Starting School at 4 Years Old.

I think that no matter what age our children are we will always think they are little, especially when it comes to milestones such as starting school, starting reception, and then moving into mainstream school and heading through Year 1 to Year 11 and onwards if they so choose.

When Charles started preschool we didn't send him because we wanted to get him out of the house for however long or felt he really needed it. His speech has always been really good, at 18 months you could have a proper conversation with him, with full sentences and could easily understand what he was saying. He was good with his numbers, his alphabet, something at the time which seemed so normal yet since having Harry who doesn't do the things Charles did, we can now understand how well Charles was doing at that time. I'm not saying he was advanced because I don't agree with that term when it comes to children's development, but we know he was a year ahead in a lot of his learning and developments.

The reason we sent him to preschool was simply because we could. We were given those 15 hours of government funded hours and although his learning new things wasn't of great importance to us at that age, his understanding of the environment was. Being around other children, communicating with other children, learning a routine and to listen to adults and following instructions were important too.

When it came to going to school it was tough, as it is for many parents. Although I didn't feel strongly that he shouldn't start there was a part of me that wanted him to have an extra year at preschool, but we went for the full time at a local reception option instead.
We didn't want him joining Year 1 straight from preschool, to be shocked into this very new environment surrounded by children who knew this new building, new how things worked, and more importantly new each other.
I briefly considered sending him part time but then I hated the thought of taking him away from friends at lunchtime and them all continuing to form bonds and friendships and him being excluded from that.

The first few weeks were tough. Harry didn't cope very well and desperately missed his brother. Every time we went out he thought we were going to see his brother and this caused some emotional meltdowns for him. Charles settled in really well, despite the nerves taking over on the first day as he woke up (you don't need to know details) and being so poorly with a 24 hour bug on the 3rd day of school and already having to take a day off sick.
He was tired coming out of school and for a while I felt like my child had gone and was replaced with a boy I didn't know. I would dread the time to collect him as I knew there would be tears and that I would have done something wrong.
It was hard sticking to a strict routine too. Preschool was quite laid back and if you were late dropping them off it didn't matter. Yet now it was a fight to get a space some days, dodging the most ridiculous of parked cars (seriously, does common sense disappear whilst it's school run time?!) and being invisible as you walk to get your child...clearly a pushchair isn't big enough to see or to move over for.

You have constant fears and worries of whether or not school is right for your child. Are they too young at 4? Should he be at home? Be at preschool? I know I questioned our decisions a lot.
But now?
I don't know why I questioned our decisions at all.

To see how he, and the other children, can read and write blows my mind. To think that we could have held Charles back from developing something that is clearly ready and active seems so silly.
He finds learning fun, he enjoys Maths, he enjoys spellings and reading. He can colour in a lot better than he could when he left preschool. He is more aware of lines and shapes in a picture and will try and stick within those lines as much as possible.

His eagerness to learn is brilliant. I love moments when he sits and drawers and things are so clear. His writing is the cutest thing ever and makes me feel like I have the cleverest boy in the whole world, despite other children doing the same. I love how he spells things differently because he "sounds them out", like Woz instead of was, and Sosij instead of sausage
Reading blows me away and he can sit there and read a book to me with very little help.

One of the proudest moments so far was getting this note in his reading diary. Getting moved onto the next level in reading in what seems like such a short time is amazing.

As a June baby Charles is one of the youngest in his year, so I don't really agree with the argument of the youngest ones being left behind.
Schools are full of children with a range of abilities and of course willingness to learn.
Everyday most of the children in the reception classes rush into school, squealing when they catch sight of their teacher, looking forward to writing down the missing numbers from the whiteboard, and learning new things.

I can't wait for the day he brings me home the very first story he writes, the day he comes home and wants to talk about Greek Mythology, Volcanos or Anglo Saxons.

The best school years for me were spent at Primary School, and reliving those years through my child is, as Charles would say, "really awesome".

My Two Mums Sharing Happiness


Fight or Flight

Yesterday I attended the second in a six week course of Stress Control Classes. Last weeks class was all about understanding what stress is and how every ones stress is different and this week was focused on 'Controlling your Body'.
We were told about how exercise can help to overcome, or at least ease, anxious feelings, depression and stress as a whole.

We were given a relaxation cd, which was played towards the end of the session, and I'm really looking forward to listening to this as I think it helps me, if not in the long term, certainly for an hour or a few at least.

We talked about Fight or Flight which is something I've always been interested in.
I studied Psychology in Sixth Form and loved learning about behaviours and how our body and mind works.
I find it all so interesting, and now I'm going through what I'm going through I actually quite enjoying having an excuse to learn about it all again, and to understand why this is happening to me.

The fight-or-flight response is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival.

I feel as though, through hearing about and being reminded of Fight or Flight, my body seems to be constantly in this build up mode. Feeling threat all the time, over things that can happen, will happen and are also very unlikely to happen.
I feel like my body is constantly at war with itself, wondering what to do. Fight or Flight. Which is incredibly hard to cope with when really there is nothing to flee from or to fight. But then that can make it worse. I can get this reaction, this fight or flight feeling, and I look around and see no threat, no attack, and then I panic because I think something must be about to happen.
I have constant worries, constant feelings of threat or attack. A lot of things I haven't said openly before.
Despite accepting that it is just how I am, and it's not things I choose to think, I can never bring myself to actually type those words.
Why? Because I'm worried about reading those words "unreasonable thoughts" "irrational thoughts". To me, these thoughts are not unreasonable, or irrational.
They are real. Reasonable.
I'm worried about people thinking I am crazy. Or attention seeking. Or trying to create drama.
But it's all very real. As much as I try to convince myself that particular things won't happen I can't. As my doctor once said, my filter doesn't work.
I can't filter things into "will happen, could happen, very unlikely to happen, or will never happen". To me, everything is possible, no matter what the odds are.

The reminder that my reactions are not about being crazy, and are just down to my body protecting me, or at least preparing to protect me, makes me feel a lot more at ease and more accepting of being this way.
I'm hoping that just the understanding of what is going on will help me to not get over the anxiety and depression I am stuck with, but at least to cope with it, and to not panic when my body decides to react for whatever reason.

I can only control so much.


Down By The River

When you think back to last year, particularly the Summer, are there days and moments that really stand out?
I have a few, one in particular is one I didn't blog about at all, which is quite rare for me!
I loved that day and the moment so much that I didn't want to tell anyone about it, I wanted to keep it for myself to soak up and enjoy.
My brother was home for a week and I drove over to High Lodge at Thetford Forest, with him, my mum, the boys and a massive picnic. After we were finished at High Lodge we popped over to St Helen's.
We have really fond memories of St Helen's. I remember vidily going as a child. Listening to Pat Benetar and Def Leppard in the car on the way there and on the way home. We would spend all day there, paddling in the water, eating a picnic, playing with other children, playing football and swing ball.
It was magical to be able to take the boys. Although not prepared as I thought we wouldn't get there as we'd be too busy or that it would be to busy I didn't take their swimming costumes (Yes mum, I know you told me to!) and instead Charles stripped down to his pants and Harry was just in a nappy. Although not something I would usually feel comfortable with it's not really any different to a child wearing trunks and there was a real lovely family atmosphere down there that I didn't feel threatened by anyone at all. A shame that this is the case elsewhere nowadays.

We were surrounded by families who had been down there for hours, all catching the tiny fish in their nets. One lady picked up one of the fish and placed it in Harry's hands, for those of you who may think it's cruel he held it for seconds and it quite happily swam off after.

I'm really hoping this is somewhere we can revisit for years to come, although a bit better prepared with swimwear and sensible shoes to wear in the water, the stones hurt your feet so much!



A Room With Blue Chairs.

Yesterday evening I pulled up in my car, parked on the right side of the road and waited for my mum. As soon as she arrived I got out of my car and we walked into a big bright building together.
Turning left into a room I handed over a form, signed us both in and collected the booklets handed to me. Saying thank you we walked to find a seat.
We commented on how we, as people, always spread ourselves out and won't sit near other people unless we really need to.
Rows of blue chairs, not the most comfortable chairs we realised after an hour and a half of sitting on them, some occupied with gaps of two chairs empty and then another person.
The room is filled with both men and women, everyone varying in age, some sitting alone and some, like me, sitting with someone they have taken as support.

We are all there for the same reason.


We all want to learn how to control, not cure, our stress.
We sit and learn about what the 6 week course will entail. We touch on the different varieties of stress and what causes it. Most commonly being depression and anxiety.

As the lady running the course talks I couldn't help but to get distracted with my thoughts sometimes and looked around the room. I wondered what each person's main problem could be. Why were they here? How severe is their stress? Are they depressed? Anxious? Dependant on alcohol? Are they taking medication for their stress? Have they been to therapy before? Is this their last resort? Do they work? How old are they? Do they have children?

It was nice, yet kind of odd, to know there were people in the room who were feeling the same as me in some way or another. Even if not understanding how or what I feel at least understanding that feeling of "I need help".

It's hard sitting in a room full of people. When you feel judged anyway there is nothing like going to a stress control group where you know others will be looking at you wondering why you are there.
I find it really easy to write about my feelings and thoughts but find it hard to talk about. Sitting in a room with others, although we don't talk we just listen, really takes me out of my comfort zone. I really feel like I'm putting myself out there, I guess kind of like an AA meeting, and even though we are all their for the same reason, you can still feel really alone and embarressed I guess.

The lady running the group talked about different types of stress, effects of stress, how people are stressed over different things, how we react, what we think and ways of coping.
The course goes on for 6 weeks and in each session we focus on different things.
  1. Learning about stress.
  2. Controlling your body.
  3. Controlling your thoughts.
  4. Controlling your actions.
  5. Controlling panic.
  6. Controlling sleep and the future.
I really want to write about this as I learn. We went home with some work books and I'm hoping to write about this as I go along.
There are a few things she talked about which I didn't quite agree with which I want to write about too.

I'm not expecting to be cured of depression and anxiety, but if this can help me to understand it more, and to maybe cope a little bit better, then it's totally worth it.
And if it doesn't help at all, then at least I tried.


Surviving Coughs and Colds

Coughs and colds are so common over the winter period. Although the boys have picked up a few bugs I've managed, somehow, to avoid most of what is going around and had my last cold just before Christmas.
As I was still breastfeeding I was limited to what I could take. I've been used to not using decongestants, cough medicines and other types of cold remedies since I fell pregnant in 2008, I had pregnancy and breastfeeding always restricting the medication I could take. Instead I was trying to combat a sore throat with honey and lemon, and infact I grew to quite like it.

My husband on the other hand will try anything to get rid of a sore throat, especially because it can affect his voice and working as a voiceover and radio presenter it isn't ideal when his voice isn't performing as usual.

Pharmacist Anna McLaughlin, Dr Mike Smith and ENT specialist Andrew McCombe offer their advice on behalf of Ultra Chloraseptic Throat Spray.

  1. Sore throat remedies often contain ingredients that treat the infection, in doing so though they are negatively interfering with your body’s own natural defences. “Ideally sufferers should use something that addresses the pain associated with the inflammation so it doesn’t dampen your body’s reaction but still eases the soreness” advises Dr. Mike Smith.
  1. A viral infection is the most common type of infection accounting for 90-95% of all cases. This will not respond to antibiotics so it’s best to treat the pain and let your body fight it naturally.
  1. Dr Mike Smith advises “When suffering with a sore throat one of the best things to do is keep away from other people - this is more about protecting yourself than them! It limits your chance of catching “secondary” infections while your immune system is weakened.”
  1. “Dehydration can be one of the main contributors to a sore throat” says pharmacist Anna McLaughlin. “Remember to stay hydrated by drinking of plenty of fluids. Adding a drop of Manuka Honey to warm water can create a great drink to help soothe the soreness”

  2. “Give your immune system a helping hand during the winter with a supplement such as Vitamin C and Zinc and try to incorporate five portions of fruit and vegetables into your diet” advises Anna.
  1. During the colder months germs are spread more quickly thanks to people spending more time indoors in heated environments. ENT specialist Andrew McCombe suggests that you “try to get as much fresh air as possible and don’t crank the heating up too high if you can help it!”
  1. “Try gargling with salt water to fight the infection as an alternative to hot water with honey” suggests Andrew.
  1. Rest – if you’re over-tired and you come down with a sore throat try to rest both your voice and yourself to fight the infection!
  1. “Avoid food or drink that is too hot as this can cause further irritation” suggests Dr Mike Smith.
  1. If your sore throat does not improve after two weeks or it is accompanied with a persistent fever, then visit your GP.
Ultra Chloraseptic® Anaesthetic Throat Spray provides an ideal way to help ease the pain of a sore throat fast and help you make the most of your day.  
Unlike some anaesthetic lozenges, which can numb the whole mouth area, Ultra Chloraseptic’s gentle spray goes directly to the site of the pain for faster, more effective and targeted relief.
Just three sprays of Ultra Chloraseptic can numb the pain in seconds, compared to some lozenges, which can take minutes to dissolve properly and take full effect.

Ultra Chloraseptic® Anaesthetic Throat Sprays are available in three great tasting, sugar-free flavours – Blackcurrant, Cherry and Original Menthol.
All are available in pocket-friendly capped bottles for ease of use ‘on the go’ bringing ultra-fast, ultra-effective relief for the pain and discomfort caused by sore throats.
The products contain the active ingredient benzocaine (a local anaesthetic to numb pain). The swivel head applicator delivers the spray straight to the throat, targeting the pain and working in seconds.
Ultra Chloraseptic® Anaesthetic Throat Sprays are available in most Boots, Superdrug, Grocery and leading pharmacies in the UK without prescription. Ultra Chloraseptic costs £5.21, with each bottle containing more than 100 sprays (30 adult doses) and is suitable for children 6 and over at the lower dose of 1 spray. Contains Benzocaine. Always read the label and visit www.ultrachloraseptic.co.uk for more information.
I recieved a Winter Survival Kit in exchange for this post.



Half Term at BeWILDerwood | Review

In my 28 years of life I have visited a few attractions in Norfolk, and one of the best places I have ever visited is BeWILDerwood in Norfolk.
I reviewed BeWILDerwood last year when we went along to celebrate Harry's 2nd birthday. I was delighted to be offered the chance to return again this year and to review the Half Term event.

With the strong winds recently I worried not only that our day would be ruined but also about whether or not any of the beautiful tree houses, slides or walkways would have been ruined or affected by the weather. Despite being closed on Saturday due to the weather thankfully everything had calmed down on Sunday, the sun was shining, it was kind of warm and they were open!

Last year I went along with my husband and the boys but with my husband busy elsewhere my mum came along with us. This was her first visit to BeWILDerwood and she was excited to see what was one offer.

Based in Hoveton, Norfolk, BeWILDerwood is really easy to find and is well signposted. Parking is very easy and is FREE.

Walking a short way to the ticket office is simple and worry free. The staff are nothing but polite, happy and really get into the spirit of their job.

There were a couple of activities on to celebrate the reopening for half term. One of which was a really sweet idea of writing down a wish on a piece of paper and the posting the paper down a shoot which led down to the small fire.
Charles didn't want to write down a wish as apparently he had made a wish in his dream last night, but we watched other children doing it and every single one looked so happy to have been able to take part in that activity.
There were arts and crafts going on in the big hat but my boys were too busy running around wanting to explore.
The activities put on in the big hat and at the fire don't cost any extra.

As I mentioned in my review last year, the attraction is SPOTLESS!! Thinking back to last Summer I went to a few different places with the boys and there would be the odd crisp packet or chocolate wrapper flying around, and we were constantly stepping on Fruit Shoot lids, but none of these were to be found at BeWILDerwood.
We took a picnic with us and went back to the car to eat but we did grab a coffee and some hot chocolates at the Munch Bar and sat in the seating area. I could have sat there all day.

I really worried about whether or not we would enjoy it as much as last year due to the weather. I tend to stay away from attractions in case we have to leave but as yesterday was so amazing it definitely made me think twice about staying away just because of weather fears. I can hand on heart say it was just as good yesterday as last year.
We arrived at around half past 10/11 o clock and left at 4.30.
Both myself and my mum commented on how lovely the atmosphere was, that calm, tranquil, "everybody is having fun", relaxed atmosphere.

When it came to leaving I think my mum was more upset than any of us. She really enjoyed herself and it really proves the point that BeWILDerwood is suitable for all the family.
We're already planning other visits in the Summer when my family visit from Somerset.

Whether you live locally or need to drive 2 or 3 hours you are guaranteed to have a brilliant day out!

We were given complimentary tickets for the purpose of this review.


Siblings: A Family Portrait Project {February}

I have to confess that Siblings completely crept up on me this month, I thought we had another week!
I can't believe the amount of people who joined in last month, I think we were all in a bit of shock. It's a fantastic result to see so many people getting involved and wanting to capture these special moments between their children.

Now, looking at my photo you may see a similarity to last month. The first photo was taken a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to take a photo in the same place for the whole year, to really mark the changes in the boys. We didn't get the chance to get out somewhere in January to take a photo in a place that we would revisit every month so instead I have decided to recreate this photo, of the boys laying on Charles' bedroom floor.
It's not a perfect photo in terms of focus and lighting but they LOVE doing it and both really make an effort. Harry decided he had to have a blanket on him.
I have some really adorable outtakes too which I will share another time.

And the second one is just a little cute one. These two love to hold hands, it makes me smile and go all gooey whenever I see them doing it.


Sleep on Mummy {The Ordinary Moments}

Before Christmas Harry would always have an afternoon nap in his room. It would result in a mad dash getting ready to collect Charles from school as I always had to wake him up, and he would be dazed and not really wanting to co-operate.
Naps didn't happen at the weekend as he was too distracted with having Charles at home and it would really restrict us with what we could do in the daytime and where we could go.

During the Christmas break I didn't bother with Harry's naps, mainly because Charles was home and I like them to have as much time together as possible. He also didn't seem too tired so I thought maybe it was time to stop his afternoon naps. I thought about maybe trying again with them once Charles had returned to school but it didn't seem like he was missing them so we didn't bother.
Then Scarlet Fever came along and he seemed so drained by it. Although it didn't affect him too much with the rash it certainly took a toll on his energy.
As he looked so tired I decided to try with naps again, although I couldn't bring myself to put him in his room (yes, I am weak!) so I offered him a "nap on mummy". Everyday, after lunch, this has now become part of our routine.
He lays with his head on my chest, listening to my heartbeat or with his head on my tummy listening to all the gurgles, I remember doing this when I was a child too.
I'll stay there for around half an hour, or maybe an hour, with the television off so I can just listen to him breathe. It's really quite wonderful.
After that time I'll attempt the "hug and roll" which so far has been successful!
I have to force him to wake up for the school run, as I used to, and as a result we've almost been late a few times and have had to park further away but that means extra exercise for me so who's complaining?!

I love that when he gets tired now he will come over and say "my sleep on mummy" and he orders me to go and sit on the sofa. There's nothing like feeling your baby/toddler/child settle on you and drift to sleep, feeling their body heavy against yours and knowing they are definitely asleep.
There's also nothing quite like having to grab a scarf to conceal the big patch of dribble your child has kindly left on your top.




Today marks a special date for me and my blog. It is our three year anniversary.
When I first started blogging I didn't think I would stick with it for a year let alone three years. I had started blogs before but they had never gone anywhere simply because I got bored or just forgot about it.
I didn't know that it would mean as much to me as it does. I didn't realise it would be such a big part of my life.

In three years my blog has experienced a baby gender announcement, a birth and birth trauma. Without my blog I'm not sure what I would have done with those thoughts I had when the birth trauma and flashbacks were so heavy on my mind.
I remember writing this post, All That I Can See, when I was feeling at my worse.
I've always been open about things I go through, about my life, not what I would call my private life, but things people experience everyday but may not talk about for whatever reason.
I know some people find that odd, and think it's oversharing, and due to this I actually held back on a lot of things last year so as to not be judged, I cut back on breastfeeding posts so I didn't offend certain people, and now I really regret that.
I vow to never let anyone get in the way of what I write. This is my space and as we all say, if you don't like it, don't read it. Simple.

In the past three years I have had some amazing opportunities. Some thanks to review items or things I have applied for. Going to Britmums Live last year was definitely a highlight, and I will always be grateful to Medela for sponsoring me to go, I can't wait to go this year too.
One of my main highlights though was being interviewed on Sky News. It's all such a blur now, I can't quite believe I did it. I am so proud of myself for doing it though, even though I am still critical of myself but you know what, being put on the spot and being asked questions about something so tough and emotional for you, and not knowing what you will be asked is really tough, so due to all that I think I did a good job.

In the last three years I have made some friends, and I have lost some friends. I'll always doubt people and have trust issues, thanks to experiences of friendships in school, growing up, in the workplace and onwards, but it has been really really wonderful to have been able to meet up with some blogging friends away from blogging completely. A sleepover being one of those moments and a lovely afternoon at a farm with Hayley was definitely a highlight from last year.
I suppose that's another wonderful thing about the last three years, and what blogging has brought to my life. I am friends with people I never would have met before, I have friends in all different areas of the UK, some closer than others but none close enough to pop around for a coffee everyday, yet always on the other end of the phone or Facebook for a serious conversation, a silly conversation, for advice or just to send silly animated pictures to each other.

I was going list posts that meant a lot to me but going through, there were too many to add. This little space of mine has been so important to me, for support, as therapy, and to stop loneliness at times, and just to keep me busy.

The best bit for me is to look back on the blog and be reminded of such wonderful times I've had over the last three years. Looking at how I have grown, how much the boys have grown, the fantastic days out we've had.

I can't imagine not ever having a blog, or ever stopping. Of course I have my days where I want to pack it all in but the majority of the time I adore it.
Here's to another fantasic year, lots more opportunities, getting this back to how I want it to be, and lots more growing.


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January 2014

How can January be over already? I can't believe how quickly it has gone and that we are already in the second month. Madness.
January has been a pretty positive time in our house. Any possible feeling of the January blues were soon over taken by our excitement at searching for and then purchasing our very first boat. 

February has a lot to live up to.

I've had a visit to London to bumpPR's 4th birthday party, which now seems like so long ago. It was wonderful to meet up with friends I've already met, and to catch up with some I haven't met before or only met briefly at Britmums Live last year.
It felt like such a big achievement to go to London with just Charles, especially as we had to tackle the tube, and it's now made me feel a tiny bit more confident in attending Britmums Live this year too.

I've decided to try and tackle my anxiety and depression again. I feel I made some really important steps last year. Although I didn't manage to cope or manage it all perfectly, I certainly learnt a lot about how strong I can be and what I am capable of. I still have fears of repercussions of choices and decisions I have made but deep down, I know I made the right choices and made improvements to my life and that's the best thing.
As a result January, although tough at times, has been more positive with my attempts at a Happiness Jar and the QandA A Day 5 Year Journal.

January also saw the first month of the Living Arrows project I'm involved in with the team at I Heart Snapping.
I'm really proud of my photos for January. I worried about the pressure of being up against some amazing photographers but as I saw the first photo I actually felt quite proud of my attempts. A bit of pressure is never a bad thing after all, it encourages me to improve and to do my best.
I'm really excited to continue with this project for the next 11 months. To see how my children change and if/how I view childhood differently as the year goes on.

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