The Life CV

So, I started writing this last year…almost a year go in fact and feel like now it is most appropriate to publish.  We always play close attention to our ‘Curriculum Vitae’ when applying for a job, but how much attention do we pay to our ‘Life CV’. Don’t worry, I have made this up for the purpose of the blog post.  The ‘Life CV’ is not something you should know about 😉 What if our ‘Life CV’ was a collection of our experiences, not our education and career.  Our ‘Life CV’ probably holds the key to our happiness.  I saw a quote by Melanie Moushigian Koulouris, “Love your whole story even if it hasn’t been the perfect fairytale.” In life, all we want is happiness, all we search and strive for is happiness.  Different things make people happy, but as long as what we are doing is right for us then we shouldn’t look to other people’s lives for comparison. I read a quote recently and it resonated so much. It talked about feeling your own success, being happy with where you are, not what society’s version of success is.

Everything that has happened in your life has happened for a reason, and the events you have experienced are the reason you are who you are today.  I remember reading once that everybody you meet is in your life for a reason.  I like to think even the people I have met through my life that weren’t nice people, they have taught me how I don’t want to be, and also made me stronger.  I have also met lots of people through my life who I admire and I want to be more like. I can honestly say now, I am my inspiration and completely love where I am right now in life.

I love my ‘Life CV’.  I had a great childhood and was lucky enough to have holidays in Italy every year.  I have met great people through my life at Secondary School and University.  I only have a handful of close friends that I really trust, but that is all I need.  I have been fortunate enough to travel the world and see famous landmarks.  I have seen Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, visited Evita’s grave in Buenos Aires, sailed around the Galapagos islands, visited Macchu Picchu, travelled Australia, New Zealand and Thailand.  I have seen all the places I wanted to see.  Although I would like to see the Northern Lights at some point, go to the Grand Prix in Monaco, see an Opera in Verona, go to New York at Christmas…oh God, I haven’t seen all I wanted to yet have I?

Anyway, the reason for this post is to make you reflect and love whatever you have done in your life, whatever it has entailed.  My life hasn’t been perfect (but whose has?) My parents separated when I was 15 (and not a very amicable split).  That was a very tough part of my life.  I lost two amazing friends when I was 17, and I don’t think we knew what had hit us at that age. Losing my great nana, grandma and grandad in my early 20’s was very hard, very close together.  They were like second parents to me.  I suffered with extreme sickness in my pregnancy with my youngest, that I actually asked myself if I could continue with the pregnancy. And I am currently going through a messy divorce with 3 young children. But all the experiences I have been through, also gave me great memories.  We had a great childhood, and was sad my parents split, but it was essential for us to grow up healthy. Losing our friends at 17 was horrendous, but I feel lucky they were in my life and I have lots of memories of them, and how much losing them brought our 6th form together. Losing my grandparents and great nana was hard but not many people are lucky enough to have their grandparents and great grandparents in their lives. They were a massive part of my childhood and I still smile now about my time with them. As for my youngest little man, he is the happiest little bundle of chaos and I am so proud I struggled through to get him here.  I have had 3 lovely births, so I just have to forget I was cheated out of lovely pregnancies. My 7 year marriage gave me 3 beautiful, healthy children, and lots of fun happy times in between the tough bits. I would love to write more but as the divorce is still going through it is a sensitive issue, and toxic relationships are a very personal subject.

I am now embarking on a new chapter.  People may not think my life is very enviable right now, but you know, giving yourself respect, self-worth and happiness is actually a better feeling than whatever other people’s thoughts are.  When was the last time you reflected on what you are doing right now? Do you truly love your job? Is you relationship with your partner as good as it could be? How are you with your children? Do you see them enough? Are you close to your parents? Do you love you? Do you love the way you are, the way you feel? Have you seen the places you want to see in the world? I just want to say, always ‘check-in’ with yourself and make sure you are happy. Please don’t ever conform if it doesn’t make you happy.

There is that old saying “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I love it! If you aren’t happy with something in your life, make it positive.  We all have a choice. We are in charged of our life. Being healthy starts from the inside.  Be positive, eat healthy, exercise and do what you love. Help others, be kind and what is meant for you will find you.

An old University friend used to say, “We’re not here for a long time, we’re here for a good time!” Hope that is ok to quote Mc Winston? 🙂

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#TalkToMe

I recently received an email from Huffington Post asking their writers to get on board with their current campaign #TalkToMe. They are building a movement to spark conversations between parents and children. #TalkToMe is a new video series featuring parents in conversation with their children.

The idea of being filmed filled me with dread, but then I do say you should do something everyday that scares you. I knew my daughter would love to be involved. She’s at that age when they just want the camera on them all the time. I on the other hand would rather be behind the camera. Also, I am eternally grateful to Huffpost for publishing my work ever since my 2nd ever blog post, so I really wanted to help.

As communication is key between parents and children, I agreed to do it. Now my children are getting older and are more aware of society and pressures I feel it is so important for them to be able to talk to me about anything.  Any problems, insecurities or worries they have, I want them to come to me. At mealtimes when we are all together at the end of a day, I have always asked; “What made you happy today?” ‘What made you sad today?” I want this to become habit so they always feel they can freely talk about anything that is concerning them.

Huffpost provided set questions too, which made me feel easier. I wanted it to be as natural as possible so my husband only let us have one rehearsal and then the ‘real deal’. It was difficult to make the answers simple enough so she could understand, as she is only 7.  I know Huffpost will receive a mixed array of ages and personalities being interviewed.  So, this is Eva and I…simple and modest. Just ignore my ‘uncomfortable’ mouth. I look like a cow chewing cud! Let’s just say this will be my first and last interview. It is lovely that my daughter has it to look back on though.

Tell me something you’ve never told me.
What do you wish you knew when you were my age?
Tell me the story of the happiest moment you’ve ever had.
What is the hardest challenge you’ve faced in your life?
What’s the biggest lesson you’d like to pass onto future generations?
What are some of the little things you did for yourself or our family that made the biggest impact?
If you could have one wish for me, what would it be?
If you had to choose one role model for me, who would it be and why?

Huffington Post would love parents and children to get involved, please see here for more details.

 

 

 

 

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I Am Still Me

Hello, Hello! Can you hear me? It’s me Emma, Emma Porcelli.  I am still here, I just went away for a while. I know I seem different now, and you thought it wasn’t me. I am still me! Can you see me? I am here behind the mound of dirty washing. No not that pile…this pile. That pile is the ironing pile I still need to do. This pile. Can’t you smell the sick, wee and poo in this pile? The only karaoke I have been doing for the past 7 years is to ‘Baa baa black sheep, not Madonna’s ‘Like a prayer.’ You haven’t seen me on the dance floor for a while, I have been busting my moves around the kitchen with the kids, with food up my wall and all over the floor.  Clean, designer clothes? I am not sure what they are anymore. The gym, what is that? I vaguely remember. My work outs have entailed chasing toddlers around the supermarket, and running up and downstairs whilst the children are unsettled, chasing naked toddlers around trying to get them dressed in the morning. ‘Vogue?’ mmmm, yep they all got ripped up with the toilet rolls and the kitchen rolls and just used to sprinkle around my house because toddlers like destroying stuff.  I haven’t read a magazine for a while, I have just been trying out every parenting manual in the world to try and be a better parent, and trying to work out how to get these little sh*ts to sleep all night.

Ok, jokes aside. I am still me, and you are still you. Parenting changes us for the better and I am so proud of my kiddiwinks, but I have missed the old me. A lovely lady I used to work with told me her friend had once said to her: “I am not just a wife, or a mum, I am me.”

Becoming a parent has given me a new-found confidence, but I know it doesn’t always work like that. It makes me sad that some women can’t recognise the power of themselves, just carrying a baby and all the tiredness and ailments it brings in itself is a challenge. Not to mention giving birth, and then giving up sleep for years and years. You can’t be the person you were as you have other little people taking up your time now.  I know children are just an extension of you and they make you become a new you, but everybody has things they miss. As the littlies get older though, we do have a bit more time to get a bit of us back…and boy does it feel good.

I won a competition last month with Andrew Wood Photography in Manchester, for a Boudoir photography shoot. I had thought I would like to do something like this for my 40th after a fellow-blogger friend had some lovely photographs done. Seeing the finished pictures of my shoot made me so glad I had gone through with it. The thought of it was very nerve-wrecking, and my tummy was doing somersaults all the way there. It was totally out of my comfort zone. On arrival I was handed a lovely glass of bubbly which calmed the nerves. I can’t explain how accommodating and reassuring the staff were there. The lady who did my make-up was half-Italian too, so that was our conversation for the next hour. She did an amazing job of my make-up (everybody that knows me knows I am very fussy too!) It was lovely to see my face made-up. My normal morning routine entails literally throwing on a bit of eye-liner. I can’t remember the last time I put foundation on!

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The Boudoir photographer is a lady, and she was fab. The room was warm and all the settings are in one place, but you can go next door for another setting if you choose. It is just you and her, and it feels very relaxed. She tells you exactly how to stand, which way to put your hips, where to put your hand, how to curl your fingers. It lasts an hour, and they recommend 4 different changes of underwear.  You can make it as risqué, or as classic and beautiful as you like.

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So if you aren’t feeling great, whether a tired mummy, or just a tired female fed up of not spending anytime on you, this shoot is for you. They have called the Boudoir package ‘The gift of confidence‘ and you can’t put a price on that. I have seen their work and it is amazing. They have transformed women of all different shapes and sizes, and you can tell they all feel amazing. You can too. You are still you! Get out from behind that pile of washing and get on some nice lingerie. You deserve it!

Please note Andrew Wood Photography asked if I could review my shoot, but I have only used a couple of pictures (vetted by the other half). I would have loved to have shared more pictures, but as you can imagine most of them are personal and just to have with your partner. Thanks lots for the opportunity Andrew Wood.

I would also like to credit Danielle for the best spray tan I have ever discovered in my life, the Tanning Boutique in Flixton, Manchester. This was my body armour when getting my kit off 🙂

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What Made You Think…?

I started writing this post last year and embargoed it.  Firstly because I thought my husband would think I was having a ‘dig,’ (maybe I am, maybe I am not ;)) but also because I like to write about things when they are topical too.  As this video has gone viral, I figured it is pretty topical.  I also know it is relevant everyday, in lots of households (not all though, I know and am not generalising so please don’t think I am stereotyping or judging). Also, it has just been Mother’s Day and today is International Women’s Day, so women are in the limelight this week in particular.

I often start my blogs off by brainstorming or sometimes I just type straight out onto WordPress. This one started, “What made you think?” What made you think when we bought our house it would be me that had to clean our house? What made you think I would have to buy our food, cook our dinner, wash our clothes, hoover, put our clothes away, tidy our house? When we had our children, what made you think I would have to get up every time they needed feeding, everytime our children needed their nappies changing, their clothes changing? Why did I have to wake and tend to them when they needed their teething gel or Calpol? What made you think I would do every nappy change, do every doctor run, hospital trip? What made you think I would do most bath times and bedtimes for our children? When did our responsibility become my responsibility? I know this sounds quite heavy and I am sure there hasn’t been a man that hasn’t woken up the odd time in the night or picked up the hoover once.  It was just raw feelings written down at that time.

We are still struggling in a ‘Man’s World.’ Although I know things are positively changing with ‘Paternity laws’ and more ‘Stay-at-home fathers.’ In my time, it was natural girls went to University and this will remain so. When we as women have our children though, it changes. As we are carrying our children we do have to take time off to give birth and raise them through maternity leave. As mothers we do also have a bond that makes us want to do this too (even though it’s hard). We do have brains too though, and we would like to use that degree and education too. Could we be less exhausted and achieve more with our careers if things were split at home and with the children 50/50?

The video shown in the first paragraph did make me teary, for a few reasons. Firstly the fact the father had realised this is what he had been like and it had been learned behaviour.  Also, he acknowledged the son-in-law’s father was probably like that too. It made me emotional as it was proof  that once people reflect on themselves and see clearly, they can change. Also, that it is better late than never. I also felt deeply for the mum who was probably run-ragged. She probably got lots of migraines (was she sick with her migraines?), I bet she didn’t have time to go to the toilet, or eat fruit. I bet she got coldsores too when she was shattered from running around like a blue-arsed fly, trying to keep her career under wraps but also look after the needs of all her children. Those needs that are bloody demanding.  Those individual needs that don’t just require running the children to school, doing homework, dressing them, buying new clothes, keeping on top of all their parties, social clubs, school events, buying presents for friends, buying the food shop, sorting doctor appointments, dealing with the worry and emotional exhaustion when they are poorly. Not forgetting all their washing, cooking dinner and ironing their uniform (and doing this on little sleep or no sleep). When you have done all this, they still want you, your time, your conversation.  They want you to know what happened in class, to ask you if something their friend said in class was true, to ask what would happen if you mixed purple with yellow? How did Jesus come back to life?  In all the chaos of everyday life, the children still want your conversation, they want to play card games and play Pie Face too.

I know society is changing and there are lots of fathers that get very involved with the childcare and the housework. I know circumstances are different everywhere, but I hope the video that has gone viral will make those see that they can shape the way the future will become for their children.  Our children can have it all if we #sharetheload. Or the other option is to just get a cleaner 😉

Have you found that you definitely #sharetheload in your household? Do you both work and share the childcare and housework? Do you find it is still heavily mum doing the household chores and childcare whilst holding down a career? I would love to hear how things work in your home. Always remember that you have the choice to achieve the balance you want.

 

 

 

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Calmer, Easier, Happier Boys – A Book Review

I have recently finished reading a great book by Noel Janis-Norton; Calmer, Easier, Happier Boys. Before finishing it though I had already noticed a huge difference in my four year old boy. He had just started School and even just his first week was a huge success, both emotionally and physically. I started reading this book, as raising a boy is completely different to raising a girl. This book is obviously aimed at parents of boys, but I think it is also amazing for anybody who has had a girl first and then subsequently had a boy. I think if you have a boy first, a boy’s behaviour is normal (well you may question if it is normal and probably are slightly terrified). However, having a girl first, and then raising a boy, it is quite a shock! The quote that stood out the most for me in this book was, “Girl behaviour becomes gold standard. Boys are treated like defective girls.” This was referring to a school environment, and it made me think maybe this is why some boys don’t achieve aswell as girls when they are in Primary School. It also made me feel boys, or should I say children aren’t meant to start School so young (but that is another blog post). This book has been great and really insightful. I have selected the most valuable points I took from it below. The book covers lots of topics including; advice on mealtimes, advice for less stressful mornings and easier bedtime routines. Also demonstrating tips for helping boys with homework and making learning more enjoyable and productive.  The book is great as it gives pointers how to address situations with boys right from the age of 3 into their teenage years. I did wonder why it didn’t have an effect on my 2 year old, who this evening decided to poo on his bedroom floor. Perhaps we will start with the below on him next month when he turns 3.

Good luck with this one. Apparently we should give them ten ‘Descriptive praises’ a day. Descriptive praise is when you tell them what is good and how it is good, and stating how happy it makes you as a parent e.g. “You tasted the sauce and you didn’t say it was disgusting. You stayed polite.” This could be particularly tricky if you have more than one child though and each needing ten descriptive praises a day! Jokes aside, this has been a God-send. When my first son had to deal with the emotions of his brother’s arrival, he was totally out of sorts. I would tell him when he was good, but it became out-weighed by the negatives as he was far too boisterous around the newborn. As soon as I started telling him why it was good and how it made me feel, he was a different boy. By also doing a sticker chart so he could visually see what things he was doing well with was great for him. He didn’t receive anything for gaining stickers, but felt the pride of achieving and gained confidence at what he was good at. Visual is the way to go for boys.

Think Throughs –These remind them when they are being forgetful about bringing homework home, books from school, PE Kits, Jumpers, etc. They are also good when they are being wild. Boys don’t think of consequences, so it is a good way to try and instill this. Boys like to visualise, so for example saying “Don’t forget your orange workbook when you put your green pencil case into your blue bag.”

Reflective listening – Spend time with them. Listen to what is wrong. Imagine how they are feeling and give it a name, label it. Then give him a ‘fantasy wish.’ What would he like to happen? What would he do if he had a magic wand? I know there are not enough hours in a day, but always try and give the children individual attention e.g. Board games or card games in the evening and bedtime reading together. When baby is napping is also a good time to schedule in playtime with the elder child.

Action Replay – This is my favourite! Are you sick of saying “Don’t do that, come back here, give that back to your sister/ brother.” Well, an ‘Action Replay’ gives you the opportunity to let them get back into control in a good way without you sounding like a nag and losing the will to live. “Please can we have an ‘Action Replay?” This enables them to do the ‘right’ thing and correct the scenario. Giving the School bag back to sister etc.

Follow Through – I know a lot of us fail at this, me especially. How realistic is it when you have other children though and one child is misbehaving when you are out, but the others are behaving? If you go home early the children that are behaving miss out. You also know deep down that being at home at that moment in time could possibly be even more hellish trapped between those 4 walls. Especially when you were quite enjoying chatting to your best friend over a caramel latte.

Screen time – Boys apparently love screen time (which I have noticed recently). This should be earned. Rather than let them on the i-pad automatically. Make sure it is after they have completed something important e.g. when they have eaten their dinner, are dressed, finished homework, finished the chore you allocated etc. It is a good use of bribery if you want siblings to play better together too.

Recommending chores – It addresses the fact that boys don’t like to look weak, they have a natural macho image they want to protect. They will all too easily give up at the first hurdle.  If we assign them chores e.g. Helping with cooking, preparing vegetables, folding clothes, unloading dishwasher or setting the table, they will feel like they can accomplish tasks.

Male role models – All boys need adult role models. When fathers are not spending enough time with the boys, they seek out role models elsewhere e.g. older boys/gangs. Having a positive older role-model is a reliable predictor of a boy finishing secondary school and staying out of trouble. If a boy doesn’t have a father-figure in their life, it is important they have a good relationship with an uncle, grandfather or older cousin etc. Fathers or male role models should speak to boys about how they feel so they grow up being able to talk openly and not ashamed of being worried or asking questions.

Noel quotes, “Whenever possible, the father should be the parent who is supervising the homework.” I like that suggestion, I must say *smirky face.* Apparently what matters the most is dad’s involvement and enthusiasm, descriptive praise and listening, showing that learning matters and doing your best matters.

So, if you are a parent of boys aged between 3-13, this book is for you. Above is only a taster of tips and advice, it is a huge useful bible of creating Calm, Easier, Happier Boys. Available to buy on Amazon. You know you need a calmer household, so make sure you grab a copy!

What have you found the hardest about having boys?

 

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More, More, More…How Do You Like It?

I chose this title as I thought it wasn’t as cheesy as Salt N Pepa’s “Let’s talk about sex.” “More, more, more,” Bananarama sang it back in the 80’s. The reason for the more ‘risqué’ blog post this week is because I have seen so many new year’s resolutions that involve weight-loss, more exercise, healthier eating etc, and I have never liked to conform. So, I think having more sex should be on the top of that list. Don’t read on if you are prude.

So, you are still reading ;). I have edited this piece as I recently read a post about a mum discussing ‘Parent sex,’ so I wanted to mention this. She wrote “You know the kind… you’ve got a few mins if you’re lucky and are on constant alert in case a little person comes to find you…” The stress of parenting and frantically trying to cram everything in each day is exhausting. We shouldn’t let this make our sex lives slip though. It is more exciting if you can only grab a quickie sometimes. Most of the time when the children are really young, your other half annoys you so much that sex is actually the last thing on your mind. Any dads reading this and feeling a bit sexually neglected, I promise you if you just hoover tonight or clean the bathroom, do the kids’  homework and put the kids to bed you may have a different reaction in the bedroom.

I know ultimately for the new year we all just want to be happy. Happiness does mean different things for different people. It’s great that people want to exercise more, it releases endorphins and makes you feel great.  Healthy eating is what we all hope will make us live longer, and definitely makes us feel better than grabbing a Mcdonalds! Some people want to take up a new hobby. I know starting up Taekwondo again for me has been good, and I love the time I get with my daughter as we go together. It is all fabulous wanting to do these things, but we can’t get away from the money issue.  Gym memberships do come at a price,  but sex is free! On the other hand, you could go for a run in the evenings for free. I totally respect the people that can get out into the dark and cold in an evening…YOU ARE AMAZING, but wouldn’t you just rather jump under the covers in the warm and get some action?

Women apparently hit their sexual peak at 35, and I would agree. I think your thirties are the best decade of your life (although I may change this opinion as I get older). I got married as I turned 30, just had my first baby. I had all 3 children in this decade, my confidence escalated ten fold, I loved my job but had the confidence to have a career break. And yes, my libido increased.

So, the science. The sexual-response cycle is divided into four phases: excitement, plateau, orgasm and resolution. Sex is apparently anti-aging, immune-boosting and stress-reducing. Sex releases oxytocin and release endorphins, which are natural pain-killer hormones. Oxytocin affects the way we feel, and helps us form strong emotional bonds. Orgasms are natural mood-boosters and stress relievers. It has also been said it can boost your self-esteem. Endorphins released stimulate immune cells that fight disease. It is great for your heart too. You can burn up to 200 calories per session…..same as what I would probably do on a slow cycle session at the gym. I know what I would rather do (although that is not a dig at my friend as I love our chats as we cycle). The glow of sex is real. Women who have more sex have higher levels of oestrogen, which is important for healthier, smoother skin. It promotes the production of collagen, which keeps the skin supple and gives you a healthy glow.

So, what are you waiting for…(sorry if you are in work reading this and have to wait until you get home). For 2016, put it on the top of your list…make love, not war!

 

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I Believe In Christmas

For almost a year I kept a secret from the kiddies, and as December approached I was bursting with excitement. I knew how I would have felt if my parents had told me we were going to the North Pole to meet the ‘real’ Father Christmas when I was younger. The day arrived and Ice Sprite (our Elf On The Shelf) brought their invitations from Father Christmas.  I must admit it was a bit of an anti-climax. Of course they were happy, but I thought maybe they would feel the euphoria I was feeling.  My two sons carried on fighting over the advent calendars and my daughter realised she was going to miss film club and brownies! As it sank in over the next few days they couldn’t stop talking about it. We had a countdown on our christmas cubes, and they kept shrilling with delight every so often.  We showed them a little video clip of what they were going to see. I wanted them to enjoy the anticipation, give them time to build the excitement.

So the night before arrived, and the two eldest children couldn’t sleep. The youngest wasn’t really old enough to understand what was going to happen, but I knew he would absolutely love sharing it with his siblings when we got to the North Pole. My daughter said she was trying to sleep but her body felt too excited and she couldn’t sleep.  My son went to bed at 7pm and got out at 7.30pm asking if it was morning and if we had to go to the airport. It was really lovely seeing them so excited.

I couldn’t sleep.  I felt like I did the night before my wedding. I was also slightly worried I would sleep through my 4.30am alarm. Well, I didn’t need my alarm, I was awake at 4am. I remembered when I was little and we used to fly to Italy and we were woken when it was dark. I felt like that child again.  The children were so excited and kept shrieking at different times. The taxi arrived and we were off.

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When we boarded the plane they had christmas carols playing, there were games and quizzes all the way and the air stewards donned elf and santa hats. From take off to landing they were amazing. We flew from Manchester to Ivalo in Finland, and the flight time was only 2 hours, 45 minutes.  The view was amazing as we landed. The elves were at the airport to meet us and they had a reindeer outside. We were only 30 minutes from the airport, which is perfect when you are travelling with little ones.

With most trips to Lapland you are given good thermal outer suits and boots for the duration of your stay.  They also provide gloves and woollen socks for you, which you receive as soon as you get to your accommodation. We stayed in Saariselka, Santa’s Hotel Tunturi. The hotel there is lovely and modern. The chalets are roomy and have saunas (be warned, these take 4 hours to warm up!) and a heated storage cupboard to pop in your wet clothes (hats, gloves, inners for your snow boots). We had a half board package for 3 days and 2 nights, and you only need to buy a lunch when you get there as food is provided the day you go on the ‘Search for Santa.’ We flew on the Thursday morning, and had the afternoon with the toboggans. We had actually already paid for dinner in with the package but the children were exhausted so we got a take out and went to bed early, ready for our big day at the Arctic Circle Centre.

The big day came and the coach arrived at the Arctic Circle Centre for 10am. I did wrap us all up extra warm as we were informed it can be up to -10 degrees less heading to the Arctic Centre. The children had their thermal tops and thermal leggings under their jogging bottoms, a long sleeve top, a thin jumper and a fleece (and it was my best friend’s idea to take balaclavas). I was not risking anybody being cold. We all kept toasty warm all day.  I did take a couple of extra pairs of gloves and hats as I know what young ones are like. Especially when they are taking them off and rolling around in the snow. I also bought us a pair of woollen socks each, best purchase ever. They did recommend two pairs of woollen socks being ideal and as they provided a pair too it was fab.  I can’t believe I have never experienced the comfort of woollen socks…where have they been all my life?

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Before we left for Lapland we were told to write our letters to Santa, and pretend to post them. We had to take them with us to pass over to the elves (in secret) so that Santa could have them ready to read through with the children. When we arrived at the Arctic Centre, I felt my heart racing faster and my eyes welling up. It was so authentic and magical. The kids could play ice hockey, ice fishing and go on the toboggans whilst waiting for our ‘Search for Santa.’ There were teepees where you could have warm berry juice and pancakes around a fire…divine!

InTheTeePee

So, the moment had finally arrived, it was our turn to jump in the sleigh to go to ‘Santa’s Lodge’. I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing it is. Knowing the children think they are going to meet the ‘real’ Father Christmas, the wind on your skin as the snowmobile sped through the forest, the silence through the snow-driven woodland….and feeling like at 36 years old you are going to meet the ‘real’ Father Christmas, there is nothing like it.  As we drew closer to ‘Santa’s Lodge’ we could see all the elves jumping around being mischievous outside, waving and shouting out “Helleeeeeewwww!” “Oh my God,” I thought, I couldn’t quite believe we were lucky enough to be there.  We all dismounted the sleigh and my daughter held one of the elves’ hand to walk around to the door.  The kids knocked on the door, and we were in. It was really authentic, I loved the log stools and the view of snow through the window. I did have a giggle to myself at Santa’s Finnish accent, struggling to read the hand-writing from the kiddies’ letters (I had actually written two of them, which is why I was smirking). You can’t put a price on the magic of meeting the ‘real’ Santa. They each received a little reindeer teddy too, which was cute.

SantaSearch

We headed back to have a ride on the reindeer sleigh, which was amazing. My 5 year old stopped me from trying to guess the reindeers’ names that were guiding our sleigh. He was worried if we said the names correctly they would take off into the sky *heartmelt.* It was a much slower, peaceful journey with the reindeer and very relaxing. We just took it all in. The reindeers take you around to the Ice Bar for a hot chocolate and some elf entertainment. Apparently alcohol was being served too, but I thought I would refrain and save myself for the Gala dinner that evening. The huge igloos and ice sculptures are magnificent, and you could feed the reindeer too.


                            Reindeersleigh IceBar

You don’t get very many hours of daylight and there was something lovely about racing through the snow-filled forest as the sky was turning dark. The parents had a lesson on how to guide the huskies, whilst the children were kept busy by Lapland children entertainers. The huskies were raring to go, the barking noise was immense.  Once they were off it was amazing, totally exhilarating darting through the snow.  We definitely had the friendliest pack. The children loved it, and it was the one thing my 2 year old kept talking about before we got there.  Think he enjoyed it more than meeting Santa. 

Huskies

We had totally worked up an appetite so went to the restaurant chalet to eat lunch (which was included in the package), and I must say I was really impressed. Being half-Italian I have eaten more spaghetti bolognese than you can imagine, and this was good stuff! We had a bit longer playing in the snow but then by 4pm we wanted to head back to get ready for our Gala dinner. I ensured the two boys had a little nap as I knew how the evening would end up if they didn’t, the pure hell we all know and love.

It was a lovely night with games and disco for the kids. The food was out of this world.  I couldn’t believe it for a buffet and for catering for so many people. I wish I had tried the salmon, people said it was the best they had ever tasted! As they closed the restaurant we all moved downstairs to bust some moves to the live band. The kids were in good spirits until 11pm and danced their little woollen socks off.

GalaNight

It was a magical trip. It was something I never imagined I would do as I always presumed it was too pricey. Looking into it though, it only worked out the same price we would probably pay for a family of 5 for a week in the summer holidays, but yes you only have 3 days, not 7. The magic is so worth it though. I would love to go back when they are older and go on the Ski-Doo snowmobiles and do a bit of skiing too. Our travel agent, Travel Counsellors were absolutely amazing from start to finish. I dealt with Emma Parry-Thorpe (emma.parry-thorpe@travelcounsellors.com). Her customer service is second to none. I can’t believe how accommodating and efficient she was. Emma was in contact throughout the whole 10 months prior to going. She kept me organised with what info was needed and even emailed me PDF’s of invites for the children from Santa requesting their company in the North Pole! Now that is great service! Emma has also sorted our summer holiday next year too. Emma has been organising Lapland trips for years and has only had amazing feedback.

So, what are you waiting for? Get organising your trip for next year. My daughter said to me, “Mummy, when we got here I had to pinch myself to believe we were really in Lapland, and we are!” Priceless! There is nothing like Christmas when you have children in your lives, and this is a dream come true. Amazing memories I will cherish forever. And I believe in Father Christmas all over again.

 

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