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Gardens are meant for den-making!

Today was one of the first days since the end of winter that we could spend outside in the garden; it was so warm that Benedict and Rose had to put shorts and t-shirts on!

Recently, I’d been thinking about how we could create a den in the garden without buying an “already-made-one”. We visited Knole Park yesterday and in the gift shop they had a beautiful, portable “den-making kit” rucksack, with everything you could possibly need to make one. It was £40 and part of me was tempted to buy it, but somehow it went against everything I think a den stands for. Isn’t a den meant to be made out of everything and anything you can find lying around and an excuse to get creative?

So that’s what Eoin and the kids did this morning – they found some bamboo sticks, some string, two old sheets and some pegs. Then, they decorated the bamboo using giant chalks for that added homely touch…

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Here’s one we made in some woods near our house:

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I can’t get enough of this picture!

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Bruges in a day

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A couple of weeks ago we made an impulsive decision to go to Bruges for the day for the Christmas markets! It’s a major benefit of living in Kent and being so close to the Euro Tunnel – it is so easy to get into France and then travel to Belgium.

Benedict and Rose were so excited (we were too!)! We left our home at 5am and reached Belgium at 10.30am local time.  We had mulled wine in the local markets and bought some chocolate santas, snowmen and reindeers in the chocolate shops.  We were also lucky enough to stumble across a nativity show with Mary riding a donkey, the three wise men riding shire horses, and a stable being pulled along by a tractor. It was perfect for Benedict and Rose in helping them visualise the first Christmas.

We also went to the Basilica of the Holy Blood to venerate the relic of Jesus’ Precious Blood. It was incredibly moving, especially to do it with Benedict and Rose and helping them understand its real significance.

We ended our trip with some authentic Belgium waffles topped with a large dollop of Nutella – I think Eoin was the only one who finished his!! It was the best way to end a wonderful trip.

Three countries in a day, as Benedict said – we’re obviously living life on the edge 😉

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Happy 1st Birthday Clara

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On the 9th of this month, Clara turned one – our first winter birthday in our family. We had a little family gathering at ours for some chicken tagine and birthday cake. Eoin and I had the great idea of making a hundreds and thousands birthday cake for Clara after watching a youtube video that made it look very easy to do… however, it turned out to be an epic fail! Our icing sugar and water ratio was wrong which meant the cake ended up sliding around everywhere… So we improvised with chocolate fingers – it still tasted yummy though and actually ended up not looking that bad after all!

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Rose helping Clara open her presents:

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Clara wearing her new bear jumper from Aunty Catriona:

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Clara Cecilia

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The newest addition to our growing family, Clara Cecilia, was born on Saturday 9th December at 6.15am weighing a healthy 8lb 6oz! She is absolutely incredible and we are all loving her so much.

I was very lucky to have my sister staying with us for a month before Clara was born.  I can’t express enough what a help it was to have her around during that time; doing the school run, baking bread, cooking homemade soups, preparing our meals, but also just being able to have lunch together and to watch a bit of cheeky daytime tv while Rose was napping! It was a really blessed time and I’m so thankful for her.

Clara ended up coming two days late and it was the curry that finally got things moving! We celebrated the Immaculate Conception with a hot curry and two hours later all the action started!

Benedict and Rose are madly in love with her. Every time Benedict comes home from school he goes straight to Clara to give her the most gentle hug and kiss, its really beautiful to watch. And every so often Benedict will burst out with “We’ve got our new baby sister, hooray!” Rose is also very enthusiastic with her hugs and kisses too, we’ve had to teach her a safe way of going to kiss her rather than just pouncing on her with her enthusiasm!

In the hospital:

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Benedict and Rose first meeting Clara at home:

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Clara at 5 weeks old:

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From a house to a home

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Our house is finally our home! The finale of the major works being done was the carpet being fitted upstairs just before Christmas. The night it was finished we were saying prayers with Benedict and Rose before bed and giving thanks for the carpet, and Benedict exclaimed, “We can call the house our home now!”

There’s still a lot of final touches to do but the bulk of the work is finished and we’re really (really) enjoying the space now.

The dining room:

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A ‘before’ pic:

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The Bathroom:

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A ‘before‘ pic:

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B and R’s new bedroom:

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The kitchen:

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(We were without water downstairs for a good couple of weeks so at the end of each day Eoin and I would take the washing up from the day upstairs and wash it in the bath…! I’ve never been so thankful for running water and a kitchen that works!)

The ‘before‘ pics:

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The sitting room:

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Some ‘before’ pics:

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The house has really been a labour of love and endurance. I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished, especially the amount of hard work Eoin has put into it. There is no way we could have taken on this project if Eoin didn’t care for DIY! He’s taught himself so many different things in the process, including ‘how to fit a kitchen’.

I think finding out we were expecting baby number 3 a week after moving in was a bit daunting (to say the least) with the amount of work ahead of us. But the timing of everything could not have been better (so thankful to God) I was joking with people before Clara was born (post to follow about little Clara!) about which would come first: Clara or the new carpets! We were really cutting it fine, but we just about managed to do it, just in time for the new baby.

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Birthdays and the beginning of school

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We’ve just had that time of year again of birthdays galore! Although with the house renovations in full swing, we kept it very simple and reasonably quiet. Sadly for Rose and Eoin’s birthdays they were suffering from bad tonsillitis 😦 so we spent the time at home having lots of birthday hugs on the sofa.

For Benedict’s birthday, we were staying at Nana and Grandad’s house while our bathroom was being done. I was sad not to have made any of the birthday cakes this year, but Benedict was more than happy with a Paw Patrol birthday cake!

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We had a lovely birthday lunch at Franky and Bennie’s with Aunty Jude before heading to the Play Farm soft play in Cheltenham.

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Rose’s birthday consisted of Calpol top-ups, sleeping, opening presents and eating Colin the Caterpillar cake. Despite that, we surprisingly had a lovely family day as Eoin was off work being ill too!

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And Eoin’s 30th birthday… we’re waiting to celebrate properly!

Finally, we’ve got Benedict all set to start school in two weeks. He’s very excited about looking like Daddy going to work with his shirt and tie!

(Hmm… which boy will he be at school; angelically good or mischievously naughty…?!)

 

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Moving home

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We’re finally moving house this Wednesday! It’s been a long time coming but we’re nearly there. We’re moving just a five minute drive away to a house… with a garden! The new house will be a labour of love – it needs A LOT of TLC, but I’m excited to start this new adventure with our little family.

I’ll be sad to leave our flat; it will always be our first proper family home together. I remember the first day we moved in and placing a 4-month old sleeping Benedict on the lovely new empty carpet in our bedroom. Now, three and a half years later he is as full of life as ever (while writing this he’s pretending to be a bee and buzzing around the room… now he’s being a tree…)

And Rose! The most precious memory I have is bringing Rose home from hospital on the night she was born and having her sleep beside us in her cot – so beautiful and so so tiny.

Rose having a tea party with her dollies on the balcony:

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Benedict and Rose aboard the ‘London Express’:

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Some more memories: