I think it’s pretty safe to say so far this year hasn’t been the best. In February we were dealt with storms that lasted days and caused flooding damage to so many areas around us. Thankfully, we are fortunate that we don’t live close to water and we didn’t suffer but lots of businesses and houses were destroyed due to flooding.
It feels like as soon as our county started getting back to normal we all went in to lockdown and that has been tough in itself!
As keyworkers my husband and I have both been working the odd day here and there but this has been a really difficult time. Ellie has been missing her friends, her nursery teachers, her grandparents and is so bored. It doesn’t matter what we do with her, to her she is still stuck at home and it’s really hard on her. It’s hard on all children.
Our days have been fairly relaxed, we’ve done some nursery homeschooling in the form of phonics, name writing and numbers. She’s read stories, retold stories and acted them out. She’s learnt how to put her socks on herself and has been helping do the odd chores around the house too.
We’ve also had more than one tantrum throughout, usually every couple of days we get a really bad day. It’s tough but just something we know we have to ride out as best we can.
I’ve tried to remain positive through all of this; we are safe at home and for as long as we can we will stay at home. I’ve lost one child, there is no way I am risking taking Ellie anywhere to lose another one. It saddens me that some people haven’t taken lockdown seriously enough; Ellie hasn’t seen ANYONE other than me and Luke in nearly 7 weeks and its tough yet we’ve seen neighbours still visiting their grandchildren regularly and having BBQ’s with their families. Trying to explain to a 3 year old why she can’t do the same (because to her everyone else is seeing their families and friends) is hard. We are both fortunate that our jobs are safe and we both have jobs to go back to, something I know others don’t have. Like I say, i’ve tried to remain positive and see the good in something that is so awful.
I’m hoping lockdown ends soon and we can start to begin a new normal way of living where we can start to venture out more and she is able to go to nursery but I can’t see that happening until September now. We shall see.
We have recently had the chance to work with Doddl to use and review their cutlery set. Ellie is 3 now and is confident in using a spoon and fork when eating however she’s suddenly decided she doesn’t like the feel of the plastic children’s cutlery we currently use and had started eating with her fingers again! When the cutlery arrived Ellie got so excited about having her very own knife she couldn’t wait for tea time!
The cutlery sets available fromDoddl are suitable from 12 months upwards and are designed to suit children up to 5 years+. I loved that these sets contained a knife as I’ve only ever come across sets with a spoon and fork and Ellie is eager to try and cut her own food up, a skill many children don’t have by the time they reach school age.
The cutlery is designed with large metal ends for the spoon, fork and knife (a big hit with Ellie) and a short BPA Free plastic handle, the handles are designed to be shorter to help toddlers grip and have more control over their cutlery. The cutlery itself has soft grip circles on the handles, typically where children would hold the cutlery, this develops an effective way to hold it ready to move on to adult cutlery.
Since using the cutlery Ellie is growing in confidence using her special knife, I was concerned to begin with as I worried about her cutting herself but Doddl have worked hard to ensure their products are fully safe to use and are functionally sharp, meaning although they are sharp enough to cut food they will not hurt a child using them. Of cause, being watchful of them when they eat is something we all do its just handy knowing they are safe if you do happen to be multitasking like all parents do.
Ellie can now cut her own fish fingers, chips and carrots up which gives her a huge sense of independence that all toddlers need, she loves feeling like she’s grown up like we are. It’s certainly made our meal times much easier!
Another big plus to the Doddl cutlery is the cleaning! They are so easy to clean, we’ve used Ellie’s for a few weeks now and I’ve not had any issues with food getting stuck in between the prongs in the fork or food getting stuck between the plastic handles. They are dishwasher safe (if you are lucky enough to have one…I’m the dishwasher in our house) but they can be cleaned easily enough by hand too.
The Doddl range also includes a Fork and Spoon set, a baby specific set and you can purchase the knife separately too! The also offer a handy carry case which is perfect as we have taken our cutlery with us whenever we have eaten out, it’s changed the way Ellie eats in cafes and restaurants so much. All of these can be found in various colours, ours is in Raspberry Pink, at www.doddl.com or you can head to Amazon UK to purchase them too. I couldn’t recommend them enough.
Disclosure: I was gifted a set of Doddl cutlery in exchange for an honest review. All views and opinions are my own. #gifted #AD
My plans were that Ellie would be completely toilet trained by the time the 6 week holidays were over but the closer we got the more I realised she really wasn’t ready. She would have tantrums whenever we offered the potty or cry if she didn’t have a nappy on. She would tell us it is safe in her nappy and I knew we’d cause more anxiety by forcing her and we needed to wait until she was ready.
At the start of the summer Ellie was suddenly ready. She asked for her potty and didn’t want her nappy on as much. It was fine while we were at home but I was dreading going anywhere. I’d concluded we wouldn’t be toilet training so I wasn’t prepared for the sudden change of mind! We did little journeys, putting a towel on Ellie’s car seat and carrying enough pants to last a month 🤣
We had no accidents but found car journeys were causing Ellie too much stress as she worried about leaking on her chair. We survived a wedding where I carried her toilet seat everywhere and a 2 hour journey to our holiday making regular stops. Ellie was doing amazing. I would definitely say that once they are “ready” it will just happen.
Now that Ellie is dry in the day and has been for just over a month, she has now decided she doesn’t like the pull ups at night. We’ve used the pull ups at night since she stopped wearing nappies and she hasn’t had an issue with them but they do irritate her on the sides. Again, I wasn’t prepared for night time toilet training but so far she’s done really well. She hasn’t had a pull up on for 5 nights now and she’s been dry for 5 nights too! I’ve limited her drink once she’s in bed and she’s been using the toilet just before bed too. I’ve then been taking her to the toilet when I come to bed just as an extra but find if I don’t she wakes herself up and tells us which is great. Now just to show her she can use the toilet without waking me up… Now that would be amazing!!
I wish I had some magic tips to offer but I feel like our toilet training was a bit of a fluke. My biggest tip would be to get them used to having pants on without nappy time and not worrying too much about the mess. Waiting until they are ready is also the best way to try toilet training as it won’t take as long to master.
I am so proud of Ellie as she has done all of this before she is even 3.
I remember taking Ellie swimming while on maternity leave and I clearly remember being in the water 5 minutes and having to get out because she HATED it! The moment her feet touched the water she would scream and cling to me, it didn’t matter how much fun I made it look or what I did to make sure she was warm enough, she really didn’t like it. I stopped taking her at around 6 months as the screams were becoming deafening and I didn’t think it was fair on others using the pool. I vowed to take her again soon however soon turned in to about a year and a half later…oops!!
A bit of a back story, I am petrified of water, I have a huge fear of being splashed and being put under water. I used to hate swimming at school and would use any and every excuse to get out of it.(My periods were every week at one point!) One lesson we were practising to dive in to the deep end and I tried to explain to my PE teacher that I really couldn’t do it…so she pushed me in! You wouldn’t get away with doing something like that now, I wasn’t confident in the water and I’ve never been able to tread water so I panicked and had to get out. I never did another swimming lesson with her again. I have always been worried that my own fear of the water was affecting Ellie and she could sense I wasn’t confident either which is why she wasn’t keen. Yet I have had awful mum guilt since we stopped going (we did only go a handful of times during my maternity leave) because I know the benefits of teaching a baby to swim early.
Swimming with a baby can: *Help to build muscles, strengthening all of a babies muscles effectively therefore making them stronger. *Help improve coordination and balance. *Builds confidence around water early. *Strengthens a babies heart, lungs and can help to develop the brain.
It can also improve their appetite and the extra exercise will help their sleeping pattern too… more exercise means they are tireder than usual.
Ellie asked to go swimming during the Easter half term holidays, it came completely out of the blue and was the only thing she asked to do throughout the holidays. We are so lucky to have 4 public swimming pools in our town that all have parent and toddler sessions however most of them are during the week. One parent and toddler session is held on a Sunday morning which is perfect for us as it means I can take Ellie but have the back up of Luke too. It’s the family time I crave so much on a weekend, it gets us all out of the house for an hour and we have found Ellie actually LOVES it.
She took to the water so easily this time round, the pool we have used is warmer than the one I used to take her to which has definitely helped but for such a long time now she has pretended to swim in the bath, she doesn’t scream when we have to wash her hair and that has DEFINITELY helped too!
We have been swimming around 4 times now (we skipped one due to an epic meltdown one Saturday) but the look on her face when she jumps in to the water gives me all the feels inside. She is totally confident in the water, which eases my anxiety over giving her my fears slightly, she swims using armbands and only clings a little bit when she’s getting tired. She loves to jump in and see the fear in my face when she does and she loves splashing us both with the floats.
I no longer worry that not taking her swimming as a baby is going to have an adverse effect on her confidence growing up.
In an ideal world I’d have been one of those nervous parents waiting to find out what school my boy had gotten in to. In an ideal world he’d have been accepted to the primary school where I work! In an idealworld I’d already have his uniform, or parts of it in preparation and be excitedly making him try it on for pictures. In an ideal world we probably would have had to put Jason in to the special needs school because that is where he’d have the support he needed. In a less ideal world we’d have to settle or appeal the decision.
I would give so much to be able to take that less ideal world. To be one of those excired/nervous parents dying to know.
Things like this shouldn’t cause me grief, I probably wouldn’t even acknowledge it if I didn’t work in a school however when September comes and I see all those parents and little reception newbies on their first day I know it should be me there too. I will see their anxiousness and wonder whether I’d have felt the same or whether we would both be ready for him to start school. I feel like Ellie is ready to start nursery so I know she will be fine but I will never know what Jason would have been like.
My life with him seems further and further away with every milestone that we don’t hit together. I’ve missed his first words, first steps, first hug, first smile and now ill be missing his first day at school too.
Of cause I miss him constantly and the ache I have to have both of my children here is never ending but sometimes days are harder to deal with than others and there are some days where you just can’t help but think how fucking cruel the world is.
There are certain things I look for when choosing clothes for Ellie, especially now she is getting bigger and the clothes need to last much longer and here is my top 5 things I look out for when I need to buy her new clothes:
1. Durable – Does it wash well? Do any stains remove easily? This is a huge one for me as Ellie is a messy child; she spills her tea most nights and always wants to drink the milk from her cereal bowl in a morning. I am always looking for clothes that wash well, retain their shape and dont shrink when tumble dried 🙈 Now Ellie is in 2-3 clothes I want them to last her as long as possible.
2. Appropriateness – This one for me only seems to be an issue with girls clothes. I find girls clothes (even at age 2) are far too “grown up” for their age. Crop tops, thin material, see-through, spaghetti straps, I could go on. Boys clothes are so much more appropriate for their age, I went through a time when Ellie was a baby where I would only buy boys clothes because they weren’t so stupid looking but now Ellie is older it’s silly but I want her to look like a girl, pretty in pink with a frilly tutu. Clothes I would have hated being put in and I’m sure one day she will hate me for too!
3. Quality – I have already touched on this but the quality of girls clothes in particular is usually quite shocking. The generally use a thinner material which can sometimes look see-through and therefore end up not lasting very long at all. I always look for the quality of the clothes which is why I usually opt to buying Ellie’s clothes in person rather than online.
4. Price – This isn’t a reflection on the product itself but I do find the price of clothing has a huge impact on whether I buy it or not. I am a teaching assistant and so is my husband so our income isn’t much, especially as I currently only work part time. I believe that Ellie is still young and has no concept of how much clothes can cost or that she would need to look after them so I try to spend as little as possible.
5. Usability from Ellie’s perspective – Can she remove it herself? Ellie is just beginning to remove her own clothes confidently and occasionally put them on, I am now more conscious of whether she is able to do these herself. If it has buttons I know she’s not going to be able to do these herself and I want to build her confidence while she is learning.
I was approached by Lavender SUN Co who I have worked with previously (see old review here) to review their toddler range. I was so impressed with the baby items I received that I knew I wanted to collaborate again. This time I opted to review an outfit, which I loved from the second I saw it. I found a lot of the choices for toddlers didn’t fit in to my liking (mainly because they were quite girly and I am not) but the outfit I chose suited us perfectly.
This fairytale 2 piece outfit is absolutely gorgeous!! The skirt is such a great quality and as it is elasticated I know it will fit Ellie for quite some time. I ordered this outfit in age 3-4 and there is plenty of growing room in the grey skirt yet it fits nicely now too (just a tad long as Ellie is quite short for her age).
The top is fairly thin but as I wanted this for the summer I know it won’t be too warm for her. It fits well and the pattern is so cute. Ellie loves finding the butterflies and counting the flowers she can see. I must admit, the top already fits fairly well and I am unsure of how long she will fit in it but again it is true to size and Ellie is just a short, dumpy girl like her Mama is so tops are already getting slightly small in age 2-3years.
I love that she is able to put the skirt on and remove it herself effortlessly and that the top has no buttons and as her confidence in dressing herself grows she will be able to put it on herself in no time at all. There are no buttons or fastenings to deal with which is great!
In regards to it being durable, the first time Ellie wore her new outfit we went to an Easter Egg Hunt at my grandparents house and she managed to get spaghetti bolognese sauce, chocolate and grass stains on the WHITE top and I was sure there would be stains. I removed the top as soon as I could and used some Oxy Action stain remover spray from Tesco and a quick 15 minute wash on its own and it has come amazingly clean, no stains or slight discolouring, it still looks brand new.
I couldn’t fault the customer service of Lavender Sun Co and the website was so easy to use, changing from. British Pounds to US Dollars was quick and meant I didnt need to figure out the difference in price myself.
If you want to have a look at the fantastic outfits available then head on over to Lavender Sun Co or to their instagram page.
Disclosure: I was gifted The Golden Key in exchange for an honest review. All views and opinions are my own. #gifted #AD
It is no secret that I LOVE books, specifically children’s books. I haven’t sat down and read an adult book in years, which bothers me terribly at times but I just find reading with Ellie brings me more joy than if I was reading on my own.
Her love of stories is far bigger than mine, she is always asking to read, sits and demands 10 books at bedtime some nights and usually finds some to read during the day too. I love that she loves to read, I never say no because I work with plenty of children who don’t enjoy reading and choose not to. I don’t want that for Ellie. I want her to develop a storytellers imagination, to divulge herself in to a story that she just can’t put down. I want her to enjoy reading as much as I used to (Jacqueline Wilson being one of my favourite authors growing up!) and I can’t wait to share all the classics with her as she grows.
I literally jumped for joy when I received an email from Bang On Books asking if I would consider collaborating with them and reviewing one of their personalised books. It has been a dream of mine to develop my blog and social media enough to be able to share items that I love and this is DEFINITELY a book we both love!
The process of making the personalised book was so easy. Bang On Books has a bright, colourful and user-friendly website that guides you through the process of creating your own personalised book. You can add a photo, choose what the character looks like and write a personalised message for the inside.
I chose The Golden Key as Ellie loves sea creatures and adventurous stories, I could have chosen Unicorn Oo which seemed a bit more girly however I was drawn to The Golden Key because the picture on the website showed a girl character rather than a boy (very well done!!) and I quickly remembered it didn’t matter which seemed more girly but what mattered is which Ellie would enjoy more.
I was surprised at how quickly the book was processed and posted out, it seemed to take only a few days from ordering (late night shopping is THE best!) to it being delivered and I got a little giddy when I realised what was waiting for us on the doorstep.
The Golden Key (written and illustrated by Hannah Walton) is beautifully illustrated and colourful. Each page gives you something to look out for (Ellie’s favourite is finding the “naughty ocapus” hiding. She asks to read “Ellie’s book” at least once a day since it arrived. She loves seeing her own face turn in to the character of Ellie and I love that we have a book that captures her at 2 years old and we have already made memories of her imagining herself on a swashbuckling adventure with Sailor and his crew!
The Golden Key is a lovely story based on a protagonist character being kind and brave enough to help Sailor find his lost golden key. It has pesky pirates, adventures on a turtle and a GIANT octopus who in Ellie’s view is very naughty. I find that Ellie’s attention span is small (she is only 2 and a bit) and long stories can be a bit tedious to read at times and at 44 pages long I assumed this would be the case for The Golden Key but the story and the fact that she is the main character keeps her attention right to the very last page, she loves it!
I can’t help but wonder whether that day was when everything started going wrong.
Illness had struck, I worked in a nursery at the time and the sickness bug had hit the kids. The day I was due to finish for my maternity I ended up having off as I was being sick and I felt so bad for not working my last day.
I hadn’t thought much of being sick, other than being grateful I didn’t suffer from morning sickness as I just wouldn’t have coped. I’m not a good sick person at all. I spent the day on the sofa, wrapped up in a blanket feeling baby kicks (or so I thought… More like flutters with him being so tiny!) and generally feeling dreadful. I had a constant smell of cigarette smoke around me which was odd as I have never smoked and no one was near the house. To this day I wonder whether someone was trying to tell me something was wrong. That in just 2 days my baby would be gone.
I have since learnt that being sick can be a sign of labour starting and I wonder whether I had signs but was too naive to recognise them. I had just turned 35 weeks pregnant and was innocent in thinking I had 5 weeks to go before we’d meet him. I was unaware that babies were born so early and it’s not something midwives tell you is a possibility either. I feel that the information you are given is just what they think you want to hear not what you should actually know.
The next day I felt perfectly fine, I’d cancelled plans with friends because I had been ill but actually thought about uncancelling due to how much better I felt. I’d taken a picture of my growing bump in a summery dress, we took a stroll to Tesco for pizza as it was what “baby wanted” and while walking around I had started to feel some pains in my tummy that felt a bit like constipation pains… Of cause I know now that they weren’t at all and I should have taken them more seriously and got checked out. Maybe if I had have been checked we’d have been able to save him, we’d have had a chance of saving him.
I think every grieving parent goes through life finding ways to blame themselves for the loss of their baby/child. Those “what ifs” haunt me 4 years later and they always will. Not a day goes by where I don’t feel like I should have known something was wrong and done something.
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.
Goodbye February, this month has been a mixed month. I started off feeling very low and depressed and finished the month off feeling grateful and full of love. As a family we have made so many memories and spent a whole week together having lots of fun.
With the end of February comes March, a month I literally dread. We have lukes birthday on the 4th which I love as I’ve always loved being able to spoil him and show him how much I love him. We’ve always celebrated his birthday with a meal out with his family and we are going to a local favourite place of ours (I may post about it after) on Sunday for Sunday lunch which I am looking forward to.
The rest of the month is a countdown. Reliving the days and weeks before Jason’s death, trying to come up with a reason it happened or something we have all missed. Blaming myself because I was naive to think I deserved to have my baby and that babies were safe! I actually hate the person I was because I was ignorant to the fact that this has happened for thousands of years and it still happens today.
4 years ago I was blissfully unaware that in just 29 days my whole world would collapse. I was hoping my unborn baby would arrive early, impatient to meet him1her and moaning about my pregnancy aches and pains. 4 years ago I wasnt at all scared about being pregnant or that something bad would happen.
In 29 days my son SHOULD be 4. I SHOULD be planning his 4th birthday party and inviting all of his friends from nursery. I SHOULD be spending my money on a few more presents because he deserves it and buying the best birthday cake because if he was like his Mummy and Little Sister he’d have loved cake. I SHOULD be deciding on the theme of his party and writing lists of the food I would need to buy.
Those things were stolen from me. Taken. Gone.
All the things I dreamed of doing as a parent, as a first time mummy, were taken from me the day we were told Jason only lived 37 minutes.
His whole life was spent looking at doctors, nurses, paramedics trying to save him. He never got to be with his parents, the people who love him. I never got to hold him alive.
With March comes a whole lot of memories of that day, one’s I try to suppress partly because it hurts so God damn much and partly because after 4 years you are expected to just get on with it. Jason’s birthday I will have to get up, go to work, pretend that 4 years ago I didn’t have to say goodbye to my son and I’d never see him again. Pretend that everything is okay even when it isn’t.
March is the month that gave me my son and I will Always be grateful for the short time I had with him but it is also the month that took my son away and I can’t wait for it to be over.