A horrifying tale...

My story begins on a chill and foggy Halloween morning when a Mum bravely decides to take her two children out to a... wait for it... Baby and Toddler disco.

What was she thinking?

More firework art!

Wow, last year this firework art post was one of the first I wrote from our new home. Lily had so much fun creating these pictures that I knew we'd be doing the same again this year. I have mixed it up a little though - we used a salt-painting technique that I found via Pinterest, we added more shiny things, more sparkle in the form of stickers and more mess!

I knew that this activity was going to be crazy and so it didn't bother me that much when glitter started flying around my dining room. With hindsight, I should have moved some of the washing that I was drying on the radiators, but oh well!

Simple Pleasures - Part Two

On Sunday we were lucky enough to get another day of simple pleasures. An afternoon with good friends, a trip to the park, conker hunting and a roast dinner. With a little bit of prosecco and wine thrown in for good measure!

I can't decide whether Ollie is brave or just crazy. He isn't happy playing on the toddler sized frames and instead is always attempting to scale the biggest one available. He might be wary the first time but after that he is fearless and I find myself watching with an odd combination of pride and fear as he scrambles up and over logs and traverses bridges without help.

Simple Pleasures

I'm not in a great place right now. It's not something I'm ready to go into detail about just yet, but the medication I was taking for PND has changed recently and the change over isn't going too well.

Added to stress at work, exhaustion at home and worrying about our finances (again) I was glad to walk out of the workplace on Friday with a weekend and half term ahead of me. Friday was actually my birthday but I wasn't really up for a lot of fuss and as I was working anyway we ended up spreading the 'celebrations' (for want of a better word) over a couple of days.

Said celebrations included Matt taking the day off on Thursday. It was great to have him home in the morning instead of rushing off out and he came with us to our usual mum and baby group followed by tea and cake. In the evening I was treated to a lovely takeaway and an early night!

Friday could have been better. It's not great working on your birthday at the best of times but I'm really not enjoying work right now and sat at my desk for most of the day just wishing it would end.

Super Stocking Fillers with Snapfish

When it comes to giving gifts on a budget it really does pay to get creative and go for a personal touch so I'm quite excited to share with you my experience of using Snapfish to create wonderful gifts for friends and family this Christmas.

The Snapfish website has quite a range available for personalised stocking stuffers, from cute acrylic keyrings and fridge magnets to photo canvas prints. I decided to go for these fun photo mugs which I could tailor-make to my own requirements using some designs of my own and some of Snapfish's handy embellishments.

As much as I love my friends, and as patient as they are when it comes to them listening about my children's achievements, I didn't really think that photos of me on the side of their work coffee mug was going to go down well. Instead, I picked some a couple of quotes and created the main design myself .

Ollie at 18 Months

Time goes so quickly when I'm running around after you, attempting to stop you pulling out all the plates and bowls from the cupboard, chasing you every time you start scampering up the stairs and picking you up when you've run head first into a door or face planted the floor for fun.

Today Lily asked me, "How many years is Ollie?" and I realised that you've actually jumped right past the 18 month mark and are now more than 19 months old. Your first birthday is almost a distant memory as so much as happened in the seven months since.

My Christmas Wish List

This year, Christmas shopping in the Kirsch household started in June. Yep, I've turned into one of those penny-pinching Mums so desperate for a bargain that I start stocking up with over 6 months to go. I am not ashamed of this, I have saved a fortune by buying in the sales and picking up preloved items for a fraction of the original cost.

There are only a few small items and stocking fillers left on the children's lists, a few more to get for Matt and just a couple for friends and family.

So now, my thoughts have turned to what I would like for Christmas.

It feels weird. I'm of the mind that if I don't really need something then it seems a bit silly to make a list just for the sake of it. However, experience gained from living with Matt for more than 7 years now tells me that it is best to give him some idea of what to look out for.

I start looking around this time because it's also my birthday next week, and so I can easily kill two birds with one stone and give him a list to cover both.

But where do I start? Beautiful, fun, delicious, stylish, crafty, novelty... surely even someone as fussy as me can find something worth splashing some cash on?

And so, without further ado, in no particular order, I present my wish list for 2016:

Share the Fun at Legoland

Possibly the best decision we made this year was to use part of a gift from family to buy our Merlin Annual Passes. We were fortunate that the gift coincided with their summer sale and so we chose to buy premium passes for the same cost as standard passes. Along with other benefits they also came with 'Share the Fun' vouchers which mean you can bring a friend for just £10.

We used these earlier in the summer to take some family along to Chessington World of Adventures which was brilliant and last weekend we went with friends to Legoland Windsor.

Faith, trust and choosing primary schools

Today I'm wading into the murky waters and discussions that surround choosing your child's Primary school.

A month before applications open and I have already come to realise that the school Lily will go to is less of a choice and more of a lottery. I can rank the schools in my local area in order of preference but I do not, in anyway get to 'choose' where Lily will receive her early years education.

It's a hard fact to swallow.

Life Captured

Is my pursuit for great blog photos stopping me from taking pictures in the first place?

It's a question I found myself pondering the other day as I browsed through some pics from last year. I used to take an awful lot of photos of my kids and I would never have dreamed of editing them before sharing with friends and family but now I find myself holding back from taking a photo if the light isn't great, or the background is too messy. I often find that I want to edit out a dark smudge here, or add a filter there and although I don't edit any features on my children I find myself wanting to tweak the contrast, colour and clarity of nearly all the photos I take.

And I find myself hitting delete if a particular photo isn't up to my exacting standards.

What we read... in September

I'm a little behind on both blogging and reading at the moment as last week was taken up with Lily's birthday and rainbow party. I haven't had much time to read and there hasn't been anything that has jumped out at me as something worth missing sleep for. It's an unusual situation!

I did however devour 'A Torch Against the Night' by Sabaa Tahir when it was released at the end of last month. Simply put, it is brilliant and already leaves me pining for more. I liked the twists and turns, especially as a couple of them were completely unexpected. I also enjoyed getting to know a few more of the characters that bit better.

Party Planning - Rainbow Party

Another party day gone.

Another morning after pick-me-up of leftover cake before tackling the aftermath.

I always find that after months of planning, weeks of preparation and days of baking, sticking and stringing, the party passes all too quickly. I end up with a deflated feeling after every event, usually lamenting the lack of photos taken and wondering if I should have spent more money in pursuit of 'wow' factor. I guess I'm too much of a perfectionist to completely enjoy the results of my planning.

As always, we worked to a tight budget. All in, the party cost less than £15 a head, and for that I hired the space, bought decorations, made and decorated the cake, provided food and drink and hired the services of Fairydust Entertainment.