My birthday and bluebell hunting

It was my birthday at the weekend, and it as a very lovely birthday. It’s difficult as you get older, to know how to celebrate your birthday sometimes. We thought about having a big bbq with friends and family round but in all honesty I couldn’t be bothered. I do love hosting things like that but it is a lot of work and actually, for my birthday, I didn’t want to do it. I just wanted to relax instead.

So on Saturday I left hubs with the kids, and popped down to London to see some friends. I was armed with a picnic and hoped the weather would be kind as I headed to Greenwich Park. As it turned out the weather was perfect, warm and dry but not too hot either, and I had the loveliest day with my girls, just sitting doing nothing but chatting. It’s so rare to do something like that and I enjoyed every second.PhotoGrid_1493101586890

I was home by 11 so it wasn’t too late a night and wasn’t too hung over the next day for my actual birthday.

Thankfully LM slept in for us that Sunday Morning so I had a relaxed start with tea and presents with hubs and Monkey. I had a nice hot bath and got ready while hubs sorted a picnic for our day out bluebell hunting.

One of the things I love about having my birthday at this time of year is that it is very much bluebell season. There are some woods not far from here that I have visited regularly over the years, but this year I wanted to try somewhere new. I saw that Brampton Woods were supposed to be nice, and are only about 20 mins away so thought we would try there.

Uncle Mark & Auntie Fran came with us, and well we weren’t disappointed. Almost as soon as we entered the woods we were greeted by some beautiful bluebells.PhotoGrid_1493101874151

I had read online the best spot to find the bluebells so we headed in that direction and wow it wasn’t wrong. There were bluebells as far as the eye could see, it was stunning and everything I had hoped it would be.PhotoGrid_1493101975270

We spent a while larking around and taking pictures and just enjoying the bluebells, then had a lovely little picnic before carrying on exploring the woods.PhotoGrid_1493102128232

There were areas in the woods where it almost looked like it was showing, or like we were in a misty swamp or something as there were fuzzy spores everywhere. Think like the seeds from a dandelion clock, but everywhere!PhotoGrid_1493103467704

We spoke to one of the rangers and apparently it is the sores from an aspen tree. Normally they get washed or blown away but because it has been so dry recently they are just gathered together. So it’s very unusual but was kind of cool and felt pretty ethereal. Even during our picnic there were spores flying around us, it a LM out felt like ash falling the scenes from avatar after home tree burned down. Even though it was quite cool I was glad to be in the non fuzzy areas again as it was just everywhere and it felt like you were breathing it in!

We had great fun and it is a lovely wood as it is so diverse, with open area, ponds as well as the more dense woodland areas.PhotoGrid_1493102559585

We had a lovely day and it was just perfect for my birthday :)

Our Easter Holidays 2017

The Easter holidays are over and I honestly can’t believe how quickly they have flown by. We’ve had lots of ups and down but mainly ups, thankfully, and lots of fun as a family while Monkey was being off school, so I thought I’d share a little run down of our adventures over the past couple of weeks rather than trying to write separate posts about what we got up and what is going on.

I’m going to start with the negative first as there has been a bit of a shadow cast over the last couple of weeks that I’ve hinted at but not really talked about. Deep breath, here we go. My amazing aunt was, very sadly, and shockingly diagnosed with cancer just before the start of the holidays. My aunt, who is the fittest 70 yr old I can imagine, who treks all over the world. She came back from a trip to Sri Lanka in February and got a cough. The cough got worse so she saw the Dr, they did an x ray and referred her to a chest specialist. It got worse and they got her in for a scan. The scan revealed an aggressive tumour in her lungs, another on her spine and cancer in her liver and kidneys. This all happened incredibly, incredibly fast and it was hard to catch our breath. They started radiotherapy, then she lost the use of her legs and was admitted to hospital. The speed this has happened has been mind-blowing and there’s obviously been a lot of sadness and coming to terms with things. We don’t know what the future holds exactly but we so know that she probably won’t be with us into her nineties as we had hoped previously.

I’m not going to go into it more than that, and it may sound like I’m being cold and matter of fact but that’s the way I have to handle it. My aunt is an amazing lady and she is positive and upbeat and we have to be the same on her behalf. And I have to live my life. Below the surface I am obviously incredibly sad but I can’t let that overwhelm me as I have the kids to focus on and to think about. We’ve explained to monkey that she’s poorly and the Doctors are trying to help and that they may not be able to. And that is how it stands at the moment. I’m sure you can imagine that this has dominated the last few weeks for us so I couldn’t talk about our Easter hols without mentioning it. Well I suppose I could, but I didn’t want to.

Moving on to the lovely things we have been up to during the holidays. It got off to a brilliant start with some tree climbing for our Monkey, a lovely family bike ride and some gruffalo spotting while enjoying the gorgeous sunshine. Sadly that Sunday night our Little Miss had croup. It was nowhere near as bad as she has had previously, she didn’t have the wheeze (that they call stridor) just the horrible bark like cough. She even slept ok, while hubs and I were awake and worrying for half the night! So we had a quiet day on the Monday as her cough thankfully became more normal. Hubs took Monkey to work with him which he loved.

On the Tuesday, hubs had some time off work so he came on a bike ride to our local country park with us which was really lovely. The kids had a whale of a time in the sand and water play area there and we had lunch together in the café. That evening my stepdad popped over for tea that evening as my mum was down in London with my aunt.easter 1

That night I drove down to London to see my aunt and my mum. Hubs and the kids had lots of fun together the next day with another cycle ride and café trip :)easter 2

I was feeling pretty drained on the Thursday after the trip to London but we had previously arranged for a day out, going on a bear hunt, at our local country park. The kids loved it, though Madam did have a major tantrum (as she wanted to go to feed the ducks while we were on the trail s couldn’t) which I struggled to deal with with everything that was going on, though thankfully I had a very good friend there who supported me through it. She did get over it and once I explained that the bear was just a man in a suit, she liked him, and she loved the journey back on the little train, so all ended very happily.bear hunt

On Good Friday we did a couple of errands, one of which was looking at bikes for Monkey’s birthday next month. We were planning on just looking but there was a fantastic one, which was on offer over the holidays, and because only the display model was left available we get an even better price for it, so we couldn’t resist. It’s bigger than we thought we would get, with 20″ wheels, but Monkey is so tall and the smaller ones just felt like he would grow out of them so fast. It is much bigger and heavier than his previous bike and while he is fine when he is riding it, he did start off with lots of wobbles when he was standing up, starting or stopping bless him. My older brother came over that afternoon so Monkey loved showing him his new bike and we all went out to help and encourage him. We also did a bit of easter baking on the friday, with easter nests and some Creme egg brownies, yum!easter 4

The Saturday of the Easter weekend was a beautiful day and with rain forecast on Easter Sunday we did our little easter hunt then instead. Monkey loves a good map so I made a little map for the kids to follow. We tend to just give the little eggs, and this year we gave them some little troll toys too (they aodre trolls atm). They get so much choc from all their relatives so they don’t need much from us! That afternoon my little brother and his fiance came over too.easter 5

Sunday was a roast dinner for lunch at my mums which was lovely and another little easter egg hunt there. Monday we had Hubs’ family over, including his aunt and uncle from Yorkshire for a lovely bbq. I didn’t take many photos but that afternoon we went back to hubs’ brother’s house and the kids loved playing their cats and tortoise including giving the tortoise a bath!easter 6

Tuesday was a quiet day for the kids and I as hubs took my parents down to London to visit my aunt in the hospital. This kids and I pottered at home and went on a bike ride to play on the play area. We also had a bit of a princess party which you may have seen! The kids were so good and it was nice to have bathtime fun with them as that is normally hubs’ time with them.easter 7

Wednesday we visited one of our favourite farms with friends and had such a lovely day. Just so full of fun and probably the fullest day I’ve ever spent at the farm so there was a tired Mummy and children that night!easter 8

Thursday was nice and chilled and we saw hubs’ parents for a play in the morning and just had a little play on another local play area in the afternoon. My phone also broke on Thursday which was just a pain, then when I took it into be repaired I was persuaded to upgrade as I only had 1 month left on the contract instead. So apologies for the pants pictures at the play park here, they were taken on a temporary phone.easter 9

Friday was at the park with friends in the morning, testing out my new phone. (more to come on that in a separate post) and we had a fab time with friends we hadn’t seen in a while. That afternoon was at My mum’s house for the afternoon for some snuggles and hot wheels fun.easter10

So there we have it, 2 weeks went by in a flash! As mentioned there were definitely ups and downs but on the whole it was really lovel, My house is a tip though so I’m ready for monkey to be back at school, no matter how much fun we had!!

My future as a blogger, and as a SAHM

My Monkey turns 5 next month, I’ve been a SAHM for nearly 5 years and a blogger for a little over 4 years. And in all honesty I’m not sure how much longer that I will be either of those things. I have loved my time at home with the kiddies while they have been small, and my blog has been a real lifeline for much of that time. Connecting with other mums, sharing thoughts and ideas. Sharing the updates about my beautiful children. Sharing the downsides and hardships of being a SAHM and sharing my postnatal depression.

I’ve had ups and downs with blogging but for the most part I have loved it. For a while though, that love has been waning. I’ve struggled to give it the time and energy my blog really needs to be successful. I’ve stopped minding whether it even is succesful, and have just carried on sharing as and when I have felt like it.

I still have ups and downs. Days and weeks where I seem to find more time and more inspiration and resolve to do better to give more attention to my blog. Then I have days and weeks where I just can’t be bothered, to be honest. So I wonder how long to keep blogging… And I don’t really know the answer.

As for being a SAHM, as I mentioned above, it has been wonderful… But I don’t love it as much as I once did. I feel somehow wrong admitting that. I’ve been so lucky that I have been able to be a SAHM, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. LM starts preschool in a month, just a couple of mornings a week, but both she and I need that time. As we gradually increase her time at pre-school, my plan is to start working part time in some capacity.

The truth is I need more now. I have raised my babies at home with me. I have taken pride in their achievements and seen many of them as my own too. I taught them to count, to recognise their colours, to be kind and for the most part we’ll behaved. That’s been my job. But I feel I need something other than being mummy. This isn’t going to happen over night as there are many things to consider but I think my days as a full time SAHM are limited.

I think that may be one of (many)  the reasons my love for the blog is waning. It is called Becoming a SAHM… if I’m not going to be a SAHM anymore… What do I do? Change the name and the whole purpose of the site?

I’m not completely ready to hang up either Cape quite yet. There are some more things I would like to blog about (having one of those weeks I mentioned before, where I want to do it again) and a couple of PR things to complete, though I’m not sure I’ll accept any more. Apologies to anyone who has emailed recently. It is hard enough to find the time and energy to write things I want to write these days, let alone writing things for someone else.

Do you ever doubt your future as a blogger?

Me and Mine February 2017

We managed to do quite well this month getting family photos. First up was on our day out looking at snowdrops at Easton Walled Gardens, I love this shot!IMG_20170212_195952_416

Then hubs for this lovely selfie of us in front of the lions at Whipsnade Zoo.IMG-20170220-WA0002

We also got some other fab photos of our extended families which I thought I’d include as they we don’t all get together very often, let alone get good family group shots, yet we managed one with both sides of the family this month! First up, hubs side of the family, with Granny & Granddaddy, his brothers, Uncle Simon, Uncle Andy, and Auntie Julie, and us of course :)IMG_20170219_124444_754

Then on a trip to the farm at the weekend hubs got a shot of my side of the family, Nanny & Pops, my big Bro Paul and his wife Ericha, and my little Bro Mark with his fiance Fran. 20170225_135346

So it really is a lovely round up of nearly all our me and mine!

My Photo Albums

If you’ve ever read my blog before then you probably know that I love taking photos. I’m not an amazing photographer or anything and probably never will be, but I love taking photos. I love capturing the moment and the memories that are contained within photographs. I love that in that frame, a moment of truth and reality is stilled and can be kept forever.my photo albums

My dad always used to take a lot of photos and while endlessly posing for the camera did my head in as a kid, I always adored looking through our family photo albums. Oh and we had hundreds. I mean literally, hundreds. Every photo my dad took would go into an album. We would have 7 or 8 films (with 36 exposures of course) for one 2 week family holiday and it all went into albums.

Since things have gone digital of course none of us think anything of snapping away, taking hundreds of photos in the blink of an eye without really thinking about it. But what do you do with all those photos? Do you share them on social media or on a blog? Do you go through the pictures you take and label each with a title so you can find them easily? Are they backed up online with thousands of photos with random file names making it almost impossible to find a specific picture ever again?

Because physical photo albums were always so filled with happiness for me as a kid, I have tried to carry that tradition on a bit. Not quite to the extent that my parents did, mind you. Instead of multiple albums per year I am trying to limit the amount of albums. Squeezing 1-2 years into one album to try to keep the amount of physical albums manageable. So, how do I do it? How do I get down from the thousands of photographs that I take every year (and I do mean thousands, I recently found a folder on the computer with 10,000 photos taken in the last 6 months) into a manageable amount that be squeezed into half a photo album?

Well, it takes some organisation.

We have online storage (currently one drive though we have used Google drive and Livedrive in the past) and every photo we take on our phones are automatically uploaded via WiFi, then downloaded onto our home computer and laptop. I then try to routinely organise the folders from my camera roll into other folders. It is easier if I do this frequently, I have left it months before and it is a daunting task at that point! I tend to create a folder per year and then have sub-folders within for events such as days out, birthday celebrations, even a nice walk where I took a lot of photos.2016-09-22 (2)

In the past I have just moved every photo from a specific event into a folder “to be sorted at a later date” but this year I am really trying to only move in the best pictures that are really worth keeping and then deleting the rest as, seriously, there are so many photos! I also have a subfolder specifically for photos of Monkey and LM. I am often snapping them painting or playing etc and I love to keep some of those pictures of them too even though they don’t fit in to a specific event category.

Then, every 6 months or I so, I look back through the folders and copy my absolute favourites into another folder, in preparation for making an actual photo album. I do this in a couple of goes, going through them again to weed out ones that are too similar and keeping the best, or funniest, or ones with a story to them, and making sure I have shots with family members and friends included too.2017-01-28 (3)

The actual albums I prefer are the ones with big self adhesive pages. I’ve never been a fan of slip in albums as all the photos have to be the same way round, and there isn’t any freedom in terms of getting lots of photos into an album. With slip in albums you can fit so many photos of a particular size into the album, and that’s it. With self adhesive albums there is more freedom.

I’ve always loved a nice collage. Even back in my uni days when I would get my films printed out, I would cut up my photos and do each page of an album as a college. I like to think my collages now are a little more sophisticated but the idea is the same. Getting as many pictures onto one page of an album, as possible. I’ve tried a few ways of doing this over the years, but I think I’ve found the nicest way to do it. I create collages using pic monkey (always a blogger’s friend) and have the collages printed out. I have a big collage with about 14 photos printed onto a 10×8 print, and small collages of 2-3 photos onto 6×4 prints and can just squeeze one big print and 2 small prints onto each page, with a bit of trimming taken into consideration.2016-09-22 (4)

I know this is a lot of pictures on each page, and for some it would be too crammed… But I love it. I love being able to see lots of shots per page and for me having more pictures per page means fewer albums in total, taking up less space, which is important to me. I then use some little coloured sticky tabs to add notes to the pages, just to give a rough indication of dates, locations, and at the moment, the kids approximate ages. I love being able to look at a page and immediately see, right that was June 2016, Monkey was just 4 and LM was 20 mths old.20170221_141332

It takes a lot of time and effort to do all this, but for me it is so worth it. Do you organise your photos? How do you do them? Do you have physical albums? Or digital ones? Or you scrapbook? I’d love to hear how you do it. For me, I am have started the task of organising photos from July-December to last year and am enjoying the process of creating my next photo album, so my word of the week, is, albums.

Diets and Crochet

I’ve been a bit quiet on here lately and I thought I would explain why. It is largely because I have finally got back into doing my crochet! I did loads when Monkey was little but after making my Granny square blanket I set my needles aside. Then LM was born, and well I haven’t picked them up again, until now. So my word of the week, is Crochet.

Hub’s mum has a gorgeous ripple blanket I always admire and I have loads of wool hanging around so I thought I would have a go at making my own. I have to admit that after a long break I could not remember at all how to crochet. The first evening involved a lot of false starts and head scratching and you tube watching! But once I remembered how to do it, I was on a roll. I’m following the fab tutorial from Lucy at Attic 24, though using different colours.

It was slow going on the first evening!

It was slow going on the first evening!0

One of the reasons that I have chosen to pick the needles up again now, is because I have also started a new diet, and doing the crochet keeps my fingers occupied so I am less likely to stuff my face of an evening!

Now, I know that I wrote recently that I am who I am, and that I was going to stop trying so hard to change myself all the time. Now, I do stick to that and I know I am never going to be super skinny or lose my curvy shape. I am trying to be kinder to myself in all areas. But, and there is a but, the trouble with the “I’m happy as I am” philosophy is that it can sometimes lead to a change of a different kind. As in the scales moving up, kind of change, and that’s not what I want either. So I needed to make a change.

A good friend of mine is a big advocate of the 5:2 diet, where you fast (only eat 500 calories) on 2 days of the week and then eat a normal amount the rest of the week. Now a normal amount isn’t the same as what I was eating before, believe me. So anyway I decided to give it a try.

I’m finding the fast days pretty easy to manage so far, which surprised as I thought I may get really hangry! I still have eggs for breakfast, a big bowl of soup for lunch and a carrot and a little hummus later. It’s not loads but it seems manageable.

What has also happened is that I have really paid attention to what I normally eat. The amount of food that I hoover up off the kids plates, treating my body like a human dustbin, with the argument “I don’t like waste” when really it is pure greed. So let’s just say that even on the non-fasting days I am eating a lot less than I was!

It’s been 2 weeks and so far I haven’t really lost any weight (possibly due to a rather boozy night in london last weekend) which is demotivating. I’m really not a patient person at all, and especially with diets. After Monkey was born, I went on a diet and lost quite a lot of weight, really easily to be honest. It was brilliant. Since LM it has not happened that way at all. Every pound lost has been hard-won and put back on almost immediately which has been hard. I know that in truth I’ve given up too easily each time, so I am determined nor to give up this time.

Not sure shots are ever advised on a diet??

Not sure shots are ever advised on a diet??

There are bound to be ups and downs and I need to find a balance between enjoying myself on the rare occasions that I go out, and not berating myself for that…. But also expecting that that will slow down my progress. I have to stop comparing this weight loss to the diet of a few years ago as clearly my body is different now. As a slight aside I was reading a really interesting article (I know, I know, apologies that it is from the Daily Fail, but it is interesting!) the other day about diets based on the bacteria found in your gut, as there are bacteria that are super efficient at extracting every calorie from food, and other bacteria that are less ‘good’ at that so help you not to gain weight. Fascinating and a reminder that we know so little of the way our bodies work and the reasons things are different for different people.

I’m not about to get my poo tested though, so for now I’m just going to stick with the eat less and move more philosophy. And to help with that, crochet in the evenings or whenever I am tempted to eat out of boredom rather than hunger!

I have to admit I am rather pleased with my blanket so far, a long way to go but it is really getting there, LM seems to like to it too… Though Monkey is moaning at how long it is taking to finish haha.PhotoGrid_1487322124286

Do you find it harder to lose weight than pre children or as you’ve gotten older? Any hobbies that help you?

The Reading Residence
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Me & Mine January 2017

Well if January is anything to go by 2017 is going to absolutely whizz by! Can’t quite believe it yet here we are and the first Me and Mine post of 2017.

The first family shot this year was actually taken on the 2nd January! We had a lovely morning out at our local country park with family and were playing and having a generally great time. With us all so happy I decided to grab an impromptu snap, and, well it was a miraculous snap as I managed to get us all smiling in the first frame! It is much irretrievably favourite family photo and I just adore it. IMG_20170102_200014_837

We’ve got a couple of other snaps this month too. LM is growing up so much and she has really started to like smiling for photos (hooray!) so there have been a couple of other family selfies that are just lovely and capture how we are as a family at the moment.First up, a little snap of us all on the sofa one evening after school, reading LM’s current favourite Usborne ‘find the duck’ book.

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In the next one we are in our bed, LM loves to play a game where we all snuggle up and pretend to be asleep then push the covers back and its time to get up. Monkey always loves a good snuggle and well, I’m sure you can all understand why mummy & daddy never say no to a game that primarily involves lying down :).20170107_083235

Rounding off with one final sofa snap, the kids are in their pj’s but I just love LM’s excitement at the prospect of a photo.

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So there we have it, our little family in January 2017 :)

Monkey’s first few months at school

IMG_20170115_195918_007So our little Monkey is  about 4 3/4 and has been at school for about 5 months now. He has changed and grown up so so much in those 5 months that I thought I would write a little update about how he is getting along, and the ups and downs we have with our little school boy. Starting with some real positives, his learning is simply amazing. He is like a little sponge soaking up everything that they are teaching him.

Reading

His reading is amazing to listen to as he just reads so many words now, and sounds out and blends any he doesn’t know. It is wonderful sitting next to him reading his school book and he’s so proud of himself too. With a bit of encouragement (as he can be a bit shy) he has read his books to other family members too and they are all equally proud of him. We get him to read his book 5/6 times a week and can get a new book to read once he has read it twice. We tend to do this because after reading a book a couple of times he is more likely to try to read it from memory rather than looking at the words, so gets it wrong more often the more he reads it. The school recommends reading a minimum of twice a week but it has just become part of our routine now that he reads a story after dinner so he reads a few little books a week (pink band level) and this seems to be working well for him.IMG_20170124_174052

Writing

His writing is so good now too. It has been a bit harder for me to get him to practice writing at home, as quite often my suggestions to do it are met with a cheerful “no thank you” and if I push him he just gets grumpy and it’s not the right atmosphere for it then! Having said that he wrote the names in all 60 of his christmas cards to classmates and I think that all that practice definitely helped. I now try to get him to write things for a purpose. For example if we have been building something, and playing with something I try to get him to write a sentence about it. One day he came home from school so excited about what they had learned about ice that day and, as I normally struggle to get much out of him about what happens at school (“I can’t bermember,” “I just did lots of things”), I decided to capitalise on it and he wrote a sentence about ice and water. We’ve done similar writing a couple of times now and he is getting a tiny bit more enthusiastic about it.PhotoGrid_1485784890689

I have been so impressed with the way he has been learning reading and writing with his phonics at school. Last week I went for a stay and play session at the school which was so much fun. It’s hard to know really what is going on behind the school gates every day so it was lovely to see it for myself. There’s obviously a lot of play and most of the time that is what they were up to, but there were also sessions on phonics and maths. I loved the games they used as part of the phonics lessons and the kids did so much writing it was lovely to see and made it quite apparent why his progress has been so fast!

I remember a couple of years ago, talking to a friend about whether to send her summer born 4yr old to foundation stage at school, because they don’t legally have to start until age 5. I remember at the time thinking the foundation is a good segway between nursery and school because they are at school but mainly still playing. I now actually think that it is really important kids don’t miss out on the foundation year, because of how much I have seen them all learning. Monkey is a May baby so technically could have started later, but I’m glad he didn’t. We always felt he was ready and now know we were right. I fear that any child starting at age 5 straight into year 1 may be really quite behind. I definitely don’t think Monkey’s progress in reading and writing would be anywhere near what it is, if his learning were down to me. I definitely don’t have the skills or knowledge that his teachers do in this area!

Maths

I also got to see a maths session at the school and that was so lovely. Again I have been impressed as they have been learning about counting in two’s recently and when I was there they were working out “3 lots of 2″ and how the x sign means the same as “lots of.” Basically they are learning the 2 times table already, and the kids were lapping it up. Just lovely to watch. Monkey has always loved numbers so he kept turning around grinning and giving me the thumbs up during that session!

Drawing

Monkey has loved drawing for a while, and his drawings lately are just getting so good and so imaginative that I had to share a few here. He has a particular love of drawing instructions, like this one of instructions for how to build a house, but I just think all of is drawings are brilliant. Proud mummy moment! :)PhotoGrid_1485785015224

Friends

On the whole, Monkey has been pretty happy at school. He comes bounding out of school so happy every day and like I say, he loves to learn. He has always been quite a shy and sensitive soul though. he has started off pretty well in terms of friends, there seems to be a fair amount of children he plays with at different times and on the whole he has been quite happy. He quite often tells me he played with so and so and so and so on the playground and they played superheroes or police or something. Recently though, he has had a bit of an upset with his closest friend, F. F’s mum and I are really close friends so we see quite a lot of each other and had even got into a bit of a rhythm of walking to school together. I think because F and Monkey are such good friends that they began to have a bit of a power struggle and F said some things that upset Monkey. Nothing major, but things like “I’m not sure if you will be able to come to my party, I’ll have to see if there’s room” and “that bell on your bike is a baby bell.” You know, 4yr old stuff but it did bother Monkey a bit.

Speaking to other mums and the teachers and it seems to be happening amongst a lot of the kids at the moment. They got really friendly with one or two children and then the power play started. It’s what kids do as they are learning about other people and friendships etc. as well as all the academic stuff, so it’s natural they will say things to provoke a reaction, or have their feelings hurt by another kid. Having watched some of the “secret life of…” programmes, I’ve seen it and I guess am not that surprised by it… but the reality was still pretty hard. F’s mum was horrified at what he was saying to Monkey and I’ve been torn between hating seeing my little boy hurt in any way… and knowing that he has got to learn to deal with it, because it is all part of life. Sometimes people say things either intending to hurt you, or not thinking about whether it may hurt you.

It was a tricky few days and Monkey didn’t want to walk with F to school anymore, and said “F makes me sad” which broke my heart a little. I think that extra bit of space has helped and they seem back on good terms again now. I know the teachers have been talking to the children about not saying things that are mean or exclusive too so hopefully that is helping all round! I’m sure there will be many more times where things like this happen over the years though!

Tears

This tricky patch coincided with us really taking a backwards step and Monkey being tearful saying goodbye in the mornings. Back in September we expected to go through this phase but never did, he was so happy and excited to be going to school that he didn’t cry at all. Then a few days in to the new term in January and he started crying. Possibly brought about by the slight change of routine they have introduced, where on a Monday and Friday morning they have to sit on the carpet and get ready for assembly, rather than having a play to start off the day as they did before. It could also have been the spat with his friend but even after talking about these things and trying to resolve the issue, it didn’t seem to be getting any better. He was so happy coming out of school every day, and was happy even when dropping him off, right until the very second we said goodbye, when his face would crumple and the sobbing would start.

It was such a depressing start to the day to leave him so unhappy, especially when we couldn’t figure out the reason. After randomly finding one of hubs’ old sets of lego in the loft that Monkey hadn’t seen before, we decided to try a new tack. Because it was feeling like the crying had become a bit of a habit, rather than because he was really upset about something, we decided to give a little incentive to stop the tears. One week without tears and he could have the lego we found. Right from the first day of this bargain being struck, the tears stopped. He left with a big grin on his face. His teacher also noticed and praised him for it so he told her “my mummy says I can have new lego if I don’t cry every day.” I have to admit to being nervous about her reaction to this but she seemed equally pleased that it was working. If there had actually been something bothering him, I doubt the promise of lego would have stopped the tears. Even now, after he has the lego, we still haven’t had any more tears. So, phew to that!

Tiredness

One definite downside to school is the tiredness it brings for our little Monkey. He can be quite crotchety at times and he really is, just, tired. He gets really tearful sometimes, and often about the most irrational of things. He had a meltdown about putting his shoes away one afternoon, and a full on meltdown over the weekend about blowing his nose because he insisted that he couldn’t do it. This morning was particularly frustrating as he started to cry about his name. Yes, his name. At school, when there is a word that can’t be sounded out phonetically, it is called a “tricky word”. Such as “go” for example, it isn’t guh oh, goh, it’s go, and that is a “tricky word.” Monkey’s name is a “tricky word” too and this morning we had sobbing because “I don’t want my name to be a tricky word.” There is just no reasoning with him when he is in that mood so I just decided to change the subject and move on! Daft Monkey!

He also uses tiredness as an excuse though, especially when it comes to eating dinners. He is so slow at eating and often sits there and says “I’m too tired to eat.” We, of course, point out that eating food gives you energy, and stops you being tired…. but he refuses to accept that fact!

So, negatives aside, he is doing so well at school. He’s such a happy chap and on the whole, such a good boy. He loves the PRIDE code that they have at school and loves to recite the words it stands for “polite, respectful, independent, do your best and everyone matters.” He gets quite irritated that is little sister doesn’t yet follow these rules too lol.

At home

Monkey’s learning and growing doesn’t stop at school. He loves to learn basically constantly. I got a couple of new books recently that he loves, one is an atlas and another is a book about the human body which has lots of flaps you lift to look at. It’s a great book and he said yesterday “I was just imagining if like in the book, we had flaps that you open and see inside our bodies.” Bless him. He loves baking with one or the other of us and a LOT of time is spent playing lego when he is at home, and some of his creations are brilliant. We went on a nature hunt at the weekend which was great fun, and he’s just getting so grown up.

As a result, we have also been asking him to help out a little more. Just simple stuff,  he makes his bed in the morning, lays the table at dinner and puts his clothes in the laundry basket at the end of the day. So far he is doing really well with those and most importantly is happy to do them.PhotoGrid_1485793908458

Feeling very proud of our boy after writing all of this down :).

 

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No New year’s resolutions here, I am who I am!

Happy New Year! It’s January 1st, traditionally the day for making promises to ourselves to be better somehow over the year ahead and beyond. Not for me this year though.

For nearly the whole of 2016 I have been trying to change myself. I often feel like I would be happier if I were somehow different. If I was thinner, if I ate more healthily, if I was a better mum, if I tried harder. I reached a point recently where I just had to say stop. I need to stop trying so hard to be more than I am.

I am who I am.

I have decided that I need to be happy with who and what I am rather than constantly trying to be something else. Something I’m not. I have hopelessly unattainable goals and all they do is make me feel rubbish about myself. They are not making me happier as they are always out of reach.

Take my weight, as an example. I’m not humungous or obese. I am larger than I would like to be and larger than I have been in the past. But I am in my 30s and after 2 children my body is not the same as it used to be. I know many will say that having kids isn’t an excuse, and I would say the same if after 2 years of trying I wasn’t in exactly the same position. I have taken up running, changed my diet and in many ways I am healthier than I have been in a long time. I never thought I would be able to run for over half an hour without dying, but I can now. My weight however has not changed. The shelf I have over my c section scar is still there. My thighs rub and I have cellulite. Even running 3 times a week did not change any of that.

This may be because I like my food but I have struggled to diet and count points mainly because I find full time parenting pretty exhausting at times. LM and I are constantly on the go, I cycle over to the nearby country park, go for walks, run round at her gymnastic group, not to mention walking the school run twice a day. So sometimes I eat to keep me going and stop me being such a mardy mum (I can get seriously hangry which isn’t fair on the kids). Whatever the ‘excuse’ even with added exercise my body has not changed. It has really gotten me down at times but honestly, why? What is so wrong with me and my body right now?

I’ve always been impressed by women who are proud of their stretch marks and bodies after birth but I’ve never been one of them. After Monkey I lost the weight fairly easily so honestly I assumed the same would happen 2nd time round. It hasn’t. The things that worked first time have not worked after baby no. 2. Clearly my body is hanging on to the excess weight this time for some reason. Again, I’m not humongous, so what does it matter if I am carrying a bit of extra weight? We are all different, some women are naturally slim and lose the baby weight more easily than others. Does that necessarily make them somehow better than me?photogrid_1483194414665

I have been trying to convince myself that I am OK as I am. My husband likes the way I look and isn’t disgusted by my wobbly bits (far from it in fact as he loves me the way I am and genuinely prefers curvier women) so why should I be? Then I happened upon an article about Ashley Graham, a “plus size” model being on the cover of vogue. Now she is gorgeous and probably slimmer than I am (though definitely with bigger boobs) and for once seeing a picture of her strutting down the catwalk made me feel that maybe it was ok to be my size. That someone my size can be beautiful. That not only slim women are beautiful.

There’s always a lot of debate about the sizes of models and I often find they end up in an either/or solution. Larger models promote obesity, smaller ones promote eating disorders. I don’t think it is that simple and actually believe that as there are variety of shapes and sizes of people in everyday life, that there should be a variety of shapes and sizes when it comes to models. In general, clothes aren’t one size fits all, so why do the models all have to be the same size? It’s the same with actresses. Why are all the women in films so skinny… Unless they are the funny fat girl? It’s not real life but it’s easy to get sucked into believing that it is.

I’ve slightly digressed from my point and that is that I am fed up of believing the lies I see all around me that say I am not good enough the way that I am. I’m not about to stop running as I do enjoy it (though a couple of chesty coughs have slowed me down a bit lately) and I won’t ever let myself get obese because I hated being slowed down by the extra weight I carried when I was pregnant. But it is nice to feel I can stop trying so hard to be something that is unattainable for me at the moment. To feel that maybe I’m ok as I am.

My weight isn’t the only thing I’ve been trying to control either. After a friendship group broke down a few years ago I have worried a lot about not being a good enough friend to people. I’ve made a fantastic new friend recently but I have almost sabotaged it a few times because I’ve been worried about what they thought of me, to the point where I was almost pushing them away. This has to stop. I can’t let a negative experience with a few women ruin or prevent future friendships. I am who I am. Some people will get me and like me for who I am, flaws and all, while others won’t. I have to learn to be ok with that as no matter how I try I will never be perfect. I can’t change that. I can’t change me. I have so many wonderful friends who are there for me for better or for worse, and I am there for them in the same way. I don’t expect them to be perfect so I need to stop expecting that of myself.

I’ve also been trying to be some kind of perfect mother, which again, isn’t possible.. I always want to try my best but I also have to remember that I’m human. I get tired and snappy some days and some days I am lazy and the kids watch more TV than I would like. I try really hard the rest of the time though, we do all sorts of activities and get out and about a lot. I need to stop focusing on what I don’t do, and look at what I do do. To stop criticising myself and instead be proud of the way I am raising my kids and of the good job I’m doing. Because I’m not the perfect mother, but I am their mother. I am who I am and I’m doing the best that I can.

Perfect mum? No way!  But I do ok

Perfect mum? No way! But I do ok

I’m trying really hard to apply this to every aspect of my life. I may not be the perfect wife, perfect mother, perfect sister, perfect daughter, perfect daughter-in law, perfect friend, perfect blogger or the perfect anything, but then none of those things exist. All I can be is me. I will always try to be good to those around me. To be kind and considerate and just generally do my best as that is who I am. But I’m human and I will always have off days, grumpy days and sometimes I will say or do something stupid, and I’m not going to berate myself for that. I’m not going to keep fixating on all the things I’m not and never will be, but instead I am going to try and be happy and proud of all the things that I am. A good wife, mother, friend etc.

I am who I am and I am going to be happy with that.

Are you making any resolutions for new years?

 

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Me and Mine December 2016

So here we are, the last days in December and the last Me and Mine Project of the year. I find myself to be a bit of a rubbish blogger these days, but I try and at least keep going with this and the Siblings Project linky, both run by Lucy at Dear Beautiful, as I do find them to be a lovely record of our family over the year.

This month I had high hopes of some family shots over Christmas. We did snap a few but they weren’t quite the polished and posed pictures I hoped for, largely down to an uncooperative LM…. And partly because I couldn’t find my tripod haha. So despite my efforts we once again have selfies with the 4 of us in instead, taken at various times over Christmas.

The best, I think, are these that Hubs snapped on his new phone while we were all sat snuggling and watching TV on Christmas Eve in what we call ‘the new room’ as it used to be the garage. It’s not really new anymore but I have a feeling it will be ‘the new room’ for many years to come. Anyway I love the soft light of these pics, even if we struggled to get us all smiling at the same time! I particularly love LM trying to copy her brother’s thumbs up by putting her finger up instead…then she looked at it so confused bless her, such a toddler thing to do isn’t it?photogrid_1483099944667

We also have the obligatory shots on our bed on Christmas morning, blurry in the terrible light, sleepy and with a semi-naked hubs but full of excitement on Christmas morning. photogrid_1483100122004

Finally, my attempt at some nice posed ones when we were all dressed and smart on boxing day morning… Which LM was really not in the mood for, as I’m sure you can tell. photogrid_1483100226473

So there you have it, that was us in December. And because another year has passed (in the blink of an eye it seems), here is the last year’s worth of family shots, to show how much we (or at least the kids) have grown and changed over the past 12 months.me-and-mine-2016

I did a similar collage last year too, if you fancy a look.

Happy New Year all!

The Me and Mine Project