Blogmas 2019 - Managing families at Christmas

Blogmas 2019: My Tips For Managing Families At Christmas

Christmas is a time to spend with family – right? Whether that fills you with joy or dread is completely down to your situation and no, I’m not going to put my feelings on the internet for all family members to see. ūüėČ

If, like me and Ali, you have a lot of people you need to squeeze into a short amount of time then I have some tips for you – every year it feels like we need to manage ourselves even more. I’m not even thinking about what will happen when there are kids involved. So here are my top 5 tips for getting through Christmas when it comes to families.

1. Try and plan ahead with others where you can

Trying to juggle 2 sides of family and in-laws can be a little tricky, especially if there are divorced parents involved. Forward planning is key for me. I am already sorting out with my Mum and Ali’s Mum the plans for the day so we can sort things. You don’t need last minute stress.

2. Don’t forget to make time for yourself too!

It’s really easy when you’re trying to keep everyone happy to forget about yourself and your significant other. I’m definitely planning to carve out some time for myself over the holidays – it will probably be spent reading and sleeping but I’m absolutely fine with that.

3. Avoid topics that you know people don‘t agree on *cough* Brexit *cough*

This one. Oh, this one. I find it incredibly hard to do this so I know it’s easier said than done but the less arguments the better. Sometimes it’s better to mentally switch off when these kinds of topics come up…

4. Spread out your visits if you can

Seeing every member of your family on Christmas day isn’t always feasible so if you can why not spread it out? Growing up I would sometimes see one side of my family on Christmas Eve and the other on Christmas Day. When I met Ali I’d add his family to that too.

5. Remember it’s only 1 day…hopefully!

And breathe! It’s going to be ok!

What are your tips?

Book Review: Pilu of the Woods – Mai K. Nguyen

Willow loves the woods near her house. They’re calm and quiet, so different from her own turbulent emotions, which she keeps locked away. When her emotions get the better of her one day, she decides to run away into the woods.

There, she meets Pilu, a lost tree spirit who can‚Äôt find her way back home‚ÄĒwhich turns out to be the magnolia grove Willow‚Äôs mom used to take her to. Willow offers to help Pilu, and the two quickly become friends.

This is one of the sweetest and most beautiful graphic novels I have ever read. Initially drawn to the art this gave so much more, including lyrical prose. Ultimately this is a story of family, friendship and dealing with grief. While Willow and Pilu come from different worlds, they are such a sweet pair and I can’t say no to a doggie sidekick!

The art style itself is unique and while it will appeal to a younger reader as a woman in her mid-twenties I was enchanted by the illustration. Additionally, the use of colour to show the woods felt real to me. I read this at a point where I needed something to fall into and escape – something I was easily able to do.

I will warn you going in that you might get a little emotional reading. I wanted to reach in and give Willow the biggest hug. The way that Nguyen has shown emotion and the complicated feelings that are being experienced from the perspective of a child is nothing short of incredible.

It’s no surprise that I gave this 5 stars. This really touched my heart, it’s not a complicated story, however, it can speak volumes. I really hope that there is a follow-up because I can see the relationship and story really growing and evolving. This is a wonderful book, I can’t stress enough how much I adore it.

A huge thank you to Netgalley, the author and publisher for giving me a chance to read this in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Disneyland Part 2

Disneyland Paris – Part 2

As promised, you don’t just get 1 blog on Disneyland Paris, you get 2! Yay!!! If you haven’t read yesterday’s post on part 1 it’s a cracker so many sure to go and check that out. We were in Paris for 4 days in total, on to Part 2!

Day 3 

For our 3rd day, we went back to Disneyland to finish up on some rides (getting there early and heading straight to them was brilliant). We walked on to the Tea Cups without queueing, quickly got on to Dumbo and a few others. We were ON IT. They also made me go on It’s A Small World…

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After spending the morning in Disneyland we’d decided to do some shopping then go back to the hotel to pack (Mum and Sums) and nap (me).

After grabbing some food, back to the park for Fireworks!! Now, you all know there is NOTHING better than Disney Fireworks.

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Day 4 

Our final day was definitely interesting. After dropping our bags we headed back to the Studios. The aim? Get on the Turtle ride, get on the Toy Story rides. And we managed! Just. It was very hot and very busy. One of the rides broke down, all fun and games.

The rest of the day was a mix of Disneyland, shopping and sitting and waiting for our (very delayed train.

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The trip was so much fun and I cannot even begin to express how grateful I am that my Mum took us both and treated us. I don’t get to spend time alone with my Mum and Sister very often and it was a lovely break. Am I going back to Disney? Of course. It’s 100% made me want to save up and go to Orlando too!

I will say though, this is how I’m currently feeling – in need of a good sleep!

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Disneyland Part 1

Disneyland Paris – Part 1

It happened! I went back to Disneyland Paris for the first time since 1999. Yep. The last time I went to Disneyland I was 5 years old and things have changed a little bit! This time I went with my Mum and sister and OH MY GOD DISNEY. So, because there is so much to cover so as requested on Twitter I’ve split it into 2 posts. So get ready, here we gooooooo!

 

Day 1 

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I had a 4.00am alarm. 4am. To get a lift to the station (thanks Dad!) in London. From there, things got a little manic we got there when we were told but hardly had time to get a cup of tea before rushing off.

We then took a train to Lille, where we changed. Then, after an hours wait, we got onto another train (this time a double decker…apparently that’s a thing?) to get to Disney. The station is right next to the Park, thankfully and we’d already booked for our bags to be taken to the hotel.

By the time we’d arrived we’d been awake for a damn long time, I’d had limited caffeine and was starting to flag. So, we took a look around the shops before taking a peek at Hollywood Studios, which I’d never been to in Paris! We even went in the Slinky Dog ride but, we were absolutely exhausted so went to our hotel to finally check in.

We stayed at the Newport Bay Club which¬†was BEAUTIFUL! I mean c’mon look at that bed. The whole hotel was sea themed, we ever had little porthole designs with the characters in them in our room. The end of day 1 was an early one, with dinner in the hotel. The food was good with options but the best part were the desserts. Tiny, perfect desserts. I went to bed with a happy tummy indeed.

 

Day 2

Our second day had a really early start but it was okay because we were off to character breakfast in the park! My Mum booked this as a treat for my sister and I. It was so worth it. We met 6 characters and while I still wish I’d seen Minnie Mouse, Donald and Goofy too we had fun! Here are some pictures of me and my sister that Mum took during the breakfast. And yes, yes I am wearing rainbow ears.

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The rest of the day was full Disneyland! We all wore matching shirts and matching ears because, you know, my Mum is adorable like that. So after you’ve just eaten breakfast what’s the first thing you do? Go on Buzz Lightyear shootout of course. I LOVE this ride. Next up I decided I’d give Hyperspace Mountain a go. Stupid me. I didn’t realise it was in the dark, nor that it went upside down. I did it but I was slightly traumatised after.

Through the day we took pictures in front of the castle (obvs), sheltered from the pouring rain before having to shade ourselves later in the day because it was boiling. We went on rides like Thunder Mountain Railroad, Peter Pan and Pinnochio – thank god for access fast passes!¬† Mum also treated us to so many snacks and treats…I kinda forgot how much she likes to feed us.

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I met my fave, Woody. I LOVE Toy Story and he was just wondering around and so we had to get pictures (which Mum didn’t want to be in because apparently, his head is too big?!) We also waited and watched the parade which was super fun. I haven’t watched a parade in SO LONG. And it really, really is magic and was worth the hour and a half we spent reserving our spaces.

And that’s just the first part of the trip!! Make sure to pop back tomorrow for the second half and even more Disney magic! But, before you go – who’s your favourite Disney character? Let me know in the comments below!

Book Review: Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

Orbiting Jupiter - Gary D. Schmidt

When Jack meets his new foster brother, he already knows three things about him: Joseph almost killed a teacher. He was incarcerated at a place called Stone Mountain. He has a daughter. Her name is Jupiter. And he has never seen her. What Jack doesn’t know, at first, is how desperate Joseph is to find his baby girl. Or how urgently he, Jack, will want to help.

When I picked up this novel I knew it would make me feel something, how could it not with that blurb? What I didn’t anticipate was that it would break my heart into a million pieces. Just as you thought you’d recovered from the first blow there’s another one. But, weirdly, it also made me happy. Basically, you’ll feel all the emotions.

When Jack’s family take in Joeseph, they welcome him,despite his past, as a foster family. While it is clear that Joseph has his own problems and it’s going to take time, they are patient, giving him the love, care and attention he needs. This was lovely to see because these kinds of people do exist and I don’t think they are mentioned enough in literature.

As we know from the blurb. Joseph has a daughter, despite the fact he is only 14 himself. More than anything he wants to meet her, but his past, her future and other demons prevent his only wish. I know you might be thinking, he’s 14? How could a 14-year-old understand, but the character is written in such a brilliant way you understand him and his emotions through the eyes of Jack.

Of course, I gave this 5 stars. This is short but so, so powerful. It’s possibly on the list as one of my favourite books of the year, I liked it that much. The writing is beautiful, it’s full of emotion and ah I just want to gush about it so, so much. I really recommend this if you want a shorter read but to have a good cry.

 

Growing Up With Young Parents

Growing up with young parents

1996, I wish I was still as cute

Last night the internet finally got their answer to the Kylie Jenner mystery as she posted a message and video to announce the birth of her daughter.¬†It was beautiful and made me tear up a little. Something struck me at the beginning. Her best friend¬†Jordan reflecting on Kylie being 20 saying ‘When you’re 20 years old you’re figuring out your life…there was one thing your Mom knew for sure, and that was you’. It made me think about my own parents.

When I was born my Mum was 21 and my Dad had only just turned 22. They were in their early twenties and got engaged a few months before I was born.  Then there I was this little screaming baby that they were going to take care of, and take care of they did. I was a first child, first Grandchild, first Niece, I was so, so loved.

When I tell people how young my parents are, they seem shocked. A lot of people I know have parents who are 10 or more years older or the people I work with are the same age as my parents and can’t get their heads around it. The thing is it’s always just seemed normal to me, it is what it is.

The thing is I never felt I missed out by having younger parents. I had a pretty amazing childhood. I went to Disney land when I was little, I had lots of lovely toys. I always felt loved and encouraged in whatever I set out to do. I knew that I was my parents’ whole world, then I got a little sister when I was six and I just fell in love with her.

I’ve gotten into arguments with people before, those who were incredibly narrow-minded, about the fact that people can and should have children when they want to. I know people who’ve waited until their 30s, my best friend had my Goddaughter at 17. Everyone’s journey is different, who are we to judge?

I’m past the point of where my parents were when they had me, I won’t be a young parent just because my life is different and the world is different to what it was in 1994. I love having younger parents, I always have. It might not be the same as what my friends have but I wouldn’t change it for the world. My family is pretty cool.

Any other people from young parent families? Let me know in the comments below.

Blogmas Day 21: Christmas Throwback Pics

Today I wanted to share some great throwback¬†pics that I’ve managed to find (although none of me as a teeny tiny person, these have all been snatched from Facebook). It’s so much fun to look back on Christmas, even if my sister will kill me.

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Christmas 2016, I think. Sums and I after we opened all of our presents in matching Cookie Monster pjs. I think it’s rare that we look similar in pictures but this is actually one where I think we look alike.

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This picture is way back in 2012! Mum and I had just gotten back from Kingston on a visit to see if the uni was for me (and the rest is history) and managed to get these Minnie Mouse ears.

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I have no idea what year this was, perhaps 2012? Not quite matching but all cuddled up in our fleecy pjs on Christmas Eve. All of the girls in the family have Christmas Eve pjs, Dad usually gets some of the non-fluffy variety.

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Fun fact, this selfie was taken at 5am. Yep, my sister and I are those kind of people we turn into excited children. One will wake the other up, it used to be me waking her up but now she’s the first one up…I love sleep too much.

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In town messing around on Christmas Eve, that’s just how my sister and I roll.

Blogmas Day 19: Christmas Eve Traditions

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Christmas for me is all about family and isn’t just about one day! Christmas Eve is full of little traditions for me, and I think as I get older these may adjust again and again. It’s weird that for the first time I’m not in a home with either mine or Ali’s families, it’s just the two of us.

I’m so pleased that Christmas Eve falls on a weekend this year, the thought of having to go to work on Christmas Eve makes me super sad, I don’t know why. So, what does my Christmas Eve usually look like?

  • ¬†Wake up early and annoy Ali with the fact it’s Christmas tomorrow. Be hyperactive as hell.
  • ¬†Shower and dress in Christmassy clothes, jumper or hat are suitable.
  • ¬†Get picked up by Mum to go into town with her, my sister and my Nanna.
  • Get a coffee/hot chocolate to kick off the day
  • Mooch around the shops and pick up some last minute presents in the sales (Ali usually gets a few more presents here)
  • Go home, get any last minute wrapping done, blast Christmas music.
  • Go and visit family members start the Christmas cheer
  • Hit up McDonalds, ok hear me out. We’re usually so busy with family and the Turkey for the next day is slowly cooking so we get McDonald’s and it’s amazing.
  • Get given our Christmas Eve PJs, usually matching my sister
  • Be banished¬†from anywhere near certain areas of my parent’s house.

Now, it’s slightly different now I’m older, I go to my own house which will be the first time in our own home! I have no idea if Ali and I will create any new traditions in our own space but I really hope so. Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

August Favourites!

Let’s jump right in and see what I’ve been loving in August!

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Books 

This month it’s been¬†quite¬†a slow reading month I just really couldn’t get into it. The silver lining though is that I’ve loved the books I have read. I finally got my copy of Our Super American Adventure by Sarah Graley which is absolutely awesome, I’ve met Sarah before and love her artwork and stories about her relationship. I also finished what I think is going to be one of my top books this year, My Shitty Twenties¬†by Emily Morris, an honest account of being a single mother in your twenties and still being badass, you can read my review here. I also kept seeing the Andrew Morton book Diana Her True Story¬†and decided to download it on Audible it’s a tough book and I¬†did think it was interesting but incredibly sad on the 20th anniversary of the princess’s death. And finally Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is just amazing, meant for children but should be read by EVERYONE! My gushing review is here.

 

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Watching 

Is there anything else to talk about this month? Of course, there’s not. Game of Thrones is over for another season and this one was everything I hoped it would be. I’m not going to post spoilers, because that just not cool. All I’ll say is the following for people who have watched the finale, they deserved that and oh lordy what a beautiful sight. Now I have to wait for the next season…my Dad has already tagged me in a countdown timer.

 

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Fashion and Beauty

I did a whooooole post about my little haul this month over here. So head over for all the info you need to know!

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Brighton Pride

I went to my first ever Pride and I can honestly say it was the best party I’ve ever been to. It was fun and flamboyant and there was glitter everywhere! I got to sit in a giant deck chair, dance in an 80s¬†disco and I ended up sponsoring a dog…yep (wine may have been involved). I wrote a whole post about 7 reasons you should go next year!

General

This month started off on a good note with a trip to Pizza Express with my ‘spec squad’, that’s me, Abbie and Sarah to celebrate our new little group. It’s been a month of spending time with people I love. Ali went to Brighton and Scotland this month for work, and bought me home Charlie the Highland Cow from the latter, he’s adorable (the cow I mean, although Ali’s ok I suppose). It’s also had milestones with my little sister getting into college! I also went to see 80s super popstars Bros at the O2 in London, which was actually a brilliant laugh with my Mum, sister and mum’s best friend. I also may have gotten a new cauldron mug from the new Primark collection…maybe. And last but not least I’ve been spending as much time as possible with Ali, including on our 9 year anniversary, before he heads off on tour tomorrow!!

 

My favourite posts 

Feminist Friday with ….¬†Jess Willby¬†

A new month, a new woman 

Nine years, new adventures 

 

What have your favourites been this month? Let me know in the comments below!

Sunday Seven: Tips for a Good Work/Life Balance

Now, to start this post I’m not claiming I have a perfect balance in my life (does anyone) BUT in the past year, I’ve learned a lot about having boundaries between work and home. If you’ve followed my blog for a long time, you’ll know that this started a long time before I was working full-time, I’m terrible at switching off. That said, I do have a few tips to make things easier. So, really, this is for any self-confessed workaholic whether you’re a student, working full-time, volunteering or anything!

Work hard, play harder. 

It’s absolutely fine to work hard, it’s a great feeling to achieve, however, you need to play in your own way. That doesn’t mean going out on the town every weekend, it means finding something that you enjoy! For me, it’s a weekend bookathon!

Plan time with your friends and family. 

If you make plans, you have to stick to them. It’s very easy when you’re at home alone or have nothing planned to sit on your laptop and continue working late into the night. By making plans you need to step away and not think about it!

Working late is ok, but not every day. 

Sometimes you have to have a late night, you have things to do. That’s not a bad thing, deadlines happen or things might go wrong. There might even be a period of late nights (I’m looking at you dissertation writers) but you shouldn’t have to do that every single night.

Switch off your work phone/PC. 

Once the working day is done I switch off my work phone and PC. I’m lucky because I can do that, I’m not on call. If you can do that it’s a great way to switch off and have your own time.

Go to bed at a reasonable time! 

There’s nothing worse than trying to get things done with sleep deprivation. Nothing. Worse.

Make sure you take your allocated holiday! 

If you’re reading this from a working perspective most companies are good at telling you to take your holiday, because they recognise you need a break at times. If you’re a student reading this, I know the temptation to work every hour of the university holidays, you still need a break though, just like everyone else!

If you’re struggling, talk to someone.

I’m really lucky that where I work is incredibly open. If you do feel that things are getting a little too much and you’re working every hour of the day, talk to someone. Just one helping hand could make all the difference!