Thursday, 17 August 2017

Our visit to Moors Valley Country Park














Last weekend we finally took a trip to Moors Valley and boy did it not disappoint! So many people had recommended it and it's only an hour and half away from us in Wiltshire. Moors Valley is free to get in to but you do need to pay for parking. It really is an all day trip out so four hours or more is £10 which I think is really good value for money considering the amount there is to do on site. You can hire bikes, go on segways and go ape is also in the park. 

We started of by going on the train which was just brilliant. A return trip lasted around 15 minutes and it was a couple of pounds each. If we could have we would have definitely gone on it again but unfortunately we ran out of time. It was like Charlie's dream true as he is obsessed with trains and it was a fab experience for the children. 

We then headed off on the gruffalo trail, which FYI you do need to download the app before you go as the signal is not brilliant once your there. You can do this here. It took us around an hour to complete and you have to find check points were the gruffalo will magically appear on the app and you can take a picture of them. Charlie loves the book but he's going through a bit of a stage at the moment were he thinks it's actually real so he was scared at the end when we found the gruffalo. It was brilliant though and I highly recommend it if your children like the gruffalo books.

Next we had a lovely picnic and we were spoilt for choice with places to sit. We found a bench in a lovely clearing which happened to be next to some sculptures of the gruffalo's child. Which meant we could eat while the children were kept occupied playing. We then headed off to the play trail which has ten different play zone's including the ant's nest and tree top trail. It took us just over two hours to complete the trail and the kids were totally shattered by the end of it. Sign of a good day!

There is so much we didn't have time for including even more trails and den building so we will definitely be heading back soon.  A brilliant family day out and a new favourite place too.





Tuesday, 15 August 2017

About Me/Work With Me


About me

I was born in Bath in 1987 and shortly after my family moved to Wiltshire. I lived in the same small village until I left home at the age of 18. I met my husband when I was 17 and we have been together ever since. We have two children, Isabelle who was born in 2012 and Charlie who was born in 2014. 

Up until 2016 I had always worked in customer service but I am now a stay at home Mum. I started this blog In December 2016 and I haven't looked back since. I had originally planned on it just being parenting based but I very quickly realised that writing about my mental health really helped me personally. The support I have received since starting has been incredible and I am so thankful.



This blog is my little place on the internet to share my journey as a Mum, my battle with anxiety and everything in between. You will find reviews, days out with my little explorers, updates on my anxiety, the trials and tribulations of being a Mum and much more. 

I am PR friendly, if you would liked to work with me I welcome you to contact me HERE, I look forward to working with you.

You can find all my social media links below, come over and say Hi! 




Disclaimer

This blog is a personal blog written and edited by Laura Stevens. This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship and other forms of compensation. I am sometimes compensated to provide opinion on services, products, websites and various other topics. Even though compensation is received for these I will always give my honest opinion, beliefs or experiences on what I am reviewing. I will always fully disclose, upfront, if compensation has been received. This blog is not responsible for what you might click through from advertisements. Any views or opinions that are represented in this blog are personal and belong to the blog owner, Laura Stevens. The views or opinions do not represent those of people, institutions or organisations that the owner may or may not be associated with in a professional or personal capacity, unless otherwise stated. 
All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog takes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries or damages from the display or use of this information. The blog owner is not responsible for the content in the comments. Please do not use the pictures on this blog without prior permission first. 


This blog disclaimer is subject to change at anytime without notification. 

Monday, 14 August 2017

National Allotment Week 14th - 20th August 2017




Potato Harvest

L to R - Parsnips, white onions and cauliflower

Carrots

Runner Beans

Tomatoes 

Strawberry Plant


Those of you that follow me on Instagram will know that we got our first ever allotment in May this year. As it is national allotment week this week I thought I would share some pictures of what we have achieved so far. We were supposed to get our allotment back in March but unfortunately it was not ready in time. When we did finally get it it was all actions stations to try and plant as much as we could so we could actually get something back from it this year. 

I had already been growing some veg from seedlings since around February which I'm so glad I did as it really helped get things going. The only things we did buy as ready grown plants are the strawberries and we also have sweet peas growing in one corner just to add some colour and to break up all the green! Around 75% of what we have grown has come from seed and I'm really proud of that. 

Considering we have never done this before I'm really pleased with how the allotment has done so far. The only thing we have harvested is the potatoes and basket upon basket of sweet peas. We also have these growing in our garden at home so the house has been full of them constantly, not that I'm complaining as the smell is incredible. I'm very excited for when everything else is ready to be picked, which shouldn't be long now.

The main reason we wanted to get an allotment was to become slightly self proficient with some of our veg and also to teach the kids how to grow their own food.  The kids have loved coming up to help and of course getting dirty! Having an allotment is a commitment as it does require a good chunk of time to get it set up. It took us a good few weeks to sort the ground out before we could plant anything. Once things have been planted and have started to grow the main thing is upkeep. Every week (well we try to) we go up to weed as unfortunately we do get stinging nettles growing on our plot. We also love that it has brought us closer to our community and Isabelle's school also has a plot up there too. 

When next May arrives we will have to decide whether we want to have the allotment for another year. Myself and my husband have already agreed that we would like to. It's the best feeling to put hard work in to something and get a brilliant reward. This being growing and eating our own fruit and veg. 

If you are considering getting an allotment or you would like more information, you can do so by speaking to your local council or by visiting The National Allotment Society's website.






Friday, 11 August 2017

Asda Little Angels nappy review






In the next few months we will be saying goodbye to nappies forever (sob). As we have used little angels nappies for five years and with both children I thought it was time that I did a review on them.

The reason we initially went for Asda's own brand of nappies back in 2012 is that we had already heard such good things about them. Also being that it was where we did our weekly food shop it just made sense to give them a go. 

We have gone from the newborn size all the way through to our latest find being the paw patrol pull up nappies which I should add Charlie is obsessed with. We now go back and forth between these and the size 6+ comfort and protect.

Now down to the nitty gritty, what do I actually think of them? Well I think they are brilliant. From day one we have never had any problems with them. Yes we had the new born stage with both children were there was the classic poonami stage were leaking is just unavoidable sometimes considering the situation. But at the time we did try a few other brands and we found that they were just not up to scratch with little angels. Charlie especially would tug on them as if they were uncomfortable and with little angels this never happened.

I have found some other brands really do not fit well but with these they are very true to size. Both children have never had any issue with rubbing around the legs or leaving a red mark from the elastic. The price for me is also another bonus, they are so reasonable. The little angels comfort and protect nappies are only £3.50. I should also say both of my children have never had nappy rash apart from right at the beginning (when let's be honest we're all figuring out how to look after a brand new baby) and I'm sure that's down to these nappies. 





We have also used their sensitive baby wipes since day one and I highly recommend them. I'm sure I will continue to buy them long after Charlie is potty trained for wiping dirty hands and faces. Mum hack, there fab for dusting too when you only have a few minutes to make your house look reasonably clean, oh come on we have all been there. 

Overall I can not recommend the Little Angels nappies and wipes enough. As we come to the end of our nappy journey I'm so glad we picked these for the past five years. Let me know if you have tried them and if you have any other staple products.



Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Am I strong enough? Self Doubt





Today was hard. Now that the children are asleep and I am sat in a quite house I'm not sure how I continued to carry on. I feel fear, I feel ill and I feel exhausted. 

Life will always throw obstacles but it's how you deal with it that matters. Most can resolve what ever it is and move on with their life. I however make myself ill with how much I let things consume me. 

Today was another example of this. Something unexpectedly happened and although I dealt with it well at the time, hours later I started to shake and the room was spinning. Then that dreaded feeling washed over me. Panic. I wanted to give in, I wanted to let it just do whatever it wanted to me so that it would be over. But no, I fought it. I pushed the feelings away and did whatever it took to not let it consume me. 

Over the past year I have started to notice that stress is affecting my anxiety more and more. The two just go hand in hand together. I find myself thinking am I strong enough to be a wife, a mother or a friend? When anxiety is my life is there enough room for everything else?




If you saw me today you wouldn't have been able to tell, as usual I put my face on and pushed through the day. What I hate is that it is hard enough to receive bad news or to go through a difficult situation but then I get a second kick to the stomach when my anxiety replays everything. It's like a double attack. 

I have been lacking in confidence recently. I have been finding it harder and harder to speak to people and to break out of my comfort zone that my anxiety puts me in. I have had to remove myself from certain friendships and situations purely because they were having a negative impact on my life. A few years ago I would never have done this but I have to do what is right for me. I can only have supportive, character boosting, loving people around me. 


The fear is setting in of waking up tomorrow and that well known feeling of panic suddenly hitting. I need to remember that it is not in control, I am. All I can do is stay true to myself and continue to fight this.  Today was bad but that's exactly what is was a bad day, everyone has them whether it is anxiety related or not. 























Friday, 4 August 2017

Do you really ever get over a traumatic birth?



The answer for me is no, it will always be with me. I still don't think I have ever really come to terms with the fact that I could have died. I look back on Charlie's birth with such happiness but with Isabelle's what happened over shadows that this was the day I became a Mummy. I do feel like I have blocked it out and for some this may work but for me it has been slowly eating away at me for five years. I also think because her birth was so quick, I never gave myself chance to understand what actually happened. 
I have written about Isabelle's birth story which you can find here. I do fully explain what happened in that post so it might be worth reading that first. 

I can still remember how utterly terrified I felt and how it was both the best and the worst time of my life. I can't bear to hear the word haemorrhage it sends a shiver down my spine. I had that moment of feeling like this is it, I have brought our baby into the world and now I won't be around to actually be her Mummy. At the time my husband never let on to how severe the situation was. As we approached the birth of Charlie we found ourselves going back to Isabelle's birth and for the first time he opened up. I could tell he was just as scared as me that it could happen again. Not to be overly graphic but all he could say about Isabelle's birth was the amount of blood that he saw in that room.   




As long as your baby is healthy and you recover the memories of a traumatic birth should fade away. Well no. Even though I did not experience PTSD it is still hard for me to not be able to look back on Isabelle's birth with complete happiness. It has though made our bond even more special. I feel even luckier to still be here to be her Mummy and that's what I strive to remember when I do think of that time. 








Friday, 28 July 2017

Review | Thrive : Feel Stress Free App




So normally with reviews you have to wait until the end for the overall opinion of what it is the review is featuring. I can't wait until the end and this might sound like a total over exaggeration, but it's totally not! This is a big statement for me to say but, this app is amazing! 

This could not have come into my life at a better time. Those of you who are regular readers of my blog will know that I have been seeing a psychology practitioner about my anxiety. I have been mentioning to friends and family that I felt like I needed something long term to help keep my anxiety under control. The appointments I have been having are all good and well but they are once every three weeks and sometimes I just need something extra. I have a huge passion for mental health and helping others so I was over the moon to have an opportunity to try this app. It covers so much more than I could have ever expected so lets start from the beginning. 





The app is bright, colourful and if an app can be welcoming it definitely is. When you first log into the app it asks for some basic details for an assessment all the while reminding you that it is always best to contact an NHS health care practitioner if you are feeling unwell which I really appreciated. Once signed up and upon opening the app on a daily basis it will ask you how you're feeling and this is how it works out what kind of tasks you should complete that day.




It will also ask you a series of questions about what it could be that's making you feel the way you are and what you think you can do to help change your mindset. This is very much CBT related and this is something that has worked for me in the past. Once it has assessed you on that particular day it will give you a few recommend tasks to complete. 





These can be breathing, meditation, deep muscle or zen garden. I have tried the app for three weeks and my favourite has been the breathing tasks. I have been using the app at night once the children have gone to bed and I never thought it would actually make me feel calmer. It also allows you to keep track of your progress along the way. It has been improving my sleep and has given me something to focus on of an evening especially because I find it so hard to wind down. 

Nothing I have tried before has helped and I am honestly amazed that this has. Something so simple yet effective at the same time.

The app is £5.99 a month but believe me it's worth it's wait in gold! It's so important to see your GP if you are not feeling OK, I cannot stress this enough. My anxiety is something that I will live with for the rest of my life but it has been brilliant to discover something that can actually help manage it.

The lovely people at Thrive have given me a discount code for my readers to get one month's free usage of the app for August. 

The code - FSFAUGUST310717. 

For more information visit the Thrive website here.



*Not sponsored. Thrive kindly let me try the app for free for one month in return for an honest review. All opinions remain my own as always. 


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. 


 *      *

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!