Waking Up and Knowing

Being woken up by the boys at 6am this morning wasn't wonderful. I was still really tired and it felt like it was just 3am. I tried to get them to go back to sleep but something in me told me to get up and start my day.
We went downstairs, the boys had breakfast, I had coffee and wrote a blog post whilst they watched Mr Men on Channel 5 and Charles went to get ready for school.
I would usually rush up after him but instead I spent 10 minutes having a play fight with Harry. When I say play fight it was more me running away from him whilst he tried to pull my pyjama trousers down!

We eventually headed upstairs, I sent my later than usual morning message to a friend and got ready for the school run.
I'm not sure what it was, but something felt good. I had this feeling that today was going to be a good day.
I decided to keep myself away from the laptop in the morning and instead played a card game with Harry (he cheated!), we cuddled watching Netflix (or Fletnix as we renamed it) and he helped me sort through the washing and clothes for the tumble dryer.
Since his behaviour switch at Christmas I have enjoyed being with him so much. I feel a little obsessed with him, and although I have this fear of him turning into the angry child he was I also am desperate to play catch up and want to create so many fun and happy memories to paint over the not so happy ones from last year.

We eventually got him to preschool...I say eventually because we keep having so much fun that we lose track of time! And I went to Morrisons. Because that's another thing, this morning I decided that today was a good day to by myself some flowers. I just had this feeling that today I deserved a treat, not to cheer myself up, I didn't need them for that.
I think it was more to say "I'm proud of you". Because, it's ok to feel like that. And it is ok to pat yourself on the back and to say "you are awesome".
I so often tell myself how awful I am, how I am bad at everything. How I am lazy, don't put in enough effort, unaware and so on. But we all need that push, and why not give that push to ourselves? If we rely on others to notice the good things we do then we could be waiting a while! Because a lot of things go unnoticed, our everyday tasks and so on. But why not keep a mental list of everything you do well? I've learnt to do that and although I'm not in the habit of doing it I am trying.
So, I bought myself some flowers to say "Hey. You are quite brilliant (sometimes)".

I got back in the car, after paying for the flowers and accidentally buying a pack of 3 Ferrero Rocher (because I didn't eat enough of them at Christmas and am ashamed of myself for that) and just sat for a little bit. The sun was quite warm, it was bright and sunny. You'd be forgiven for thinking it was April and not January.
I turned the engine on and turned up the volume as my Sam Smith album played.
I sat there and just felt happy. And that is quite an odd emotional for me, and sometimes I struggle with feeling that. I find it quite overwhelming. But I embraced it and let it take over. And I realised I was smiling. To myself. Looking a bit bizarre to the people sat in the cafe by the window I expect.

I drove home, singing along probably louder than I should have been to my Sam Smith album (wow he hits some high notes...and wow, I clearly don't!) and I realised I was still smiling. And I was still feeling good.
And when I got home I looked at my phone and had the confirmation that something good was going to happen today. Oh, here comes the annoying vague bit of "can't mention it yet" style news. But, I not only had a feeling of acceptance and self worth, but also that feeling of pride and that realisation that although there are many cracks to this shell, inside there is someone who is strong, who has courage and is willing to put herself out there and to say "hey. I want to do this, can we make that happen?".
To open yourself up like that requires some kind of ego...in a positive way. And, there's that thing of 'if you don't ask, you won't get' or 'how will you know if you never try' or 'what's the worst that can happen?'.

Next Tuesday I have a meeting for something else which excites me and makes me nervous. But again it's that confirmation that I can do these things and that opportunities happen, you just sometimes have to chase them yourself.

My motto for 2015:



Living Arrows 2015 | 4/52

This weeks photo is awful. I hold my hands up and admit that. Last week was tough with Charles being sent home from school poorly and Harry had his preschool vaccinations which went well until he got a temperature and felt poorly towards the end of the week.
However, I'm not going to fail at this project and despite it being a pants photo it actually means a lot.
We went out for a meal last week, and a lot of the time I do kind of dread going out for a meal with the boys as they do get bored and might play up if they have been waiting around for a long time, and they also don't tend to eat much of their food!
We decided to just order Harry a bowl of rice. That was all he wanted and rather than force him to eat chicken and vegetables as well we followed his lead.
He was so well behaved. Ate so much of the rice. And was generally just wonderful wonderful company.
So, pants photo, but knowing that whenever I look at it I will have this happy memory of a lovely lunch with him is worth it.



This Week in 5 | 18.1-24.1

Last year I started a little project called 'Happy Sunday'. Every Sunday I wrote about things that had made me happy that week.
This year I wanted to try something different and just basically want to look back at 5 things in the week that meant something to me, that happened, that I want to remember.

Last Sunday we decided to take the boys out on their bikes. Charles can now ride without his stabilisers and he is so quick and confident. Harry on the other hand, hasn't even attempted to ride the bike we bought him for his birthday last July. We went to a lovely big park in Norwich but it was so cold that we didn't last very long and instead decided to just go for some lunch in the city. We went to Wagamamas as the boys and my husband haven't been before. The service was a bit poor and we weren't that impressed by the "your food comes when it's ready" as opposed to all the food coming at once. We all had our food way before Charles had his which I think upset him. My husband wasn't totally impressed by the food, instead preferring Yo Sushi's Chicken Katsu, however Charles, Harry and I enjoyed ours.

I got two new sweatshirts this week. When we go on holiday in April I want to make sure I'm prepared incase it is cold, I'm not sure what the heating is like in the barn that we are in for the week and also, our car isn't the warmest. I couldn't resist the 'More Issues Than Vogue' sweatshirt from In The Style. Even the cat liked that one and within 10 minutes of it arriving had decided it would be her bed! It's a good job she is cute...although for some reason she always looks so angry when I take a photo of her.
It's not the smartest of tops, or the best of qualities but it will do the job and provide some LOLs.
I bought a knitted jumper from H&M but wasn't so keen on the quality of it so will be returning that, and as an alternative bought the "My Weekend Sweatshirt" from Boohoo. I didn't think I would ever be able to buy from Boohoo so I'm high five-ing my weight loss again! I bought this in Large and although it is slightly on the big side (I will get used to buying a Medium soon) it will be nice and cosy I'm sure.

 Harry has this bizarre obsession with Blue Tac. We are trying to wean him off it because he is THAT obsessed. I came home from the school run on Friday to be greeted by Harry with horns on, made by my husband. Once my husband went to work Harry told me I had to wear the horns. The things we do for our children.....

 I've been trying to make an effort to watch more films. I want to make use of our Sky On Demand and also of Netflix. This week we watched Hunger Games and Catching Fire. I was always so anti-watching them. I don't like to follow things other people do as I think it can all just be a fad (50 Shades of Grey style) however, I bought my husband the Hunger Games books for Christmas and after finishing the first book he wanted to watch the film immediately. It was AMAZING. I told him to hurry up and read the second book but on Tuesday he couldn't wait any longer so we watched it that night. Although it was good I didn't think it was as good as the first. And.....how does she manage to keep getting new arrows?!
Also, I think Katniss Everdeen may well be my idol.
I also watched Little Children with Kate Winslet. It was a little tooooo long I think but was a good film, I do love Kate Winslet so may have given up if it was someone else playing that role.
I watched Let's Be Cops which was funny. I watched this with my mum and my brother. We were torn between that and Before I Go To Sleep, deciding we didn't want to concentrate on Before I Go To Sleep we chose Let's Be Cops instead.
After watching the trailer for Before I Go to Sleep I decided to get the book on my Kindle.

On Friday I decided to go for a little walk down the beach after dropping Harry off at preschool. It was lovely to have a bit of fresh air but I felt so out of place not having a dog!
The beach was so beautiful though, and I loved just standing by the water listening to it crash onto the shore. I would have stayed longer if I didn't feel so odd....and if I'd taken my gloves.



A Mummy-Charlie Date at the Zoo

Harry returned to preschool two days before Charles returned to school, so whilst he was there I really wanted to make the most of my time with Charles. On the Tuesday we dropped Harry off at preschool and headed off to the zoo. We have an annual pass which makes it worthwhile to just go for an hour or two.
The zoo has a stamp system, at various places around the zoo there are stamp stations and you collect all of these to then be rewarded with a medal at the end. We don't always do this but I had already decided that I would follow Charles' lead and let him do whatever he wanted (other than visit the playground there, I had a strict rule that we must see the animals).
We visited the majority of the animals, collected all the stamps, as well as a ridiculous amount of mud on Charles' shoes!

Since Harry was born I have always felt it was really important to have some one on one time with Charles. We've always called this 'Mummy-Charlie time' (despite the fact I don't actually call him Charlie) and he loves it and gets so excited about it. After two hours we had to leave to collect Harry, which was just as well seeing as it had started to rain.

One of my favourite things about Charles is how soppy and sensitive he is. And on the drive home he kept telling me what a wonderful time he had and how he loved having that time together.
And I did too.

We attempted making a video as this is something I want to start doing more of, inspired by other bloggers of course. I've added the video to the bottom here. Be kind please.



Living Arrows 2015 | 3/52

I'm not usually one to use photos taken on my phone for projects like this. I like to feel all official by using my DSLR. However, after looking at photos taken on my phone during a beach trip last week I actually realised that the quality isn't too bad. And it seemed silly to not include this photo of Charles.
Sometimes I wish I was a child, and playful and carefree enough to lay on the sand and make sand angels like this. I'm far too aware of the places the sand could go, which completely puts me off.



This Week in 5 | 11.1-17.1

Last year I started a little project called 'Happy Sunday'. Every Sunday I wrote about things that had made me happy that week.
This year I wanted to try something different and just basically want to look back at 5 things in the week that meant something to me, that happened, that I want to remember.

Charles had a new teacher this year after his previous teacher left at the end of December. I was a little nervous about how Charles would adjust to having a new teacher, however, his teacher is WONDERFUL. In a week he has done so much with the children, introducing new programmes, a set share morning for each child, and also a weekly trip to the library (which his previous teacher didn't do once, which we were rather surprised about). One of the things which is really lovely is that he focusses on praising good behaviour. The teacher before had a grey cloud, sun and superstar. The children would be put on the grey cloud for bad behaviour. This didn't really work at all, and for the most part made the children extremely upset (Charles was on there twice, once for thinking and another time because a girl kissed him when he fell over).
Charles' new teacher uses something called a Class Dojo. There is an app that goes with it so parents can keep up with how many points their child is getting. They can get points for good listening, hard work, team work and so on. His teacher also runs his own reward system alongside it, with the children getting to choose a prize once they get to 15 points! Charles is already on 18 and this week got to choose a prize.....and he chose a pair of scissors, which of course I am loving...*achem* (they are now hidden).
It's amazing what a big change one teacher can do. Charles has always loved school but now he comes out telling me what he did that day whereas before he would always say "I don't know" "I can't remember".
Below is his Dojo. The children are able to personalise their Dojo via the app, which is brilliant.

Last Sunday we went for a walk to Wells-Next-The-Sea. It was so cold down on the beach so we headed into the woods and just had such a lovely lovely walk. Harry can be quite lazy and won't walk very far yet today walked for a long time and didn't moan once. We saw a deer in the woods which was so cute, and enjoyed lunch at a little cafe near the beach. Although, the wind was rather strong and ended up blowing my nachos onto the floor #nachosfail.

It was a big week for Charles. He got to pick up his glasses on Saturday. For 5 years he has gone to the hospital for eye tests and so on because his eyes drift a lot due to some of his muscles not being strong enough. He has finally been prescribed glasses in the hope that they will help to strengthen the weaker muscles.
He looks so cute and grown up in his glasses, and really suits them. The style is lovely too, he has good taste.

My healthy eating/lifestyle plan is back on track after a long time of being lazy and playing with fire really as slowly some weight has made it's way back and I'm not happy. This week I have remembered how wonderful it is to make up my own meals. To open the fridge and grab what I have to make some kind of low calorie meal.
I'm reducing my milk and bread intake again which worked wonders last year. I'm determined to get down to a size 12 at least, and to be under 11 stone by my birthday in September. So at the moment my goal is to lose a stone in 9 months, which should hopefully be quite easy to do.

Harry has been amazing recently. Last year was really tough with his behaviour, and I constantly feel guilty if I talk about it but it was that terrible twos and threenager stage. I think around now children struggle to work out their place within a family, and Harry has kind of always been the boss and we needed to let him know that this isn't really the case. I think it was a learning journey for us too as we probably did let him get his own way a lot due to his behaviour.
But since Christmas it is like something has switched in him. He has always been a soppy and cuddly boy, which in a ridiculous way was hard for me as he would be quite...aggressive with me too. But as I say, since Christmas the soppiness and cuddles have increased, he does as he is told, he is no longer aggressive and I really enjoy our time together. In fact this week we have been late for preschool twice (only by 5 minutes which they don't mind) because we were having so much fun together.


"Are You Happy?"

"Are you happy?" I said, as we snuggled under a thick fluffy blanket. His eyes were closing and his body slowly got heavy, as he was drifting off to sleep.
He managed a nod, and then in the softest voice said "yes. My am happy"

It made me smile. It made me get goosebumps. And it hit my heart harder than I expected.
I wouldn't say I am happy at the moment. I'm back in a bad place mentally and as a result I'm struggling to smile. I'm struggling to see the good in things. I just constantly feel sad.

But, despite my sadness I have two small children who are happy. They don't let things bother them for hours, days, weeks or years. 
They move on quickly, they forget.
They laugh at ridiculous things. The fight over ridiculous things. They ask the silliest questions.
And they are happy. 

And it's hard to accept. 
That responsibility of keeping these boys alive, safe, warm, happy. They must be happy.
I find that a big pressure. 
How do you make others happy if you are not happy yourself?
How do you share those experiences? 
Or plan activities when you actually think it all sounds awful.
How do you force that happiness?

When Harry told me he was happy. I sat and I thought about it all.
The things I do that result in their happiness.
Those cuddles when everyone else is asleep. Those kisses when they are half asleep, but create a tiny smile at the corner of their mouth.
Buying them stickers, letting them watch tv, getting yogurts delivered on the grocery order. Those little things that are normal to me, that I don't even think about as being a big deal.

And maybe I need to stop being selfish. Maybe I need to stop thinking about my own happiness, and instead focus on these two lives that I created.
These two lives that I desperately want to be happy.


This Week in 5 | 1.1-10.1

Last year I started a little project called 'Happy Sunday'. Every Sunday I wrote about things that had made me happy that week.
This year I wanted to try something different and just basically want to look back at 5 things in the week that meant something to me, that happened, that I want to remember.
These posts will usually go up on a Sunday but you know, time fail. Also, with the first not starting on a Sunday I have included those first few days and made this an extra long week. Because I like to complicate things.

The year was off to a great start as it involved fresh air, a walk, cake and coffee. We visited a place nearby to have some cake and to warm ourselves up after a walk in the park. We don't really do this too often, as the boys can be restless, but we really enjoyed it.
I want to get them "trained up" to sit nicely in small cafe's in preparation for our holiday in April, as well as to just be able to get them through life with manners of course, so hopefully we will visit more places like this.

Harry went back to preschool before Charles returned to school so I took the opportunity to go to the zoo with him. We were there for over two hours, just walking around, jumping over puddles and collecting stamps so he could get a medal at the end.
It started to rain towards the end so we ended up quite cold and wet but it didn't ruin our time.
Whenever we have time together as the two of us we call this "Mummy-Charlie Time" (I don't call him Charlie generally but it fits better than Charles) he asks us to take a photo together and wants to change the colour (ie choose the filter on Instagram).
I love this photo, and was glad he chose that filter #wrinkles.

For 5 years Charles has been going to the hospital for eye tests. Although his vision is spot on he has lazy eyes occasionally due to weak muscles, or other muscles being too strong.
We've discussed surgery or glasses at every appointment and almost started to feel like we weren't getting anywhere.
With an increase in how many times his eyes are now drifting we have finally been given a next step and a way to try to correct them. He was given a prescription for glasses, which we are glad about about we would like to avoid surgery. With any luck the glasses will strengthen the weaker muscles so the eyes will no longer drift.

We all went to Boots Opticians after the hospital consultation to choose his glasses. He is so so excited. Whilst I was helping Charles to pick a pair my husband and Harry decided to try some on too (funny given that my husband wore glasses for 30 years and had laser eye surgery last year). Harry looked so cute and I love his automatic "looking over the top librarian" style.

This massive swan was at the park on New Years Day. I find swans super scary but since having the boat I do have this soft spot for them. They can be really sweet and we had a few that would visit us whenever we went on the boat. They'd come and float next to the boat when we were moored up, obviously after food but sometimes I think it was for the company too. Even if we go down there now whilst the boat is in the shed they will still come over and see us.
I feel really sad when I see them alone, which this one was, other than the ducks surrounding him...he had no swan mate. But he seemed happy enough.



Living Arrows 2015 | 2/52

There is something so sweet and innocent about a child with wet hair.
Harry seems to go back to his baby days when he is fresh from a shower or bath with a towel wrapped around him.
Here he was stood by the radiator trying to get warm, looking outside at the weather. I quite like that scruffy wet hair silhouette.




Sitting in that waiting room again.
Watching the red dotted words going along that screen, waiting for my name to beep onto it. If you watch that screen for a while it makes you so dizzy. Your eyes go funny, and it's hard to focus, so best not to do that when you are soon to walk through that corridor to the doctors room.
My name pops up. Not a long wait. Have you noticed that whenever a name is called, or comes up on the screen, people look round to see who it is? There was only 3 of us in there. Another couple and me, yet they still turned round.
I wondered whether or not to fake a limp.
It's not just me who tries to guess what is wrong with the other people in the waiting room is it?

I knock on the door, double and triple checking that it is my doctors name on the door and that I haven't knocked on the wrong one.
We say hello.
I sit.
We talk.

We talk about the emptiness I feel.
The suffocating feelings.
The struggles.
The fact that I have to force myself to enjoy anything.
We talk about me wanting to be by myself.
As a mother, that is incredibly hard to say. I want to lock myself away. What kind of mother says that?

He is supportive, as always. But concerned.
I am concerned too.

This feeling is the worst in a long time. In a very long time.
I feel out of control.

Although I have been fighting the depression, and thinking I was winning, it was clearly feeding off of my energy and has attacked me bigger than before.
I feel empty and like I have no energy at all.
Like I have no 'get up a go'...which is hard when I have school runs to do and preschool drop offs and pick ups.

I can feel myself putting on weight. And it disgusts me.
My body is disgusting. And when I look in the mirror and see those few pounds I've recently added I know that depression is laughing at me.
It's telling me, and showing me, that it is in control right now.
Proving that I could never do the whole weight loss thing in the first place. Ruining that 3 stone loss from last year and is trying it's best to undo all that hard work.

I dislike myself.
I hate myself.
I hate depression.

He increases my medication. With the plan to go back in 2-3 weeks to either keep the same or increase some more.
I will not let increase be my word for 2015.


Living Arrows 2015 | 1/52

Last year I completed a photography project called Living Arrows. This year it has moved to Shutterflies and I am involved in the contributor post once again.
I really love this project, to the point that I feel kind of obsessed over it really.
When I was going over my favourites from last year I noticed that I had a few more of Harry than I did of Charles. It wasn't a conscious thing, it was just the way it happened.
So this year I thought for a while about having one photo included in the contributor post, and also one on my blog. Although it felt a little like I was defeating the whole point of being a contributor I also thought that actually, it gives me an excuse to get the camera out more.
This year I really want to push myself and try things out, and not be so lazy. So I am going to challenge myself more.

My plan is to take photos of each of the boys and post one on here and the other in the Living Arrows Contributor collection.
I'm hoping I don't get lazy and just stick to the one boy.

Living Arrows

Living Arrows 2014 | My Monthly Favourites

Living Arrows is BACK for 2015, except this year it is bigger and better (at least that is the plan!). It also has a new home and can be found on Hayley's blog, Shutterflies.
I've absolutely loved looking back on my year of Living Arrows and feel a real sense of success that I didn't miss a week, and have one photo I feel proud of, or that I felt worthy enough, to be submitted to the project.
There are some photos I look at which I know are not my best, and maybe didn't come out as I hoped, but overall I am proud of myself. And I am proud of my children.

I really took this project into my heart and tried every week to document something special to us. Ok, so there may be a few too many of them looking directly into the camera and not of me capturing them being children and doing those childhood things, but I think when taking part in a project like this you need to be yourself and add your own interpretation of it.

I love looking back on the photos and seeing something which others won't see. Of having these memories that others don't know about.
I love knowing the stories behind every photo, of knowing what is going on around us, the reasons why they are smiling, or what they are looking at.

I wanted to go over my photos from the year and to pick out my overall monthly favourites. 
It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be but for whatever reason, these are the photos that really stand out for me.

I am so excited for another year of this wonderful project and can't wait to see what everyone else does too.



New Years Day Morning

I'm not one to really make a fuss of New Years Eve or New Years Day. It's never really appealed to me, and although I do like to stay up to watch the London fireworks I feel like in general it is just like any other day.

My husband was working on News Years Day, just in the morning and then had a breakfast date with his mum and sister so it was just me and the boys until around 12 o clock.
We were due to go to a park the other side of town but I had locked my house keys in my car so I was locked in the house. With my mum coming over to let us out we instead went to a park closer to home. Charles wanted to go on a bike ride and this park was ideal for him to practice his swerving.
We hadn't been there long when Harry and my mum decided it was far too cold and windy to walk around the park and instead wanted to head for a cafe.
Charles wanted to ride his bike and I needed to work off some of the Stilton consumed over the Christmas break!

That was the plan anyway. The two cafe's in the park were closed and Charles managed to fall into a big puddle.
So, we put the bike and scooter back in my car and made our way to a nearby tearoom instead.
My mum treated us all to a slice of cake each, as well as a drink.

In three months time the four of us are off on holiday to Somerset so to spend the first morning of 2015 together felt really special.

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