Zoo vs Park {Z}

I've mentioned many times how much we love the zoo. We visit almost every week, sometimes for just one hour.
For my birthday last year I put some of my birthday money towards a season ticket so we could visit whenever we wanted to.
I then had my concerns that it would lose its appeal, for me and for the boys.
*sarcastic tone* "Oh Wow, another Lion!"
*sarcastic tone* "Wow! A Rhino!"

So I came up with a plan.
* Some days we turn left once we come through the entrance.
* Some days we turn right.
* Some days we'll only see the Rhinos, Lions, Giraffes and Big Ducka (Ostrich) and other days we'll only go and see the monkeys.
* Some days we will just go to do the stamp trail and not bother so much with seeing the animals.
* Some days we'll only go for the playground.

I hate going to the park. I'll only go to the park if I'm with someone else.
I'm worried about bumping into people from school, I'm worried about big children picking on the boys, I'm worried about dodging dog mess, I'm worried about condoms, glass, needles, beer cans.
I'm worried about one of the boys hurting themselves and me not being able to deal with it because I have the other one to watch too.

I feel secure at the zoo.
Ok I might bump into someone from school and there could be bullies BUT its big enough for me to walk elsewhere, to walk away. The park isn't.
I know there won't be dog mess, condoms, needles, glass and beer cans.
And I know that if anything happened to the boys that there are members of staff around to help and there's a first aid room.

Then there's the issue of if anything happened to me. I know that someone would find me. That there would be people to help. That the boys could go find someone.
That might not be the case at the park.

Then there is the fact that the zoo is educational AND fun. Everytime we go we learn something new. We use our imaginations.

And despite my concerns we are definitely not getting bored of seeing the animals.
We visited last week and I had one of those moments that take your breath away when we walked into the Giraffe house. There were 5 Giraffe in there and I was mesmerised by their different markings, the way they slowly glided around the room, with one walking over so close that I could almost touch it (like I have done before...shhh)
Last week we also got closer to a Rhino than ever before. Charles normally claims that these are his favourite animal and that he would like to cuddle one. As we went into the Rhino House to see if there were any indoors, one Rhino came walking right up to the bars. I was literally a centimetre away and had I been brave (and stupid?!) enough, could have touched his horns. I wasn't brave (or stupid) enough. And neither was Charles, who proceeded to scream the place down and shout that "the Rhino is going to get you mummy! Don't let him get me mummy!"
The Rhino walked off to do a wee, which apparently was very funny, especially as it ends up standing in its wee. Only then he decided to come back over and be really close to us again. Queue Charles' screaming again.

I love that zoo. I feel comfortable there and safe. Unlike at the park.
The zoo has everything.

Z for the a-z blogger challenge. Zoo.


My Week That Was {3}

I have been so busy with the posts for the April A-Z Challenge that I lost my way with 'My Week That Was'. I love this link up hosted by Katie at Mummy Daddy and Me Makes Three and nosing at what everyone else has been up to.

Monday: Today was my seven year wedding anniversary. This morning the boys played nicely together which was fab and I took the opportunity to make some cheese scones whilst Harry was having a break from hanging off my legs.
We had lunch then there was a knock at the door. My husband had ordered me some beautiful flowers for our anniversary. I then took the boys to the zoo for a couple of hours. Harry slept the majority of the time and woke up as we were about to go on the playground. As we were basically the only people in the whole zoo and the playground was empty I took advantage of this and put both boys in the swings (normally you'd have to keep one free for other children! Etiquette!)
That evening I went out with my husband to a pub that had recently been refurbished. There was a beautiful view over the River Waveney, it would've been even nicer had the weather been better and there have been a gorgeous sunset but I was pleased nevertheless.
Our meal was beautiful and we decided to risk walking home, the rain had stopped thankfully.

Tuesday: This morning I had my therapy session then when I came home I got the boys ready and we popped to the local petrol station to grab some sandwiches and drinks. The weather was pants but we went and sat in a secluded car park overlooking the sandy beach and sea.
We then went to a baby and toddler group for the first time. I was so nervous but as I went in realised I knew 2 of the mums there and also made another friend who is oddly similar to me with regards to parenting styles! We all had great fun and hope to go again.

Wednesday: Sainsburys delivered my weekly shop this morning and I made cheese and chive scones.
We had to go to hospital in the afternoon for Charles' eye appointment and as he did so well this time I took him to the shops after we'd dropped my husband back home. We bought lots of sweets & went to McDonalds to get a cheeky chocolate milkshake and sat by the seaside again, just in the car as it was stupidly wet and windy.
We soon came home and played. Charles explored his 1001 Thomas Sticker book which I'd bought him previously to encourage him to be good at his eye appointment. They have to do a lot of tests and any toddler would get bored and frustrated, which Charles normally does, but with the promise of the sticker book and sweets he was amazing and did us proud.

Thursday: My mum came round to look after Harry for an hour whilst I took Charles to Jo Jingles. Both boys had been poorly for a couple of weeks and both were getting worse so when we got back I took them to the doctors. Both were diagnosed with chest infections.
The afternoon involved being on sick watch. Harry had been awfully sick a couple of times, and Charles was too. Charles ended up waking up at 10.30 and after trying to settle him back in his own bed we brought his mattress into the spare room. (where I co-sleep with Harry every night) This was adorable as when Harry saw Charles on the bed on the floor he was so excited and launched himself out of my arms and was just laughing in Charles' face for 15 minutes. I ended up basically pinning Harry down and forcing him to sleep. Charles was asleep by 11.30 but it took me an hour more to get Harry to settle. Charles ended up in bed with us at 1.30 which was cramped but so sweet waking up and seeing both boys cuddling.

Friday: Boring day of cuddles and being on sick watch.

Saturday: My mum came to babysit the boys and I went to the hairdressers to get my highlights sorted (10-1) We were supposed to go and get Harry his first pair of shoes but he was extremely sick and slept on me all afternoon.
In total this day I changed my clothes 5 times.

Sunday: So now I am poorly, as is my husband, and we are all feeling pretty tired, well except for Charles who seems to never rest.
I was getting fed up with doing nothing so we all popped to Matalan to get some bits we needed for our friends wedding next week (shirt, cardigan, headband, waistcoat for Harry)
As soon as we got in I made us a roast dinner and we watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
In the middle of watching it Charles announced "I need an Oompa Loompa" which sent us into fits of laughter. Apparently he needs one to play trains with.
I thought today would end up a sick-fest as Harry had already brought up loads by 7.40(am) but thankfully it ended up clear! Wooo!



Yesterday {Y}

 I feel like we've done so much with Charles so far in his life. With holidays, days out, weekends away, parties etc.
I want to do the best I can to keep these experiences fresh in his mind.
To do the best I can to make these experiences memories.
Memories he will remember for the rest of his life.
I can't remember what my first memory is. I have a lot of memories from being young but nothing stands out as the earliest.

Sometimes I am blown away by the things Charles remembers. His sense of direction is amazing and he can remember little details.
For example. When we went to our local air show last year we parked in the nearby Asda car park. We shop at Asda regularly so use this car park all the time. But a month or so ago I parked in the same spot we did when we went to the air show...and Charles remembered. He said "we've come to see the planes again' and at first I had no idea what he was talking about and then it clicked.

I regularly show him photos of our holiday to Lanzarote and as a result I think its really helped to keep his memories alive.
If we don't look at photos we simply talk about things we've done, mostly picking out key moments.
Ie/ going for a walk to the woods and picking pine cones from the trees or going for a walk to the old Roman Town and him running after a stick.
These key things then ignite the smaller memories and bring everything together.

The cute thing about Charles relaying his memories to anyone is that he says he did everything yesterday.
"We went to the woods yesterday."
"We saw a boat yesterday."
"We saw Rhinos yesterday."
"I went to the hairdressers yesterday."
"We went to music group yesterday."
"We went to Lanzarote yesterday."

When I was little I used to say everything was last week or next week. I think its really sweet that Charles seems to do something similar.

Yesterday...in Charles' mind...was a very busy day!

Y for the a-z blogger challenge. Yesterday.



X, XX or XXX? {X}

 I never really know how to end messages with regards to kisses.
I hate ending messages with no kisses at all. It almost seems too blunt.
Even "professional" or should I say formal emails I have to stop myself from sticking a simple X on the end.

I used to put 3 X's on the end of every text. And then my mum got offended because I was giving friends the same about of X's as I was giving her (which seems extremely petty now) and as I am easily influenced (I suppose) I cut down the amount of X's on other people texts.
Now its a mish mash of X or XX.

My brother also recently voiced his annoyance at how many X's I ended his texts with. I used to put XXX. To him this was the equivalent of a snog. So now, I can only put one...two if I'm feeling rebellious.

I have a friend who I message almost daily. To look through our texts/Whatsapp messages its quite bizarre as we flit between one X, two X's sometimes no X's. And if we are feeling soppy we will put 4 or 5.

Messages to my husband always end in as many X's we can put until our thumbs ache. I used to put them so they filled up a whole text message but we mainly use BBM to message now and it would be neverending!!

I tend to either stick to one or two with friends via Facebook or Twitter unless its a special occasion (birth of a baby, engagement, pregnancy, wedding) or something sad in which case I'll give as many X's as I feel appropriate to give.

I'm also wary of how many kisses I give to men. One or two is the general rule. It would all matter on how well I know them, if my husband knows them, if I know their wife/girlfriend, or their sexuality. Too many X's can be seen as being over-friendly or flirty.

I also sneak in an X into the middle of a text or message sometimes, if I feel appropriate.
"Sorry to hear you are poorly xx Hope the boys are ok x"
"Well done on passing your exams x When can I see you? x"

I know some people feel like X's are inappropriate due to the fact that you wouldn't kiss someone at the end of every sentence if you were talking to them in real life.
But to me, a X isn't always a kiss.
Its a hug, a kiss, a high five, or simply a full stop. I find a text can look very blunt or abrupt if a X isn't on the end.
A X can totally change the tone of a text/message.

In real life I am an affectionate person so I am going to be the same via text or online.

It seems totally appropriate to end this post in a particular way....

xxx X for the a-z blogger challenge. X


We {W}

 I get frustrated sometimes at people saying how I need "me time" and need to spend time away from the boys.
That I need time away from being a mummy and need to just be Lauren.

I very rarely feel the need to have proper time to myself. As long as I get 5 minutes to get ready in the morning and at bedtime then I'm happy...and of course any opportunity to go to the toilet alone without a baby hanging off my leg and a toddler creating havoc whilst he brushes his teeth and washes his hands.
When I get a couple of hours to myself when I go to the hairdressers I feel totally lost and spend most of my time talking about the boys or looking at photos of them.
I don't feel myself if the boys aren't with me. I guess they are my comfort blanket in a way.

I just don't feel like I need that time away from them. Charles went to a childminder on a Wednesday morning but we recently stopped it and one of the reasons was that I want him with me.

Its very cliché but we definitely come as a package and they do make me feel whole.
Being without them, I just don't feel myself....because I'm not.

W for the a-z blogger challenge. We.



"Therapy" and That Stupid Vessel {V}

 So...I went to "therapy" on Tuesday. I thought this was the start of the treatment they would be doing with me to sort me out but I was told that the lady (different one to the one I saw before) wanted to go through everything and see if this treatment was right for me.
I have a lot of things I want to sort out. Harrys birth, anxiety, insecurities.
Due to this I never know where to start when someone says "right, tell me about what's been going on".
Somehow the conversation kept steering away from Harrys birth, which I was previously told was the issue they would be initially dealing with, and as much as I tried to steer it back it wasn't working.
The hour seemed to focus on talking about my dad, my issues with abandonment, and we didn't even touch on the anxieties I've been having and barely talked about Harrys birth.

When we did talk about Harrys birth I was made, at one point, to feel like I was the one who has caused this trauma because I wanted to know what was going on.
"If you would have told them to not tell you if something was going wrong or there was a problem then you wouldn't be going through this would you, you wouldn't have known".
Other than that being totally insensitive and unhelpful, it was also untrue.
The vessel being there, blocking Harrys way out, meant that I had 2 options, emergency caesarean section or waters broken in a controlled environment, with lots of staff, strapped up to monitors, and the possibility that it might still have burst the vessel.
I was extremely lucky that, although we did the latter, everything worked out perfectly and the vessel didn't burst.
My trauma has been based around what I've learnt about the condition; Vasa Praevia, what could have happened. Any flashbacks I had ended badly. Also I find it hard to accept that Harry is here sometimes, almost like "Final Destination-esque" and keep thinking he will be taken from me. Everytime he bangs his head I think its the end. I want to wrap him up in cotton wool, bubble wrap, in anything and everything I can to protect him.

I blame myself the majority of the time for what could have happened. I see that it was my fault that our baby was in danger since day one. Ok so there was nothing I could've done (apparently, I of course question this) but it was MY body that created the vessel. MINE. Therefore, I have to take responsibility.
So why, why, why would she, a professional, then [possibly] plant a seed in my mind that makes now not only blame myself for the vessel being there in the first place, but then also blame myself for the trauma afterwards.
Luckily I don't blame myself for the trauma. I know that I NEEDED to know about the condition whether I wanted to or not.
She ran the risk of planting that in my head. Of making me worse.
But why would that matter to her? It doesn't, because I won't be seeing her again.
She's referring me to a different treatment because she thinks I should "put the birth stuff to one side and get over it in my own time" (her words!!)

The thing is, I would've agreed with her. I was starting to feel better about it, until we went to the hospital today for Charles' eye appointment. We parked very near to where we did when I was in labour with Harry. I knew the exact spot that I had a major contraction.
I'd been to that car park 3 times since Harrys birth and was ok, but today, I sat and panicked. I imagined the vessel bursting right there.
We walked into the hospital and saw lots of people being pushed around on the big white plastic wheelchairs. I imagined myself sat on one of those, in labour, blood everywhere.
I felt so uncomfortable there today, and normally I have no problems with hospitals at all.
We have to go back in a months time and I hoping that all will be ok then and that this was just a one off.

The vessel may be long gone now, but it will always be a part of my life.
I'll never get over the anger of it being there and although I blame myself for it being there I will NEVER blame myself for the trauma.
If I didn't know about the Vasa Praevia then I wouldn't have known why I was taken from the birthing pool on the midwife led unit to a bed on the delivery suite and would forever have felt angry for not having a second water birth, which I felt strongly about at the time.
But also, I wouldn't be able to raise awareness of the condition.
And I wouldn't trust my body so much. My body told me that something was wrong. Instinct. I told the midwife countless times and then they eventually discovered the vessel.
My body told me it was there.
My body didn't push my baby out until it was safe for him to come.

But then my body also put that stupid vessel there....

V for the a-z blogger challenge. Vessel. Vasa Praevia.



Unconditional Love {U}

- adjective
1. absolute; without conditions or reservations
- Related Forms:  
un·con·di·tion·al·ly- adverb    un·con·di·tion·al·i·ty- noun

"So, tell me about your feelings for your dad" the therapist said to me this morning.
My head went all busy. What's the right answer?
"Well I love him, but then, grrrr, part of me HATES him"
No one should need to say that about their dad. Or feel that way.
But that is how I feel.

The following has been sat in my phone for a couple of weeks, I was going to post it but then I thought better of it, but after my first therapy session this morning and the fact that this *still* is a huge issue for me I've realised that I need to just let it all out.
I worried incase my dad came across this, or anyone he knows, but why should I keep it in? I have nothing to be ashamed of.

Dear Dad;

I wonder if you ever feel an ounce of guilt for leaving.
For never giving us a reason for leaving.
For never properly saying goodbye. Just popping home in your lunch break, surprised to see me on the sofa and not at school. Why was I at home? Because I was an emotional wreck that day due to the conversations the previous night. Us trying to find out what you were up to behind our backs.
We knew. It might have been ok if you would have just admitted it. Or gave us a reason. But all of the lies. The draining, continuous, draining lies.
To just go upstairs, pack black bin bags then say "see you later" to me and leave. As if you'd just packed bedding to take to the dry cleaners. When in reality.
You left. Without saying proper goodbye.
Without giving a reason.
To then not answer your phone when I called because I knew something was up. That why I checked the wardrobe as soon as you left.
For 10 years I've carried around the hurt of that day.
For 10 years I've carried around the question "why?". Why did you leave? Why weren't we good enough? Why didn't you say tell us you were going?
You didn't even leave a note. We would have just come home from school. Mum would have come home from work and we wouldn't have known until mum would've gone into the wardrobe.

I wonder if you are aware, or even care, that you still affect my life. You still hurt me.
10 years of chasing after you trying to keep our relationship intact. Putting up with rejection, psycho girlfriends, weeks of not hearing from you.
Hearing all the lies you told your previous girlfriends about your life.

You shouldn't have done any of this to me. You want people to pity you. Well I do. But not in the way you want.
You had a fantastic life before, you threw it away. You might be happy now but I know what you're really like.
It doesn't matter who you're with, as long as you're with someone. We know this is true by the state of your past partners.

You can't hurt me like you did anymore. I have the children to occupy my time and make me realise I am worthy and that people do want me in their lives.
I will never tell them what you did. Because I don't want them to think badly of you.
I don't have to do that you know. I don't have to protect you.
You ever, ever, EVER hurt my boys [emotionally] then they will know EXACTLY what you are like.

Sometimes I hate that I love you. But that's Unconditional Love for you.

U for the a-z blogger challenge. Unconditional.

Dear So and So...


It's Good To Talk {T}

 I've just got back from a date night with my husband. Its our 7 year wedding anniversary so we got a babysitter round (in the form of my mum) and decided to go out for food.
We've finished 2 bottles of sparkling rose wine, with a whiskey/baileys after and had a walk home.

What I didn't expect was the conversation.
I was worried that we wouldn't know what to talk about but the whole night the conversation just flowed.
We talked about the boys, families, babies, houses, holidays, Harrys birth, radio, life in general.

I really feel that in the three and a half/four hours we were out that we reconnected somehow.
I've said before how important I think date nights are and due to having a new baby and life being so busy we haven't managed a date night for a while so night was amazing.
It made me realise just how important date nights are to a relationship.

At night we sit on the sofas, television on, phones in hand, Harry asleep on or next to me and we barely talk.
Tonight we had no distractions.
We talked about things we've talked about a million times before.
We talked about things we've never talked about before.
But importantly, we talked.
We reconnected.
We were ourselves, rather than mummy/wife/nurse/chef/daddy/husband/breadwinner etc.

I have my therapy session tomorrow morning where I'll do even more talking but tonight was a welcome distraction to that and a lovely few hours to relax and enjoy a wonderful mans company.

T for the a-z blogger challenge. Talking.



Seven {S}

Seven Wonders Of The World:
The Great Pyramid of Egypt
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
The Statue of Zeus at Olympia
The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
The Colossus of Rhodes
The Lighthouse of Alexandria

Seven Deadly Sins:

Seven Heavenly Virtues:

Seven Swans-a-Swimming.
Representing 7 gifts of the oly spirit.

The Seven Seas:
The Pacific Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean
The Indian Ocean
The Arctic Ocean
The Mediterranean Sea
The Caribbean Sea
The Gulf of Mexico

Seven days of the week:

And, on Monday, seven years of wedded bliss as we celebrate our seventh wedding anniversary.

And that seven year itch can stay well away from us!

S for the a-z blogger challenge. Seven.




Real Housewives {R}

I can't quite remember when I was first made aware of the Real Housewives series'.
I know the first ones I watched were Real Housewives of New Jersey and WOW are those women crazy sometimes.
I love reality tv anyway but this was brilliant. Some of the women were lovely and some were...well...not so lovely. The houses were HUGE. And the lifestyles seemed fantastic.

I then found Real Housewives of Orange County and fell in love with it. Again some of the women are lovely and there are a couple who are quite annoying. Again, the houses are amazing, their clothes are fabulous and they all have amazing hair...well Gretchen and Alexis do (note to hairdresser: I want hair as blonde as theirs!!)
Their lifestyle also seems to envious to me, 60% of the time, although I am aware that a lot of it is set up for the cameras.

Of course I'm not envious of the drama, I have enough of that in my own life, but it can make you realise that
1: You aren't alone and that everyone has drama in their lives of some sort.
2: Girls can be so incredibly catty and far too precious/two faced.

When it came to me deciding to write this blog I sat for a while coming up with a list of names...most of which were already taken, then as I sat watching Real Housewives of Orange County I had a lightbulb moment and thus my blog name was born.

Although I am not claiming to have a lifestyle like any of these women.
I don't have a nanny for my boys, I don't go away for girls weekends, I don't have an amazing figure, I don't have regular trips to get botox/other forms of cosmetic surgery, my boobs are real, I don't have amazing hair. (anymore)
I am though a real housewife.
I think most of the housewives who read my blog would have more in common with me than those on RHoOC.
I've never fancied a trip to America before, which most people find shocking, but if I HAD to go I'd visit Orange County and hunt down these women to see if they look as amazing as they do on the show close up...and all the time.

R for the a-z blogger challenge. Real Housewives, Reality.



The Option of Quitting {Q}

  I went into Sixth Form a bit blind really. I got a place at college on a course higher than the one I'd applied for because they thought I was too good for the lower course. This was due to my experience, working with adults with head injuries and brain damage, and due to the amazing reference I was given.
For some stupid reason I decided instead to go to sixth form. I studied Sociology, Media, Psychology and English.
I dropped English pretty quick, despite loving it as a subject, and eventually went on to drop Psychology.
I left with 2 A Levels.
2 A Levels I can do nothing with.
I got a U in Sociology, or an F, I can't remember. And that was down to being offended by a couple of the questions in the exam paper and answering the questions in a ranty style rather than as an 'educated Sociology student'.
I'm not ashamed of that, I'm proud of what I believe in and want to stick up for myself when I can.
Psychology is the one I'm annoyed with.
We had to take an exam in the January. I got an E. I was quite pleased with that as others around me got a U. Then my teacher said she thought I should re-sit it because I could do better.
I loved Psychology and would go into class with files and files full of research.
So I re-sat...and got a U.
I then, rather than moving up to the second year with the rest of my class, decided to start afresh. I started the year all over again, with people a year younger than me.
I still enjoyed the class, I enjoyed the learning, the researching, everything. But a lot of our learning was down to group discussions. And the class was a shambles. My fellow students were simply doing Psychology to "be cool" so whereas I wanted to learn and digest dates, names and studies, they all wanted to talk about "Joe and oh my god what he did with Sophie and oh my god I can't even believe they would do that behind Carlas back an' dat, but it was alright because Carla was totally like getting off with Ollie but they're all mates because they were high on weed and stuff".
It was easy to quit.
And it was my only choice.

I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up. Well I wanted to manage a day care centre for adults with head injuries and brain damage. But stupid me, how would media, english and psychology help towards that.

I quit driving lessons to move away, and then quit driving lessons then because I didn't want to take my test in Bedford, and we were moving back home anyway. I'm glad I did that in a way as I'm not sure if I was completely ready then.
But also I have my regrets. If I could drive when we moved back home then we could've got a house a little out of the way in the country as we always wanted. Instead we had to go for something a bit more central so I had access to public transport.

I quit my job in a bakery because one lady in management was a bully and a bit of a psycho and I wanted something better. Which I got, in Boots. So this was a positive move.
I then had to quit the job at Boots when we moved home and I hated it. The day I handed in my notice I felt sick. I cried non-stop on my last day. And still now I miss that job so much.
The job I went on to was rubbish and everyday I wanted to quit.
In the end my thinking was "get another job or get pregnant"...I chose the latter.
And then...I quit! Best decision EVER!

And now I'm a mummy and a wife who can drive. I didn't quit my lessons once I came home. Charles was a year old when I passed my test and he was the reason I couldn't quit. I needed to be able to drive for his sake. So we could go out and not be stuck inside most of the time.

Life isn't about quitting now. No matter how hard parenting can be you can't quit, even if you sometimes feel like it.
Its about working through those problems and issues and finding a positive solution. Rather than running away.
You can send the child off to nursery/nanny/childminder/aunty X but they come back.
Quitting is simply not an option.

The same goes with a marriage. You can't just call it a day. There's too much at stake. Too much too lose.
It's not easy to quit.
You work through it. Make changes if necessary.
We celebrate our 7 year wedding anniversary on Monday and in those 7 years I've left once to stay at my mums after an argument. That was this year. And I'd had a hard couple of days with the boys.
It wasn't about quitting, or ending it. It was about getting some space and the next day when we saw each other we burst out laughing.
For us, quitting is not an option.

Q for the a-z blogger challenge. Quitting.



Print, Points, Props and Photography {P}

I've always loved photography but in January 2010, after taking a ridiculous amount of photos of Charles and everything we'd done for the past 6 months, and the photos of my pregnancy, things stepped up a level.
My husband bought me a DSLR after realising my passion but I also loved seeing the results I could get from a simple point and shoot compact camera.
Photography helped create a kind of therapy with my anxiety at the time and was able to eliminate bad feelings by causing a creative distraction.
Taking photos and then editing them made my mind come alive.
Different angles, light, focus, zooming, cropping, effects all played a key part in me getting through this quite difficult time.

I am a lover of animal print and couldn't believe my luck when I saw these shoes cheap in shop.
I hardly had any wear out of them until they broke annoyingly, but I was able to play with them [they made great props] and get these photos.

P for A-Z blogger challenge. Photos. Print. Points. Photography. Picnik. Props. Passion. Play.



Obstacles {O}

 Up until now I've found parenting quite easy. I've been able to be quite laid back and most things go over my head. Not in a 'I don't care' kind of way but more of 'its just a phase' way.

We face obstacles everyday. Some bigger than others.
Teething, growth spurts, illness, injections.
All things that I have been able to deal with and totally forget about after.

But at the moment things seem to be getting so big and almost uncontrollable.
I guess I'm feeling like this more so tonight because I'm tired and poorly. Harry is also poorly and for 3 days we've been playing 'throw-up roulette' as he coughs and the majority of the time I end up covered in sick. I don't mind. It's in the job description.

Behaviour obsticales seem to be the worst at the moment.
Now I never ever moan about my children. I've never done so on Facebook.
I never indicate anything about bad behaviour.
But now I have no choice.
I need to know this is normal and I need to know how to cope.

Almost everything is a battle with Charles.
Dinner time. We now end up either sending him to bed with an almost empty tummy or having to spoon feed him.
Tidy up time. Normally resulting in a tantrum and toys being thrown/pushed around everywhere.
Him listening/hearing what I'm saying. Having to tell him things 3 or 4 times.
Hitting/chasing the cat. I *need* her to let him know he can't do that but she just runs off and sulks. She is so scared of him now and hides all day until he has gone to bed.

Everything is obviously 10 times harder because whilst I'm having to now return to watching his every move as if he was a newborn baby, I'm also having to keep an eye on our very fast moving crawling/cruising baby AND keeping the house in order. The latter has totally gone down hill recently to the point that I can't see myself ever getting it organised.

I've never before dreaded days but every morning I just think 'oh god! What's coming today?'
Today started great, we'd been playing, play fighting, dancing, being acrobats, but around 2 o clock it went downhill and this different boy turned up. Its like Charles goes and this difficult boy turns up.

Wednesdays seem to be the worst as Charles goes to a childminders from 8 until 12 and when he comes home his behaviour is all over the place. This is part of the reason he has his last day there tomorrow.

My patience wears think some days and I find myself getting very angry.
What I hate the most about this is that Harry see's me like that and I don't want him to think badly of me.

I need this to be a phase Charles is going through and not a permanent behaviour trait.
I need to get past this obstacle and onto the next one! One which I can handle a lot easier.

O for the a-z blogger challenge. Obstacles.



Nicknames {N}

I think its safe to say we are fans of using nicknames in our house.
Infact it's a surprise we can keep up as we don't tend to stick to just the one nickname...and we have similar/the same nicknames for the boys sometimes so it can get confusing!

Cheeky Sneaky
Cheeky Sneaky Weasel
Mumim (Charles says this)

The Chuckster
Biggy big boy
Cheeky Monkey
Tickle Bunkin (the way he used to say Cheeky Monkey)
Tinkle Bunk
Chargee (the way he used to say Charlie)
The Baby
Cutie McCute
Woody Wood Wood

Cheeky Monkey
The Baby
Baby Boy
Chunker Monk
Harim (Charles says this)
Cutie McCute
Wee Woody Wood Wood

Dadim (Charles says this)

N for  a-z blogger challenge: Nicknames.




My Best Friend Called Music {M}

I was having a conversation in the car with my husband recently about music.
We were specifically talking about how certain songs make you feel, how listening to them can take you back 1 year, 5 years, 10 years or even 20 years ago and you feel exactly like you did back then.
This can be in a negative or positive way.

Timbaland and Nelly Furtado Promiscuous came on the radio and I turned it up and was singing along.
It put an instant smile on my face.
It reminded me of a rubbish time, during my last job which was horrid. I had 4 songs on my phone which I would play in my lunch break or anytime I was alone in the office...either doing paperwork or cashing up, or just hiding away...and these songs seemed to make me feel better.
They picked my mood up for the 3-5 minutes that they were on and took me to a happy place, despite the fact I was in a horrible place.

* Timbaland, Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake: Give It To Me.
* Timbaland, 50 Cent and Justin Timberlake: Ayo Technology
* Timbaland and Kerry Hilson: The Way I Are
* Axwell: Watch The Sunrise

After thinking about it I realised I have a few songs that have helped me through hard times, or potential tough times in my life.

Vuelve by Ricky Martin. Helped me through puberty and a broken heart. Although any Ricky Martin song reminds me of this time and helps me even now when I feel a bit down will instantly pick me up.
In fact Latin songs in general seem to be a common genre of music to take me away from everything. When I first got into Latin music I was in a good place in my life. Everything was perfect. I felt good about myself. And so the music always seems to ignite these feelings. DLG: Magdalena Mi Amor is one of my top favourites.

Jessica Simpson With You and In This Skin reminds me of when I first left home. I've always been a Jessica Simpson fan and was [am still] obsessed with the Newlyweds series. When I first moved away I couldn't get a job for a while so my time was taken up mostly by watching Newlyweds...not that I'm complaining.

Peter Andre, Call The Doctor and Behind Closed Doors reminds me of when I was a new mummy for the first time. And of course reminds me of when I saw him in concert.

Two other songs which I can listen to and instantly close me off to the rest of the world for the duration of the songs are
Chicane feat Tom Jones: Stoned In Love and D.Kay & Epsilon- Barcelona. These songs just make my heart beat and flutter and I can't help but dance along with my eyes closed, locked in the moment.

Ellie Goulding just takes me off into a floaty pretty world. I saw her in concert in 2010, I'd only recently found out I was pregnant. The concert was amazing. Totally amazing. Her voice totally blew me away and I am in awe of her talent.
Starry Eyed was always my favourite and for a long time I loved the song and didn't know the name of it or the singer, it was a mystery, then somehow I found out.

Simply Red, Steps and Daniel Bedingfield have all helped me in my life too.

And the main band who helped me when I moved away, when I felt lonely and a bit lost at times, was....The Darkness.
From my home town. Again their songs just hit me, right in my heart, and give me butterflies. I'm not a rocker at all but they make me want to play air guitar and air drums and throw my hair around.

I guess the most recent song to pick up my mood is Olly Murs Heart Skips a Beat. Not just for the music, beat and his beautiful voice, but because it was a song Charles and I went through a stage of dancing to everyday.

Finally, I can't mention music and how it makes me feel without mentioning Black Lace: Superman and Brigada Bum: Chu Chu Ua.
Superman reminds me of holidays when I was little, as well as Agadoo of course, and now they remind me of our very last minute holiday to Lanzarote last year. This is where we were introduced to Chu Chu Ua.
These past two weeks we have had a 'mini disco' in our lounge at least once a day. I find the songs on YouTube then Charles and I dance to them.
Certainly is a mood picker upper.

Look at my list of songs above...you can't say I don't have a variety of tastes in music!

I love that any time I am having a hard time its sometimes something as simple as putting on a certain song or album that can put things into perspective or take you away and totally change your feelings, without having to hassle or involve anyone else.
Music really can be your best friend- reliable, trustworthy and always there.

M for the a-z blogger challenge. Music. Mood.



Love {L}

I didn't ever think I'd have enough love to give one child.
I certainly didn't think I'd be able to love a second.
And just when I think I couldn't love them any more than I do now,
I fall deeper in love the next day.

THIS is love.
I am lucky.

L for the a-z blogger challenge. Love. Lucky.



Is It Wrong To Kiss? {K}

Is it wrong for young boys to kiss?
Not a full on snoggy kiss. But a peck goodbye?

I've never discouraged Charles from kissing anyone. He used to kiss his friend Milo goodbye but they have now stopped and will instead hug or just do a huge, over-exaggerated wave in each others faces.
Charles will though, most of the time, kiss his friend Grace goodbye.

He's also very affectionate with his brother, and sometimes kisses him far too much. Not a problem of course, as one day they won't want to do that kind of thing I guess.

At Harry's Christening two of the toddler guests, who had only really socialised for the first time, kissed each other goodbye. They were two boys.
Although this was OBVIOUSLY innocent as they are JUST small boys, there was a hint of disgust in the air from one of the fathers as he looked away and his face went red with anger. The women in the room all "awww'ed".
When I quizzed him he said he didn't want his son to be gay.
Why does him kissing another child mean he will be gay? They are only young after all and it has nothing to do with being sexual or sexuality. It's a simple greeting or leaving gesture.

I am quite an affectionate person and would happily cuddle my husband, sons, dad, mum, brother, nan in public. At my wedding someone took a photo of me giving my dad a kiss.
When going through my wedding album someone said 'ewwww'. When I asked why they stated that the fact I was kissing my dad on the lips was horrid.
It was a simple peck. Not a snog. And he is my dad. Where is the problem?

I certainly want the boys to be affectionate with me when they are older and not embarressed to kiss me hello or goodbye.

I find that, as a culture, we tend to have an odd relationship with kissing or affection as a whole.
One thing I love about France and other foreign countries is there openness and the fact that saying hello, or goodbye, normally involves 2 or 3 kisses.
In my experience in this country, depending on your class I suppose, kissing is either a form of flirting, cheating, or an indication that you are gay.
I would love to be able to greet my 'girlfriends' with a kiss as they walk in the door. They would however be mortified.
I would like to be able to greet their boyfriends and husband with a kiss as they come round but I would be flirting or inappropriate.

I wish we could be a little more open and affectionate rather than so 'enclosed' and sometimes 'stand offish'.

Maybe I should move to France?
Mwah. Mwah.

K for the a-z blogger challenge. Kiss. Kissing.


Justify and Judge {J}

Having children certainly changes everyones lives.
I've had to discover patience, sleepless nights, explodapoos, and how baby snot and sick is an everyday accessory on clothes.
I didn't think I would experience such harshness from family members.
I get the whole "they're only trying to help" thing. I accept that. But there's a line _______ and more often than not that line is being crossed.
There's a difference between being helpful, and being judgemental and completely making you feel you are a bad parent and doing things wrong.

I've had 2 relationships totally close down due to this. Everything I was doing was being judged and I was being told that everything I was doing was wrong.
DON'T co-sleep.
DON'T feed on demand.
DON'T listen to health visitors and midwives.
And certainly DON'T rest!!
Enough was enough and it resulted in this person even sending me abusive text messages and writing statuses aimed at me on Facebook, all because I decided to parent how I wanted to!
This person then attacked me over anything and everything and it resulted in me changing phone numbers eventually.

I now find I have someone else who I feel is judging me quite a lot as the boys get older. Well judging me for the way I treat Charles.
I'm quite a pushover and am aware of this so try hard to stand my ground and be "the boss".
This person seems to not get this and will ignore things I've said or not give me the support I need from them. (I am not talking about my husband by the way)
In terms of discipline I am trying various things at the moment to see what is right for us.
I follow the rule sometimes of if Charles is honest, says sorry and knows he's done wrong then he doesn't get punished. But other things need better punishment and I follow the rule of 3 times on the naughty step, after the third time, if he still misbehaves, then he goes to bed.
I also take away toys.
As my husband says, its all about consequences which I need Charles to be aware of.
Obviously at the moment I can't ground him, or employ a no tv rule as it won't mean anything to him.

Why am I even explaining it to you? Because I constantly feel like I have to justify every choice and decision I have made.
I didn't expect people to question me so much. I thought people who had "been there, done that" would at least remember what its like to be in my position, to not feel totally confident in all your choices and wanting to receive support rather than having eyes watching everything you do and judging everything you do.
I've certainly learnt more about the people I have in my life.

Thankfully I am confident in the choices I'm making but I also think parenting is about making mistakes every now and then and learning what's right for you and your family.
Which is exactly what we are doing.

J for the a-z blogger challenge. Judgemental. Judgement. Justify.


Imagination {I}

When I woke up this morning I was given important information from my husband and Charles. I was no longer simply known as mummy. I was now "Mummy Snail".
Charles was "Charlie Snail", my husband was "Daddy Snail" and Harry was "Mister Harry Snail"

I lost count of how many different people Charles was today.
Charlie Snail.
The Shapes [from Mister Maker]
Mister Maker
Mrs Goggins
Buzz Lightyear. (Daddy was Woody and I was Mr Potato Head...charming!)
A Bridge!
A Towel Nosed Alien.
A Cat.

At this stage his imagination is going wild. Normally I'd "blame" Show Me Show Me and give them credit for influencing him but I can't remember the last time we watched an episode as he's SO into Mister Maker.

Sometimes I can't keep up with what's going on in his head.
Today, for example, there was apparently a bunny, a cat and a bear outside. They had two bananas NOT five bananas.

And on Sunday the "Towel Nosed Alien" had arrived in his spaceship and had taken Charles away. The Towel Nosed Alien is identical to Charles but has a bigger bum.
I asked the Towel Nosed Alien if he could go and find Charles, which he did, but he squished him in his hand.
I asked if he could please make Charles big again, but he made him too big so he was like a giant. He then made him smaller, but accidentally made him too small so we couldn't find him.

Charles also regularly plays at being a hairdresser, going to school, being a waiter, going to the doctors and his favourite one is going to the shops.
He's also recently become a daddy for the first time.
Since he had his new digger for the garden he also plays at being a farmer and uses my pegs as vegetables.

Sometimes I can't keep up so goodness knows how I'll cope when there's two of them at it!

I for the a-z blogger challenge. Imagination.



Harry at 9 Months. {H}

On Thursday our newest family member turned 9 months old.
I can't quite believe where those 9 months have gone. Although at the same time it seems weird that its only been 9 months, as it feels like Harry has always been part of the family.

Harry is an absolute pro at crawling. In fact I don't think I've ever seen a baby crawl so fast. He grabs everything. Literally, everything. You think something is well out of reach but no, he has super go-go-gadget arms which means he's able to reach anything.
He's also been standing for around 2-3 weeks and again is a pro. He is a bit of a show off and will stand, just balancing again your leg/the sofa using one hand to balance himself and wave at you whilst pulling an extremely cheeky face.

Last week he's started to walk along using Charles ride on car as a walking aid. This is quite difficult with our wooden floors but his balance and control is amazing so we predict he'll walk early like Charles did.

He's very close to his brother but let's him know when he needs his own space and doesn't want to be cuddled or kissed.
He constantly wants to play with Charles' toys, in particular his Brio trainset, which does cause problems.

I'm still breastfeeding him and he's also on solids although doesn't have regular meals due to not being in a routine.
Sometimes he's not interested in food and other times he could eat and adult sized portion of food!
His favourite food seems to be mash potato.
He puts everything into his mouth and regularly eats/chokes on paper. It seems to be his favourite thing to hunt out and stick in his mouth to eat.

He loves bath time with his big brother and they have splashing competitions.
They also have screaming competitions, in a "happy noise" kind of way, and sometimes its hard to know which one of them is making the noise as they sound so similar.

He copies noises I make and says dada, i-da (hiya) and heerrrroooo (hello) Sometimes says nana and mama.
He had 6 teeth at 6 months and now has more coming.

We are still co-sleeping although he starts the night with an hour or so in the travel cot then comes in with me.

He is yet to laugh at anyone other than his brother, daddy or me. Although he constantly smiles and everyone comments on how happy and content he is.

Harry is an amazing little boy and the perfect addition to our family.

H for the a-z blogger challenge. Harry.

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