I've made no secret over the past few years of our love to travel and get some sunshine outside of the two week window that it appears in England. This year I was more determined than ever, with Patrick that little bit older now it meant we were slowly ticking off more places we could visit without the limits of a newborn or baby in tow. Flash back to a few weeks ago, you may have noticed my Mark Warner entry. I arrived late to the game, pushing my post in just fifty minutes before they closed and I settled with the mindset that although I wouldn't be chosen, I'd kick myself if I didn't enter. We'd entered last year and I felt a bit down when we didn't win, although looking back it's so easy to see why - I was a bit rubbish, the post this time around felt more personal and natural for me to write so I wasn't really losing anything in the process of talking about something I loved - travel.


We've never visited an aquarium with the boys, the closest they've got to seeing fish were either in the sea on holiday, or behind the glass in Pets at Home as expected, I can never usually drag them out of the latter without a fuss because they enjoy it so much. So when The Deep got in touch and asked if we wanted to pop by, I had to jump at the chance, it's home to over 3500 fish, has featured on a postal stamp and sits slap bang on the edge of the Humber Estuary - we were going. We almost made it there last year, but looking back I'm glad we held off till both boys were a bit older as they got so much more from it that I could have imagined.


It's really easy in the blogosphere to lose sight of your worth as a blogger. I certainly did, I took quite a big knock a few months back when an email landed in my inbox and told me something that I'm sure had they known the power behind the words, probably wouldn't have said it. 'You're not really part of any niche, maybe you should work on that'. It felt stabby and a little back handed, even though I know deep down the words were meant as constructive criticism, I just saw criticism, which if I'm totally honest isn't something I've had to deal with too many times as a blogger. I know that I'm in a minority and I should take it on the chin, but I let it affect me, I let myself feel completely defined by these words, words that were essentially just the opinion of a stranger.


I love creating Easter baskets for the boys, we've done is since Noah was old enough to understand and even though Patrick probably isn't fully yet - it would be highly unfair to miss him out. As soon as valentines had been and gone, stores started stocking up with bunnies, chicks and quite frankly more chocolate than you could ever wish for. It was at this point I started stocking up on little bits and pieces to fill the boys Easter basket. I try to style them similar to our Christmas Eve boxes, but it's a little less ott. I know Easter baskets aren't for everyone 'What's wrong with just a chocolate egg', but our boys get so much chocolate off so many different people, it seems a bit more sensible to opt for something a little different. Plus, Noah really enjoyed his basket last year, he still recalls the exact moment he found it and what we were doing that day, given this is a child that at school pick up can't remember what he did five minutes ago in class - I think that says a lot.


Sleep is such a huge topic for me, for our household actually and the reason being is that we're not getting all that much of it. Noah is, he always slept well, a complete diamond and a textbook child. Patrick however, not so much. It's no secret he's our wild child, we love him for it, he's fierce and feisty, I wouldn't want him any other way. But if I could have one magic wish, rub the lamp and have a genie grant me something, it would be that he'd sleep through the night. I've lost the courage to even think of a full nights sleep anymore, but just one when I didn't need to wake up six times would be great. There's this false sense of your child will be sleeping through when they're a toddler, but I don't know all that many parents who fall into this category, why this illusion of sleeping children? I feel like I was tricked into believing that sleep was a given, not a privilege. Boy, oh boy, how wrong was I?


If you look at a map of the UK we're pretty much slap bang in the middle, give or take a little, which  sounds great but let me tell you for a girl that grew up with Blackpool around the corner, being equally as far in any direction from a coastline, hurts my heart. Living in the north west as a child meant that holidays to the British seaside were a regular occurrence, I don't think it would have been a good year if we'd not visited the illuminations, or sucked on a stick of rock long enough for a dentist to cringe. As a ten year old me, Blackpool was the be all and end all, hearing the words 'We're going to the pleasure beach' would be the adult equivalent of hearing 'I've just booked a holiday to the Maldives'. Nothing could top it. And though you may think that in becoming an adult I'd grow out of the lust for candy floss and hot sugar donuts, I can promise you it's quite the contrary, for me visiting the cheesy seaside towns are a right of passage and still it's something my boys have yet to experience.


Ever since I was little, there was something about holidays that felt so magical. I distinctly remember having those flutters in my tummy the night before we were due to fly. Not being able to sleep, the excitement and adrenaline almost pulsing through my veins. Something that never really changed as I grew up, the more I saw the more I wanted to see.  I've been fortunate, with my parents having the foresight to see just how valuable travel is, and ensuring they passed that wisdom onto us by giving us passports littered with stamps. They set the bar high, but I want to reach it. I want to see new countries and cultures through my sons eyes, there isn't much that can beat watching tiny toddler toes pad through the sandy dunes for the first time, or seeing their chubby hands pressed up against the cabin windows, peering down at the world beneath them. They are magical moments, and we want to experience them over and over again. If travel were a bug then we are truly bitten by it. 


If someone you know has recently given birth, you may want to buy them a gift to celebrate this precious moment. No matter whether the new mum is your best friend, partner, or a family member, it can be difficult to know what to buy. You don’t want to run the risk of purchasing something clich√©, which they will probably receive off someone else. However, you want to make sure you get them something useful and meaningful. So, where to start? Here are some great gift ideas for new mums to help you out…


I know I know, I'm a little ahead of myself, Patrick doesn't actually turn two until June. But I want to be ahead of myself and I love nothing more than planning my boys birthdays. Last year we really didn't do much, one is always a little bit of an anticlimax for me and bittersweet if anything. Turning two is much more my bag and I'm determined to make a big deal out of it this year. Last year I'd not long returned to work, we'd just been on holiday and June is always a really busy month and though we definitely celebrated Patricks birthday, it wasn't fully the way I would have wanted. This year will be different.


I've tried really hard lately, to put myself in pictures more, as one of my 2018 goals I feel like I've done quite well. Though I rarely show the photos, whenever I have my camera and I'm snapping away pictures of the boys, I try my best to grab a couple with myself in the frame even when I really don't want to. To be honest the whole being in front of the camera lark isn't my cup of tea, though I love photography and scrolling aimlessly through social media to see what my favourite families have been up to through their inspiring images, I certainly don't enjoy being the focal point. And I think, that's ok.


Beauty and fashion is a strong interest of mine, I wouldn't exactly say I'm well versed in either of them, but I do like to try from time to time, to feel a little more 'me' and a little less mum. I'm not out there rushing to grab the latest mascara in Boots, heck I don't even know when I last managed to get to a beauty store, never mind check out the latest releases. It’s definitely freeing to never hold yourself to any beauty standard, but this can be misleading. Of course, ignoring some of the hugely marketed efforts to make me purchase select products or read certain magazines is worthwhile. After all, dressing up and enjoying the process of beauty for yourself is nothing less than an exercise in self-respect, and it gives you certain results day after day. However, applying yourself with the best new products and makeup might be very worthwhile, but they might not make you feel complete. Is there another side to beauty which is more encompassing and permanent than the day to day efforts we place to maintain our appearance?


Ever since becoming a Mum, I resigned myself to the fact I'd lost my identity. I was no longer Emily but instead 'Noah's Mummy' or Mama, and then Patrick came along and I because known as 'Patrick's Mummy' too. Had I really lost myself to motherhood? It sure felt like it for a while, everything changed, simple things like not being able to wear my hair down as it was yanked by chubby hands, or it fell in their delicate faces as I fed them. Settling for the fact I couldn't ever just leave the house, I'd have a bag to pack with 101 things and it took just as many hours to actually make it out of the front door. And though whilst all of this is true, there were some aspects of life that I didn't have to compromise on and how oh I relished them. Few and far between but firmly grasped at when they passed, I took real joy in those little things, and it just so happens, a changing bag was one of them.


Spring is on the way, or so I'd like to hope, when this deep freeze of winter is behind us. I mean surely it's not just me that feels like we've been stuck in winter months, for years. Perhaps it's because of the snow in March or the longest January ever - but I am over winter now. It's no surprise that our thoughts are turning to brighter days and getting organised for spring and summer. One of the biggest things I enjoy doing, and feel as though I don't just benefit physically but mentally, is de-cluttering in my home, work and other aspects of my life. But how do you start the process? It can often feel like an overwhelming task to take on, but actually, once you get started you may find that other aspects come much easier. I wanted to share with you two of the ways in which you can take simple decluttering to the next level.