We’ve had a nice little run of sunny days here in Swansea recently, but things are still definitely starting to feel a bit more autumnal with a little nip in the air.

So when we decided to walk through Singleton park on our way up to my in-laws’ house yesterday I thought it would be a great chance to take a few photos of the gorgeous flowers in bloom there before they disappear for the year.

And I wasn’t disappointed.

The gardens were still a riot of colour in the bright September sunshine.

Of all the photos I took, I think this might just be my favourite.

Shot from below with a bright blown out sky as a backdrop.

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I’m just in love with the colour of this flower, although my botany skills aren’t up to scratch so I don’t know what kind of flower it is.  

Anyone out there know?

 

Photalife

I’ve never really sat down and written a 5 year plan, but recently I’ve been thinking that it might be a good idea.

I have some quite big dreams that I’d like to achieve and probably the best way to get where I want to be is to write those dreams down and create a plan on how to get there.

Pretty high up the list is the fact that I would really like to have our own home.

We’ve only ever rented, and while that’s been great for us so far, we both feel that we would really quite like to buy a house of own at some point.

It would be lovely to have the freedom to do what we want to our home, to put shelves up or redecorate without having to ask permission first!

Every now and then I let myself daydream about what our house will look like in the future.  And sometimes I’ll sit in bed browsing estate agents’ websites and thinking about how I would decorate the different houses that I see there.

Most of the furniture we have now has been acquired over the last 10 or so years; some bits we bought new, some we got from second hand shops and some have been passed on to us from relatives.

I really love the bits and pieces that have come from family, and can see us holding on to them for a long time.

But I do sometimes dream of having an empty house; a completely blank canvas to fill with furniture that has been deliberately chosen to go with a colour scheme or for a certain feel.

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So again, some days I find myself going down the rabbit hole of various websites, looking at bits and pieces that I just have no need to be looking at yet.  Sites like latesthome.co.uk are great for getting lost in, because they find all the different deals for you for all sorts of furniture and appliances, and take you to the sites that have the best offers, so you just get led further and further in, planning how great your living room will look in the house you don’t even own yet!

I think it’s good though, because I like so many styles that I think I need to take this time now to work out what I’d actually do with each room in our ‘one day’ house.  If I were to try and decorate a house right now I really don’t know if I’d want a clean, crisp, airy white feel, or a cosy, cwtchy one.  Or a nautical theme?  Or maybe a cool New York loft feel!

At least by browsing now, I might have more of a clue when the time does come to buy a house.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who window shops online like this?!

 

Disclosure- – this is a collaborative post.

We’ve been feeling a bit ‘meh’ and ‘arrrgghh’ recently, with our house feeling cluttered and the garden feeling a bit wild.

So this weekend we made a start on sorting things out.

I spent some time tidying in the lounge, retrieving random toys from the depths of the sofa and then hoovering up all the crumbs that had accumulated.

And Steve spent a fair bit of time out in the garden, cutting everything back and clearing out the flower beds.

And for a fair bit of the day he had a little helper out there with him.

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So much of the time Nerys is all for me, only Mummy will do.

But I’ve always said that I think she’ll end up being a Daddy’s girl, and days like today give us a glimpse of that and it really makes my heart happy!

 

Living Arrows

Sometimes Sunday mornings are just made for baking cakes while still in your pyjamas!

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Nerys is waking up (and shouting for me!) at about 6.15 every day at the moment.  I was really hoping that as the sun started rising later she would sleep a little longer, but no, it seems her body clock is just set to wake up at that time.

So I think it’s time to bring out the groclock, and try and teach her that until the clock says it’s daytime she has to keep quiet.

Today though we were up and downstairs by 6.30, so when she asked an hour later if we could bake cakes I thought, oh well why not!

And now we have some yummy smelling cakes waiting to be iced, decorated and eaten later – perfect!

 

Photalife

I wrote recently about the 5 love languages, and how important it is to learn to speak the primary language that our partner uses to express and feel love.

After I wrote it I started thinking that, surely, we can also apply this information to improve our relationships with our children.  It makes sense that they might have a different primary love language to our own.  They might be acting up because they don’t really feel the full extent of our love for them, if we express this love in the ‘wrong’ way to them.

So I went back to good old Gary Chapman and it seems he agrees – he’s written a whole book on the subject of the 5 love languages of children!

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If you haven’t read my previous post and haven’t heard about these 5 love languages before, here’s a quick overview.

 

Gary Chapman, a relationship counsellor, has identified that there are 5 love languages and we all speak one in particular as our primary love language.

When you identify the languages that other people speak, then you can learn to express your love for them in the way that they need, so they feel how loved they truly are.

The 5 languages that Chapman identified are:

1) Words of affirmation – people with this as their primary love language need to hear you tell them how much you appreciate them, are proud of them and love them.

2) Acts of service – if this is your primary love language then you need people to do things for you; to notice what needs doing in your life and to do it for you.

3) Receiving gifts – as it sounds, people with this primary love language need to have gifts given to them in order to feel truly loved.

4) Quality time – for people with this as their primary love language, quality time spent together is the most important thing.  Actual one-on-one time, with eye contact and no other distractions!

5) Physical touch – another pretty clear one, if this is your primary love language then you need to be touched to really feel loved.  Hand-holding, cuddling, little touches – it all counts.

So how can you apply this information to improving your relationships with your children?

Well, once you’ve worked out what love language they speak you can make the effort to show your love for them in the way that they really need.

 

Here are some suggestions to get you started:

 

For a child whose primary love language is words of affirmation:

  • Thank them sincerely for any jobs they do around the house, no matter how small.
  • Tell them when they are doing something well and how proud you are of them for doing it.
  • Tell them how proud you are of them for trying to do something, even if they don’t quite succeed at it.
  • As part of your bedtime routine you could list 3 things that they did that day that made you proud/happy/grateful.

For a child whose primary love language is acts of service:

  • Help them with their homework.
  • Make them their favourite biscuits or cakes.
  • If there are things you expect them to do around the house, every so often do their least favourite job for them.
  • Fix a broken toy or book for them.
  • The key part of this love language, where children are concerned, is that you don’t want to be doing everything for them.  Bear in mind, that taking the time to teach them how to do something, like do a load of washing, or cook a meal, is still an act of service.  They’ll appreciate you taking the time to show them how to do something (in theory anyway!)

For a child whose primary love language is receiving gifts:

  • Write them a love note and leave it in their lunchbox to find at school – this doesn’t actually have to be a potentially embarrassing love note!  It can be a joke to make them smile.  There are loads of ideas here.
  • Buy them a new book, or pick one up for them at the library if you go there without them one day!
  • A bar of their favourite chocolate will pretty much always be a winner.
  • Think about things that your child enjoys and look out for little things that they would appreciate – hair clips, accessories, stationary (some children would be really excited by a new set of colouring pencils or a novelty pencil sharpener!), little accessories for their doll house, little accessories for their train set.  You get the idea!
  • The main thing to bear in mind here is that the gifts don’t have to be expensive.  It really is the thought that counts.

For a child whose primary love language is quality time:

  • Turn off the tv!
  • Sit with them and help them do their homework.
  • Cook a meal or do some baking together.
  • Go for a walk and have a chat.
  • At the end of each day, spend 10 minutes one-on-one time asking about their day.
  • Go out for dinner, just the two of you.  This would be a real treat for an older child.  For younger children a trip out to a cafe for a babyccino and cake would work well too!

For a child whose primary love language is physical touch:

  • Give plenty of hugs and kisses!
  • If you have younger children, let them sit on your lap and read books together.
  • Enjoy physical play time – throw your children in the air (and catch them!), spin them around, play tag, tickle them etc
  • Older children who may start being embarrassed by hugs and kisses can still get the physical touch they need through pats on the back, touches on the arm when you talk to them and other more subtle touches.

I’ve been really thinking about these love languages and trying to work out what which ones my children speak.

The thing is, I think, that our primary love language can change depending on the stage of life we’re at.  We may have a language that is our core language, but our needs change at different stages in our life and I think that we may need to be shown love in different ways at those times.

As parents, it’s our job to stay in tune with our children and their needs and make sure that we are speaking the language they need to hear to feel loved.

Rhys has always been an affectionate child and so for awhile I would’ve said his primary love language was physical touch.  But as he’s got older I think maybe it’s changed a bit.  I would lean towards saying that now his primary love languages are words of affirmation and quality time.

He loves it when one of us spends one-on-one time with him, and visibly lights up when we tell him we’re proud of him and that we love him.

Nerys I think is a mix of physical touch and words of affirmation.  She will often express herself through hugs and hand-holding, but is the same as Rhys when it comes to hearing us tell her we love her and are pleased with something she’s done.

How about you?  Do you have any more ideas of how you can speak your child’s love language?  Leave me a comment and let me know! 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Have you heard of Smiggle?

Chances are that if you have a school-age child you will have, and if you haven’t then where have you been?!  Smiggle is pretty big with the kids these days!

I first heard of the company when they opened up their first few stores in the UK, back in 2014, because straight away it became ‘the’ shop to get supplies from at my neice’s school.  So I was really excited when I got an invitation to a blogger event at their Cardiff store a few weeks ago.

Straight away I said I’d love to go, and so that was how I ended up on a rather early train into Cardiff the other week, excited to meet some fellow Welsh bloggers and to check out the new season stock at Smiggle!

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The event was to promote their #backtosmiggle campaign, and it was fab to see all the new stock that had arrived in store.

If you’ve never been to a Smiggle store then you’re in for a treat when you do go.  It’s such a bright, colourful place with everything your child could want for school – backpacks, lunchboxes, pencil cases and accessories galore!

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I honestly felt like a big kid when I wandered round the shop.

There were so many things I would’ve loved to have when I was at school, because they were so much more fun and unique than the boring, standard stationary things you used to get!

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I had such a great morning at the event, and was so happy that I had the chance to chat to some other bloggers that I’ve spoken to online before but never met in person, like Kate from The Hippy Christian Mum and Heledd from YummyBlogger.

And then there was the real treat of getting a goody bag to take home with me, which made Rhys very happy!  Especially because it had a brand new Spikey in it.

This is really quite exciting as it’s a series 2 Spikey, which isn’t actually available to buy yet!  The first series was such a success that they’ve launched series 2, with 12 new characters to collect, including a mystery Spikey that nobody at all has seen.

Apparently the first series was so popular in Australia that one girl flew to another city to get her hands on the last one she needed to complete her collection!

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Rhys and Nerys were so excited to open their Spikeys.

They’ve seen enough videos of people opening blind bags to know what it’s all about, and Rhys had a good look at the box before opening his and decided he really hoped he got Dennis.

And guess who he pulled out of the box once he’d opened it?

Dennis Spikey Smiggle

Dennis!  How lucky is that!

And Nerys was very happy with her Spikey too, spending the day showing everyone her ninja.

I was really quite impressed with the quality of them, and the size too, they’re much bigger than I thought they would be.

The only problem is that Rhys has seen the poster with all the Spikeys on and now wants to collect them all!  What I think is great though is that the stores all have swap stations, so if you do buy several and find that you have duplicates then you can swap one of them for another to keep your collection growing.

 

I had an amazing experience all round with Smiggle and their #backtosmiggle campaign, and will definitely be popping back into the store next time I’m in Cardiff!

This little boy started in year 1 today.

Year 1.  It just feels so different from Reception.  It feels like school has started properly for him now.

I hope he loves it.

I hope he keeps his passion for learning new things and asking questions.

I hope he makes some close friendships this year.

Above all, I hope he’s happy.  I hope he always has this twinkle in his eye.

living-arrows

“You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth”

 

Living Arrows