Monday, 24 July 2017

Review | Jungle Jam Books

We were very kindly sent the Jungle Jam books to review by the authors themselves, Louise & Noam Lederman. The original Jungle Jam book was released last year and the new Jungle Jam in Brazil has recently been released with more to follow later this year. Both books are focused around music, instruments and the animals adventures.

( This is Charlie's new smile!)

So what did we think of them? Well I wanted to leave the opinion down to the children as after all they are the ones the books are aimed at. We have read them for just over a week and I asked Isabelle what she thought, she is five for those of you who are new to my blog. Charlie is only two so all I can say for him is that he was entranced by the stories and the books totally caught his attention which is sometimes very difficult!

Isabelle said she loved learning about a new country in the Brazil book and all about the different musical instruments. For me I noticed straight away that the illustration is so different to anything I have seen from a children's book before. The books are bright, vivid and easy to follow. I also like the extra information at the end. In the original book there are instructions on how to make musical instruments and in the Brazil book you have to find the missing musical instruments along with some Brazil facts. 

I especially liked the Jungle Jam in Brazil story as Isabelle does struggle to persevere and does tend to get anxious about new things or when she can't do something first time. It definitely struck a cord (no pun intended) with her and I appreciate that they have thought of a story line that is relatable in real life too. 

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The books are available from Amazon, Waterstones and on the official Jungle Jam website.

* Not Sponsored. I was kindly sent the books in return for an honest review. The above Amazon links are affiliate which means if you make a purchase I will recieve a small fee which goes to support this blog, myself and my family.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Isabelle's first year of school

I can't believe it's time already, her first year in reception is officially over. I remember taking the picture above like it was yesterday. Tuesday 6th September 2016, your first day of school. We were ready to go and I suddenly thought 'I haven't taken any pictures!'. I just cannot get over how small she looks. At the time I knew she would be ok but that she just looked so young to be going to school already. She is one of the youngest in her class and only turned four three months before starting. 

But I was never worried about her, not for one second. I knew that school would be the absolute making of her and I was right. Her confidence has grown tremendously in such a short space of time and most mornings now I have to beg her for a kiss and cuddle goodbye. She never looks back and can't wait to be with her friends. But the best part for me is that she is excited to learn and take in as much knowledge as possibly. I have never pushed her as I believe all children learn at the own pace. When she comes home I feel she deserves a break, if she wants to come home and practice writing or numbers then of course we will do. Isabelle knows that she can always come to me for help and I will drop everything because I love helping her. My favourite part of the day is having cuddles on the sofa and hearing all about the adventure she has had that day. At the same time though she does get so tired from school so I think it's important to let her switch off and have a rest. 

I can't explain how incredible it has been to see her learn to read and write. Seeing her write her name and sound it out for the first time actually took my breath away, as daft as that might sound. I have had that moment so many times since she started school of just, wow she is not a baby anymore and that she is growing so fast. Her first nativity play, her first sports day and of course parents evening. These are all moments that I will treasure forever, this is where it all started. I can't get over these two pictures, how much has she grown!

So today Wednesday 19th July 2017 is your final day of Reception, we then get to spend six weeks together before you start year one. I am so incredibly proud of you, we all are and I know that you will continue to give school your absolute all. I just hope you continue to love it as much as you have done during this first year. I am one lucky Mummy to have such an amazing daughter and I can't wait to have you home for the holidays. I love you so much my beautiful girl. 

Friday, 14 July 2017

What not to say to someone with anxiety

1. Just Snap out of it
This for me is probably the worst thing you could ever say to me. Anyone with a mental health illness wishes everyday that they could just 'snap out of it'. If we could then why on earth wouldn't we? For most people once you have been diagnosed with a mental health illness it is with you for life. It's important to me that the people around me know this. This is me, I will have good days and bad days but I definitely cannot 'snap out of it'. 

2. Just relax  
Relaxing for me is just impossible, it's the same as when someone tells you to calm down when your having a panic attack. My mind is in overdrive constantly and I find it so hard to switch off. I have to be busy all the time otherwise my anxiety takes over completely. When someone tells me to relax or calm down when my anxiety is bad it almost feels like there playing the whole thing down. Until you have anxiety or a panic attack you have no idea how horrendous it truly is. To tell me to relax, like what I'm going through is nothing, is actually really hurtful. 

3. Did I do something to upset you?
My anxiety has caused me to lose friends in the past because some people just don't understand it. But that's ok, I don't expect you to. The best thing you can do around me is just be normal. If I ever come across as rude or quiet it's because inside I am battling my anxiety and sometimes it's so bad that it takes up every part of me. Just being able to open up and talk to some who wont judge is all I need sometimes. Believe me I just want to be myself but at times this is incredibly hard. Unfortunately I cannot control my anxiety, I just do my best to cope with it. 

4. Everything will be fine 
This should be a comforting thing to say to someone but for me it's really not. I have generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) so I don't worry about a few things, I worry about EVERYTHING. Telling me everything will be fine really doesn't even begin to touch the surface of what I deal with on a day to day basis. I know I have no control over 99% of the things that cause me to worry but try telling my anxiety that. When your in the depths of anxiety hearing everything will be fine makes it even worse in a way. It makes me feel even further away from reality.

5. There are people worse off than you
Yes thank you I am aware of this. Hearing this makes me feel even more guilty for feeling the way that I already do. Guilt goes hand in hand with anxiety. Every day I feel bad for wasting precious moments of my life focused on the way I feel. I have met others who have anxiety so much worse than me and this in turn makes me think why can't I just got on with things if they manage to cope? 

6. Why do you feel like that ?
If only I could answer that question. I would be able to cure myself just like that. I have had anxiety since I was 12 and to this day I still have trouble fully understanding why I feel like this. It's frustrating not to be able to fully explain how I feel and sometimes when I try to I know it sounds like I'm talking gibberish. When someone who doesn't have anxiety or a mental health illness says to me ' I know how you feel' it actually completely trivialises what I go through everyday. That's not me saying please feel sorry for me, it's me saying please don't think that anxiety is just being a little over worried or nervous. It is so much more than that. 

Monday, 10 July 2017

Please don't say boys will be boys!

At the moment Charlie really seems to be going for it with his behaviour and I'm struggling to know how to deal with it. With Isabelle I never experienced it so I'm at a total loss of what to do.

Around three months ago Charlie started to growl when he was told no or when he was asked to stop doing something that wasn't safe. This didn't concern me as I know plenty of children growl as they can't express themselves in the way that you or I would.

However shortly after this and along with the growling he started to hit out at us and his sister if he didn't like what he was told. This for me hurt as it was like he was a completely different child. It's only ever aimed at us and he does not do it to our friends or his for that matter. A few other parents have said to me that it's just a boy thing and have brushed it off. Well for me the fact that he's a boy is not an excuse or an explanation as to why it's happening. The whole gender stereotype thing really annoys me, like A LOT. 

After doing some research it's certainly not a 'boy thing' and girls can also exhibit the same behaviour. It is mainly caused by frustration of a situation. Charlie does not behave like this everyday and I have connected this behaviour started since he dropped all naps during the day. When he does hit out or throws a toy he is always tired therefore not getting his own way sends him over the edge in away. 

I do feel like you shouldn't compare yourself to other parents but when I see children the same age as Charlie walking so nicely or doing as there asked first time etc it does make me feel like why is this so hard? At the same time though he is only two and a half and I know this is the age where they are testing all the boundaries they can. He's also in that stage where we almost feel like we could get rid of the pushchair as he is constantly in and out of it. He terrifies me however when he just runs off and for that brief second has me thinking he's not going to stop and wait for me to catch up or when we need to cross the road.

Some personal highlights so far this week have been:

* Ripping out the pages in Isabelle's school reading book (it was on her bed for literally 5 seconds ready for us to read together)
* Trying to draw on the wallpaper in our front room
* Ripping up Isabelle's pictures
* Oh and he just will not go to sleep at night at the moment, it's driving me insane!

For me I do find disciplining Charlie difficult as 75% of the time he is so well behaved, he is the sweetest boy and he still seems so little. But I know I need to make it clear that his behaviour is wrong and get it nipped in the bud. I would love to hear from you if you have experienced this type of behaviour and how you handle it. Any advice would be very much appreciated!

Monday, 3 July 2017

Somerset Lavender Farm




The picture's say it all, this place is stunning! It was the perfect Sunday adventure for us all. After parking the car we were met with two full fields of lavender and the over whelming sound of buzzing bees. The weather was beautiful and walking round was surprising relaxing, exactly what we needed. I thought the children might find it a bit boring but they loved running around in the fields and exploring the gardens. 

There is a shop full of lavender products and a huge assortment of plants for sale including several varieties of lavender. Before coming home we stopped at the farm's cafe which had a lovely menu, a little pricey but considering that it's free entry into the farm it's understandable. You can try lavender tea and shortbread but we played it safe and had a delicious slice of lemon cake. 

I really didn't want to write to much on this post as the place just speaks for itself as you can see from the pictures. I can't get over just how beautiful it was, definitely a hidden treasure. Over all we had a lovely time and we will now definitely be visiting every year, I cannot recommend it enough.

* Not a sponsored post 

Monday, 26 June 2017

Would you abandon your children?

No you wouldn't, this however has repeatedly happened to me during my life. I have always feared writing this post in case my parents ever read it but why should I feel ashamed? This has happened to ME.

Let's start from the beginning. I have always had a very strained relationship with my parents. I have always felt like I have never been good enough and that I was just a huge disappointment from day one.

I struggled with anxiety since I started secondary school and I was unable to sit my exams. I left school and at the age of 16 I started my first job and began paying my parents rent. I worked hard but as I previously mentioned nothing I did stopped me from feeling inadequate. The arguments became daily and they were always about nothing, just very picky and draining.

I counted down the days until I could move out of home which happened a month after I turned eighteen. They couldn't have made it clearer how happy they were to see the back of me and I started a new life with my now husband. Years later they admitted that they didn't want me to go and that they were angry at the time, hence the reason I had to leave such a toxic environment. 

The years following me moving out of home were so up and down. They would be in my life for a few years then they would find an excuse and walk away again. Every time leaving me in such a mess that my husband/friends had to pick up the pieces. When I found out I was pregnant with Isabelle our first child they were in my life. They had been for a while and things were good for the first time in years. They were the first people I called when I went into labour and seeing them meet their grand daughter for the first time was so special. Fast forward two and a half years and they were gone again, with no explanation. I was pregnant again with Charlie and they knew. For me it was like my whole world had fallen apart. I was used to the feeling but to walk away from a child? To walk away from a time where another grandchild would be coming along. From Isabelle, someone so innocent who was getting to know them, who looked up to them. As awful as it sounds at least Isabelle would be able to forget them and there would be no upset. There is no point trying to comprehend this because to this day I still can't make any sense of it. 

Now I need to add that my Nan is my rock, she is my best friend. We have been through everything together and without her I don't no how I would of got through everything. Every time I let them back into my life it was for her. A few weeks before Christmas 2015 and she called me to say that my Dad wanted to know if we could meet to talk. It took me a few weeks to decide what to do but I eventually decided to hear him out. We met at Costa and he wouldn't acknowledge anything. He wouldn't explain why they stopped talking to me and expected us to just be able to have a nice chat. This made me so angry. It was clear they wanted to be back in my life and even though I did not feel comfortable with this I had to do it for my children. At least at the time that's what I thought.

They met Charlie who was 14 months by this point and Isabelle again who was now three. We rebuilt our shattered relationship once again and for the usual two years things were the best they had been in a while. At the beginning of this year things were incredibly hard for myself and my husband, they still are. In normal circumstances we really have to watch our money but back in February after having to pay out for a few things we had to ask for help. 

I called my Mum just to borrow £20 and she wouldn't let me talk and said 'what do you want I'm busy'. I will admit I hung up the phone, it was happening again and I didn't want to say anything I would regret. Weeks went by and Easter came around. They sent the children a package and trying to be the bigger person I sent them a video of the children opening it. This was ignored. Fast forward to June and Isabelle's birthday. By this point they had not spoken to my daughter since February and had sent me a message to say her birthday presents would be late but they were on the way. I replied that I had no issue accepting gifts but only if they contacted her. This may sound harsh but I don't want either of my children to think that gifts just come out of the sky. For me what my parents were trying to do just wasn't right. You can probably guess the next part. They did not contact Isabelle on her birthday and for me this was the end. They had officially broken me. 

I contacted them and advised that I could no longer have any form of relationship with them and I asked that they not contact me or my children again. 

The reason why I am so upset this time is because I no it is the end. It's one thing to do it to me my whole life but I stupidly let them back into my children's life and for that I feel overwhelmingly guilty. I could have saved my children from so much hurt. Isabelle asked my why they hadn't called on her birthday and I just couldn't find the words. How do I even begin to explain this to a five year old?

If I had done something so horrible over the 29 years that I have been alive then maybe I could understand but I never have. I have written this post to try and help myself get over this as it is so raw. It is also one of the topics that I am going through with my psychology practitioner. The way in which they repeatably walked out of my life has left me feeling completely lost. They are my parents, I should feel loved, supported. Now I feel nothing. 

They have repeatedly abandoned me over the years and now I have to say enough is enough. I have to protect myself once and for all and more importantly I have to protect my children. My children could never do anything to stop me being there for them. I will never abandon them like the way my parents abandoned me so many times. The thought of not being there for my children makes me feel sick to my stomach. I always try to look for the positive in situations and for me this is finally putting myself first. 

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Sibling Love

At the beginning of May we visited our local bluebell woods and at the time I completely forgot to share the pictures on my blog. I didn't think you would mind me sharing them now as there are some really lovely ones of the children. As you can see we went twice as it was just stunning!

Now would you think that this was actually situated behind an industrial estate?! As much as it seems a bit blogger cliché to do this type of post/share these pictures this really is one of my favourite times of year. I have been every year since I was pregnant with Isabelle and I love adding to my collection of family bluebell pictures.

This years ones really show the bond that the children have. The fact that it's not forced and they just genuinely love being around each other is all a Mummy could ever ask for. It was always a worry bringing a sibling into the world for Isabelle and when Charlie first came along she honestly didn't want anything to do with him! As they have gotten older they have more than made up for it. 

Isabelle always tries to include Charlie in everything which is just the sweetest. She introduces him to her friends and makes sure he's not left out. When Isabelle gets sweets she always makes sure to pick Charlie up something too. Really small simple things but at the same time show just how much she cares for him.

Now don't get me wrong they still love a good squabble but recently this is becoming less and the sibling fun is on the increase. I adore being a Mum of two and I'm so glad we made the decision to have a second baby. I can't imagine Isabelle ever being an only child now or Charlie not being in our lives for that matter. It was just meant to be.