Tag Archive - personal

09.09.15 Summer I loved you long time…part two: France

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Their first surf lessons in Seignosse, Hossegor. Seb’s first tooth came out. We collected sand, stones and shells, crab claws, frogs, bugs and memories. And water blisters on their fingers from how long they spent in the water. Everyone had gone back to school and the beaches were bare. It was bliss.

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synchronised swimming kids

metallic tattoos

chalkboard living in hossegor

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08.09.15 Summer… I loved you long time. Part One – Greece

Kitty in Greece Chalkboard living

Chalkboard living

Chalkboard living

Chalkboard living

Chalkboard living

Greece by Chalkboard living

Chalkboard living

Chalkboard living

Chalkboard living

Chalkboard living

Chalkboard living

Chalkboard living

I long for the eternal summer. This year we made it to Greece, Spain and France with lots of friends and lots of kids. They are bloody lucky and so are we. Not quite ready for Autumn yet.

I always miss the sound of the waves.

 

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04.06.15 Lola ate a 20p coin (and a warning about batteries)

she ate a 20p piece

So Lola ate a 20 pence coin.

Of all the things I worry about with the kids, swallowing money did not come onto my radar. None of them really put things in their mouth any more. When I saw my 3 year old choking in front of me, in our bedroom, I still did not think… she’s eaten a coin. Until she asked us whilst making the gagging, retching, choking noises of a toddler with a metal object stuck in her throat to ‘get the money out’.

A surreal experience of first aid, throwing her over my knee and hitting on the back between her shoulder blades, which did not empty out what she had in her mouth, a call to 999, a few vomiting episodes, an ambulance ride and an X ray later we knew it was definitely a coin. 56 hours later, we had poked around enough poo to find that magical piece of metal that had been places no human eye would wish. If you have no desire to see what a coin that has travelled through an acid bath of the human digestive tract looks like, then look away about now.

she ate a 20p piece

During the whole ‘experience’ I learnt I am not bad in a crisis. Those first aid lessons I had 8 years ago came rushing back. Apart from my initial horror of watching her choking, the only time I felt the gurgle of sickness rise up in my throat was when the paramedic questioned whether it could be a coin shaped battery. These little things containing lithium which fit into clocks, watches, toys, electric scales etc, can burn holes in your oesophagus and corrode your insides. They can be fatal. She reminded me this in the ambulance and I wanted to VOM. I had taken some upstairs to change the batteries from the scales in my bathroom and I couldn’t be absolutely certain she hadn’t found and used these as money until I called home and had him check.

So here’s the thing. You might not think it but kids swallow things ALL THE TIME. When we were in A&E, we were there with another little boy who had swallowed a ball bearing from a game he was playing. My friends little girl swallowed her wedding ring. These things happen. But when you consider where most of us keep batteries, in a drawer in the kitchen? (like me), in devices that can easily be opened by children, it is literally an accident waiting to happen. So think about moving them to somewhere similar to where you keep your medical supplies, high up and out the way of little fingers.

So thank God, fate, the world, karma for good shit happening. All is well in the house of Chalkio and we have 3 healthy kids. Breathe, smile, grin. Now tell me, have you ever swallowed a foreign object you didn’t actually mean to?

 

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24.10.14 Sibling love: How to keep them loving each other

 

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sibling love

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I really can’t explain the bond between siblings. I have 3 children. They are all close, individually with each other and as a three. But how have I encouraged this and what do I do to keep it this way?

(P.S. They are 7, 5 & 3…I can’t promise this will work forever but it has done us all pretty well so far 😉

1. Keep them physically close

My youngest two still sleep together, in single beds they want pushed together so it’s like them sharing one bed. I might as well have put them both in a double. I shared with my sister until I was nearly a teen and loving or hating her at times it’s like sharing a dorm or a house at university. You are bound by a shared experience and a physical closeness of being a team, sharing a space. It won’t work for everyone but if your children want to sleep together don’t dismiss it just because you have enough bedrooms for them all.

2. Promote a positive family expectation in discussions and arguments.

I don’t allow my children to talk badly to each other whenever possible. They have to explain themselves to each other and apologise. Properly. Kiss, cuddle, make up, whatever! But it has to be genuine. I tell them that in life your family is always first. That we will all be here for each other no matter what and that means thinking about your brothers and sisters when planning things and playing games too.

3. Enjoy playing and holidaying together

We love to take them on holiday. Luckily we can afford to do this every year and for us its a priority. I’d say most of our favourite memories and experiences come from a trip somewhere and one that we have taken together. Neither of my parents are alive but i have a special bond with my sister even though we don’t see each other often, because we shared a childhood of memories together that no one else has shared with us….and yes we definitely hated each other a lot at points too! I recently met someone with a large family of brothers and sisters, all now with their own families. She said they were all still really close. I asked how and she told me that every Summer her parents rent a house for 6 weeks and invite everyone to stay. They all manage to cross over staying there for at least a few days and that special time is what keeps the families connected and still making memories even though they are all grown up.

4. Visual encouragement

I’m a visual person. Everything I see matters and it also influences me on a daily basis. I think my children may learn in this way too. If Lola doesn’t want to go swimming, if i show her a video from my phone of her swimming unaided and show her what she is capable of its like she suddenly remembers and is a lot less resistant about going. It’s the same with the way they act towards each other. If I take photos of them having fun together or even of places or things that we have done together it triggers a memory of positivity towards each other. Keeping or showing them photos or videos of them together often brings out a sentimental part where they want to create how good they felt and this has an immediate effect on how they interact with each other.

5. Don’t expect too much

I like my children to have a caring responsibility for each other. If they fall over, help them up, check they are Ok etc. but not many children want to be 2nd parents to their siblings. They are siblings and friends and over and above looking after each others well being I would not expect them to ‘babysit’ each other. This generally leads to resentment and feelings of dissatisfaction about their role in the family.

6. Finally spend time on each child individually

This is easier said than done but there should always be times every so often where each child can feel special without his siblings being there. One on one time with your children is the fastest way to boost feelings of happiness and make each member of the family seem important, even if this is done inside the home whilst the others are occupied. I try and spend an extra 10 minutes at night sitting talking and reading with all my children and I love buying experiences for their birthdays as opposed to things so that they get a memory which lasts, sometimes together and sometimes just for them.

siblings

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13.05.14 My weekend: Blogtacular and a photo walk in London

black telephone box London

London. One of my favourite places to be in the World. Who knew London had such gorgeous telephone boxes? I had never even noticed them until I took Xanthe’s Blogtacular photo walk in London workshop. What a gorgeous excuse to connect with others and take photos around the City for no other reason than because I wanted too.

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We took balloons and Rosie Wonders amazing tattoos with us for fun. The studded door I shot around Old Bond Street was insanely fabulous.

Rosie Wonders Bird Tattoo

The whole weekend at Blogtacular was a warm and fuzzy explosion of inspiration. Amongst the many talented creatives, editors and photographers speaking about their work, lives and both educating and inspiring us to be better bloggers was  Natalie Lue, founder of Bambino Goodies, The uber talented Anne Ditmeyer of Pret a Voyager and Design Sponge fame , The beautiful and crazy busy Courtney Adamo from Babyccino Kids and Joy Cho from Oh Joy, who blew me away with her passion and determination to achieve just about everything she puts her mind to! There was even a virtual interview with Will aka Mr. Bright Baazar! I also met a whole bunch of new friends, made plans for projects and trips and found my love of taking photos for the sake of it again. (Thanks Xanthe!) All in all it was a pretty epic weekend.

 

 

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16.04.14 Travel: Hill House Norfolk

hill house norfolk

hill house norfolk

hill house norfolk

A weekend in Norfolk…with the kids. Six adults, 9 children. One word – LUXFUN!

So you have to understand the first thing I type when looking for anything is the word ‘luxury’. I don’t always want or need luxury but without it i seem to pull up the dregs of the internet. Hill House Norfolk however definitely is up there with the term ‘luxury family weekend’.

It’s not often you can rock up to a self catering rental to a giant sized cocktail glass of sweets in the hallway, bottle of champers, and a mountain of lemon meringue cupcakes in the kitchen just waiting for you. This was no ordinary weekend self catering accommodation.

To see the rest of the images and full review please click on the link below. Continue Reading…

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25.03.14 Oh to be Seven

Queen Kitty

snot girl

chalkboardliving.com

carefree

Queen Kitty, so carefree, so filled with love and leadership. She loves to laugh, dance, sing and cuddle. She loves to be cool, to wear what she pleases, to tell her siblings what to do. Queen Kitty surrounded by her snot nosed helper, her shadow, her Lola. With so much love for her brother, they sleep in the same bed still sometimes…”as a treat because it’s Kitty’s birthday!” he says. I love her style, her tenacity, her confidence, her ability to create whole new worlds in her mind and then to relax enough to slob and watch TV and think that one day she could do that – that job they are doing .  Her vision, her annoyance already at 7 at the voice i do when i talk in a video. Do I even do another voice ? Apparently so.

I miss this place, this space to share and connect, to record. i think it’s time for some work to be done. Anyone want to see her panda jewellery party?

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08.01.14 Bill & Coo Suites Mykonos : So this is where you come without the kids

Christmas is over and I’m already thinking of Summer. Last May some friends and I spent a weekend in Mykonos at the Bill & Coo Suites. I’m feeling this is the time to pull out those blue sky pictures ready for a fresh bright new year.

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Bill & Coo Suites are a collection of 24 rooms all based around a stunning pool, bar and restaurant in the centre. It’s small, and when I say small I mean intimate, not pokey. It’s stunning location is the first ‘Wow!’ but when you step through the door and view the design and styling of the hotel, I was really sold. I knew we’d come to the right place. It’s a chilled hotel, where serene trendy music hums in the background and people whisper not to annoy other guests. It’s not for kids…or loud shouty people, but if you can handle that you’ll be hooked. The staff are friendly yet incredibly professional and couldn’t do enough for us including giving us a phone to take out with us one night in case we got stuck in the town and couldn’t find a taxi back. We never wanted to leave. I think you can see why.

bill and coo suites mykonos

bill and coo suites mykonos

Breakfasts everyday were a treat to the senses.

bill and coo suites mykonos

bill and coo suites mykonos

bill and coo suites mykonos

The rooms were clean, sleek and white. Greek perfection.

bill and coo suites mykonos

bill and coo suites mykonos

bill and coo suites mykonos

bill and coo suites mykonos

bill and coo suites mykonos

bill and coo suites mykonos

bill and coo suites mykonos

I fell in love with these units imported from Italy. The chefs were very proud of their workplace too. Such a great feeling ran everywhere through the hotel from the staff to the guests.

bill and coo suites mykonos

bill and coo suites mykonos

It’s not cheap when you are there with cocktails working out around  17 Euro’s each but if you are careful and you eat out in the town some nights it balances itself out and is totally worth it for how relaxed you’ll feel when you leave.

bill and coo suites mykonos

www.chalkboardliving.com

Now I’m just crossing my fingers 2014 might be a good time to take a trip back 😉

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12.07.13 Lola’s Summer Bunting Birthday Cake

horse birthday cake

There’s something special about a birthday where the sun shines. A proper Summer birthday. Celebrations are easy and yet so stylish with just a little effort.

A white tablecloth, some pretty garden ‘weeds’ thrown into shot glasses, some white bunting, pom poms, a few random animals for fun and a cake. Perfect for a 2 year old.

Horse birthday cake

weeds as flowers in shot glasses

shire horse

Summer birthday party

birthday candles

I love the simplicity of this cake. I always make a cake for my kid’s birthdays. It means I commit to making at least 3 cakes per year. Not bad, except if you’re busy the week of the birthday, fitting in ‘cake making’ can be tricky.

I find the key is to make the cake one evening…takes maximum of 2 hours, and decorate it the next day or evening. If you are pushed for time I always think simple (like this cake) is best.

I loved this cake and thought it would be easy to decorate. I iced my cake with my best ‘work out how much i need as I go along’ buttercream method, which I stained pink.

For the Buttercream:

Roughly 250g – 500g of good quality unsalted butter

Icing Sugar…this is up to you how much and depends on how firm you like it to be. Roughly 250-750g.

Vanilla essence – 1 tsp

A few tsp of milk or water to balance the consistency.

Beat the butter til smooth and whippy. Sieve in your icing sugar. As much as you like until the consistency and taste is how you prefer. Add a tsp of vanilla extract. Add a few tsp of milk or water until you have the perfect spreading consistency. Colour if required. (I recommend pastes over liquid colour.)

I made the bunting by cutting triangles out of a large width piece of ribbon and glued it to 2 kebab wooden skewers. I stabbed them into the cake, added an horse with wings for fun and made an age word template for my edible glitter. Glitter is key. It takes an average ‘meh’ cake to show stopping extravaganza…well something like that anyway.

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P.S. For the record I always make my sponge cakes according to Nigella’s Victoria Sponge ‘bung it all in the food processor and whizz’ recipe. Rocket science it is not and it always tastes Amazeballs!

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05.07.13 Born on the 4th July…well 5th actually. A birth story

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Maybe it’s something about having more than one child, three in this case, that I cannot always remember their birth dates without thinking about it for a few seconds first.

Lola especially. We were induced on the 4th July and I always remember thinking ‘well this will be easy…born on the fourth of July.’ Except she wasn’t and now my brain goes…’oh wait it was the fifth.’

Lola. This story is for you.

pregnant Tracey from Chalkboard living

pregnancy induction

pregnancy induction

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www.chalkboardliving.com

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The short version

They decided to induce me on your due date in case you grew too big. Seb was a chunk at 10lb 11.5oz and got stuck on the way out. They thought the same might happen to you so we agreed to give it a go, just in case. I had been having acupuncture to prepare my body. Your brother and sister were both 2 weeks over and I felt sure your due date was probably 2 weeks before you would have come out on your own.

I didn’t let them break my waters in the morning when we went in, as I wanted to go with the most gentle of nudges, so they put in some pessary gel instead. We waited. We played scrabble. I won. I had all the time in the world.

It was 7pm before they decided something was happening even though it was the mildest of sensation for me. The day floor was shutting so they moved us to a private room on the new labour ward until someone could come and check me out. By 9pm I knew I was in labour. They didn’t want me too have a waterbirth as they wanted to monitor me so I sat on the ball, rocked and rolled around, hypnobirth breathing and hanging out with your dad. It was pretty chilled. I said I was happy to have an epidural because I had done this all natural twice before and I knew what was coming at the end! …But I was fine just rocking around for now. They wanted to break my waters but your head was still really high up and they were worried in case your cord fell down before your head, which is basically a big problem as you would have suffocated your own air supply. They waited and gave me the straight talking details.

-checking the labour ward was quiet, they had a surgery ready, a crash team ready. That they would break my waters. If your cord came down first I was to turn on my front on all fours (like a dog), she would put her hand inside to hold your head away from the cord, rush me to surgery, put me under general and pop you out via emergency C Section. It sounds a bit dramatic but was actually pretty relaxed. I liked their honest approach and the fact they actually had a plan B.

Just before midnight you had moved down a fair bit and so they broke my waters. I was about 7cm dilated. They said you had a lot of hair.  I remember the lovely gush of warm water trickling down my legs every time I had a contraction, as I was sitting back on the ball, rocking around again. They couldn’t get a clear trace and made me sit up on the bed. I don’t remember much after that except one of the girls saying to the other ‘ I wouldn’t leave if I were you I’d get your gloves.’

I never did get a chance to think about the epidural. Out you came 12. 47am. What a relief! You were beautiful and dark haired like me when i was born, tinged with purple due to your quick escape.

A girl! We were shocked. We only had a definite name for a boy, Felix. I sat there dumbstruck in wonderland, shocked that i had done it again. A feeling of superhuman strength washed over me. A feeling that if I could do that, I could do anything. It really is an indescribable experience and I am making a hash job of it right now.

Maybe I don’t need words anyway. You were here. Life was great. You were the missing piece in our puzzle. You completed us.

The birth was easy compared to naming you. Kitty told the teachers at nursery we called you Peaches so we got some cards that day ‘Congratulations on the birth of baby Peaches.’  We came close to including it in your name somewhere but we didn’t. You will always be remembered as Lola Peaches to us though.

Happy birthday my sweet Lola. Born on the …5th July. xx

 

 

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