Tag Archives: Family

This week: Things to be thankful for

So far 2017 has been a bit like wading through custard. I’m still firmly in the grief stage and it’s showing no signs of shifting. I’m trying my best to shake it off and move forward by being kind to myself and focusing on being a good mum and a good wife. The last week, for various reasons has been especially hard. 

When you’re not feeling great it is often a good excuse to make a list of the people you love and who love you, or the good things in your life. In that spirit, I’ve decided to list the things to be thankful for from the last seven days. Because although it’s been hard, there have been an awful lot of good things and positive things in our lives.

Old Friends. When my husband found himself in a sticky situation this week, some of his oldest and best friends stepped up to help him. I am thankful for their care and compassion when he needed it.

Internet Friends. I have a small group of exceptionally wonderful friends who I met online but who have turned into the best friends a girl could have. This week they all noticed my dark mood and came to the rescue with love, laughter and a listening ear.

My son. He’s not feeling very well, but despite having an excellent excuse to be a grump, he has been full of smiles and love. He’s played, he’s snuggled, we’ve read together and he’s reminded me that the most important things in life are the people close to you who love you. He is my biggest fan and I am his.

This week: things to be thankful for

My husband. Despite having a horrendous week himself, he made the effort to take me out on a date even though he wasn’t in the mood to go out. We went to see Logan, not the most cheerful film ever, but we enjoyed escaping reality for a few hours and a bit of Hugh Jackman in a vest did nothing to hurt my mood.

Facebook. I have fallen out of love with Facebook for the time being. I’m just not feeling it, but I popped on this morning and the first thing I saw was a four year old video of my son cooing and dribbling and being adorable. It was very, very nice to be reminded of our little chubby cheeked baby who is now a strapping six year old.

New Phone! Yesterday my new phone arrived. I’ve been struggling for two years with a phone which wouldn’t support Facebook or Instagram. It was so bad it didn’t have a camera you could take a selfie with. My new phone is not top of the range, it’s a Samsung J5 2016 but it works and I can access and use the things I need to do my job as a blogger. It’s a really, really big deal to me. My friends are delighted they can now communicate with me in more than one way.

Seaside and Fresh Air. Last weekend I went to the Gin Festival in Blackpool with my best friend. We sat and ate those hot sugary doughnuts you can only get at the seaside. We talked a lot and knocked back a respectable amount of good gin. The next day he sent me an MP3 of a song he’d written about our trip to Blackpool. So I uploaded it to YouTube. You have to listen carefully as his voice is a bit quiet, but I think it’s hilarious. Bob is one of the best people I’ve ever known.

Hope. I’m thankful for hope. I’ve got good things to look forward to with fun people. I’ve got a holiday, a flying visit to Cornwall, I’ve got the Just So Festival to get excited about. I’m going for a spa weekend with some good friends. Plus we’ve got lots of family adventures to plot and scheme.

It’s not all darkness. It can sometimes feel that way but it isn’t. Writing down a list of things to be thankful for every so often can help bring the light and the good into focus, and that’s never a bad thing.

What are your things to be thankful for?

Review: National Geographic Animal Jam Toys

A brand new range of toys from the makers of the popular kids app – Animal Jam has recently been launched, you might have seen the adverts for Animal Jam on TV already. If you’ve not heard of Animal Jam yet, then be prepared to know everything about it by Christmas!

Animal Jam is the number one online social game for kids and it was created in association with National Geographic. The app is free to play and has over 45 million registered users around the world – three million of them  in the UK.

Created in partnership with National Geographic, Animal Jam combines role playing and anthropology to make an exciting educational game for kids. Players can collect fun facts in their journey books, learn about animal conservation and talk to real scientists.

Animal Jam

These toys will be instantly recognisable for fans of the app.  Animal Jam has been brought to life with this brand new collection of toys. They are collectable and all come with exclusive codes to unlock  content and other special  features  inside the online game.

We were sent a selection of the collectable toys to try out, here’s a little run down of what we tried and what we liked…

The Animal Jam Adopt a Pet (Series 1)

These are little pets which come with their own kennel (or dens as they are known in Animal Jam). Each kennel is home to a collectable pet and two accessories. You can customize your pet with accessories and stack the kennels to display your pets. There are 96 of these to collect and they cost just £2.49 which makes it a great pocket money treat. The boy really loved his kennel and out of everything he enjoyed playing with this tiny toy the most. A hit!

Animal Jam

ANIMAL JAM – Friends with Pet

The Friends with Pet costs £4.99, you get a 3 inch figure, a 1 inch friend and three interchangeable accessories. I think this is a great value set, it looks like it should cost more than it does and it would make a great party present for a little Animal Jam fan. We got the Posh Raccoon and Pet Kitty and they are very sweet.

ANIMAL JAM – Light Up Friends with Ring

Another great party present is the Light Up Friends with Ring. These are collectable 3” animal figures and have secret patterns, two interchangeable accessories and a light-up ring. These sets cost £7.99, we were sent the Lucky Lynx and the real hit for the small boy was the light up ring. 

ANIMAL JAM Plush characters

These cute plushes cost £7.99 and are 7 inches tall. There are several plush characters to choose from – Panda, Koala, Bunny & Monkey. We were sent the purple Koala and he is  super-soft and very huggable.

Animal Jam

Since we received these toys the small boy has suddenly seen Animal jam everywhere, we’ve downloaded the app and used the codes which came with the toys to unlock parts of the app. It’s fair to say that this had opened up a new line of interest for him, which is great.

The app is free and the accompanying toys are nicely priced, not too expensive and great for either pocket money (or stocking filler) treats, as well as being good options for birthday party presents for classmates etc. They are suitable for ages 5+ and would be a great little gift for any Animal Jam fan this Christmas.

We were sent these toys for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

40 – My 40th Birthday

Today is my 40th birthday and I feel weird. Lots of my friends have turned 40 this year, most have been dragged kicking and screaming into their fourth decade. I feel like it’s just crept up on me. I’ve been too busy dealing with everything which has happened to us this year that my 40th birthday has been the very furthest thing from my mind.

I woke up this morning and I was 40. In all honesty I feel no different to how I did yesterday. It’s just a number. I’ve got bigger things to worry about than numbers.

Right now I feel like I am overflowing with emotions. I miss my dad more than I have words to say, my boy is starting school today and I’m all emotional about that, he’s having an operation soon, I’m emotional about that too. I’m touched that I have great friends who spent some of their weekend with me partying the last days of my 30’s away.

I am conflicted and anxious about a million different things. But in the weeks since my dad’s death and through the summer holidays, I have been reminded of the two most important people in my life, Matthew and Ben. This weekend has shown me all the people who care about me, friends old and new, from near and far. I am very lucky.

I guess (and I know I’m rambling) that I’m struggling to give a meh about anything. I feel numb inside, I’m overwhelmed by life and the only way I can keep putting one foot in front of the other is to focus on Ben. I feel like in some situations I’m faking emotions and joyous reactions to pretend to the world that everything is fine and normal. I am faking it until I make it. I wonder how many people do that just to get through?

I’m fine and I will be fine. I’m just going through two things almost everyone in the world faces at some point or another, turning 40 and losing a parent. I would turn 40 a thousand times just to have an hour with my dad. 

Today I’m going to try and be in the here and now. I’m going to focus on Ben and Matthew and the special people in my life who love me and care for me. I’m going to smile for the camera, take a walk in the park, blow out the candles on my birthday cake and raise a glass to my dad, and to my Grandma who would have been 103 today.

I don’t fear 40, it’s just a number. I fear life and what it will challenge me with next.

40th Birthday

Did my husband lose respect for me after I gave birth?

I’ve always been the strong one, the one with the good career, fairly good salary and in many respects the wearer of the trousers. It was a role which suited me just fine, every ship needs a Captain and I wore the Captain’s hat with style and aplomb. That was until I swapped it for my Mummy hat and my husband had to help steer the ship himself.

I recently read an interesting article where a man talked about how his wife’s caesarean made her a total badass. I shared it with him and we talked a little about the traumatic birth of our son and his swift arrival via an emergency caesarean. It occurred to me that seeing me at my most vulnerable; naked and frightened, screaming for help, being cut open to have our child wrenched from my body made him see me in a different light. Did my husband lose respect for me after I gave birth?

I think before I became a Mum he saw me as strong, and I had been strong for us both, but now I had to be strong for our son first and us as a couple second. I was hormonal and weepy and I’d never been a Mum before, so everything was new and I was totally winging it, we were winging it together. I was also wrestling with undiagnosed PTSD which made me anxious, vulnerable and hyper vigilant. A storm was brewing inside me and I could no longer steer our ship effectively.

I wasn’t the high functioning girl in love with her career anymore. I was an exhausted first time mum, struggling physically and mentally. I’d made and nurtured our tiny perfect son but in the process I’d changed and I’d probably lost his respect.

He denies losing respect for me following the birth of our child, but what’s clear is that something has changed, there’s been a significant shift in our dynamic. I’m no longer able to play the role of leader and breadwinner, but instead fulfil the role of Mother and carer. To me they are equally important roles, but to others they are somehow lesser and not as deserving of respect and status.

I’d always thought that giving birth would give me a badge of honour worthy of respect. It’s a rite of passage which can be natural and beautiful, but equally it can be traumatic and bloody. Experiencing that and seeing me go through the birthing process should be worthy of respect, but it showed me up to be the vulnerable human that I am, and that changed things.

respect

Dear son, on your 5th birthday…

Dear Ben,

I’m writing this here because you know what your dad is like for putting things in a safe place and then losing them forever. I’m sorry, I’m going to get all squishy about you now, I’m not sorry actually, because you should never be sorry for loving someone.

Dear Ben, today you are five years old. In your head you’re a big boy now, able to do everything yourself, apart from dealing with buttons, zips and fiddly yoghurt pot lids. I look back over the last five years and see what an incredible feat of development childhood is, how you’ve gone from completely dependant on me for everything, to where you are now, shouting at me because you can’t get into your pudding quickly enough.

You are awesome. You take so much of life in your stride. For most of what you can remember of your life I’ve been “poorly” or in chronic pain as the doctors call it. You can’t remember me chasing you around, swinging you over my head, rolling around giggling with you. I can.

I don’t think you mind (yet) that I can’t do those things any more, and you help me out, taking my shoes off, doing my bending and lifting for me, fetching and carrying for me. You’re a star. At five years old people think you shouldn’t have to “care” for someone else, but caring for other humans we love is part of life and part of loving someone. Selflessness seems to be an increasingly rare quality, and my son, you have it in spades. 

You are so full of love for everyone, you tell me you try and play with everyone in your class so no one feels left out, that you love everyone in your family best, and that you love dogs. Really love dogs. It’s a very good thing to love dogs Ben, dogs will be your best friend for life if you let them, you’re never lonely if you have a dog.

I can’t believe that you’re five now. Just like I won’t believe it when you’re 10, or 18 or 21 or buying your first house. Time is a horrible thing, it moves too fast when you want to grab it and hold it to your chest, like a tiny little baby, or a five year old boy, or a grown up lad with his first broken heart.

Time ticks on, runs away from you, the trick is to make the best of each moment, you might not get it right, but good enough with no real harm done is often the best you can hope for. Life is far too short to be unhappy, so be happy and if something is stopping you from being happy, change it. 

Ben, you fill my heart with so much love and happiness, your dad too. I hope you have a brilliant birthday, that you like your new bike and all of your presents, and that you enjoy having all the people who love you best around you on your special day. Keep being brilliant Ben, because you are.

Love you to the moon and back!

Mummy xxx

5th birthday

12 Things I love about my son

I get a bit teary sometimes when people ask me when I’m going to have my next child and I have to tell them I can’t have any more children. The loss of what might’ve been I feel acutely, but I know I am bloody lucky to have what I’ve got.

I creep into his room most nights to look at him, partly because he’s still for once and I can get a good look at him, partly because he looks so damn cute when he sleeps, and partly because I think it does me good to fill my heart full of love before I go to sleep at night. So with that in mind, here are 12 of the things I love about my son…

  1. I love the sound of my son yawning when he’s having his dream wee.
  2. I love the way he sleepily snuggles onto his dad’s shoulder when he’s carried back to bed, like the little boy he is and not the big boy he thinks he is.
  3. I love the way he wakes me up “like a princess”, which is to kiss me like Sleeping Beauty might be kissed by her handsome prince.
  4. I love the way he climbs into bed with me for ten minutes of putting stickers in his farm book before he goes to school.
  5. I love the way he shares things with us, breaking off a small piece of his toast for us and sharing every bag of sweets he gets.
  6. I love the way he stands with his hands on his hips, surveying the street like a tiny foreman, pointing out anything of interest “look mummy, a rubbish lorry”.
  7. I love his sleeping face, peaceful and angelic, still with the soft round cheeks of a small boy, framed by his long eyelashes a thousand girls will later envy.
  8. I love the way he slips his hand into mine when we walk together, his is so warm and soft and he doesn’t mind me squeezing it as I try to burn the memory of his little hand into my mind.
  9. I love the way he loves music, asks for it to be turned up and rocks out whenever he has the chance.
  10. I love reading with him, baking, making crafts and drawing. I love talking about our days and about all of the things in our lives.
  11. I love how polite he is in company, how he will behave impeccably in a restaurant, how people say he’s a credit to us.
  12. I love learning about him. He’s good at counting, less good with phonetics, loves sport and is a bit obsessed with robots.

I love him. With all of my heart.

Of course there are things I don’t love. The rough play, the tantrums, the frankly gross habits I know I’ll be moaning about for the rest of my life. But I’m the mother of a boy, a beautiful, lively, intelligent, caring boy. And I wouldn’t swap him for the world.

things I love about my son

Happy Birthday to my little big man

My, how you’ve grown my little big man. You’re four years old today and absolutely, 100% the love of our lives. Don’t get me wrong kiddo, you can be a stubborn little handful (just like your Dad), but you are our most favourite child, our best friend, our reason for everything we do and we quite like having you around the place, despite all the mess, fuss and snotty cuddles.

Your birthday is always a time of reflection for me, about the year which has passed and all the years before then. I can’t help but think about our difficult start, but as the years go by that is vastly overshadowed by all our love, adventures and mischief we get up to as a family.

4th birthday

I still find it hard to believe we made such a beautiful creature. It was love at first sight. You were all dimples, squeezy cheeks and long eye lashes. You were and still are a pretty peaceful chap.

4th birthday

This was you on your first birthday. See, you’re still ALL dimples and cheeks. You loved opening your presents and we loved helping you. You were and still are a really happy little chappie. We still couldn’t believe our luck, we are so lucky to have you in our lives.

4th birthday

This is you on your second birthday. You’re all rosy cheeked because we’d been to a soft play centre for the afternoon, then stopped at TGI Fridays on the way home. You weren’t that keen on eating, but you enjoyed doing lots of drawing and stealing our chips.

4th birthday

Here you are, all dressed up for your third birthday party. You’re so grown up looking here, we’d had a really tough year as a family but your birthday was a real highlight for us. You even had a huge Thomas the Tank Engine cake.

4th birthday

This is you just a couple of days shy of your 4th birthday. We threw a train party at a local miniature railway. I think you had an amazing time, all your friends liked it too. What a year it’s been, you’ve started nursery at the big school and you’re growing into a proper boy and you’re no longer our woddling toddler.

Little Bee, my little big man, Happy Birthday, you are the love of our lives, the apple of our eye and you’ll always be our best friend. We love you, always have, always will xxx

You know you’re a parent when…

Fifteen ways you know you’re a parent… can you think of any more?

  1. Your bed is inexplicably full of Cheerios.
  2. You go to work with sudocrem on your trousers and when people point it out you say it’s bum cream, they recoil in horror and you have to point out it’s not your bum cream. This does not dispel the horror.
  3. Hot drinks are something you enjoyed in the past, a time long, long ago.
  4. You always have a biscuit and a used tissue in your pocket for emergencies.
  5. You stop using expensive face cream and use baby lotion instead.
  6. Boy toddlers leave puddles in the bathroom, so you’re always wearing at least one damp sock that smells a bit funny.
  7. You don’t need an alarm clock anymore. At 6am someone always wanders in, throws a toy car at your head and demands a snack. Now.
  8. You eat something involving pesto at least three times a week.
  9. In the shower you sing “Wind the Bobbin Up” instead of the indie classics from your youth.
  10. Getting everyone ready and leaving the house, having brushed your hair and ensuring everyone has shoes on in under an hour is an Olympian feat.
  11. The remote control has been through the washing machine twice and you still can’t find it.
  12. You spend 42% of your time winding toilet paper back onto the roll.
  13. Your car is full of raisins and you think the hamster might be nesting in there somewhere.
  14. Approximately 10 minutes after a successful bedtime you’re so exhausted you decide to turn in for the night. It’s 8.15pm.
  15. Your idea of tidying up is kicking all the toys out of the way to form a narrow path across the room.

parent

 

Meal Planning Monday (10th February 2014)

When my self-employed husband came home on Friday and announced he wouldn’t be able to pay himself for the next few weeks, I had horrible flashbacks of the time we didn’t have enough food or money to feed our son. But this time I was prepared.

I think we can ride out the next few weeks on the food I’ve been stockpiling in the freezer and pantry, yes we’ll need a few fresh items, but a few frugal weeks won’t do us any harm at all. We always meal plan, but this week I needed to be super organised. Challenge accepted.

Spaghetti with Courgette Sauce

Spaghetti with Courgette Sauce

Monday – Homemade chorizo burgers, veg and couscous. I mixed up a mega-batch of these a few weeks ago and tucked some in the freezer for a rainy day, the couscous lives in the pantry. Sorted.

Tuesday – Pasta with homemade cheesy courgette sauce. Pantry and freezer to the rescue again.

Wednesday – Homemade pea and paneer curry with rice, just need to buy the paneer. Highlight of my week!

Thursday – Daddy’s homemade pizza and potato wedges. Yum.

Friday – Valentines Day tea, spaghetti vongole but without the vongole.

Saturday – Fajitias. Kit from the cupboard, quorn burgers sliced up with some veg, simple, tasty and fun.

Sunday – Whoopsie fishcakes, homemade potato wedges & peas.

We’ll manage, we always do. Just need to persuade the little lad that lentils can be fun. Wish me luck!

 

 

Bloggers Spa Day in Bolton

Since the age of 13 I’ve worked. Paper-round; Saturday jobs; stints in hellish kitchens; a great job as a Nanny. All that was pre-university. Post university, as a journalist, a manager in education, a lecturer and various jobs in what was the NHS. I’ve worked, I’ve known graft. I’ve done 20 hour days, I’ve got my hands dirty, rolled my sleeves up and got stuck in during a pandemic; I’ve done the lot. But I’ve never worked as hard as I have since I became a Mum.

Since then, through illness, infirmity, depression, and exhaustion, I’ve never had a day off. The hours are terrible and almost certainly in breach of EC Regulations, but the perks of the job are incredible. The pay is poor but it’s worth it for the cuddles. And to be honest, I’m getting used to the uniform (pjs splattered in various foodstuffs and bodily fluids).

I think it’s fair to say that recognition for my efforts isn’t officially rewarded, or at least wasn’t until I got an invite to a lovely, lovely spa day from Andrex. They have apparently done some research (and I’m paraphrasing and maybe making some of this up) and Mums are the unsung heroes of the household, we’re run ragged and we get lumbered with all the thankless tasks around the house. One of which is the changing of the empty toilet roll.

If I’m lucky, I mean very lucky a new toilet roll will appear within the vicinity of the toilet at some point, but rarely is it put on the holder. The boffins at Andrex call this “Rollaphobia” and I suspect it’s fairly widespread. To help ensure that this job doesn’t need to be carried out quite as often, Andrex has reinvigorated its Classic White product to make it stronger to last even longer. The theory being that you need to use less paper. Good plan Andrex!

To show off their new improved roll and show their appreciation for some of the hardworking Mums of the North, a merry gang of bloggers were invited to Mercure Bolton Last Drop Village Hotel and Spa on Saturday 30th November for a Spa day with a treatment thrown in. Rude not to I’d say, so off I went.

The Spa at the Mercure Bolton Last Drop Village Hotel is really quite lovely. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I’d only ever been to Spa days at Center Parcs before, but I was very presently surprised. We were given a tour of the facilities and straight away we all hopped into the hydro-pool which was divine, so warm, bubbly and therapeutic. It led outside to a lovely infinity pool (an infinity pool in Bolton, who knew) which had views over the countryside. It was really warm in the pool despite the fact we were teetering on the brink of December.

Infinity Pool.. don't mind if I do!

Infinity Pool.. don’t mind if I do!

There was a very nice 18ft swimming pool which I had to go in, I’m trying to get back into swimming again and I couldn’t resist the empty pool. I knocked out a few lengths and then explored the sauna and steam rooms.

It was soon time for my treatment. I’d opted for the Taste of Perfection facial which took 25 minutes. In the brochure it says “experience the world-renowned Decléor facials and enjoy the benefits of essential oils. This introductory facial is perfect when time is of the essence and the skin needs a radiant boost”. Sounds alright doesn’t it? In reality it was fantastic and I could very happily have let the lovely Leah (my beauty therapist), carry on for hours.

My skin looked and felt fantastic afterwards. Leah very kindly wrote down what she’d used so I could ask Father Christmas for some of my favourite things. To be honest, top of my list is another facial, it was so relaxing and I’ve not felt so pampered in years.

After my treatment I retired to the hydro-therapy and infinity pools and there I stayed until my boys turned up to drag me home, re-chain me to the kitchen sink and continue my days of domestic drudgery and cuddles.

Thank you Andrex for the pampering and the love and for working towards a cure for rollaphobia. Just need to stop them from peeing on the floor now.