Bye Bye Blogging

A while ago I wrote that I was uncertain about whether I wanted to keep blogging. Then we came back from. Holiday and I got my mojo back a bit… But now it’s gone again and actually I feel ready to say goodbye to my blog. At least for the time being. It’s weird to turn your back on something you’ve put so much into over the years so it never say never but for now, I just can’t be doing with it in anymore to be honest.

For one thing, life is just mega busy at the moment and I have a lot on my mind. With my lovely aunt ill in London there is a lot of ups and downs. In between rounds of chemo she is doing OK but there are visits to South London to arrange as well as working out whether she will be able to go home and what help she would need if it is possible… The situation changes almost daily and it’s a lot to deal with. I have to compartmentalise day to day as I get on with life with the kids but it’s always at the back of my mind

There’s other things going on too. I still own the flat I lived in pre-hubs and desperately want to sell it but are having serious issues with the freeholder about extending the lease so we are able to. Then our tenant (who basically covered costs) has left, which isn’t terrible as she had threatened to be a sitting tenant and not leave if we ever tried to give her notice to sell the place. But the place is a mess and now needs sorting out and I just hope we can get the lease extension sorted so we can sell it rather than having to get another tenant in as my letting agent is shutting up shop.. But any months with no tenant obviously cost us money.. So that’s all pretty stressful!

Plus you know, our day to day life goes on. It was Monkey’s 5th birthday and party last week. I haven’t had the time or inclination to write about it I had a horrible bacterial throat infection last week that knocked me for 6 and I was basically throwing up and bed ridden for a few days.

If it was just these bits and bobs then I might think this was another temporary hiatus but it’s more than that this time. I’m actually pretty fed up of blogging and the blogging world at the moment. Not because anything specific has happened or changed. I’ve just grown more and more tired of it.

I’m tired of joining in with linkies where people comment because they have to…. And sometimes don’t even really read what you’ve written and just write a generic comment based on the title and maybe the first paragraph. I’m not having a go at anyone because I’ve done it too… It just all feels utterly pointless though.

I’m tired of feeling judged for my parenting choices. Let’s face it, I think it is to be expected when you are sharing so much of yourself with the world. We obviously all make different choices and even when we try not to, it’s inevitable we will judge people for making different choices than us. I kind of think you have to be prepared to have people disagree with you when you are a blogger, even when you try, as I do, to be as balanced in your posts as possible. Again I’m not criticising anyone for it… I’m just tired of it.

I’m also tired of the implicit judgement I feel when reading other people’s post. It’s the same as above and people are entitled to their opinions on things and it says more about me then them really. I’m just tired of reading how people “just couldn’t do that because it feels so wrong and cruel” when you know it is a method that worked for your family. Every parent and child are different and different things work in different situations so I just get fed up reading about how I must be cruel and awful when the person writing has no idea what led me to that point in the first place. Instead of getting upset or irritated the thing to do is just not read them anymore I know, so that is what I’m going to do.

I’m fed up of reading reviews for products and being asked to review things I have little to no interest in. Lots of products are lovely but it’s all well and good when you get them for free to say some positive words about them, but would you have actually bought it with your hard earned money? I think blogging can be a wonderful thing and I am hugely pleased for some lovely bloggers I know who are able to spend more time with their families as a result of the income they make from blogging. I’ve also been lucky to receive some fantastic products over the years and made a little money. I’m honestly not criticising anyone… But the cynic in me just doesn’t like reading posts that I know have been written in exchange for money. Daft isn’t it?

As I say, none of this is new and I’m not expecting anything to change. Blogging is wonderful for so many people… Just not for me anymore. Not at this point. I still enjoy writing and love that my blog is a record about my family and children, so occasionally I may share something for posterity as it is a hard habit to break after 5 years.. but I won’t be sharing anything or publicising at all.

Thanks to everyone who has read and supported my blog over the last 5 years, I really do appreciate it. I’m not sure what I’m doing with my Facebook page and twitter and all that jazz. I will still be on instagram as I like it so you can keep up to date on there a bit if you are interested and it would be lovely to stay in touch with anyone who wants to.

TTFN xxx

Potty Training Little Miss

I’m no parenting guru by a long shot and generally have no clue what I’m doing, but one thing I know is that potty training is all about when your child is ready. It’s not because you think it’s time, or because your friend thinks so or because so and so down the street who is 6 months younger is potty trained. Every child is different and the best time to do it is when your child is ready.

With Monkey we tried at 2 1/2 but he was in no way ready. After about 13 accidents the first morning we gave up. At age 3 we tried again and it was instantaneous. He got it and it basically took no work at all.

I’ve had a feeling that LM was ready for a few weeks. She’s been telling me when she’s done poos and even when she’s done a wee and needs a change. She’s also been going for a while with a dry nappy. Then last week we had our first ever wee wee in the potty. So with half term approaching I thought it was a good time to make a start. A time when we don’t have school runs to worry about and could just focus on it properly. The amazing weather really helped too as we were able to spend a the first two days in the garden, with her running around in the nude.

We aren’t using any specific method, or product or gimmicks. We are just heaping on the praise and positivity and helping her learn about her body and learn to recognise the feeling. I personally think having nothing on for the first day or so really helps as they are more aware of their body that way. Seems to be working with LM anyway but again every kid is different!

I’m not going to go into the details of every wee and poo, for her sake, but she has done so well. We’ve obviously had accidents and a couple of puddles inside but there hasn’t been many in the grand scheme of things and less over the few days we have been doing it. She is showing great control and does a wee on the potty when we tell her too, so before bath, before we go out, and that kind of thing, which is really good. We went to the shops yesterday and had no accidents so took that as being very positive for day 3!

With Monkey he basically used the toilet straight away but LM is all about the potty and she’s not translating it to the toilet yet. I don’t know how to do that really but I assume we will figure it out and she will get there so I’m not worried.

We still have a way to go, and no doubt there will be more accidents to come, I am under no illusions about that, but she’s doing so well so far. I’m really proud of this girl of mine, she really is growing up!IMG_20170527_190611_048

10 Years Ago….

10 years ago my life was very different to the way it is now.

10 years ago I had a failed engagement behind me and no clue what I wanted to do with my life after deciding a career in TV wasn’t for me after all.

10 years ago my father had recently committed suicide.P1060670

10 years ago I didn’t really know who I was or what lay in store.

10 years ago I packed my life up and headed off on a worldwide adventure.

When I say worldwide, I do mean worldwide. Over the next 12 months I visited 19 different countries and slept in goodness knows how many different places. I did a skydive, a bungee jump and a canyon swing. I got over my fear of snorkelling and even went diving. I climbed mountains and glaciers, took helicopter rides over waterfalls and the Grand Canyon. I slept in the bush in Australia and the freezing cold mountains of Canada. I walked the Great Wall and saw the sun rise over Angkor Wat in Cambodia and at Machu Piccu in Peru.travel selection

I started my adventure with my Mum in New York then I continued solo from then on. There were wobbles along the way. My mum was diagnosed with breast cancer while I was away and I so very nearly came home. But thankfully they caught it early and she insisted I stay while she was treated. I still carry guilt about that but have to be glad that all ended so well.

I had my wallet stolen and my back up credit card cloned in South America leaving me with only the kindness of friends I met until I could have a replacement card sent to Australia . And boy did I meet some wonderful people. Some of us met up again for New Year’s eve in Sydney that year and I have met up with so many of them time and again over the last 10 years and I hope that our friendships will last a lifetime.travelling friends

It’s hard to reconcile that year with the life I have now. Now I’m a mum and am responsible for 2 tiny humans. I wouldn’t change that for the world,  but my travels and experiences are things that I am incredibly proud of. I can’t wait to return to some of these places with the kids when they are older to share it with them and the hubs.

Siblings May 2017

With the Easter holidays, and our cheeky term time holiday to the Lakes, my little pair of siblings have spent a lot of time in each other’s company recently, and it has been incredibly lovely to watch. I’ve read quite a lot of things recently extolling the virtues of only children, and having never experienced it I can’t really comment. All I can say though, is that my two currently embody some of the reasons why we wanted to have more than one child. They adore each other and entertain each other and quite simply have so much fun together. They do bicker and wind each other up, but on the whole I think we are very lucky with their relationship, and I hope it continues to be like this for a long time.IMG-20170430-WA0001

They love to play together. PhotoGrid_1494589063344

They love to snuggle together, LM expecially will often snuggle up to her brother. PhotoGrid_1494589463217

I adore those pictures of them together on the bench actually, how gorgeous is this? 20170504_101036

They make even mundane outings together fun, I loved watching them play on a recent trip to a DIY shop.PhotoGrid_1494153976437

They boss each other around and fight and they did have a few squabbles as a result of sharing the attention of family members on our holiday, but it was all very minor! He is so proud of her when her speech develops or she does well with something, and she idolises her big brother. She really looks up to him and anything he can do she has to do too.20170512_132244

I think the pictures speak for themselves  and they really do have an incredibly lovely relationship.

Wray Castle in the Lake District

Anyone who reads my blog regularly will probably know that we love a good visit to a National Trust property and make the most of our membership. On our trip to the Lake District we visited a number of National Trust properties, and one in particular was unlike any I’ve been to. Wray Castle.PhotoGrid_1494495988682

It’s a really unusual place as it was never anyone’s home. The original owner inherited a ridiculous amount of money and built this purely as a showpiece. So it is mock gothic. It was used as a sort of holiday home I guess, Beatrix Potter and her family even summered here when she was a teenager. So people brought their furniture with them, and then took it away again. It was eventually inherited by a teenage boy in Lincolnshire and being wealthy already he didn’t want it (can you imagine that? Bonkers) and it was very much unloved. It has been used as offices (there are sockets all over the walls, imagine working in castle?) and all sorts.

So unlike most other National Trust properties it came to them empty, with no family furniture or family history, and I adore what the Trust have done with it as it is probably the most child friendly National Trust place we’ve visited, and that’s saying something as most National Trust places are quite child friendly. There is a bit of history downstairs but as soon as you go upstairs it is all about the kids. There is a colouring room for them to colour their own crowns and the walls are decorated with framed children’s drawings. There is a story room with lovely children’s books where the walls are decorated with lovely fairytale murals.PhotoGrid_1494497213531

The next room is all about dressing up as Knights and Kings and Queens and Princesses. Most  costumes were far too big for LM but they were perfect for Monkey and we did find one dress that just about fit LM (and she does love a pretty dress), aren’t they adorable? Good childhood fun!PhotoGrid_1494497319431

Continuing through the house you come to The Peter Rabbit Adventure. A whole wing of the castle dedicated to the stories of Beatrix Potter. The kids adored this bit and we could have stayed there for hours. Playing cooking and tea making in Peter’s burrow, planting and watering in Mr McGregor’s garden. Then upstairs is squirrel Nutkin’s Tree house, and Jemima Puddleduck’s nest, with yet more dressing up, as Peter and his sisters.PhotoGrid_1494497580614

It didn’t end there as there was a room filled with soft play bricks for you to build your own castle (which we all had great fun with), a room with a table tennis table, a room with a billiards table, a room dedicated to the local area with stones to build your own stone wall, and magnifying glasses for you to investigate the rings of a tree.PhotoGrid_1494497880398

Honestly, there was so much to do! When it was time for lunch we were unsure about eating our picnic outside (as it was pretty chilly) , but thankfully there was an indoor picnic room on the top floor. Set up as a tea party you could play and eat in there. So after eating our yummy lunch we had fun with yet more dressing up and all enjoyed trying on the various hats available.PhotoGrid_1494498185738

With our energy restored after lunch we headed outside. The castle has some lovely grounds and woodland to explore…PhotoGrid_1494498472575

… But of course we were drawn to the fantastic adventure play area. The kids (big and small) all had a whale of a time outside.PhotoGrid_1494498631817

I think you’ve probably got what I was talking about in terms of it being all about the kids! It is a spectacular place to see from the outside and a fantastic fun-filled place to visit. I definitely recommend it to anyone visiting the Lake District with children.

Little Miss starts pre-school

Our little miss has started playgroup. Playgroup/preschool /nursery whatever you prefer to call it, 2 mornings a week LM is now in the care of some lovely childcare professionals.

I’ve known the day was coming for a while as our local playgroup take them from age 2 1/2, but then it has suddenly snuck up on me. With being away on holiday last week we have been away from a normal routine, then on his first day back at school today, Monkey has gone on a farm trip (his first proper school trip which is a big enough deal in itself), then he got a bad cough on Sunday and was quite poorly so I wasn’t 100% sure he was going.

So last night lying in bed I was suddenly thinking about the fact that my little girl, my baby, was starting preschool the following morning. It’s not like we were completely unprepared for it. She had her trial before the Easter holidays and loved it. We’ve been reading “lulu starts nursery” at bedtime and talking about how she would be going soon and she has been excited. I just don’t think I fully processed it until last night. So I had all sorts of dreams, dreams where we were late, dreams where she was upset, honestly all sorts.

But of course this morning dawned and all was fine. We weren’t late and she was excited to wear her playgroup t-shirt. She adored wearing her backpack too!PhotoGrid_1494249234077

We took (a much less poorly) Monkey to school for his trip then walked over to the playgroup. The ease of the location in relation to the school is one of the reasons for choosing this playgroup. It makes pick up and drop off so easy but also means a lot of the friends she makes here will go on up to school with her. One of her friends (who is actually about a year older) already goes here and I think that helped this morning.

We arrived and LM went straight in with no fuss. She sat down to play puzzles with her friend then we said we were going. We gave her a kiss and she waved us off quite happily with a “bye mama. ”

It did feel odd walking away without her but I have known for some time we were both ready for this. I got home and did some exercise and some cleaning and pottered about. There are always tonnes of things I can keep myself occupied with for a couple of hours. It was lovely though, too, actually. To have the house to myself. Some time to myself. It’s not like I’ve never had that, since Monkey was born, but it certainly hasn’t been a regular thing. Now it is. Now I get to have 2 mornings a week to myself, and still have the rest of the time with my girl.

I picked her up and they said she had been a star. She hadn’t been upset at all! Yippee! She played with her friend a lot of the time, but not all and took herself off to play with others and on her own too so that’s nice. It’s lovely she has her friend to play with but also that she isn’t dependent on her, if that makes any sense.PhotoGrid_1494249299585

It’s the first day so I know there could be upset to come but I’m so pleased of how well she did and so proud of her. Love my fierce and independent little lady so much.

Lakeside Aquarium, Lake District

We visited some amazing places on our recent trip to the lakes, and I was so impressed by how child/toddler friendly many of them were. One place that I was particularly impressed with, was the Lakeside Aquarium, which was wonderful and fantastic value for money.

We’ve been to numerous sea life centres which are amazing but are also really expensive. When I saw the flyer for the aquarium, and how low cost it was, to be completely honest I assumed it wouldn’t be that amazing. But oh how wrong I was! There was just as much as at some of the smaller sea life centres. True it didn’t have a play area outside or water play area like at Weymouth, but it had it’s own unique exhibits.

I had thought that there would only be fish and animals from the lakes area but in fact there were exhibits and zones of animals from all over the world, in addition to the local wildlife.PhotoGrid_1493976063557

One of the favourite exhibits for us was the incredible display of leaf cutter ants. I was a little nervous for LM as it was almost entirely open to the touch, but we managed to keep her from touching any ants. The incredible thing about the display, was that you could really see the ants carrying leaves and bits of food up and down the ropes back to the nest. There were also panels meaning you could see inside the nest to see the different ants doing all of their jobs. I won’t go on but it was incredible and hubs, Monkey and pops were well and truly transfixed! PhotoGrid_1493975678598

We also loved watching the otters being fed and I was very pleasantly surprised to find an underwater tunnel which was really lovely. Above this were some ducks, which LM loved, and we were fascinated by as some of the male ducks were showing off for a female!PhotoGrid_1493975847572

There is a lovely coastal area with open pools containing star fish and anemones. There was a great fun dress up area with some sea animal costumes for adults as well as children. With everyone busy looking at the animals I snuck on a crab outfit (daft as I am) and amused myself by sneaking up on my family members and giving them a shock lol! Hubs then dressed as an octopus, Monkey as a shark and LM was so cute dressed as a starfish haha (she wasn’t hugely impressed though I’ll admit!) PhotoGrid_1493976558814

I was so surprised with how many animals there were as there were also Marmosets, piranha fish, terrapins, a big tortoise, rays, clown fish, frogs, snakes, and literally all sorts. Under 3s go free and there were a variety of family tickets for 2 adults and different amounts of children. So for us a family 5icket with 2 adults and 1 child it was only £15.95 and I think there are discounts if you buy tickets online. It really was such good value and I would highly recommend it.

I did not receive any compensation for this blog post. We paid to visit and was so impressed that I wanted to share my thoughts.

Our Lake District Holiday

I love to travel. I’ve travelled the world (literally) and can get quite itchy feet in between holidays so am always planning our next adventure. Much as I do like a bit of a relaxed holiday from time to time, I do prefer a bit of an explore. Hubs isn’t great at sitting still either and with active kiddies we, in general, prefer to be out and about a lot on our holidays. We have been abroad with the kiddies but we love our UK holidays too. There are some stunning places in the UK, and our recent holiday took in one of my favourites, the Lake District.

It’s been a bit of a cheeky one as it is in term time. Monkey isn’t yet 5 so as he’s not yet of “compulsory school age” we can get away with doing it without getting a fine, and as the timing worked better for my parents, and little brother and fiance,  to join us, we decided to do it. Plus of course it was much cheaper.

We rented out a lovely, and very large, cottage for the 8 of us, in Lakeside at the south western edge of Lake Windermere. I have been to the lakes a few times before and just love the lakes and mountains.

In short we’ve had an amazing week. I will write some more posts about some of the specific places we’ve visited over the next few weeks but on the whole we’ve done so much! Here’s a brief rundown (with tonnes of photos, obviously!)

We’ve seen a castle and an aquarium.PhotoGrid_1493882977216

We’ve been on a boat trip up Lake Windermere, visiting Ambleside and Bowness along the way.PhotoGrid_1493883143705PhotoGrid_1493883339332

We’ve been to Beatrix Potter’s cottage, Hill Top and had afternoon with a gorgeous view at the hotel next door. We’ve been to the Claife viewing station on the edge of Windermere and the Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead.PhotoGrid_1493883804827

We had a day close to the cottage, with a nature trail and adventure play area followed by a yummy lunch at a nearby hotel, before taking an amazing walk through the stunning woods opposite our cottage.PhotoGrid_1493885272383

We visited Coniston and Tarn Hows where we saw some stunning waterfalls and amazing scenery before stopping at the Bobbin Mill to learn how bobbins were made. (This was actually fascinating and the tour was much more interesting than I thought it would be!) PhotoGrid_1493885452370PhotoGrid_1493885857985

PhotoGrid_1493885628737Finally we visited another lovely castle with the most amazing gardens I have possibly seen, and a lovely wild adventure trail. PhotoGrid_1493916051487

So it has been a busy but amazing week. We have seen and done so much… and yet we’ve barely touched the surface in terms of things to do up here.

Have you ever visited the lakes with your kids?

My daughter likes pink… And it bugs me!

My daughter likes pink (Or Kink, as she calls it). Big surprise in our culture eh? So why does it irk me? I don’t want her to ever feel limited by the fact she’s a girl (and nor do I want Monkey to ever feel limited by being a boy) or that it means she is unable to do something. I want her to have and do whatever she wants, and she wants pink. So why am I uncomfortable about that? Is it just because it is so stereotypical?

I have to admit that I have tried to stay away from the predominantly pink clothes that are available for girls. Yes she wears pink (mainly because we have a lot of hand me downs from friends but also because I like pink and don’t want to avoid anything completely) but actually she wears all the colours of the rainbow. But her choice is always for pink. she prefers her pink coat, her pink shoes etc. So she does wear pink quite a lot at the moment.pink clothes

The same goes for toys, she has pink toys but she also has a lot of more multicoloured things and a lot of boys toys thanks to her older brother. I got her a red balance bike rather than a pink one… But she won’t go on it and I have to admit I am wondering whether she would be more inclined to use it if it were pink?

She shows such a preference for all things pink that it drives me crazy at times. With Monkey he was always about red and yellow when he was little, though he has moved over to blue and yellow as his main faves recently I think. With LM it is pink and purple. Anything pink or purple and she coos over it. I’ve just bought her a pink drinks bottle to stop the tantrums she had whenever she saw a friend with a pink cup and I tried to get her to use a blue or clear one.

It’s not that I want either of my kids to be brought up ‘gender neutral’ as I don’t really agree with that. We are born a gender and I don’t see any problem with identifying as that gender, to a point anyway. I also disagree with the boys will be boys mentality or that girls have to wear dresses and be graceful and dainty. As with most things I tend to like the middle ground. I’m a girl and I do like some pretty things and to look nice. But I also like to not bother with looking nice sometimes. I enjoy mental arithmetic, and I like cars. I want my son to know its ok to cry sometimes and for my kids to know that there aren’t different jobs for men and women.

So what does it matter what my little girl’s favourite colour is? Really? I’m a big fan of the “let toys be toys” campaign and I dislike the pink aisles for girls toys. But with a girl who loves pink so much without any prompting… I wonder if there is something about pink that girls love and that’s why the toys are pink and they know the will appeal to them? But then I am reminded of the fact that in the 19th century pink was more associated with boys than girls so it must be cultural, right? That even though I haven’t encouraged her to like pink, so much that she sees associates pink with girls.

I like Skye in the paw patrol as she is as much a part of the team as the boys, but again why is she pink to show she’s a girl? Dora wears pink, Millie in Umizoomi wears pink. Again is this because girls like pink or do girls like pink because of this constant reinforcement that pink is for girls?

Does it even matter? I have no idea. I’m going to continue to do what feels right with my kids. To play with the same things with both of them. Because girls can build and play cars and boys can play with babies and cook. To let them be who they want to be, and play with what they want to (within reason obviously, not kitchen knives lol) even if that means swallowing my own opinion or ideas. To guide them to be adults who know that men aren’t better than women and women aren’t better than men. That we have our differences, but that they don’t make either one less than the other. And I imagine that while I am doing that, that my daughter will be wearing pink.pink 1

Me and Mine, April 2017

I didn’t manage to post a me and mine last month as I didn’t really have any family photos to share. In contrast, I have a few this month!

First up, a bit of fun on our family bike ride. It’s a frame from a video so it’s not the best quality ever, but I love it as I was so surprised that LM actually stayed put long enough to capture it!

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But my faves are the two shots from our recent trip bluebell huntingcof

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I adore this picture, it is the kind of family photo I have hoped for for a long time. All happy, all smiling with a beautiful background :)