Christmas 2015... the one with all the poo

I often think Christmas is a bit like a wedding - the basics are all the same, it's a big family thing, and because everyone puts their own stamp on it, they all think their way is best.

Because the basics are the same, it's often easy to get different years mixed up in our memories, as the Christmases of our childhood blend together into one big carol-singing, present opening, chocolate covered mess.

And that is why I want to remember the little bits of our family Christmases that will, as the years pass, fade from memory.

As always, this year we had lovely food, great presents and lots of fun. It was Ollie's first Christmas and it was magical. Lily gets more and more excited every year. It was stressful at times getting everything ready, but most of the day went without a hitch. But I also want to remember:

Christmas Trees and Elf School

There are plenty of fun and festive family activities in and around High Wycombe - you may have already seen my post here where I talk about the ever popular 'Winter Wonderland' at World's End and The Tree Barn at Christmas Common. This last weekend we tried a few more, with two completely free activities in Wycombe town centre - perfect for a break away from your Christmas shopping!

2015 Christmas Tree Festival at All Saints Church
The beautiful All Saints Church is an easily recognisable local landmark and plays an active part in the community. Throughout the year they hold events, concerts and a lovely little toddler group on Friday mornings. It's a welcoming church with a friendly cafe, called The Mustard Seed, at the back and a small children's area with toys and books.

Wicked Wednesdays

This is what happens when Santa's Elf 'helpfully' suggests a choice of gifts from the pile stacked around the room and Daddy thinks that the 'make-up' would be fake.


Feeling Festive

Things have been getting festive in the Kirsch household. The decorations are up, presents are appearing under the tree and I keep looking for excuses to make Christmas biscuits.

So here's a quick catch-up of our advent festivities.

Winter Wonderland at World's End Garden Centre, Wendover
This place has a cult following if you live in Buckinghamshire. Everyone with kids, and even those who don't, make their way to view the wintry displays in the 'Wonderland' and visit Santa in his cabin. They also have a couple of fairground rides and some craft stalls and tons of decorations and Christmas trees to choose from. For the past few years I've gone on a weekday with my best friend, but it meant that Matt had never been and so we went on a weekend and it was packed. Even after an early lunch we still had to wait in the queue for ages - I'd recommend going, but only on a weekday! It's worth it!

Help! How do I cope with my daughter's first Nativity?

Next Tuesday is a big day. When my darling 3 year old little girl steps on to the stage for her debut performance.

She's a 'king' in the nursery nativity.

The 'king with gold' to be precise.

A note came home from nursery advising parents of the 'casting' choices and simple costume requirements. The children have been practicing for a couple of weeks and the nursery staff are experienced in guiding children through their first am-dram performances.

Simple enough.

But for me, next Tuesday presents a minefield of new social etiquette to navigate. How does one suitably demonstrate pride in your child's performance without stepping over the line into over-bearing, fanatical pain-in-the-arse?

Our Christmas Book Box

A couple of years ago I 'rescued' a gift box from work, brought it home with me and turned it into an ever-so-special box of books that only appears once a year.

Not only is this a great way to avoid being asked to read stories about Santa in June, I find it's another great way to build excitement during advent. I get it down from the loft when we put up our decorations and love seeing Lily's excitement as she reacquaints herself with some old favourites.

Our box includes a variety of books given to us from other generous book-lovers, and fab second-hand finds like these gorgeous vintage pop-up books that my Mum found a while ago.

10 things I love about our new home

We've been in our new place for a month now, and slowly, it is beginning to feel more like home. We've spent the last week or so getting it all sorted so that it's nearly ready for Christmas, but I imagine it'll be some time yet until I feel it is 'perfect'. In the meantime, here up the top ten things I love about our new home.

1. The size
Who says size doesn't matter? With the exception of our bedroom, every room in the new house feels bigger than our last house. When it comes to our bedroom, I'm sure it would feel bigger if it wasn't full of crap that we haven't quite got round to sorting yet!

2. The space under the stairs
So often the space under the stairs can be a dead space. Maybe it's used as a cupboard, maybe for storage, maybe, if you're a super-parent, it can be used as a fantastic playhouse like these found on Pinterest.

Or, if you're like me, it can be used as a little home corner - not quite on the same scale as the playhouse but still a lovely space for the toy kitchen and various bits of doll paraphernalia...

My Nan - more than a Pearly Queen

This is how most people will see my Nan, as Pearly Queen of Crystal Palace. You may have even seen her on the TV - she's been on more programmes and adverts than I can count! As a Pearly Queen she is (obviously) charitable, outgoing, fun and friendly but to me, she's my Nan and so much more.

Our play kitchen makeover

I have wanted to do this FOR AGES. Literally, ages. Lily got her first play kitchen for Christmas when she was just one. It was cheap and it didn't last long, but she loved it. We bought her the lower half of the IKEA Duktig play kitchen for a bargain price on Gumtree just after her second birthday and I always wanted to customise it like the amazing creations you find on Pinterest.
But over a year went by. And the kitchen stayed the same. Lily loved it anyway, it is a great design and the adjustable height feature meant that she could easily reach everything. Because it was low we found that it didn't intrude too much into the limited space of our living room and yet still had tons of room for all the kitchen accessories.

A month of #LittleLoves


What a month. With moving house, changing jobs, settling Ollie into nursery and birthdays, family trips and Christmas shopping (yes, I started early) it's been a crazy few weeks. It's been so long since I wrote a #LittleLoves post for linking up with Coffee Work Sleep Repeat that I wouldn't know where to start if it wasn't for the useful prompts!

Well, I finished reading 'Queen of Shadows' by Sarah J Maas and enjoyed it and so also gave 'A Court of Thorns and Roses' a go. In the end I actually enjoyed it more as I felt the story seemed tighter and I liked that the faerie folk lore was well researched.

Lily, Ollie and I have been reading some classics at bedtime lately - 'Giraffes Can't Dance' and 'Peace at Last' are amongst the very long list of recent reads. I've needed to take a rain check on how many books we have for the kids - I have two large baskets in Lily's room, one in Ollie's, one in the living room and various bookshelves. To me, that sounds pretty reasonable, but that's without the box under Lily's bed which hasn't been unpacked yet and a number of Christmas presents...

Toddler approved Christmas cards

I love doing crafty activities with Lily. Maybe it's because my own craft skills are, shall we say, a tad immature, but I enjoy the simplicity of stickers, or cutting and gluing, maybe splashing some poster paints around.

So it shouldn't come as a surprise when I say that making our own Christmas cards to send to close family is one of my favourite parts of the run up to Christmas. Last year I cut little Christmas trees for Lily to decorate with stickers but this year I let her pick what she wanted to do. Her choice? Snowmen.

Luckily, I now live super close to a Hobbycraft store. After stopping there briefly for supplies I let Lily (and Ollie) loose with some card blanks and a choice of sparkly stickers.

Lily got straight to work. Ollie, unsurprisingly, was more interested in eating the finished product than actually doing much but he was fascinated by the glitter on the stickers. The snowman, his hat, scarf and the snowflakes all came in one pack from Hobbycraft and I can really recommend them for creative toddlers.

Wicked Wednesdays

I wanted to take a photo of Lily playing at Lilymae's Play Cafe but she wasn't having any of it...

Easy sensory play

I first learnt about sensory play when I worked part time as a nursery nurse in a Montessori school. The idea is actually simple but there is a lot of information out there, and so many ideas and suggestions, that it can sometimes be quite overwhelming to action.

I'm not an expert by any means, but the benefits of sensory play come from babies and toddlers (and even older children) learning and exploring through using and stimulating the five senses (touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing), and include:
- developing both fine and gross motor skills
- language development
- helping promote problem solving
- helping to enhance memory

I have personally found sensory activities to be a great way of bonding with your baby and more fun than the same old baby toys that can get a bit repetitive after a while.

When Lily was a baby we dedicated most Sunday afternoons to a sensory activity - oats, ice, rice, shredded paper, treasure baskets, play dough, shaving foam, bath foam... so many different things to try!

Sharing our weekends

We had another low-key weekend, managed to get more house stuff done and had some family to visit on Sunday. My favourite moment was this. Watching my children play happily together. We weren't doing anything special or extraordinary, they aren't even great photos, but they bring me such happiness to look at.

Getting crafty

We actually did this activity a couple of weeks ago now but as it was a gift I didn't want to share it and risk ruining a surprise. This was a very simple craft that Lily was able to choose, and then do, for herself.

It was my mother-in-law's birthday and I thought it would be nice if Lily made her a present. As it was a for someone else, I wanted to encourage Lily to think about what the other person would like and then let her create it. Lily loved the idea and had a great time walking around Hobbycraft saying "Ooo, I think Nana Rosie would LOVE this".

To Lily, My Beautiful Girl

Today for #BEDN I'm sharing a post I wrote ages ago when I was first considering starting a blog. I'd sit at work during my lunch and write little letters to Lily because she had just started nursery and I missed her terribly.

At the time, Lily had been picked as regional winner for The Baby Show Stars at Birmingham. A couple of weeks later we had the shoot at Bumpkins and I have shared my favourite photos as part of this post. In the end Lily didn't win, although her photo was still used on the website, leaflets and posters which was still pretty cool.

Having a camera on my phone means that I take more and more photos of you every month. I currently have hundreds saved on our pc, organised first by days, then weeks and then months. I’m also selecting my favourites as I go and putting them together for a photobook to be printed for your first birthday which is only a few months away now. How time flies! I think I’m getting better and better at taking photos of you. But then, you do make it easy for me. I try and capture so much of your play and development, I want to be able to remember this time for always and having the photos there will help enormously. I love looking back at my baby photos and childhood pics, I hope that one day you will too.

Sharing our weekends

It's actually been a while since I shared our weekends. I've been caught up in a whirlwind of moving house and changing jobs but this weekend we visited my grandparents in Sydenham and had a great lunch at local favourite Chef's Delight (you can see why it's a favourite when you see the size of the pancakes!)

One of 'those' days

You know those days where everything seems to go wrong.

That was today.

It all started early, with a grumpy bus driver who wouldn't stop at the right place.

It carried on when the shops didn't have the right items I was looking for.

Then Lily decided she needed to wee and I had to put all my shopping down and rush to another shop a few doors down so I could take her to the loo.

I gave up on running all the errands I needed to.

It rained when we got off the bus on our return journey.

Lily fell over and grazed her knee.

Lily was hungry and tired.

Ollie was hungry and tired.

I was hungry and tired.

But neither Lily or Ollie would sleep after lunch. And so I didn't sleep.

Or get the chance to do any housework.

During my disastrous shopping trip, I'd managed to convince myself that a convenience-straight-to-oven-chicken-breast-and-stuffing-thing would be easier than my usual buy-a-chicken-throw-it-on-an-oven-tray-and-cook method.

Teaching Children Kindness

It's rare that she misbehaves, but when she does, I often find myself telling Lily that something 'is not kind'.

It is not kind to snatch things.

It is not kind to say hurtful things.

It is not kind to throw toys.

I do this because I'd rather say 'we don't do this because it is not kind' rather than just label something as 'naughty' but today, the prompt for Rosalilium's Blog Every Day in November challenge is about World Kindness Day, and it made me wonder whether I spend enough time teaching my children what IS kind, as opposed to what is not.

We all want our children to be kind. I think you'd be hard pushed to find any parent out there who would not value kindness as a trait in their children. It's just I've never thought before about how exactly I want to instill that kindness in their hearts.

Recipe - Beef and Tomato Stew

I love a good roast dinner on a Sunday. Actually, I love a roast dinner any day of the week. This Sunday we had roast beef, and with only the three of us eating there was a little bit of beef left over. I don't like throwing things away and make an effort to reduce waste and save money - particularly important now that I'm earning less but paying more in childcare!

So on Monday, instead of throwing the last bit of beef away, I decided to turn it into a slow cooked, Italian-esque stew. It's a popular meal in our home and makes a change from the more traditional gravy based stews that I like. I love that it is so simple and yet so delicious, you really can throw in whatever leftovers you have to hand, and it is all cooked in just one pot (or in my case, my trusty slowcooker).

30 things about me!

Whilst doing the rounds on the fabulously named '#fartglitter' linky, hosted by My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows, I came across this post on Run Jump Scrap.

Having just turned 30, I thought it'd be interesting to see if I could actually come up with 30 'interesting' facts about myself. I just about managed the right amount of facts, but will leave it up to you to decide just how interesting they are!

1. My surname means 'Cherry' in German, hence my blog name - our family tree.

2. However, my maiden name was Jolly. I always thought it'd be a great name if I was to work in a school - but now I'm starting as a school receptionist, it's too late.

3. I used to want to be a journalist and even studied journalism at uni, but never finished my degree after my Dad died, now I enjoy just writing for fun.

4. I'm not a big fan of silence. I like to have the TV or radio on for background noise nearly all day.

5. When I was eleven I got my first job as a waitress at a small town cafe. Working there has left a lasting impression on how I judge other cafes, waitresses and Cream Teas...

6. Despite loving and previously living in Devon, I put the jam on my scone before the clotted cream. I like tons of cream. It's the best way.

7. I haven't learnt to drive yet, but it's on my to do list.

8. I once took part in the TV programme 'Boot Sale Treasure Hunt'. I was there as a Pearly Princess in a team with my Grandad. He didn't quite get the point and gave stuff away for free. We lost to my Nan's team but all the money went to the Pearly Kings and Queens Society.

9. I chose my Lion Rampant character name, Eleanor Courtenay, because I used to live in Okehampton and the Courtenay family once owned the castle there.

10. My favourite colour is blue. Unless it is clothing, and then I really like black.

11. I have never smoked a cigarette, not even a little bit, and have never taken any drugs. Although I
like to support other people's choices, I can be very intolerant when it comes to drug-taking.

12. Strangely though, despite seeing the negative impact of alcohol, I'm a big fan of wine (and spirits, cider, sparking wines, liqueurs...)

13. No matter what size I am, or have been over the last 15 years, I always feel fat.

14. I once won a quiz at Waterstones in Islington to find the biggest Harry Potter fan on the night of the 'Half-Blood Prince' book release.

15. My favourite Christmas Carol is "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing". I can't choose a favourite hymn or worship song because there are just too many.

16. I have a can of diet coke that actually belonged to Ewan McGregor... It's about ten years old, and I pinched it off the stage (and finished drinking it) after I went to a book signing. I'm not a stalker. Honest.

17. I always wear my socks inside out because I hate the seam rubbing against my toes.

18. I don't actually like eating a lot of meat. I almost see it as an accompaniment to vegetables and carbs, really, just carbs...

19. I haven't been on a holiday abroad since my honeymoon four years ago, before that my last holiday abroad was to Rome in 2004 (I think, maybe even 2003).

20. I've had a crush on Bryan Adams since I was about 10.

21. When I was little, it was my ambition to become Britain's first female vicar. I also wanted to be a Nun until someone told me I'd have to take a vow of silence.

22. I have a naturally loud voice. Even when I don't mean for it to be. It's so bad that my Mum used to think I had a hearing problem...

23. I've always suffered from migraines and it is a nightmare. I've had some bad episodes over the years but the worse ones are when I was about 8 and then more recently in my 20's when I had them almost every day for about 6 months. I've no idea why, but am so grateful that they calmed down.

24. I've always wished I could sing but I'm tone death. Maybe I have got a hearing problem, because I genuinely can't tell the difference between me singing in tune or not!

25. If I won the lottery, the first thing I would do is book holiday to Disneyland. The second thing would be to buy a house.

26. My biggest fear is losing those I love. Closely followed by not living to see my children grow up.

27. I have really vivid dreams and they are often set at my old secondary school. I sometimes wonder if I unconsciously have unfinished business there.

28. Apparently, if I was an Orc, my name would be Grung.

29. When it comes to Marmite, I hate it. With a passion.

30. The thing I love most, in the whole world, is hearing the laughter of both my children. #CheesyButTrue

The List

Super Busy Mum

Parenting Problems

We all had a late night last night. We actually went to a PARTY, can you believe it? We were social.

It was fabulous!

We headed up to our friends late afternoon, had a drink, a catch up and got ready for some fireworks at a local display. Walked down, did some 'Ooo-ing' and 'aah-ing' and walked back for more drinks and shenanigans involving a giant fitness ball and a human pyramid of small children.

Of course, by 'late' I mean that the whole Kirsch family was home by 10pm. But family fun time is measured in quality, not quantity.

Then, amazingly, this morning both children SLEPT IN.

Yep. It's a miracle. It got to 6:30am and all were snoring away in the Kirsch household.

Except me.

How is that fair? I was the one who was up twice feeding Ollie. I was shattered. I DESERVED the lie in but couldn't get back to sleep.

I shouldn't complain, I got to read, with no interruptions which was wonderful.

But I would have liked to sleep.

Time ticked away. All was quiet(ish). I ended the chapter and my eyelids began to droop.

Finally. A chance for a little snooze.

Then. Ollie woke up.

You knew it was coming didn't you?


My unusual hobby #BEDN

I'm taking part in Rosalilium's Blog Every Day in November challenge. Sure, I haven't really completed it as I started late, but I'm loving the prompts and finding new blogs to read and follow on social media.

Today's prompt was a no-brainer for me. Because I do have an 'unusual' hobby, but one that is incredibly fun and interesting. I'm part of a medieval display society - The Lion Rampant.

We aim to portray the excitement and chivalry of the nobility in medieval Europe between the 11th and 15th centuries. We have sword combat, archery, singing, dancing and a short comedy play which we call 'the script'. Best of all, we do it in gorgeous costumes and dresses.

I joined in 2005 and was hooked. During the incredibly painful time after my Dad died, it was one of the main things that kept me going. I even moved to High Wycombe a year after joining, to escape painful memories in London and be closer to my new friends.

Because that is what made the LR so addictive. You could escape for the weekend to a stunning castle and spend nearly the whole time laughing with some of the most intelligent, talented, kind, wonderful friends. We'd sit around the campfire in the evening, telling lewd jokes and singing (our version of Bohemian Rhapsody is amazing) and drinking. We'd toast marshmallows, play hide and seek around the castle grounds at night and the parties in the beer tent at big multi-group events like Tewkesbury were brilliant.

And then I grew up, got married and had kids.

It's much harder to do the shows now. I was never a fan of camping, and the thought of camping with a three year old and a baby fills me with dread. I've known other (braver) families to do it though and it is a great hobby for children to be part of. There are so many educational benefits, plus a sense of independence for older children who can play and explore whilst in a (relatively) safe environment.

And it's fun. So much fun.

Top Ten Tips - Moving with Toddlers

Now we've got through the moving day from hell, I thought I'd share with you my top tips for making it as easy as possible on your little ones. I'd like to think that despite me being an exhausted mess at the end of it, the kids have got through pretty much unscathed... and where things went wrong, I hope you can learn from my mistakes!

1. Visit the new place with your toddler
We took Lily with us when we went to view it and it really helped when we then told her about the move. She didn't have to imagine it, because she had already seen it. We just had a job explaining to her that Derek, who showed us round, wasn't coming too...

2. Enlist their help with the packing
Lily was apprehensive about packing at first. She was worried about leaving things behind. Once I'd assured her that we would be taking everything she was more than happy to get stuck in with packing up her toys and books.

3. Read books and watch TV about moving
Thank goodness for Topsy and Tim. Lily decided she wanted to move house before we did just because Topsy and Tim moved to a new home. It made explaining it all to her much easier.

4. Organise yourself
Work out the plan. Then do as I did and cry when it all falls apart...
No. Seriously. An organised move is going to make it all a lot easier. For everyone.

5. Be positive - if you dread the move, they will too.
This was hard for me because I truly dreaded moving. I expected it to be stressful and it was. Despite trying to hide it from Lily I think she picked up on it anyway and kept telling me she felt 'sad' on the day.

6. Let them say goodbye
Lily wanted to say goodbye to her old house and so we made sure we left some time on Saturday morning for her to go back. I think it was important for her to have that opportunity, even if she did run back out of the door because she was visiting her friends and was excited to see them.

7. Unpack their room first
My best friend took the day off to help me move. Isn't that amazing? She was fantastic at every turn, but one of the things that meant the most was how she unpacked most of Lily's room and made it look ready for her to sleep in. By surrounding Lily with her old things straight away I think it helped settle her at bedtime and made for a happier little girl at the end of it.

8. Take breaks and maintain routine
Despite trying to fit an awful lot into that one day I still made time for a story before bed. It is such an important part of our routine and I didn't want to lose it. We were able to have a little sing song, read a book and snuggle and it was a good way to unwind at the end of a very stressful day.

9. Understand they may be clingy
Both Lily and Ollie are still clingy, although with Ollie I think that is as much down to teething as it is being unsettled by the move. Most of Lily's things are in place, but it's still quite hectic and it's going to take a while for things to even out a bit. It means that Lily wants tons of hugs and often asks to 'snuggle and watch TV'. It can be a bit frustrating when there is so much to get done, but I am concentrating on the positives of having lovely hugs with my special girl.

10. Treats! (One for you, one for me)
Yep, I'm not above a bit of bribery. I got Lily a magazine (a real treat, they're so bloody expensive) to keep her occupied during the morning. It didn't last long but it was better than nothing. She also picked out a huge chocolate chip biscuit at M&S when we stopped for lunch. She wasn't the only one to be fair, I treated myself to one of their new chocolate tarts. I think I deserved it.

Mums' Days

Post Comment Love

Firework Art

Remember, remember the fifth of November, 
Gunpowder treason and plot. 
We see no reason 
Why gunpowder treason 
Should ever be forgot!

Yes, it's that time of year once again. I'm already looking forward to going to a local fireworks display on Saturday with Ollie's godparents. We went last year and Lily is excited to go again, especially as we have bought some ear defenders for both her and Ollie to protect them from loud bangs.

So I decided to get in the mood by creating some firework pictures.

New Home Ideas - Bedroom

Having already covered my hopes and plans for our new living room and the kitchen and dining room, I've been putting off describing my ideas for our bedroom.

I always love the look of the bedrooms you see in interiors magazines but for me, they don't seem realistic. Maybe it's just me, but the bedroom always seems to be in a right tip. I drag myself out of bed in the mornings, spend most of the day clearing the rest of the house, doing Mummy-things and working and then fall back into bed, exhausted, at the end of the day. Tidying up my room always seems to be the lowest priority, even if we have guests I just throw stuff in and shut the door.

So when it came to choosing the 'master' bedroom in our new home, I gave the biggest to Lily and took the next size down for Matt and myself. It didn't make sense to keep all the space for us when we wouldn't use it, but Lily and Ollie could make the most out of all that room for toys and books.

We've moved!


We've moved house.

I'm writing this from the depths of unpacking hell.

Despite my attempts at organisation it was awful. The removal van was late, the junk in the loft tipped me over the edge and right in the middle of all the stress Ollie cut his first tooth.

I haven't slept properly in days. It feels like weeks.

But. It's (almost) over.

I couldn't have done it without my friends. They looked after my children, they came at night to ferry the Kirsch-family-loft-shite© from old house to new and my best friend was there through it all - packing, cleaning, hugging and putting up with me laughing hysterically at the random lady who looked like a witch (no, she wasn't in costume). I will be thanking them all, with alcohol, very soon.

We've now been here four days and I've only unpacked a handful of boxes. I keep looking at them, thinking I should do something but what I really want to do is take a nap. So it may take me a while to get back into the blogging habit but thank you for stopping by and I hope to be writing properly soon!

My Captured Moment

I'm packing today ahead of tomorrow's big move and so instead of a lengthy written post I have decided to share with you a precious captured moment from last week. The moment my sister arrived from Devon for a weekend visit.

Pumpkin Carving

Lily carved her first pumpkin today. It wasn't something I'd actually planned to do. Halloween has never been huge in our home, we don't tend to do trick or treating, and if we were going to have a party it would be for my brother as it's his birthday. So when it comes to pumpkin carving, I'm a bit of a beginner.

Also, with the move coming up, I wouldn't be able to face the prospect of doing a messy activity at home. I'm currently navigating between washing, toys and packing boxes, and I'm not doing very well with the stress of it all.

With all that in mind, I headed off this morning in the light drizzle to Lilymae's. It has quickly become one of my preferred spots for taking Lily and Ollie as I love how friendly the staff are and Lily is always asking to go there. As it is half-term and Halloween they are running a new timetable this week and so I thought we'd give pumpkin carving a go.

Wicked Wednesdays

Another old one that always makes me laugh out loud.
Such a beauty.

Review - Eden Kids Corner

On Saturday we got up bright and early and headed into town to check out the opening of a brand new 'kids corner' soft play area in the local shopping centre.

Eden in High Wycombe is a modern shopping centre with a good range of high street shops, restaurants, a bowling alley and cinema. It is also located in the middle of town with the bus station on site, loads of parking, the library and a large House of Fraser. Despite disliking clothes shopping for myself, I spend a lot of time in Eden. It's great for a bit of window shopping and often runs activities and events.
The news 'Kids Corner' is located in a previously quiet and unloved area of the centre which has now been given a new lease of life.

10 things I loved about turning 30

It was my birthday last week. A big one. The last big one for quite some time. The big three-zero.

A few years ago I might have said that I was dreading turning 30, that I would be 'old', that I would be 'boring'. I may even have joked that my life 'would be over'.

How silly I was.

Being 30 is great. At worst, it is certainly no worse than being 29. As for the best bits, I hardly know where to begin...

1. According to my friends at Thursday toddler group, at 30 you're apparently 'mature' without being 'old'. I say apparently because I still enjoy being pretty immature sometimes.

2. You know who your friends are and have left all the inane teenage bitchiness far behind you. I have amazing friends. Some even threw me a surprise birthday lunch this weekend! I've got a few treasured friends from childhood, but often look back and see someone who was just so desperate to fit in and be liked. Now I don't feel that pressure, I feel free to choose friends with warm hearts and a great sense of humour and although I hope they like me back, being popular is no longer my priority.

My favourite autumn blog posts

I've been a fan of reading blogs for a while now. I used to sit in the lonely hours of the night, breastfeeding and holding up my reflux-y baby girl and I'd read tons of blogs that I found on Twitter. It's what made me want to write my own.

And yet, the more I blog, the more blogs I want to read.

It seems like every day I find a brand new blog to fall in love with.

And this week, I'm loving the combination of this brand new interest, with my favourite season.

My #littleloves this week

Strangely, this last week has seemed to go by very slowly. Perhaps because I am looking forward to the weekend so much! It's hard when the days are long and stressful to not wish my life away but I can't help looking forward to getting the house move over and done with. My sister is arriving later today for a birthday visit, it'll be nice to have her here for a bit as the kids adore her (as do I).

So, on with this week's #littleloves, linking up with the wonderful Coffee Work Sleep Repeat.

Lots of birthday cards and Facebook messages! I turned 30 on Wednesday and was sent loads of lovely messages and cards from my wonderful friends and family.


Our stories have included some old favourites, including the classic "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" and a few of our 'That's not my' books which always go down well.

New Home Ideas - Kitchen and Dining Room

On Saturday I shared with you my ideas for our new living room and I'm really quite excited about having separate rooms instead of our current open plan space. I love to cook and bake but hate the tiny kitchen we have at the moment. When we move we'll have a larger new kitchen and dining room - with a new cooker and even a dishwasher (that swung the deal for me, I detest washing up) and so I'm really looking forward to all the culinary delights (ahem) that I'll be creating (we can hope).

When it comes to my dream home, I'm inspired by vintage-style kitchens with pastel colours and a homely style. I love Cath Kidston designs and fabrics and have a slight obsession with pretty bunting and

Wicked Wednesdays

This was meant to be a happy memory, Lily's first train ride on holiday at Dawlish Warren. Instead, we had this, because she didn't "want Thomas to move".

Recipe - Italian Chicken

For last week's #littleloves I told you about the yummy Italian-style chicken meal that I cooked for the family. It went down so well that I even cooked it again this weekend, although I had to adapt the recipe slightly to fit the ingredients I had in the fridge.

It's so easy to make, so I thought I'd share the recipe with you!

Shopping Ordeals

I used to love shopping. I'd even 'pop down to Oxford Street' whilst at uni. Just to mooch around Topshop at Oxford Circus. Now, I couldn't even fit into clothes from Topshop. I don't even want to try for fear of getting stuck in an item of clothing and having to ask a trendily-dressed 14 year old to help undo a zip...
This is why I hate clothes shopping, by Social What Nots
In recent years I have really fallen out with shopping for myself. Shopping for pleasure? I'd even go so far as to say I hate it.

New Home Ideas - Living Room

In less than three week's time, Our Cherry Tree will be planted in a new location. We would have said goodbye to our lovely two-bed terrace and taken up tenancy in a three-bed home in another part of town.

Yes, I'm nervous. Yes, I'm a bit stressed. But. I'm also faithful. Without going into a long story, we thought we'd have to move to another county once we had two children, instead, we have been provided for here in High Wycombe, first with Matt's job, then with a new affordable home and now with a job offer for me that works around childcare. For what purpose, I don't know, but I know that this is the start of a new chapter.

And so, a new home. A blank canvas for the family Kirsch to make their own. It is a rental and so don't expect my design inspiration to join the ranks of 'Perfect Home' magazine, but it's a lovely space, a lovely family space and I'm very much looking forward to making it our space.