feeling super excited about my little space on the internet again.

    For so long I have felt a bit lost when it came to this blog and what direction I wanted to take it in. But then I realised that actually it’s okay to just post as and when I fancy it. And about whatever the hell I like! This is not my full time job after all. And as soon as I took that pressure off, I found myself itching to start writing and sharing again. So with that fire back in my belly, I went old school and took pen to paper to brainstorm some ideas. I now have a big ol’ list of posts I want to write over the next few weeks and I can’t wait to share them with you! So as always, thanks for sticking with me when I go quiet. I promise an abundance of posts are incoming V soon or at least when my children remember how to go to bed at a sensible hour!

    So I thought I’d start with a little recap of our Summer. If I’m being totally honest, I was bloody dreading the bastard Summer holidays. I sat in my therapy session the week before school kicked out, having a minor meltdown to my therapist about how incredibly anxious I was feeling about juggling work and childcare for seven whole weeks.

    It was unknown territory for us as Bella had always been at nursery before where they only had a week off over the summer. I made sure I was prepared with my holiday childcare planner stuck to the fridge, detailing who was looking after Bella on which days but I was still so full of dread about it all.

    But despite my concerns, it really wasn’t that bad at all. Bella didn’t moan once about being shipped off to multiple different family members and friends over the seven weeks, in fact she had a bloody blast and got to do so much fun stuff. We also had some super lovely days together on my days off too.

    It of course wasn’t all plain sailing and there were plenty of meltdowns from us all. But we survived (just about!) and made plenty of wonderful memories too!

    The highlight for me was definitely our Glamping trip to Highermoor Farm in Dorset – I’m going to write a separate post on this because we had such a lovely break.

    So here’s some of my favourite snaps from Summer 2019!

  • InFamily

    Grief Is Just Love With No Place To Go

    ‘Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go’

    It has been 120 days without my Dad. And it’s only now that I am actually allowing myself to properly grieve. The initial shock came first. And then overwhelming sadness consumed me for a while. But as time goes on and the reality that he is never coming back sinks in, I find myself in this weird place of intense grief which comes in waves which I am having to learn to live with. And I can only hope that with time, it gets a bit easier.

    I regularly feel the lump in my throat and the hot tears prick in my eyes, but often those tears don’t fall. Instead I am just left with this horrible aching feeling in the pit of my stomach, which very rarely subsides. But occasionally the grief feels totally overwhelming. Something will remind me of my Dad and it’ll catch me off guard. This kind of grief takes hold and totally just takes the wind out of me. This is when the tears usually come. When I least expect them.

    I find it so hard to comprehend that I will never hear his voice again, never see his smile, feel his touch, kiss his cheek or make him laugh. I will never make him a cup of tea again, cook him dinner, chat to him on the phone, buy him a box of his favourite Lindt truffles or make his bed for him again. That has all taken some getting used to. Had I known I would have been doing all of the above for the very last time, would I have done things differently perhaps?

    There is so much I wish I could tell him. That’s the part I find the most difficult. He was my friend as well as my Father. And because I cared for him, I spoke to him almost every single day and saw him at least twice a week. We used to chat a lot, I would tell him most things. But now he’s gone, I find myself feeling lost and a bit lonely sometimes. With no parents in my life to rely on anymore, I’m just twenty five and I have to figure it all out of my own now. And that’s hard to swallow.

    The children miss him too. Bella mentions him a lot, she tells me she’s sad that he died. And Hugo points to the fridge and says ‘Grandpa’ every single day. It hurts my heart because I can’t make it better. I’m sad for them that they’ll grow up without him. Because I know how much they adored him and my goodness did he love them. His grandchildren are what kept him going these past few years and he absolutely adored them all. I loved watching them together, it was so special and my heart breaks to know that the memories and photos are all I have left.

    I have many of my Dad’s traits. I am stubborn, over generous and wear my heart on my sleeve. I cry at films like he often did. I am super strict on manners, just like he was. I know he loved me and was proud of me which does bring me some comfort. But I hope he knew just how much I loved him and how proud I was of him too. He was the bravest man I’ve ever met. And I miss him every day.

  • InFamily, Lifestyle

    Meal Planning & Food Shopping {Making Changes}

    For as long as I can remember I have done a weekly meal plan and then followed that up with a “big weekly shop”. I would buy all items for the whole week in one fell swoop, with only the occasional top-ups for things like milk or fresh fruit.

    Recently I was finding myself getting totally overwhelmed with both meal planning and food shopping. I was feeling totally uninspired and we’d fallen into a rut of cooking the same meals over and over again. And it felt like what we were spending was going up every month!

    So we decided it was time to switch things up a bit. And since we did we have actually saved money, eaten a much wider variety of food and waste a lot less time in the supermarket. The big weekly shop is out, and a more selective shopping routine has become the norm for us. So if you are feeling like I was and want to shake things up then here’s a few tips to keep in mind…

    #1 – Consider using a meal subscription service
    The biggest change we have made is by signing back up for a meal subscription box. We have previously used Hello Fresh but this time we opted for Gousto and get their family box for four meals a week. We had an money off promotion off all our boxes for the first month but enjoyed it so much that we have continued since. As a family we sit down the week before and look at the meals for the following week and choose them together. By getting Bella involved it means shes much more likely to eat the meals. There is always loads of choice and they do some great 10 minute meals which are perfect for us as a busy family.

    It means that I only have to plan dinners for the other three nights and we’ll often end up eating out or with family one night a week. So of course it means a lot less food shopping is needed. Instead of doing a shop once a week, I will just grab essentials as and when I need them. This usually consists of cereal, bread, milk, yogurts, cheese, fresh fruit and any bits needed for the remaining meals.

    And probably my favourite thing about meal subscription boxes is that it means SO MUCH LESS WASTE! All the ingredients are pre measured and they only send what you need. No more soggy veg rotting in the fridge or fancy ingredients you never use again so inevitably end up gathering dust at the back of a cupboard. I’m throwing a hell of a lot less away and pretty much all the packaging is recyclable too!

    I’ve discovered that there are a huge range of different similar services to choose from, ranging from coffee provided by the likes Two Chimps Coffee to select cuts of meat from British farmers and even cleaning product subscription boxes too! So I am planning to trial a couple more at some point.

    #2 – Always have back ups in
    One of the biggest challenges of switching to a food subscription box and more occasional shopping is the fact that there is much less food in at any given time. In some ways, this is of course beneficial as I said before, it means much less waste. But what it also means is that if I have forgotten to get something out for dinner or plans change and we need something quick then I find myself reaching for the takeaway menu. In order to avoid this I have been trying to ensure I always have a back up dinner option in. Whether that’s a pizza in the freezer, some leftover chilli that can easily be defrosted or even things like tins of beans in the cupboard. Sometimes you can’t beat a beans on toast dinner!

    #3 – Consider bulk buying for non-food essentials
    Of course my weekly shop didn’t always just consist of food. There are plenty of other bits I would buy from the supermarket too. Things like cleaning products, toiletries, nappies, flowers, birthday cards etc. So since moving to more occasional shopping, to meet our family’s non-food needs I try to buy these things in bulk. I occasionally go to the wholesaler and stock up on things like kitchen roll, toilet roll and cleaning bits. But most of the time I just make sure I get extras when there are offers on when grabbing the other essentials. I always make sure to stock up on plenty of nappies, baby wipes and dog food especially. This saves me from having to make emergency trips out to grab them all the time when I run out!

    #4 – Switch where you shop
    Now I’ll be the first to admit, I was a bit of a supermarket snob and Sainsburys was always my go to. But I cancelled my delivery pass and have been trialling both Lidl and Asda recently. I really like Lidl but sometimes I just don’t have the time to go in store. So the Asda click and collect and home delivery is great when I’m super busy. Both are cheaper and I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the choice and quality of the products. So it’s definitely worth trying somewhere new sometimes.

    In conclusion
    The benefits of switching away from the standard big weekly shop are huge, ranging from the opportunity to reduce food waste to the ability to shop in a more sustainable, environmentally-friendly way. If you want to make the change yourself, then hopefully the tips above will help you to make the transition and enjoy an entirely new shopping experience in future!

    *Collaborative Post but all opinions are of course my own*

  • InFamily

    A Sunny Few Days In St Ives, Cornwall

    Straight after my Dad died, I felt so incredibly lost. I had spent so many years looking after him that I just didn’t know what to do with myself. And along with the shock and of course the overwhelming grief I just couldn’t seem to find joy in anything. This went on for weeks. And then one day I realised that I needed something to focus on, things to look forward to.

    We couldn’t afford to book some big fancy holiday sadly. So instead Josh and I decided we’d invest some money into getting ourselves kitted out with a family tent and all the camping gear to go with it. We figured it would be a great way to enable us to get away as a family without it costing the earth. Josh managed to find a great deal on Facebook market place for a tent and pretty much everything else we would need. Including a camping toilet, WHO KNEW THESE WERE A THING?! Not me.

    As soon as we had all the stuff I was itching to get a trip booked in. St Ives has been on my bucket list for ages but I had always been put off by the long drive with the kids still being fairly young. But I found the most amazing looking campsite and had a bit of a ‘FUCK IT’ moment and just booked it for 3 nights at the end of half term.

    And I am so glad I did! Yes six hours in a car squashed next to a five year old in the back is A LONG OL’ TIME. But we survived. Just. And the beautiful views/ ice cream/ memories were totally worth it.

    We headed off early Thursday morning and had arrived at our campsite by mid afternoon. We stayed at Trevalgan Touring Park which was hands down the nicest campsite we have ever stayed at. I can totally see why it has 5 stars! The car was packed to the brim, so we un loaded, got everything set up then popped out to find a supermarket to stock up on supplies. After a plate of pesto pasta we got the kids ready for bed and shock horror they went to sleep no problem and both slept ALL NIGHT. I was definitely expecting multiple wakes up from them both.

    On Friday morning we had bacon and eggs in our tent before getting ready and hopping on the bus down into St Ives. And OH MY is it beautiful. It’s honestly one of the most picturesque places I have ever visited. We pottered about along the harbour front before stopping for ice creams at Willy Wallers ice cream factory. The bounty flavour was divine!! Armed with our buckets and spades we then headed down onto the beach for some sand castle building. We then enjoyed Cornish pasties overlooking the boats for lunch before catching the bus back to the campsite so that Hugo could have his afternoon nap.

    Hugo of course had other ideas and refused to sleep so we ended up jumping in the car and going for a drive so that both kids could snooze for a bit and we could enjoy some peace!! Our day ended with us eating delicious fish and chips from Atlantic Cafe Bar sat on Portreath beach watching the last of the surfers followed by a paddle in the sea. Bliss.

    Saturday was our sixth wedding anniversary so we’d booked in for lunch at Firehouse bar and grill following a friends recommendation. We had a slow morning at the campsite so Hugo could nap, Bella played nicely and I enjoyed reading my book. Our lunch was lovely, I would definitely recommend the pork belly starter as it was amazing! Our table had the best view over the harbour and it was really nice to be able to still see the sea. We skipped dessert at the restaurant so we could get ice creams again later in the afternoon. After lunch we mooched about through all the lovely little shops and slowly made our way back down to the beach. Although of course this time we had forgot our buckets and spades and ended up having to buy more. That will teach me for being all smug on day one ha!

    Despite it being a Saturday the beach was quieter than the day before which was nice. Bella was straight in the water and loved splashing about in the sea. Hugo wasn’t quite so sure so stayed on dry land most of the time making sand castles with Josh. Once we’d finished at the beach we headed to Moomaid Of Zennor Ice Cream Parlour to test out the Shipwreck flavour following Jane’s recommendation! I can confirm it was bloody delish! We made our way back to the campsite late afternoon, had a picky dinner as we were still so full from lunch and all got an early night. There’s something I find really soothing about laying in bed in your tent all cosy with a book, listening to the wind outside. Simple things eh?!

    We got up early Sunday morning and packed down as the weather had taken a turn for the worse and rain had started at 5am! We were away by 8am and made the longgggg journey home.

    Our first camping trip was a success. Both the campsite and St Ives were amazing and I would definitely love to return to both! Although next time probably for longer as it’s a long way to go for just a couple of days! Next up on our list is the New Forest!

  • InBella, Brand Collaborations

    Preparing Your Child For School

    It feels like only last week Bella was preparing to start school, and I can’t believe that she is now coming to the end of her first year. This time last year we were starting to thing of ways we could help her with the transition. The school sent out some really helpful leaflets of things we could do to encourage independence. Of course we all want our children to be well-rounded human beings and the school systems plays such a huge part in this. But there are also many things that are the parent’s responsibility to teach them too.

    Bella is one of the older children in her year and after three years at a very good Nursery, I felt like she was more than ready to start school. But there were quite a few things on the leaflet we received that I hadn’t even considered. Things like buying zip up dresses rather than button down to make it easier for her when getting changed for PE. And that she would need to be able to use the toilet independently and to carry her plate or tray at lunchtime! Other bigger things I felt were important were things like…

    Health Consciousness
    This is something I am super passionate about. Teaching my children the importance of an active and healthy lifestyle. We started doing this from a very young age. When Bella was a baby we used to go for plenty of walks together with her either in the buggy or I’d wear her in a baby carrier. We also did baby swimming lessons. And then at 18 months Bella started Ballet lessons which she still does now and we have recently started horse riding together too. We also got a dog at the beginning of the year which has really helped to encourage us all to get outside walking more!

    As well as being active I really want my children to have a good relationship with food by teaching them the importance of a balanced diet. We don’t deny the children treats as I personally don’t think that’s the best way to go about it. By telling I child they cannot have something, it makes them want it even more. Instead we try to eat healthily most of the time so that they can enjoy the odd treats. We cook most of our meals from scratch using plenty of lean meat and fresh vegetables to ensure the children get all the vitamins they need. The fruit bowl is always well stocked too for snacks.

    Time Management
    My sister bought Bella a watch for Christmas and this has been great for teaching her to tell the time. Its been really helpful for gently teaching her about time management. For example in the mornings she knows that we all need to be up, dressed and downstairs by 8am for breakfast and out the door by 8.45am. Then in the evenings she knows what time she goes to bed so this helps give her an idea of how much time she has to play or read before it’s time for lights off. Schools obviously operate on a timetable so just by making Bella aware of these things at home, it will hopefully help her understand how her school day works. Time management is one of those skills that benefit us for life after all! As she gets older she’ll be set homework with deadlines so hopefully this will help her to manage her time with that too. I suppose that time management is one of those things that is a very subtle blend of pressure and rewards.

    And, of course, there are so many other skills needed, like money management, decision-making skills, and even the importance of saying “no” to someone. Something that I have re iterated to Bella many times. Just because she is in full-time education now, I can’t just rely on the school and her teachers to provide all the information for her to live a well-balanced life. It’s just as much up to us as parents too!

    I hope these tips have been helpful, is there anything you would add?

    *Collaborative Post but all opinions are of course my own*