This weekend has been a tough one. The one before Jason’s birthday. The one where we were meant to make some family memories. The one where Ellie had the most epic tantrum of all time. The one where Mummy cried far more than I would like to admit.
The one where it all went tits up basically.
I have found that making plans spontaneously means those plans can get broken very quickly. We decided to “celebrate” Jason’s birthday early this year as we aren’t sure how I am going to feel with Mother’s Day following his birthday this weekend and wanted to take Ellie to the Zoo. Unfortunately we didn’t make it to the Zoo as by 8:30 Ellie had multiple trips to “the step” and I was defeated.
The day didn’t seem to get any better and it just felt wrong. I so badly needed to spend time together as a family that I think it made it harder to deal with Ellie’s tantrums. It’s hard being a parent after baby loss. It’s hard being a parent.
Place yourself in the year 1900. Queen Victoria is on the throne and Shropshire was at the heart of the industrial revolution.
One of our trips this half term was to Blists Hill in Ironbridge (Telford, Shropshire) another one of the fantastic museums in the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage site. Blists Hill is an open air museum that recreates the sights and sounds of a typical Shropshire Victorian Town.
Walking through the doors to the town you instantly feel like you’ve gone back in time. No cars, no TV;s but a lot of fun awaiting! With 52 acres of land to explore there was so much to see and do throughout our visit. This recreation makes you feel like you are actually walking in a Victorian town; the shops, the houses, the bank where you can change your money to “old money” and the townspeople who truly make your visit feel authentic.
Each house had a different story, whether we were in an old doctors surgery or a typical families house with their shared, cramped bedrooms and bedpans under the bed! Whether it’s walking in to the chemist with their traditional remedies, or to the bakery where you can buy freshly made bread, rolls to either eat straight away or take home there really is something for everyone. If you aren’t interested in those there is a traditional sweet shop or the amazing chip shop selling authentic fish and chips cooked in beef dripping. (Spoiler…they are to die for!!)
Ellie loved having the freedom to run around and explore but didn’t stray too far away. All the townspeople were fantastic with her, not pushing her to interact but all with friendly faces and a world of knowledge of their “character” and the way they would have lived in the Victorian era.
Blists Hill is also home to a section of the Shropshire Canal, which going back 100 years or so would have transported boats up and down the 207ft incline to coalport and back. Wherever there is water, Ellie asks to see the ducks. She loves ducks and walked carefully down the canal side watching the ducks in the water. Along with pigs and Shire Horses (with demonstrations throughout the day and horse and cart rides!) there are many chickens…this was possibly the highlight of Ellie’s entire day!
As I have said in a previous post; we purchased the Annual Passport for all 10 museums which gives us unlimited entry for an entire year. We paid £53 for two Adult annual passports as under 5’s are free to all museums. Entry to Blists Hill alone for 2 adults would have been £20 just to go for the day. Although this isn’t expensive for a trip where we stayed nearly 3 hours and only left because E needed a nap and would have screamed the entire place down we live a 5/10 minute drive away from all of them we will make the most of the year-round entry especially in the Spring/Autumn months – a family of ginger-haired beauty’s don’t do well in too much sunshine so we tend to hide away in the Summer months.
We visited Enginuity, which is a science museum in Ironbridge, (Telford, Shropshire) during this half term and is one of ten museums in the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage site. We are incredibly lucky to have these museums on our doorstep and since Ellie is now a fully grown toddler we thought she might enjoy some of the aspects of these museums.
Ellie is a very curious toddler and loves learning, whether it be through videos or active learning she is always keen to be doing something. Enginuity is perfect for anyone who is curious about science, design and technology and provides a range of stimulating activities for children of all ages. I would say that for a small toddler Ellie found it tricky accessing all the different parts but was able to with a little bit of help.
Looking around there wasn’t a single child who didn’t look like they were having fun and enjoying themselves. I mean who wouldn’t love pulling a real 10-tonne locomotive with their own hands? Actually…there were quite a few adults who seemed to be having quite a lot of fun testing themselves too!
Ellie’s favourite part was the machine that made balls float in the air (can you tell i’m not very sciencey?) and with Daddy’s help she was able to make enough wind power to get the balls floating in the air.
During this half term, we were fortunate enough to take part in the Pop-Up Planetarium they have, which was absolutely out of this world! We managed to get tickets for the first showing of the day and it didn’t disappoint. We were asked to crawl inside a big black dome and sit on the floor and then the dome went very dark. I wasn’t sure how Ellie would cope but the two people delivering the talk were great and accepting of anyone who needed to leave before the show was over. The show was called “Our Earth, Our Sun, Our Solar System and Our Place In Space” and featured a hands-on demonstration. I learnt so much about the stars and how to spot constellations in the night sky and how people in other time periods would spot them. There was so much to take in. Of cause Ellie didn’t learn a thing…it was never about that but she is genuinely interested in the sky and the stars that she loved just looking at the stars surrounding the dome and I guess I felt a little bit closer to Jason by learning something too.
There was also a drop-in workshop where you could make a space-themed pop up card (or anything really!). We tried Ellie with scissors for the first time as they were on the table and she was VERY keen to grab them. She actually did quite well seeing as she’s never held scissors before and my hair is still in tact (she won’t be using them any time soon though.)
The drop-in workshops, planetarium and everything else going on was all included in the admission price which I thought was great. We decided to purchase the Annual Passport tickets which gives us unlimited access to all 10 museums for an entire year (not during evening or special events) as we had already planned to go again and wanted to take Ellie to Blists Hill too (blog post up if anyone wants a read.)
For anyone thinking of taking toddlers and young children, Enginuity has a soft play area too! The colourful space is a fair size and has lots of soft play blocks to build and climb over. Ellie loved building with the soft lego shaped bricks, I think her Dad’s passion for Lego has passed down to her. The soft play was clean and suitable for young children and perfect to get a 5 minute breather from all the stimulation Enginuity offers.
You can visit their website here to find out more or to buy tickets!
Birthday’s come and go so quickly don’t they? I have never been a bit fan of celebrating my birthday, something about being in the spotlight I guess, it’s just not my thing. I’d happily celebrate anyone else’s in their’s was the same day and so i’ve never really got excited about it. Turning 28 doesn’t really mean anything either, I freaked out turning 21 it just seemed like a huge milestone where suddenly I was VERY grown up. For background info; I passed my driving test and moved in to our first home just weeks before my 21st birthday so yeah, suddenly my whole world had turned upside down and I was pretty much an adult. 25 didn’t really phase me much either and i’m 100% sure i’m not bothered about getting closer to 30 either.
Age really is just a number.
My birthday this year was quite ordinary, being a Wednesday and not half term meant I was working until 1pm and then taking Ellie to our weekly toddler class in the afternoon however I was quite happy to treat it as a normal day. I love our weekly classes and doing something we both enjoy on my birthday made it more special. Work was more eventful than I’d have liked (I will just leave you with the words cleaning and shit for you to work out the rest!!) and leaving slightly later than I’d have liked meant that I was in a huge rush to get to our Hartbeeps class on time…which I did…JUST!
I was incredibly spoilt by my lovely work colleagues and had so many beautiful flowers and daffodils (everyone knows they are my Jason flower) that I had to go to Tesco after Hartbeeps with Ellie to buy a new vase! Even that wasn’t the disaster it can be and we took a little detour to the farm (okay Pets At Home!) to see the rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs and fish which Ellie loved. She isn’t too keen on animals close up but quite liked watching the rabbits hopping about.
Despite spending most of the previous night squashed on our very old 2 seater sofa downstairs with Ellie because her cough kept waking her up and it was Luke’s long shift at work and I decided he needed some sleep after already getting up with her earlier on which meant I had less than 4 hours sleep all night, woke up feeling VERY much my age and then some, it turned out to be a pretty nice way to spend my birthday.
And in true form, I fell asleep in bed before 8:30pm…I know how to party!
Wow the terrible twos are in full swing over here. I have always heard that redheads have fiery tempers but I’d never fully believed that hair colour could define temper yet I seem to have the fiestiest toddler ever!
Her temper is definitely worse more recently. She has learnt to scream, tighten her fists and shout as loud as she possibly can. I’m 100% sure our neighbours either hate us or thinks we are trying to kill her.
Anyone else’s toddler squeal like a banshee when she’s in a complete meltdown? Or is it just mine? She is so incredibly loud too so the banshee noise travels throughout the house. Earlier on today a meltdown happened over not being carried down the stairs, the squealing started and I had to walk away. I really struggle walking away, I don’t want Ellie to hate being on her own because we leave when she is having a tantrum but today we both needed 2 minutes to calm down and the noise from upstairs was deafening.
I know tantrums are all part of being a toddler; exhurting independence and learning about boundaries and I believe E needs to learn early on that this behaviour is not acceptable but I also know this is a healthy part of her growing up and I don’t want to squash her fiestiness too.
Ellie’s behaviour has been a true description of the terrible twos lately; she is quickly becoming more independent and as a result of this she is definitely testing the boundaries (and our patience!) on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis.
Both myself and hubby work with children/young adults with extra needs and deal with the same sorts of toddler-like behaviour at work, so it feels like such a challenge to stay calm and composed at home when we’ve had to do it all day at work. I would say my patience is much shorter at home than at work and I wish it wasn’t. It isn’t Ellie’s fault at all and I know she is just learning how to deal with her emotions and her new found desire to be independent and her behaviour is quite normal.
But how do you try to nip it in the bud before it gets too difficult?
I’ve never been good at the cry-it-out method, I can’t sit and listen to her cry no matter how many people tell me “it’s worth it in the long run”. If she is crying I know there is a reason for it and I won’t let her grow up thinking I’m not there for her when she needs me.
We started counting to three when she does something she shouldn’t do and then when she carried on we would carry her up to her bedroom and close the stair gate, sometimes I would leave her and come downstairs for two minutes and sometimes I would sit in her room while she screamed it out of her. However I don’t think this is really the best way to teach her that her behaviour isn’t good and I don’t want it to have a counter effect and she learns that her bedroom is a punishment, she barely sleeps in there as it is so I want her room to be her calm space, HERS, where we read stories, play and hopefully one day sleep through the night in her own bed.
This is where “the step” comes in to play. I HATE the phrase “naughty step” as I feel the word naughty describes the child and not the behaviour, Ellie is not naughty, she is exploring the boundaries and seeing how far she can go, she is learning and I don’t want her to believe she is a naughty child. I know that this is thinking too deeply and a 2 year old isn’t going to be thinking this but I am always thinking of her future too. I’ve started calling it “the step” and putting her on it whenever counting to three doesn’t work. We seem to be using it more at tea times as Ellie doesn’t sit at a table or high chair and can be a little madam. I have found having the step keeps me calm, I put her on the bottom step, explain to her why she is there (she doesn’t really understand but I tell her anyway) and tell her to come back in when she is ready. Usually she waits for me to sit down and strides in with a big smile on her face (rolls eyes!!) and we end up repeating the process at least three times before she says sorry and we move on.
I know there are lots of pros and cons to using a time out like the step or a corner and I realise there are more cons than pros but for now it seems to be helping defuse the situation before it becomes a full on tantrum. I must say Ellie has had less tantrums in the past few days than she’s had in months.
Has the “naughty” step ever worked or not worked for you? Do you have another way of dealing with this type of behaviour in toddlers? I’d love to hear what you guys think too.
On Wednesday, I had a wonderful afternoon with Ellie. I’m doing some extra hours at work at the minute and it was lovely having time just the two of us. We went to our weekly Hartbeeps session and had lots of fun. Ellie was full of smiles (even though I woke her up) and loved singing the songs and dancing. It was Party week after all. I love our sessions because she becomes more confident with every week we go and Ellie loves our Hartbeeps leader too. Emma is amazing with her and Ellie feels comfortable around her. What a perfect way to spend our afternoon off together ❤ #perfect #mummydaughtertime
Of cause, life isn’t always Instagram friendly and there are certain things you don’t share on there to be seen to the world. Nobody wants reality on IG do they? Well in reality our Wednesday afternoon wasn’t quite as perfect as I wanted it to be, we really did have a lovely Hartbeeps session and I really did love spending that time with Ellie seeing as I have been doing extra afternoons.
After Hartbeeps I wanted to pop to the supermarket to grab Ellie some milk, we didn’t need much so I knew we wouldn’t be long. We went to B&M’s because Ellie was in such a good mood and was enjoying the walk around; she pushed the basket around happily and even helped put the few bits on to the conveyor belt to be paid for. Ellie then decided she wasn’t ready to leave the shop and threw herself to the floor in protest. I picked her up screaming and took her outside where lots of people starting looking over. When this girl wants to scream she does it VERY loudly. We didn’t make it to Sainsburys before I decided Ellie was not going to play ball and took her back to the car. Our afternoon just got worse from there, Ellie was NOT going to sit in her car seat, she decided to cry and scream and throw tantrum after tantrum for nearly 45 minutes. I was stook in Sainsbury’s car park with a Community Support Officer who appeared to be circling my car making sure I wasn’t trying to kill her. She just wouldn’t stop. I contemplated driving home with her sitting in the foot-well of the backseat (obviously I would NEVER do this but I thought about it!) I was tired, sweaty and really wanted to be at home where I wasn’t being stared at by people who obviously thought I was a terrible mother.
Life isn’t always perfect and children really do test your patience so much. I never imagined I would find parenting so difficult at times but the messages of support I received proved that we are not alone and despite the glaring stares, Ellie is not the first toddler to have such a public display of emotion in the way that she did and she probably won’t be the last. I’m 100% sure we’ll end up having more times like this. She is ginger haired and has a temper to match.
And I love her for her fiesty attitude and her wonderful personality.
It all started a few years ago when my brother who if I remember rightly was around 17 at the time woke up and had quite a traumatic situation happen (which I won’t go in to the gory details) and meant he needed a very quick trip to A&E to be checked out. Any one who know’s my brother knows he can be quite dramatic at times and we had assumed this event wasn’t too serious however we were wrong.
A trip to A&E meant we had learnt that my brother had quite a poorly bladder, and had had this for quite some time…possibly from birth and this meant he needed to be taken to Alder Hey Hospital as our local hospital did not have the facilities to support him. My family were quite worried as Liverpool isn’t around the corner and it meant close to a 2 hour drive for my Dad there and back each day and he was in hospital for about a week I think. Due to his Down Syndrome, Alder Hey allowed him to stay on the children’s ward, he was mentally the same age as the other children on the ward and it helped knowing he would be acknowledged as both a child and a young adult. I remember being so incredibly scared, thinking he was going to die, a worry I had from a young age, and I’d be left without my wonderful, loving brother. Alder Hey were absolutely amazing with him and my family and I will always be grateful to them for their amazing facilities as without them my brother may not have been here today.
I share this story as a bit of a background as to why I feel such a need to participate in Matalan’s collaboration with Alder Hey around this time of year. For anyone who doesn’t know, for the past few years Matalan have released a special set of pyjamas/dog outfits/socks in partnership with Alder Hey in a bid to raise money AND most importantly awareness for a charity/hospital who do their VERY best to change the lives of their patients and families during their stay.
This partnership has been a huge hit since day one and the first year it became very difficult to get any of the merchandise however my Mother-in-law triumphed and was able to get Ellie a #getyourstripeson onesie for her very first christmas. She was a month old and I felt so proud that she was already supporting such a wonderful cause. Deep down I know had Jason lived, he most probably would have needed the care from Alder Hey too so it feels important to me that I support it whenever I can.
Last year I was aware of how much support this campaign receives so I was quick to order mine and Ellie’s matching PJs. It was the first time we had anything that matched and it emphasised my love for matching clothes! I felt like the design held a part of Jason as along with the spots, there was a small blue elephant, which is Alder Hey’s mascot, but I felt so connected to him when I wore them and matched as if I had some way of keeping both my babies close.
I hadn’t really thought about this years campaign until it appeared on my FB timeline and I actually squealed with excitement. This year seems to have gone so fast, so much has happened and I currently have so much going on in my head that I am constantly chasing my tail. Once again, I ordered matching PJ’s for me and Ellie. I still wear my spots with pride however Ellie’s have been too small for quite some time now and it’s great knowing these should fit her for most of the year now she is in 2-3 years clothes rather than months!
I must say I am slightly disappointed that this years design doesn’t include the Alder Hey elephant however Ellie is so obsessed with stars and she is started to learn colours that we have had loads of fun matching the blue stars on our matching pyjamas so it is still a huge hit with us.
To sum up these PJs are super comfy, unisex so hide all my mum-tum flabby bits and are actually quite generous in size. They are nice and warm, perfect for the 4 months of snow we are apparently going to have this winter! For Ellie, the cuffed arms and legs are perfect as they are still slightly big for her (she’s not quite 2 yet) so ensure she isn’t always falling out of them. They are bright and colourful and have already given her lots of play with colours.
Today (22nd August) is National Rainbow Day, which follows on from Baby Loss Awareness Week and Day of Hope.
When I was pregnant with Ellie I didnt like the term rainbow baby, I didnt like the idea of Jasons life/death being thought of as “the storm” however the term is widely known in the baby loss community and becoming more known in the public eye too so it is easier to call her our Rainbow instead of explaining our story repeatedly.
A rainbow baby doesn’t take away the pain from the loss of a child. I have said before that I have grieved harder for Jason since Ellie was born I carry more guilt because she is alive and he isn’t but in other ways it does ease the pain. My arms are no longer empty, my heart is fuller than ever and my smile isnt always fake. She has given me a new reason to live when all I wanted was to die.
So today I wanted to celebrate her. I live to make my children proud and I want Ellie to grow up knowing everything I do is for her. My worry is that she will grow up feeling like she is second best or having to compete with Jason for my attention however I also want her to grow up being able to talk about her big brother and know about him, I need him to be included just as much as I need Ellie to know she is our reason for living.
For me, Ellie has made me feel like I can be happy again, she makes me smile and feel more love than I could have possibly thought I could give. Since Ellie arrived I have been able to listen to music without crying, I can focus on the lyrics and find some happiness within the sad. I don’t drive to work with the tears flowly freely, in fact I dont cry as much as I used to at all. I want to go out and make memories but I still find celebrations and family meals etc hard. I am still reminded every day of the things we are missing out on but it is easier to handle now I have someone who gives me cuddles when I am sad.
When Jason died I thought that was my only chance of hearing anyone call me mum and it was gone; hearing Ellie call for her Mama is something I will never tire of no matter what time it is.
She reminds me of how much I love her Daddy and how much our family means to me; sometimes in the crazy life of parenting it is easy to forget about the love you had before children but when I see how much he makes Ellie laugh and how big his smile is when he is with her it makes me feel like I am 15 again and in this early stages of love.
Ellie has filled my life with happiness, love and so much laughter that I never thought I would ever feel again. I will always be so grateful for my rainbow baby, for her beauty, for having her brothers nose, for reminding me how lucky I am to have held them both and loved them both as long as the stars shine in the night.
I am also always reminded of those who don’t have their rainbow and my heart hurts for them so much. Our babies are our lives and for a grieving parent the longing to have their baby is intensified. Please know I share your pain and wish I could take it away and bring your beautiful babies back to you. I wish none of us knew this pain and I hope you are able to feel true happiness once more.
I have finally given in our interest form to put Ellie’s name down for nursery. I found it such a stressful task, I have said from the start I wanted Ellie to attend the nursery linked to the primary school I work at mainly because the staff are amazing, I know them and I know it will fit around me being at work too.
It was only an interest form, Ellie won’t actually be starting nursery until the term after she is 3, making it January 2020 which is ages away right? I know it will come creeping up and I know by then she will be ready for nursery and that preparation for school! I’m not one of these parents who is bothered, i’m actually quite excited to see what she will be like at school, I was always very quiet, got on with it and liked being at school and learning. I imagine Ellie will be the complete opposite and a little bit of a nightmare.
Due to me and Luke both working, Ellie is only entitled to the 30 hours free funding once she is 3 otherwise we’d have made the decision to put her into nursery for those 15 hours at 2. I hate the fact that to the outside world she is an only child and don’t want her growing up with that “only-child syndrome” people talk about. At nearly 19 months she is happy to share with her toys and she shares with us but she isn’t great at playing around other children and I know nursery will help develop that skill.
Because I like to be organised and prepared for EVERYTHING; I would love to hear your thoughts on what is necessary for children starting nursery at 3. Obviously I would want her to be toilet-trained by then but what else would people recommend? I’ve worked in Primary schools for nearly 10 years now and have seen the starters in reception classes be at very different levels in their maturity and abilities but I’ve never seen them start at nursery and what they can/can’t do so it intrigues me.
It was only after filling in Ellie’s forms that it reminded me I should have another little person starting nursery; Jason would have started nursery the term after his third birthday which would have been after Easter. That is assuming he could have started nursery then, I will never know for sure due to his DS and tissue on the brain however I do like to think we would have everything in place and a fantastic support network in place to have his education started as early as possible. It’s simple tasks I do with Ellie that makes me think about everything I missed out on with Jason. The milestones she has hit and continues to tackle, the firsts we have shared, I even wonder whether he’d have been a restless sleeper like she is and I’d have currently been on 3 years and 3 months (to the day!). I can imagine how irritable I would be!