Wednesday 30 December 2015

Childhood Memories

With Christmas now over, I have been reflecting on my own childhood, if I’m honest as a child it was all about Santa and the presents that we would receive on Christmas day, however as I’ve grown older, became a Christian and had my own children, I see Christmas very differently. 

Christmas to me now means reflecting on the birth of Jesus and how this important event changes peoples lives. Don’t get me wrong I still enjoy receiving gifts, but I much prefer to be able to give gifts to other people, seeing their faces light up when they open your presents, to me there is no better present than this.

Finding gifts for my girls can be a struggle as there is nothing they need, so we end up buying things they would like instead. This year has been made a bit easier as we have decided to take the girls to Disneyland in Paris, but shhh as they have absolutely no idea at all. I’m not 100% sure when we will tell them but part of me wants to keep it a secret and let them just arrive at Disneyland! 

In previous years we have struggled to buy things for Lottie, we have the same problem with her birthday too, Ruby is 3 years older than Lottie and both are born in July so we end up wrapping up some of Rubys old toys for Lottie. I do wonder if my mum used to do the same for my younger sister?

However I don’t think it’s a bad thing to pass things down families, Lottie has some of Rubys outgrown clothes however Lottie is much more girly so I do end up spending a small fortune on dresses and sparkly shoes for her. I even remember my mum giving me a box of knitted baby cardigans my Nana had made for me, so when my girls were born they wore them too.

I particularly love wooden toys, they are timeless and so robust. I have collection of toys that my girls have outgrown, that I will be keeping safe in case my girls have their own children. 

I am pleasantly surprised how these wooden toys seem to be making a comeback. The girls and I were in the toy isle at Asda and were amazed at the range of wooden toys, from shops, pull along toys, to dolls houses. Every little girl needs a dolls house right? My daughters have my younger sisters dolls house and it gets played with on a daily basis. If you don't have an Asda near to you then you can go online and view their range of wooden toys here.

I’d love to know what heirlooms you are passing down your family? I have a teddy that I loved so much that I gave to Ruby and it now takes pride of place on her bed amongst her own soft toys.

Disclaimer: ASDA kindly asked me to write a post about heirlooms and in return offered my daughters a Christmas gift.

Thursday 24 September 2015

New Chapters and New Starts

I would like to apologise for the lack of blog posts recently; it's mainly due to new chapters in our family life. I am still trying to get my head around it all and September was the start of change.

Ruby returned to school and is now in year 2, it only seems like a few weeks ago that she was tiny. Ruby in general likes school and seems happy; homework on the other hand is a different story. If you are a regular reader you will already be aware of the homework battles we face. My opinions have not changed, I dislike it and really don't agree with it. I see Ruby at the end of a school day looking exhausted and really feel for her as I try to encourage her to complete the silly amount of homework which she is set. Ruby often ends up in tears as reading and writing are not Ruby's favourite past times, if it was story telling or drama then it would be a very different situation.

Lottie turned 3 in the summer holidays and is now attending play school 3 full days a week! It is very clear that she loves it as every day she asks if it is a playschool day! Lottie has a very different character to Ruby and is much more girlie, this becomes a problem in the mornings as she likes to pick out her own clothing. Lottie's Peppa Pig obsession continues to grow, whereas by the age of 3 Ruby was beginning to go off Peppa. I think I'm going to feel somewhat sad when Lottie leaves behind the Peppa pig stage.

Now an update on me, I will put my hands up and admit I've found it hard being at home on my own. I miss having my little friend Lottie to keep me company and I miss the summer holiday fun I had with both girls.

Over the last month I have been trying to work out how to best utilise my days without Lottie as I really want to feel a sense of achievement. I am the church warden at my local church and I plan on using some of my time to help with the administration and other such things. I also want to have some 'me time' , after years of looking after my girls full time. I experienced reflexology for the very 1st time the other week and it took most of the session for me to relax, it's really isn't something that comes naturally to me. Does anyone have any tips? I have also just enrolled on a theology course at night school, I'm incredibly nervous but looking forward to the challenge of undertaking some studying, so what this space. And again I'm sorry again for the infrequent updates.

Wednesday 26 August 2015

National Trust - Mottisfont

This summer we have been incredibly blessed to be able to visit a number of National Trust properties, and over the coming weeks I am going to be writing about them.

The National Trust has over 500 houses up and down the country, which they preserve so that members of the public can go and view them. Most of the properties have something for all ages including the children. Membership can be bought for a family for £104 which works out at just under £9 a month, I think its well worth it. If you would like more details about membership then you can visit the National Trust membership page.

Mottisfont is located close to Romsey in Hampshire and just down the road from Peppa Pig World, which we visited for Lottie's birthday. Monttisfont was a medieval priory and is set in beautiful gardens including a very popular rose garden that attracts a lot of people to view it. We visited just after the roses had seen their best but it was still an amazing sight.

We decided to visit Mottisfont as I had seen online that they had a water play area for Ruby and Lottie; we were not disappointed when we discovered it in the grounds! Ruby and Lottie played for ages making dams and taking it in turns to let the water out and walk through the water.

Mottisfont has an excellent play area called the climbing bog where children can follow a trial of wooden tree stumps, climbing frames etc before you complete the course. Lottie was a bit too small for this but Ruby absolutely loved it.

Whilst visiting Mottisfont we came across some artwork by Lauren Child, the author and animator of Charlie and Lola. Charlie and Lola is a big hit in our house and the girls regularly listen to one of the stories whilst they go to bed. Staff told us that Lauren would be bringing her artwork to Mottisfont for an exhibition to show her work to the public the following week. I was disappointed to have missed the exhibition by only a few days but if you can I would really recommend that you go and check it out if you are near to Romsey.

Whilst browsing the shop, a piece of artwork drew my attention, it was by Lauren Child and it had Lola holding her bunny. My mum and I stood looking at it and realised how much it looked like Lottie; anyone who knows Lottie will know she has a bunny I knitted her called Li-Li, which goes everywhere Lottie does.

I decided I had to buy Lottie the artwork with it being so similar to her and also because it was commissioned in July and that so happens to be Lottie's birth month. The number on the artwork was 21 in the collection and 2 add 1 equals 3 the age Lottie is now! So Lottie now has her own very 1st piece of artwork, well actually its my 1st too! Do you see the resemblance between Lottie and the artwork?

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to Mottisfont as a place to visit and you can find more detail on their website here.

Wednesday 19 August 2015

2 steps forward and 1 step back!

Its taken me a very long time to write this post; I have been wanting to write it for near on 7 months, but I have struggled to find the words and have found it too upsetting to think about.

At the start of this year I faced my third knee operation, the second in the last eighteen months. This time though I had a new medical team who have more expertise in the issues I face with my knees, rather than seeing a general orthopedic surgeon who deals with a greater range of conditions.

During the later half of last year I had several appointments and tests at various out patient appointments, and it was a huge relief when my new consultant said he thought he could help me and was prepared to operate. I have struggled with my knees since I was about sixteen, and over the last couple of years they have been getting worse - this could be due to having PVNS but we don't know exactly.

At my consultation before my operation, I spoke with my consultant about my preference to have a spinal anesthetic and to be aware of what was happening, he said he was happy with this as long as the anesthetist was. I have previously had knee surgery where I have watched my own operation so I knew what I was letting myself in for and last time it was a really insightful and interesting experience.

In January of this year I had my operation; it was a couple of weeks after my 30th birthday and I joked with my consultant that his present to me could be to have pain free legs!

On the day of the operation I arrived two hours before my allocated theatre slot and was visited by the medical team who were going to be looking after me. I was feeling anxious, I always do before an operation, I really dislike being in hospital!

As I was last on the theatre list, I posed zero infection risk to any other patients so I was allowed to wear my own comfy PJs rather than the awful hospital gown which doesn't preserve dignity at all. I was offered the opportunity to be wheeled down to theatre but instead opted to walk myself, knowing it would be some time before I would be walking again following surgery.

In the anesthetist room I was greeted by the anesthetist that I had previously spoken to about my request to be awake for my operation, she inserted the anesthetic into my back as I was having a spinal. The anesthetist and I developed a really good rapport before I was wheeled into theatre and greeted by my consultant.

In theatre I was laying down much more than I had for my previous operation, where I actually sat bolt up right, however my surgeon later explained that I needed to lay down so he could get the best results.

About half way through the operation I started to feel a little bit of pain, I told the anesthetist and she asked if I wanted anything for it; initially I didn't, but then the pain started to build up. The anesthetist could see I was getting anxious and distressed and started to put some painkillers into my hand; unfortunately they did nothing for the pain and though further painkillers were given, none were working. I remember laying in theatre thinking I was going to die and asking my surgeon to stop! My anesthetist was lovely and calm and held my hand whilst trying with her other hand to administer more and more pain relief. I am not sure how but somehow the operation was completed. To the surgical staffs surprise, I wasn't knocked out even though I was given enough drugs to knock out a race horse according to the anesthetist.

After recovery I was taken back to the ward where I spent the next four days, I was supposed to only be in a night however my pain was not being managed as well as it could have been. I later found out that one of my existing medicines was interacting with some of the painkillers and causing them not to work! It also didn't help that a member of the nursing staff withheld some medication that I was prescribed for some reason, even though I asked for it.

Fast forward to today and my operated knee is OK. It has started to make some snap, crackle and pop noises and my GP thinks its inflamed, so I have had some steroids injected into it. I am struggling to kneel down as my knee doesn't quite feel strong enough, its been a very long recovery however this isn't the end, as I face surgery again at the end of this year on my other knee.

I am scared and anxious about the prospect of more surgery, especially given that for some reason the spinal failed mid operation and all the issues I had surrounding pain management. I have been assured by my medical team that the issues I faced were very very rare, and we are working on a plan for my future surgery that will include a combined spinal and epidural.

I wish I didn't have to face more operations but I know that it is the best chance I have of being pain free. I sometimes get so frustrated as I feel my life is on hold because of my knees and I long for the day when I can take two steps forward without taking any steps back!

Friday 31 July 2015

Happy 6th Birthday Ruby

 Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday dear Ruby
Happy Birthday to you

How is it possible that my princess is now 6? Time seems to be flying by so quickly. I Love you so much Ruby. xxx

Thursday 23 July 2015

July Madness - Part 1

For anyone that knows us as a family,or reads the blog regularly, you may recall that July is an incredibly busy month for us. We celebrate both Ruby and Lottie's birthday, as well as our wedding anniversary.

Last week was Lotties 3rd birthday, 3! how did that happen? I seem to have missed a year as the time just goes by so very quickly. For anyone with little ones cherish the early years as it goes too quickly and you won't ever get it back. 

Lottie is very different to Ruby and knows exactly what she likes and dislikes; she has a tough and strong willed personality when it comes to doing things. Lottie adores Peppa Pig, In fact I would go as far as saying she is addicted! Every item of clothing she wants to wear each day has to have Peppa on it, she always wants to play with her Peppa toys, she is just Peppa obsessed!

So what do you buy Lottie for her 3rd birthday when she has everything as a hand me down from her big sister Ruby? 

There was only one thing I could get Lottie for her birthday and that was to go away for a couple of days to Peppa Pig World! We went last year for her birthday but I don't think she was quite old enough to enjoy it; this year was completely different and she loved each and every single minute of it as you can see from the photos.

Well that's one birthday down, just the wedding anniversary on the 26th of July, shortly followed by Ruby's 6th birthday and then mid August its hubbies 30th birthday! July is definitely a great month of celebrations in our house! 

Saturday 11 July 2015

Happy 3rd Birthday Lottie

 Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday dear Lottie
Happy Birthday to you

How is it possible that my little princess is now 3? Time seems to be flying by so quickly. I Love you so much Lottie. xxx

Friday 10 July 2015

Stop the Pressure!

I can't believe that Ruby has just finished year one at school, and is now half way through key stage one! It seems like only days ago that she was just about to start school. I know Ruby is very much looking forward to the summer holidays and I am too, we have so much planned and I know we are going to have lots of fun together.

I recently came across an article about the amount of pressure that school and exams are having on children, and it's something that I can really relate to. Before ruby started school I was very anxious about the move from playschool; in an ideal world I would have loved the opportunity to part time home school her, but I was confident in my own ability to teach Ruby.

Over the last couple of weeks Ruby has taken part in the phonics screening test that all children in year one must take. The test itself was supposed to come with no pressure, but by its very nature, it is a test! There is a pass mark, and if your child does not reach the desired level, they are classed as underachieving!

What this test doesn't take into account is that there is a massive age between the children who take this test; Ruby is six at the end of July, and many of her classmates are almost seven. In the first few years of schooling, a few months can make a massive difference. I believe that the phonics screening test should be done at a set age. for example five years and four months; this way as parents and teachers we know how well a child is performing relative to the rest of the class at the same age. 

After Ruby's phonics screening test, she came home upset and told me she had failed! - a child should never be made to feel like a failure!!!

She said she had scored thirty out of forty with the pass mark being thirty two. I explained to Ruby that it didn't matter how well she had done as long as she had tried her very best, and that I was still proud of her and loved her very much. To see Ruby upset was heartbreaking for me as a parent! It really doesn't matter too much if she doesn't excel at one particular subject, as I know there are other areas that she is better at for example drama and imaginative play.

I feel very sad for children growing up in our society at the moment, as so much pressure is put upon them at such a young age. I really wish this pressure would stop! It seems unlikely though, as more and more organisations are applying more and more pressure to children, in fact I can see things spiraling and getting worse. As adults we are all different and each of us have our own different strengths and abilities, it wouldn't be right for us all to be the same; if we were, we could end up with too many doctors, not enough nurses or administration staff. As parents and adults we need to celebrate difference and diversity much more.

Edited: Just add, I have received Ruby's school report and it says that she passed her phonetics testing with a score of thirty five! I chatted to Ruby about her results and reiterated how proud I was her and that I loved her regardless of her score. Ruby then added that she thinks the teacher, when telling her the mark, must have said the number five very quietly so she couldn't hear it!

Wednesday 24 June 2015

My Weight Issues!

I am not really to sure where to start this post, but I wanted to try and raise awareness of the issue of being underweight. Since the birth of my youngest daughter Lottie, I have battled with my weight. I eat three good meals a day as well as numerous snacks between meals, but I just can't gain weight!

Many people may think "oh how I would love to be that thin!", well I can tell you its not lovely, is awful! I get told that I look anorexic sometimes although I am most certainly not. I am trying all I can to gain weight but its not working.

I have an under active thyroid that may be playing a part in my weight but if anything, the classic symptoms of having an under active thyroid is being overweight, so I don't fit the medical norm - nothing unusual there then!

Being underweight brings much stress, and I think combined with my thyroid condition, I am prone to picking up illness easier, and generally feel worn out.

I am very fortunate that I have an amazing GP who really looks out for me and she is monitoring my weight and trying to help me in my weight gain. She has prescribed me some shakes in order to try and get a few more calories into me, so two shakes a day are between 700-800 calories in addition to what I already eat. I was weighed nearly two months ago and came in at 46kg, I was then weighed again nearly a month ago and I had gained only 1 kg! I have my next weigh in on Tuesday so I am really hoping for another gain. If not its a referral to a dietician and possibly an endocrinologist!

I'll probably write about this again in a few months to provide an update.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday 9 June 2015

Questions and Answers with Ruby

Recently on Facebook there was a status going around encouraging parents to ask their child or children a series of questions and state their answers, the replies were funny. I therefore decided to film Ruby's responses to use for this blog post.

The questions I asked her were:
  • What is something mummy always says to you?
  • What makes mummy happy? 
  • What makes mummy sad?
  • How does mummy make you laugh?
  • What was mummy like as a child?
  • How old is mummy?
  • How tall is mummy?
  • What is mummy's favourite thing to do?
  • What does mummy do when your not around?
  • If mummy became famous what would it be for?
  • What is mummy really good at? 
  • What is mummy not very good at?
  • What is your mummy's favourite food?
  • What makes you proud of your mummy?
  • If mummy was a character who would she be? 
  • What do you and mummy do together?
  • How are you and mummy the same?
  • How are you and mummy different?
  • How do you know mummy loves you?
  • Where is mummy's favourite place to go? 
  • How old was mummy when you were born? 

As you can see, Ruby's responses were quite funny and I would love to know what your child or children have to say in response to the above questions. 

Friday 29 May 2015

Camping Adventure

Apologies for the lack of blog posts in the last week, life has not been as hectic and manic as you might expect, instead we have been relaxing and socialising with friends.

Over the course of the last year or so I have made friends with a few of the school mums whose children are in the same year at Ruby’s school. We are very fortunate that our children play together and get on as well as the parents do.

One of the parents has a caravan and we have a tent, so it was suggested we consider going camping for a few days. As a family we love camping it gives us the ability to be able to go away on a holiday without it costing a small fortune, its the only way in which we are able to holiday now due to the cost. Last year we purchased our 1st proper tent.

Last Friday we loaded up our car with all our camping gear - it really is amazing how much we take when we go camping, I have tried to reduce it but it never really has much of an affect and the girls still end up being squashed! I think we will be investing in a trailer soon.

On arrival at our campsite we pitched our tent while our girls enjoyed a game of football and then we waited for the other families to arrive, in total there were 4 families with 11 children between us! If I am honest I was a little worried how everyone would get on with one another, but I did not need to worry as everyone got on so well.

The site we stayed at is called Thornton Holt, first impressions were how clean and tidy the site was. The site is situated close to Sherwood Forest where we spent a day, I am sure I will blog about our forest adventure shortly. The site has both electric and non electric pitches, dependant on if you require electric or not, we did need the electric as when I camp I tend to glamp! As you can see from the video of our tent!

The site has its own heated indoor pool which can be used for £2 per person or you can hire the pool in the evening for £30 which is what we did.

Other than visiting the forest we stayed on site and the children played to their hearts content whilst as adults we sat and socialised. One day one of the parents organised a sports day and the children had a great time, there was even some adult races which provided some very amusing entertainment.

We had an amazing time camping with friends and I am disappointed to be back at home, I think its safe to say we are all hoping to go back again soon!