Posted in baby loss, Jason

Seven

Seven years since I last held you.
Seven years since I saw those tiny little hands.
Seven years since I had to say Goodbye.

Seven years of missing you.
Seven years of hurting.
Seven years of what ifs.
Seven years of why me.

I can’t imagine our lives with a 7 year old. I guess that’s what hurts the most; that we never got to have a life with him in it. A day with him was never enough but a day was all we got.

Jason’s birthday came and went in a flash. It was a normal Tuesday, school/work and hardly any time to think about the day itself. People asked me how I was, I was fine I suppose. The days that followed seemed harder. I’m a huge believer that the build up is always worse, the days that led to Jason’s birthday haunt me. I should have known, I could have done more, I should have been able to stop this from happening. So yeah, the actual day felt like any other. We had a cake and told Ellie it was Jason’s birthday cake which she was thrilled about and then the usual routine kept us busy.

The days that followed were hard on Ellie, I’ve never sheltered her from Jason’s death – of course she doesn’t know the full extent of what happened but she does know he’s dead and it’s a tough thing for a 5 year old to comprehend. Her teacher brought her new baby in to school to meet everyone and usually Ellie would have been all over her but she looked at the baby and just said it reminded her of baby Jason. She has talked to her new teacher and her amazing TA about him and why she got upset that day. She asked me if he could just come and play with her, just for his birthday. It breaks my heart to know she grieves in her own way for a sibling she never got to see.

They’ve also been learning the Easter story at school which has confused her a little. Why shouldn’t her big brother be able to come back to life if a man who lived thousands of years ago was able to do it. Why can’t we put his body in a cave and wait for the angel to revive him. Why was Jesus special enough to be allowed to live again and not Jason? These are just some of the questions we’ve had to try and answer for her. I’m not a Christian, I never was and I love that she’s so inquisitive when it comes to religion but jeez they were tough! I don’t believe in God – if there is some almighty being then making me live without my child is pretty crappy of them don’t you think?

Thankfully, Ellie has been more settled again this weekend. Jason’s birthday is a memory and in the eyes of a child she’s done with it all. She does still have moments where she talks about him and I will always encourage her to do so, he is her big brother, he is my son and he will always be apart of our family.

Posted in Gifted, parenting, product review, toys

Petite Amelie Wooden Dolls House – review

Post contains PR Product.

Ellie has such a kind and caring nature and she absolutely loves looking after her toys – she feeds them in her play kitchen, she puts them down for naps and she plays with such a vivid imagination. I love nothing more than sitting down with a cuppa and listening to the storylines she comes up with – although worryingly it usually starts with the Mum dying!!

I knew she would be over the moon with the wooden dolls house we received from Petite Amélie and she has played with it non-stop since she first saw it.

So here’s our review of our new dolls house. It’s possibly one of the few times Ellie has willingly let me bother her for photos!

In 2010 when a mum-to-be wasn’t able to find the cot of her dreams for her daughter – she took matters into her own hands and designed one herself and had it made – it was at that moment that Petite Amélie was born. They have since expanded their range of products to include complete baby and children’s bedrooms, transitional beds, infants chests of drawers and wardrobes, children’s bed linen and wooden toys – furniture perfect for Nurseries or Toddler Rooms..

Their main goal – to inspire parents to create a beautiful nursery that has unique furniture and accessories suitable for babies and children alike.

With so many beautifully designed, timeless products to choose from I found it difficult knowing what to pick when we were offered to choose something from the site – however since we already have all the furniture we need we decided to look at the wooden toys and decided on the La maison d’Amélie wooden dolls house.

Traditional Toys with a Modern Touch

The La maison d’Amélie wooden dolls house is a house of dreams! It’s stylish open fronted design is a great way to encourage children to play – the neutral tones of white, grey and black match with the natural wood perfectly too allowing it to be appealing to all children.

The wooden dolls house does come flat packed and was relatively easy to assemble when little hands arent trying to “help”. Initially I had decided to build the dolls house but found getting the balcony to fit a tad bit tricky so set Luke off on the task and of course, being the Master Builder he is, he did it in no time at all! The house also comes with a 19 piece furniture set too which is already assembled and matches the main house with its neutral colours and wood. It would be easy to add some colour and a bit of the childs personality to the house by painting the furniture but honestly I really love the natural look and love how it all looks inside when we’ve set it up.

The dolls house has rooms on 4 floors and just like a real home it has a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, living room and office space as well as a balcony on the top floor too! The possibilities for play are endless – every time Ellie plays with it her role play is different to the last. We’ve had role play linked to every day life – bath time, breakfast and Ellie loves tucking her little family in to bed at night – and we’ve had rescue missions, flooding and evil pirates but Ellie’s favourite is to pretend she’s a giant reaching in through the window and scaring the children!

Our Overall Verdict

I particularly love the fact that the wooden toys from Petite Amélie are made from high quality materials (SFC wood and organic cotton where possible) and the house is EN71 safety tested and the paint used is safe for children too, I also like the additional thought on safety with the rounded edges.

We’ve had such many nights after school playing with our new dolls house, it’s been a fantastic way to watch Ellie’s imagination grow and we’ve used it to talk about our days when she hasn’t been so keen to share! It’s been a wonderful addition to Ellie’s playroom and I can’t wait to watch her grow and maybe one day pass on to her children too!

Have you had any toys or furniture from Petite Amélie?
Will you be buying wooden toys this year?
Christmas is only 92 days away after all!
Let us know in the comments below!

Disclosure – We were gifted the La maison D’Amelie wooden dolls house to review however as always all thoughts, opinions and photographs are my own.

Posted in baby loss, baby loss awareness, Ellie, life after loss, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, parenting, parenting after loss

Sleepover

Ellie went for her first ever sleepover last night. She has been asking to stay at both her grandparents houses for a little while and I knew we needed to let her. She packed everything she needed; pyjamas, clothes,hair brush, toothbrush, DVD player, night light, 2 teddies and she was ready. She also wanted to take her curtains (i don’t know why) but with a little persuasion she realised she didn’t need them.

You see, my anxiety over her not being here has always stopped us from letting her stay over anywhere for the night. I know she is safe with both our parents, that’s not the issue, I just knew I would find it hard. I’m sure most, if not all parents, find it difficult leaving their children for the night for the first time but for me it felt like a repeat of history and I’m still not sure I’ll ever be prepared for her to not be here.

Whenever I think of waking up and Ellie not being here it takes me back to the first night after having Jason. Neither of us could sleep, of cause, so we sat on the sofa and watched awful comedy shows. We stayed up until the station turned off and even then sleep was hit and miss. I couldn’t go upstairs, knowing my son should be lying in his Moses Basket or his cot sleeping away. I was very aware that I should have still been pregnant but I wasn’t and the reality hit like a tonne of bricks that I was at home while my baby lay on his own in the hospital. That feeling is awful, unless you’ve been there you’ll never be able to fully grasp what it feels like being at home and knowing your life should have been so different.

Of cause, being a parent after you’ve lost your child is really tough, I’ve never really been an anxious person but where Ellie is concerned I worry about losing her more than is really healthy. I’m so unbelievably grateful that we were given a second chance at being “normal” parents but with each day that Ellie grows and becomes more independent the more I wonder what Jason would have been like now and the reality is I will never know. Due to Jason’s health complications I will never know what it would have been like to parent a 5 year old right now.

Anyway, Ellie absolutely loved her sleepover and has already decided she is staying at my inlaws next week. Mummy really struggled but fought back the tears and the urge to sit in her bedroom and cry those really ugly tears I get when I think about death and what my children would have been like together now. We slept, I woke up and it didn’t feel the same as when Jason died, I didn’t get that gut-wrenching feeling that she was gone, I knew she was safe. I may have cried a little once I’d picked her up and she was back in my little bubble but that’s allowed right?

Life is unfair and our lives should be different however I made a promise to my daughter that she would never be second best or miss out on anything because her big brother isn’t here and a sleepover (as little as it seems) is something she shouldn’t miss out on no matter how difficult it is for me.

I feel proud. Proud of myself for not letting my fears take over and proud of Ellie for being so grown up, spending a night away from us and not being bothered at all.

What age did your little one have their first sleepover? If they haven’t yet, i’d love to know why you haven’t done it yet (if you feel like sharing of cause).

Posted in parenting

Twenty Twenty

The year it all went wrong.

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.

How has lockdown affected you?

Posted in parenting, product review

Review – Casdon Self -Service Supermarket Till

Ellie loves to role-play shopping and has really enjoyed testing out the Casdon Self-Service Supermarket Till. She’d had a really busy first week at nursery and she loved being able to play at home with her new toy.

Upon opening the box Ellie was slightly disappointed the till wasn’t already made (toddler problems right there!) and waited patiently for me to put it all together. The main base is made of three plastic parts that clip together easily then the counter attaches to the top. Thankfully the scanner comes ready made and slots into the counter. Its not difficult to set up at all however it did take me slightly longer to put all the stickers in place. I hate stickers on toys! The pressure to get them perfectly lined up is just too much with an over-excited toddler so I bribed her with snacks while I put them all on and made up the little food boxes.

However the time it takes to build and make up the boxes is definitely worth it once you’ve stocked the shelves full of branded goodies they know and love ready for play such as Hovis, Mr Kipling, Andrex and Birds Eye!

Once everything is assembled you are almost ready to play. The scanner itself needs 3 AAA batteries and works just like a scanner they’ve seen in the shops. It works on a light sensor so when items are passed through it it beeps like a real scanner. The buttons on the scanner also make a beep noise, there are two different noise levels so it doesn’t have to be too loud. The card machine on the side of the scanner also beeps when the numbers are pushed and coins put in can be given back as change when the button is pressed too.

The Self-Service till comes with a credit card, some notes and plastic coins that are great for teaching the basic skills of shopping and money. It also comes with a handy shopping basket to further develop imaginative play.

What We Think…

We love the bright colours, the bold red, blue and white are great primary colours and make it appealing for little children.

Ellie has really enjoyed acting out and pretending to be the shop-keeper scanning our shopping. She loves scanning different items and putting them in the basket, her imagination has developed lots since starting nursery so her play has developed too. It’s lovely to watch her play so happily. I love that she can use her own experiences of shopping in her play…although i’m not quite as keen on my milk costing me £20!!

The Casdon Self-Service Supermarket Till is perfect for pretend play; toddlers and pre-schoolers will love using their imagination and experiences to buy their own shopping and scan it themselves! For me, the realistic noises really add to the whole experience. Ellie can’t wait to have her friends round to play!

My only grumble would be the stickers…did I mention I really dislike stickers?

The Casdon Self-Service Supermarket Till is available from Hello Baby and at the time of posting is on offer at £49.09 with FREE UK DELIVERY.

Posted in Gifted, parenting, product review

Review – Doddl Cutlery Set

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!

This Doddl cutlery set contains a Fork, Spoon and Knife.

The cutlery sets available from Doddl 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

Posted in motherhood, mothering a rainbow, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, parenting

Happy New Year

Is it just me or does anyone else feel like 2019 flew by? I don’t think I’ve had a single month where we haven’t been busy. I have neglected my little space on the internet and have felt quite lonely without it at times.

I have taken some time to really think about what I want from this space in the next 12 months and questioned whether I needed it any more. I do, but not in the same way as I did when I first started blogging. At the beginning blogging was a way for me to talk openly about Jason and my grief because I wasn’t able to do this in real life. I talked about him but only to a certain point that I knew friends and family could cope with. I couldn’t fully open up because honestly I knew the truth wouldn’t sit well with them.

I still love writing about him but once his story has been written and rewritten and written again there isn’t much else to say that hasn’t already been said. His story unfortunately doesn’t change, I can’t add anything new because he’s not here and that STILL hurts as much as the day I left him at the hospital. At the same time I enjoy writing about Ellie, her little quirks and personality is one of a kind. She brings a whole new meaning to fiery but she also brings more happiness than I ever thought possible.

So I decided I would make some goals to help me with this space and with the next 12 months. There is so much going on again this year and I am feeling excited to share the collaborations i’ve got lined up and more of our adventures as a family along the way!

So here are my 2020 goals:

  • To make time to write more (simply because this has been a difficult thing the last few months especially!)
  • To remember the happy times and not focus on the bad.
  • To engage more with other bloggers!

Here are my 2020 goals for my social media accounts:

  • To reach 10K followers on Instagram (I do follow genuine accounts back!)
  • To engage more with other bloggers, influencers and parents.
  • To develop my photography/editing skills
  • Don’t focus on ONLY posting the Instagram-worthy posts
  • BE REAL!

I’d love to hear your goals for 2020, write them in the comments and lets support each other. Trolls as SO 2019.

Posted in parenting

No more nappies

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.

Posted in parenting

Water Baby

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.

To quote Dory: “Just Keep Swimming.”

Posted in Easter

Good Friday

It’s been so lovely having time off with Luke and Ellie, we all broke up for the Easter half term last monday and this week has been spent getting on top of the housework, it gets so run down when we are both at work and Ellie needs constant attention to function without tantrums. We have also managed a couple of trips out, walking around some of the beautiful places we are surrounded by. Honestly Shropshire is beautiful and has so many landscapes to see.

We have noticed that Ellie needs to get out of the house after a day or two at home otherwise we have a constant stream of meltdowns before 9am. I think we are definitely going to make use of our National Trust membership and our Ironbridge Passports this year!

We don’t usually celebrate Easter, we buy ourselves an egg because why not? We usually just spend it at home, resting and enjoying our time together as a family. We are so busy most days that we haven’t been able to visit our extended family as often as we would have liked so Luke decided we’d hold a little afternoon tea in our back garden and invite our parents and grandparents along. I must say that since Jason died, he’s not coped well with large groups of people, even family, and hasn’t been able to attend family get-togethers. He gets anxious and ends up so stressed out he has a breakdown. I am beyond proud of him and how he felt able to do this for us and the rest of the family.

We spent time enjoying all the hard work he has put in to the garden, the difference from when we first moved in is phenomenal. It’s such a calm space and we are so lucky that it gets quite a lot of sunshine and warmth too. Ellie is such an outdoorsy child too, she would stay out there all day if we let her, as long as we are out there too, she happily plays with her toys and runs around like a “shadow monster” chasing whoever she can around our apple tree. We all ate plenty of Easter treats; hot cross buns, scones with jam and butter, crisps, cakes and other nibbly bits. I was even tempted to have a cheeky glass of prosecco (which I didn’t but might do now everyone has gone :P). The weather has helped and everyone was happy to just sit and mingle. We are so lucky that our families all get on so well, there is never any tension as I know can be the case with some blended families. Our’s are all so good together we don’t have to worry when we all do get together.

Ellie has been so spoilt with her choice of Easter eggs this year too, I think she’s got 8 eggs altogether and couldn’t wait to devour the smarties chick and had unopened it as soon as her Uncle gave it to her. All this chocolate will probably last her until Christmas (unless Mummy has a bad day haha!) Especially as we still have Christmas chocolate in the cupboard. She deserves it though as she is everyone’s ray of sunshine.

Tomorrow, Ellie is spending a few hours with my parents and me and Luke are off to hopefully buy a new sofa!! We currently have a 2 seater that was given to us from my in-laws (and is over 15 years old and it’s starting to get uncomfortable) and an IKEA rocking chair we purchased for those pesky night feeds when Ellie was a newborn and honestly we never used. It’s less than ideal and really we need something that we can all use and will last.

I am hoping to get out and about for Easter Sunday and Easter Monday so fingers crossed my plans all work out 🙂

How are you spending your Easter weekend? Any trips out or just simple quality time at home? I’d love to know.