Hollybobbs Best Bits for 2013

With 3 days to go until the arrival of 2014, I thought I would share Hollybobbs' most popular posts. So here are the top five most read posts...

Our Christmas 2013

Christmas has been and gone and it is only four more short days until 2013 follows it. It has been an up and down year, and to be honest I'll be glad to see the back of it. I have strong hopes that next year will see a lot more happy times and lots more progress.

But looking back on it all, we have still made lots of memories. My 30th birthday was one I will remember always, my baby boy became a toddler and my big girl has grown so much since last year.

This Christmas was never going to be easy and straightforward, but we made it the best we could and mummy and daddy tried to put everything to one side and concentrate on the children. This was not an easy task and not always achieved, but over the last week we have had some lovely days:

H's birthday

Three Years Old

For H

 Yesterday, my love, you turned three
Our baby girl has grown
Three! How could it possibly be?
Since the day we brought you home
Seems like only yesterday
That I cradled you on my knee
Oh I can't believe my eyes right now
My little girl is three

Since then we've watched as you have grown
From first smiles to laughs to strides
It wasn't long before we knew
You'd stolen our hearts inside
Now today you run and play with friends
I can feel the tears run free

Oh I can't believe my eyes right now
My little girl is three

We will watch you close and pick you up
We'll forever be there for you
Through first friends, loves and broken hearts
You can rely we'll see you through
So believe me when I tell you now
We are so proud of all you can be

Oh I can't believe my eyes right now
My little girl is three

*This is my interpretation on 'A Song for my Daughter'

Christmas Tag 13 Vlog

Experience Days Giveaway

I hope everyone is getting into the Christmas spirit and has almost completed their shopping and dutifully sent everything off to Santa! I was quite organised and started in September, however have had a last minute rush and am still to get my dad's present.

If, however, you just haven't managed to get all your shopping done, the very generous people at Experience Days have offered one lucky Hollybobbs reader the chance to win £50 towards one of their experiences. The answer to your prayers?

With a £50 voucher you could buy a 4x4 driving experience for the man in your life, or maybe your mum or sister could do with some pampering with a deluxe makeup and hairstyling session? for something with a difference you could try bungee jumping or for something a little calmer perhaps a canoeing tour for the day? There is a huge range of experiences you could opt for, so best of luck and Happy Christmas!

Please note: in order to receive your experience in time for Christmas the winner needs to reply with their details by December 19th.

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Round & Round The Garden: A Winter's Update

Winter is well and truly upon us, despite the lack of snow we have supposedly been forecast. The house is all decked out in tinsel and twinkly lights and we are  excitedly awaiting the arrival of Santa. With all this preparation it occurred to me how little of this is transferred over to the garden. Apart from setting some Christmas boxes outside the front door, my poor garden which I spent hours transforming over the summer, has had very little attention.

If you followed my Round & Round The Garden series over the summer, you will know my back yard went from this:

...to this:

We were all so thrilled with the results as we worked so hard making it an area our children could really enjoy as they grew.

So a couple of weekends ago I decided to tackle the garden a little and give it some much needed TLC. I also took some updated photos of how things are growing since we finished the project in September.

Considering the time of year we still have flowers in the tyres, and they look fantastic. I am so pleased with how that project turned out. All the little touches that we have added just finish it off beautifully and I'm sure will be added to over the years. In Springtime I plan on planting some blossom trees at the back of the play area and am considering putting a hedge down the left fence to block out the road next to us.

As I tackled the much-needed maintenance, I knew a lot of the bushes needed trimming back ready for their winter hibernation, so I focused on the Buddleja and Honeysuckle. It is important to trim the straggly ends back so when the plants have stored all their energy over winter, they can grow afresh from the new shoots, making your shrubs look healthier and creating a better shape for the next season. I also pinned back the new stems of the Honeysuckle around the bottom of the pergola, which will encourage them to grow up it and eventually surround the whole frame in a beautiful, scented delight.

I then dead-headed any flowers that were left, so plants weren't wasting any energy on keeping hold of them, as well as cutting off the dead heads of the Buddleja as these can easily go to seed and spread.

Finally I weeded the whole garden, clearing it of any unsightly plants. Winter is a great time for this as the weeds are dormant and so you can really get into to the root and get rid of them.

Making sure your garden is tended to at a time of year you may not really want to be venturing out into the cold, does make sure you have less to do in the Spring time, when everything comes alive with vigour, so I would really advise you to get out there and put in a little work. You can make it a lovely afternoon with the children, and teach them a little about gardening too.

I am so thrilled with the way our project turned out in the end, it really was a labour of love and I think it will be a space we will cherish in the years to come. It is not often you are given a blank canvas to create what you want with, some I am so thankful for our opportunity.

*This is a featured post

I Am Not Supermum

I decided a whilst ago that I wanted to document after each counselling session - what was discussed and decided and what topics came about. This is so I have some sort of record of these sessions, as my hazy mind tends to forget the most basic of thought recently.

Our Holiday: Vlog

After a lovely week in Fuerteventura, here is a little vlog!

Winter Holidays

Last week myself, Mr H, Little H and Baby J embarked on a week long holiday with some friends of ours. We decided to head to Fuerteventura, supposedly a winter resort, and opted for a private villa so our little ones could run around to their hearts' content. With five children under four, between four adults we knew it would be hectic, but were greatly looking forward to it and it did not disappoint.

The kids were great on the plane - as we clambered on with babies swinging around our necks and boisterous toddlers running off ahead I'm sure the plane groaned in unison, but after the 4.5 hour flight most passengers commented on how good they all were, which was a huge relief. Once we had collected our luggage and buggies our destination was only a short 15 minute taxi ride away.

The lovely villa we stayed at was in the area of Caleta and overlooked a golf course, with sea views beyond. There was a private pool, which was fenced off, which was a great idea as it meant we didn't have to dive after the toddlers every two minutes, particularly J who has no fears and a skill of finding the most dangerous activity he can.

The weather was up and down, fortunately we didn't have any rain, but most days were a mixture of sun and cloud. We didn't let that put us off though and enjoyed the beach, pool and a spot of sunbathing when the little ones had a nap.

The mummies and daddies even managed a cheeky night out each and naughtily rolled in at 4am slightly worse for wear! We mainly BBQ'd, but did manage a lovely meal out on our last night and the older children loved staying up late and having a dance.

I have to say, it was strange to come home to Christmas just around the corner, it's a good job I got organised with my present buying beforehand! Overall we had a lovely week away, although I think the adults all need another holiday to recover!

Bents Christmas Wonderland

Ever since I moved to Lancashire, Bents Garden and Home has been a must-visit at Christmas time. They are known in the area for their amazing displays, in fact my mum now insists that I take her every year and Mr H has decided we MUST own one of those light-up village scenes for each year - so far we are up to four and I'm not quite sure where they're going to go this time!

Bonfire Night 2013

A little late to the table, but I wanted to share our bonfire night photos from this year. We attended a local firework display with some friends and their little girl. It was quite a cool night, but the rain held off so we were lucky. There were two displays - a quieter one earlier on for the small children, and a full one later. We stayed for both and enjoyed the mini fairground in between.

Both children were a bit unsure at first, but their uncle had let off some fireworks at a christening we attended at the weekend so they were at least familiar with them. There were no tears or freak-outs, which I was wary off, however J was very quiet throughout the noisy ones and just wanted daddy cuddles.

I covered H's ears at first but eventually she covered her own, and then wasn't even bothered.

Afterwards we went to my friends' house and the older ones had a go at sparklers, with complete supervision I may add.

I've always loved Bonfire Night and when we were young my mum, dad, sister and I would either have a bonfire at home or would go to the local pub who always had one. It was just one of those lovely family events where we all got together to eat toffee apples and bonfire toffee and ooh and aah at the displays. It's a tradition I really want to continue with my own family and this year we had a lovely bonfire night all together.

F&F Children's Partywear Competition

A couple of weeks ago we were invited to take part in Tesco's F&F Children's partywear competition. As I have recently started writing more about the children's outfits I thought it would be great to join in.

Waterstone's Story Cubes Project

Did you know that November is NanoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month? I was asked if I wanted to be a part of Waterstone's Story Cubes project and I agreed, always wanting to 'expand' my writing! The idea is that a group of eight bloggers will contribute one chapter each using Rory’s Story Cubes to guide the narrative.

You can read chapters one, two and three here. Here is my addition:

Childhood Chic #2

Welcome to the second week of Childhood Chic - my little slot where I share my favourite clothes and styles in my children's wardrobes. I am absolutely loving the excuse to source new brands and styles for my two littlies (although Mr H and my bank balance aren't quite so enamoured!). Here's our looks this week:

As you can see we loved the new Polarn O Pyret Circus range so much! J wears purple striped leggings (now reduced to £16.40) with his Baba & Boo top and H wears purple stripe skirt (now reduced to £16.40) with a red top from George at Asda.

H is becoming a right little poser! Cable knit dress from F&F at Tesco, belt from Easybelts.

All ready for our Mama Designs 5th birthday party, J is wearing top from Matalan, joggers from Kite Baby and gorgeous grey star snoodie from Mama Designs.

The Indikidual leggings are back, as they are just so soft and comfy! This week teamed with a top from Next.

A Kid In A Sweet Shop

Last weekend we were invited to a bloggers morning at The Sweet Shop at the Trafford Centre. I wasn't completely familiar with the store before the invitation, but I do have a big sweet tooth so was looking forward to it.

Giveaway: The Essential One

Those of you who are regular readers will know how close I am with online baby boutique, The Essential One. I was thrilled when they recently asked me to be an honorary ambassador for them, as Baby J no longer fits in their beautiful clothes...sob.

Mama Designs is 5!

I've only recently got to know the lovely brand that is Mama Designs and I was fortunate to meet the lady behind the company - Keira - at Britmums in June. She is a huge supported of Jennie and the Matilda Mae fundraising that I hold so close to my heart, so we had some great chats whilst we were down there.

The Pony Cycle

I recently came across a new toy that definitely sparked my intrigue. The Pony Cycle is a plush toy that is quite unique. There is no motor, no power and no battery required so you actually mount the Pony like you would a real horse - your feet rest on the stirrup step and as you bounce the spring action propels the horse forward; the faster you bounce the quicker your Pony will race. The product actually promotes exercise to children, getting them to keep fit whilst still having fun.

Childhood Chic

Lately I have really enjoyed finding and sourcing new brands and boutiques full of wonderful and different children's clothes. Pretty much since I found out I was pregnant, I have spent much more time and money on the childrens' wardrobes than my own and this doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon. So I have decided to embrace this and am starting a new feature on Hollybobbs I am calling Childhood Chic.

Whilst I don't pretend to be any kind of fashion guru, I do enjoy dressing the children in what I deem to be stylish clothing and want to share my finds with you. Ever since I discovered The Essential One and Kyna Boutique I have been inspired to find more and learn about the brands that are out there. Whilst Mr H isn't keen on the cost of all this, it is of course the price one must pay in the name of fashion!

So here is this week's installment, of the most recent outfits my children have donned. I hope over the weeks and months this will develop into a feature where I can share up and coming brands and help others out there find out about clothes that are different, yet still affordable.

28th October 2013:
Ahoy tights from Slugs & Snails, top from Next

29th October 2013:
Jumper and trousers from H&M

Top from Baba & Boo, shoes from Clarks

30th October 2013:
Jumper from George at Asda, skirt from Next, belt from Easybelts

Top from Next, leggings by Indikidual from Kyna Boutique

31st October 2013:
J: Top by Indikidual at Kyna Boutique, tights from Slugs & Snails. H: Top by H&M, dress from TU at Tesco, tights from Matalan

4th November 2013:
Top from Matalan, trousers from H&M

Vest from H&M, trousers from Matalan

Please follow my Instagram feed to also follow these photos each day.

Poetry For Toddlers

I have always loved poetry and as a teenager full of angst I wrote tons of poems, and now have teams of them up in the loft.

When I saw the new Tots 100 Center Parcs poetry challenge I thought I would use it as a prompt to include H in some poetry fun. As she is nearly three, she is still too young to really understand poetry. but by creating a found poem and putting together a list of words it made it an activity she could join in.

Last week we went on a lovely autumn walk and collected lots of leaves, which we are part-way through making a garland out of. We gathered together some of the leaves, some pens and some coloured paper and had a little chat about our walk.

I asked H about the leaves - they were crunchy, circles, had spots on, and were various colours. 

We talked about the walk - she wore her news shoes, we skipped, walked, collected and were silly. We saw a birdie. It was a long walk.

I then added some joining words such as and, the and in.

Once I had written them on strips of paper (with H choosing which colour paper and pen I used), we gathered all the words together, went in the front room and H threw them in the air (a bit like leaves falling from the tree).

Once they were all mixed up she passed them to me one by one. I lined them up and then moved a couple down onto the next line and our autumn poem was complete:

"Spots walked a lot
Green, purple collecting
Crunchy. Yellow.
In long walk silly skip.
Birdie circles!
The new shoes and leaves"

*This is my entry to the Center Parcs and Tots 100 November challenge. If I’m chosen, I would like to visit Sherwood Forest


Those of you who follow my blog will be aware of a cause very close to my heart - Matilda Mae and The Lullaby Trust. Nine months ago a beautiful little girl, aged nine months, passed away from SID's. Since then her mummy has been tirelessly fundraising and has put together some amazing events and celebrations of her daughter short life, raising thousands in the process. For those of you who don't know you can read her story here.


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