Category Archives: Family

My Separation Anxiety

Last week Archie turned 3! I can’t quite believe it and just don’t know where the time has gone. Being the second and last child I have definitely noticed more anxiety this time around watching him growing up and I just don’t want to let him go. He is so ready to start nursery and was meant to start next week but I have delayed it a term, as the time got nearer my anxiety went through the roof. He is around children a lot during the week as we go to two toddler groups, a Playball class and his swimming lesson so I know he’s not particularly missing out on anything by staying at home with me. He also needs to be potty trained to start at the nursery as we haven’t quite mastered that yet. I’m not going to lie there is a part of me that just wants him to start next September and just do one full year in nursery before reception.

Looking back Oscar didn’t go to nursery until he was three either, he started nursery on the September after his third birthday going a few mornings a week and did a year in nursery before going into reception. Again we went to lots of classes so he had lots of child interaction. Even now as Oscar’s school holidays draw to a close and he goes back to school next week I start to dread it, as I love having him at home with us and really enjoy the school holidays. During the week he has such a long school day (8.20-4.15) and then after school clubs, reading, piano practice and homework so we don’t have a lot of time during the week to do anything fun. So we make the most of the weekends and holidays.

I think in my crazy mind I think that once Archie starts nursery and he does a couple of mornings which will then lead into days and then suddenly he will be at full time school that I just want to keep him at home for as long as possible as once he starts that’s it. He’s my sidekick and goes everywhere with me so suddenly having free time to myself will be lovely but very strange. My Mother In Law said to me years ago that your children are only lent to you and then they grow up and fly the nest, I get that but it scares my how quick the time goes, Oscar is almost 8 and I wish life would just slow down.

I 100% have an issue with leaving the boys, Oscar was only left once overnight when he was 2 weeks old as it was our best friend’s wedding (he was 3 weeks early) and since then I’ve never had a night apart from either of them. This year my brother is getting married and I was invited on the hen do to Marbella. Now instantly I wanted to go, sit in the sun and have fun with the girls and then my anxiety kicked in. Leaving the boys behind even though I know they would have a fun weekend with Greg and be totally fine, the thought of being in a different country to them made me say no. Even now there is a part of my brain that says don’t be so stupid, go and enjoy yourself! Greg’s been away with his friends loads since we had children and its great to have time just being you!

I know a lot of the problems go back to when Oscar was born and he was poorly and then when he was a few weeks old he couldn’t breathe and I had to clear his airways. It scared me how quickly things can go wrong and since then have always felt safer when they are with us. Which is crazy I know.

Even me reading this post back now and I think ‘crazy lady’ and can see how I am missing out on doing certain things/trips which would be fun. But for now I just want to enjoy our boys whilst they are still young. After all when they are all grown up I will have plenty of time to do other things.

#Blogmas Day 10: A Snowy Sunday & Our Top Family Christmas Movies

Took we woke up to lots of snow! The boys were so excited, especially Archie as he has never played in snow before as the last time it snowed he was so young! As they were so eager to get outside they ate all of their breakfast up as quick as possible and then got wrapped up warm to go outside.

Today was meant to be our God Daughters christening but it had to be postponed due to the snow and the road conditions. So we spent the day playing in the garden, sledging and building a snowman.

As we couldn’t go anywhere we decided to get cosy in the lounge by the fire and watch a Christmas Film. We have watched a few over the last week or so and today watched Jingle All The Way which we loved. There are so many great Christmas classics here are a few of our favourites:

Jingle All The Way

Home Alone (1 & 2)

Santa Claus The Movie – My all time favourite!

Miracle on 34th Street

The Grinch (although Oscar hates it!)

The Snowman

Elf

Arthur Christmas

Frozen

The Muppet Christmas Carol

Oscar has gone to bed pretty excited as we had an email from his school and tomorrow he has a snow day which means more fun in the garden, hot chocolate and movies! If you have any other top Christmas movies let me know as we love a Christmas film!

Merry Christmas!

#Blogmas Day 5: Our Annual Trip To Harrod’s Christmas Grotto 2017

Yesterday we picked up Oscar from school and drove into London to go to the Harrod’s Christmas Grotto 2017. Every year in September I eagerly await the email to let me know when I can book our visit. This year the bookings opened in October and at 9am I got my email and by 9.05 our slot was booked! When booking you pay a £10 deposit per child over 3 years old, under 2’s are free. On the day of your visit to the grotto you get your deposit back to spend on your Harrods reward card. The boys then get to choose a new decoration for the Christmas tree with it.

So we picked Oscar up from school and drove into town and parked in our usual spot. When we got to Harrods we walked around the outside and looked at all of the decorated Dolce & Gabbana windows. They were really good, and had a photo by the huge Christmas Tree. We were a bit early so we then looked around the Toy Kingdom on the third floor which is every child’s idea of heaven.

When we arrived at the grotto which is located right by the Toy Kingdom Oscar presented our ticket and then we went into a roped off area that had Christmas colouring, mini golf and other games and lots of friendly elves to play with. The boys were given green bells to look after and then when the green bells group were called we went through a red curtain into a beautiful room with a huge Christmas tree and two of Santa’s elves.

They told the children all about the magic of Christmas and every child got an ‘Official Elf’ badge and a Harrods gold chocolate coin. The elves were really friendly interacting with the boys asking them what they would like for Christmas. We were then called through to meet the big man himself and Oscar and Archie knocked on the door and Father Christmas greeted them.

He was really nice, congratulating Oscar on learning to ride his bike since he had last seen him and asked him about school and his friends. Archie wasn’t so sure to start with but within minutes was giving Father Christmas a high five and telling him he would like a blue car for Christmas. We then had our annual Christmas photo taken with him (this is our eight year at Harrods).

Oscar and Archie were then given lovely red gift bags with a Harrods teddy inside as their gift. They were over the moon. We said our goodbyes and went to view our photo, which we brought to go with all the others which was £14.50.  The boys also posted their letters to Father Christmas in the special postbox outside.

We then went and brought our Harrods 2017 bear decoration (we buy one every year) and Oscar also chose another bauble. We had a great time and its just so magical and we love it! We always then walk around to Pizza Express for some dinner then drove home. Needless to say the boys were shattered by the time we got home and went straight to bed!

Merry Christmas!

#Blogmas Day 4: Our Pines & Needles Christmas Tree & Decoration Service

Yesterday was a very exciting day! One I had been counting down too since my Pines and Needles Christmas Tree delivery and tailored decorating service had been booked in. Pines and Needles are the Christmas Tree Specialists and offer a huge range of services to suit everyone.

You can go to one of their stores and pick your perfect tree and they will deliver it straight to you, or you can have them place the tree and add the lights and decorations for you and then they can come and collect and dispose of the tree after Christmas too.

As it is our first Christmas in our new house I really wanted a show stopper of a Christmas Tree for our hallway. When I saw that Pines and Needles would bring me the perfect tree and decorate it all for me, I knew this would be perfect. You also get to keep all of the decorations that the tree is decorated with choosing from three different level packages; Festive, Classic and Deluxe. We chose the Deluxe package in Gold and Silver and 360 lights for our 7ft Nordmann Fir Tree and the stand. I love that I now have decorations for our hallway tree for years to come!

Anyone who knows me well knows that Christmas is my favourite time of the year. I love to decorate the boys rooms with their Christmas books and duvet covers and make the whole of the lead up to Christmas Day as magical and as special for them as possible! On Christmas Day we always have the whole family over for lunch and I love hosting and having everyone we love around us enjoying themselves!

Getting back to yesterday….. I received an email confirming my chosen time slot which was between 8 and 1 and then at about 7.45am our personal driver text me to let me know a more specific time. I also got an automated text when they were on their way from their last appointment to mine, telling me that my tree was on its way. You can also use an online tracker, the link was sent to me via email.

The van pulled up outside at 11am and I watched at the window as the two Pines and Needles men, dressed in their Christmas hats and kilts brought my tree and decorations to the front door. Wearing the kilts is a great touch, showing that Pines and Needles are a British brand with Scottish Heritage.

Firstly they set up the stand and placed the tree, then the lights and decorating began. They were total perfectionists and kept taking a back step and checking, then rejigging until they were happy. They took so much time and attention to get it perfect. The two men were super friendly and in full Christmas spirit. They did a fantastic job! After they were finished they even packed up all the rubbish and cleaned up the mess too!

I am absolutely over the moon with our tree and when Oscar got home from school he was so excited and the boys absolutely love it! Its a proper traditional Christmas Tree and it is so much better than what I visualised that it would look like. I have my show stopper tree!

Pines and Needles offer a fantastic service with a smile. They couldn’t have done anymore to make it any better, it really is a 5* service! We are so happy with our Christmas Tree and I will pack our Christmas decorations away neatly after Christmas so that next year they can come back with a new tree and decorate it for me again! I think next year I might even go for a 9 or 10ft! Thank you Pines and Needles!

Disclaimer: We were gifted the Christmas Tree for the purpose of this post. However all opinions are honest and my own and we absolutely love our tree and would use them again and again!

Willow’s Activity Farm Santa Spectacular 2017 Competition

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I can’t believe were nearly in November. Anyone that knows me knows that I LOVE Christmas. After all it is the most magical time of year and I do my best to make it as magical as possible for Oscar and Archie.

Last Christmas we visited Willow’s Activity Farm and met Father Christmas during their Santa Spectacular event. The boys had an amazing day and their were so many activities to do as well as meeting the big man himself! Every child will have a chance to meet Santa in his spectacular grotto and receive a golden key to Santa’s Toy Shop, they can then choose from hundreds of toys. The excitement on the kids faces when you go into Santa’s toy shop is amazing.


Willow’s is somewhere we visit a lot as its only 10 miles from where we live. In fact we went last week with our toddler group.

This festive season, Santa Spectacular at Willows Activity Farm is the only event for families looking for a truly magical day out. Starting from 22 November – 24 December, you can enjoy the ultimate festive experience in St. Albans, Hertfordshire.

You can join in at the Elf Academy, learning the basics of how to be an elf from Santa’s elves all the way from the North Pole – including the Elf-a-bet! The Create-a-Cuddle workshop will also be open daily, allowing little ones to make their very own reindeer cuddly toy to take home, all included in the entrance price.


The popular 3D film is back, with children able to take off into the skies on an adventure with Santa, this was super impressive last year! Then try a real life magical ride in the Willows festive wood on Tristan the Runaway Tractor. Tristan the tractor is Archie’s favourite! Indoors there is the synthetic ice rink, Christmas shows including an Elf Sing-a-Long and Nativity performances featuring farm animals. Plus, meet Mischka, the Alaskan Malamute and Santa’s reindeer. It is a seriously jam packed fun filled day out for the whole family to enjoy!


As well as all of the above the usual activities are open as well; The Farmyard, Peter Rabbit Adventure Playground™,  the indoor soft play areas, the funfair rides, bouncing haystacks, Peter Rabbit woodland play trail, the big dig, trampolines, cotton-tail village and so much more! As well as plenty of places to grab something to eat or drink.


The lovely team at Willow’s Activity Farm have kindly given me a family ticket to be used during their Santa Spectacular (22 November – 24 December) and have a magical day out! So enter below and good luck!

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Putting Your Families Health First At One Stop Doctor

As a parent your children are always your main priority and when they fall ill or hurt themselves you always want the best care for them. I know from previous experience I have sometimes had to wait a day or two for a GP appointment and getting a dentist appointment is like gold dust, our last NHS appointment was delayed two times because of funding. Luckily for us there is a pioneering new healthcare clinic ‘The One Stop Doctor’ that has recently launched in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire that is putting the needs of families at the heart of their quick and friendly services. The clinic is stunning, more like a five star hotel and the staff are all so welcoming and friendly.

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One Stop Doctors in Hemel Hempstead is open 365 days a year from early morning to late evening with a full complement of paediatric services all under one roof. This includes same-day appointments with GPs and dentists who will be able to offer immediate relief for worrying mums and dads whose children are unwell, perhaps with persistent fevers, colds, chesty coughs or toothache. There’s also a private pharmacy that can provide commonly needed drugs straight away.

Only a couple of weeks ago Archie had a high temperature and his little heart was beating quite fast, which is a common symptom of a fever. Greg thought we should take him to A & E but I called the One Stop Doctor for a late night appointment which was available with no problem at all.

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The team of multi-disciplinary health professionals at the clinic are highly experienced in treating common childhood conditions from feeding difficulties in babies and toddlers through to providing allergy testing and advice, alongside treatment for asthma and access to the full range of childhood vaccinations and immunisations. This is fantastic as in our area we were not offered the BCG and I paid privately for both Oscar and Archie to be immunised but had to travel into London. Now having a clinic so local to us is a god send!

One Stop Doctors is one of a number of outlets nationwide that offers the Mummy MOT, a one-hour assessment which gives a thorough examination of mum’s pelvic floor strength and tummy gap – to assess any physical problems that have arisen from pregnancy and birth. The Mummy MOT can also help mums years after childbirth with their pelvic floor strength. The clinic is also putting together special Mother and Baby packages for both expectant mothers and mothers of young children. No more travelling all the way into London for Mother and Baby services!

The specialist dental team are also experts in orthodontics and oral health with a variety of teeth-straightening options for young ones and appointments at convenient times for parents.

The clinic has invested heavily in the latest diagnostic imaging machinery including advanced MRI scanning equipment, CT, ultrasound and digital X-ray, which means that One Stop Doctors is able to offer an on-site urgent care and fracture clinic. We were at a birthday party about six weeks ago and Oscar’s friend fell off a swing and her parents on a Friday night at 7pm got an X-Ray appointment straight away instead of waiting for hours in a busy Friday night A & E department. She was then plastered straight away.

One Stop Doctors is fully accredited by all major regulators and private medical insurance companies, such as Bupa, Aviva and Cigna so it’s easy to pay, and is approved by the Care Quality Commission. However, what makes this pioneering clinic truly unique is its one-of-a-kind membership plan. This allows families to join for only £65 a month and gives them the ability to spread the cost of treatment in a payment plan, with no interest or credit agreement and provides guaranteed same-day GP appointments for any number of children aged 21 and under. This means that parents can spread the cost of healthcare for their children, making the very best private healthcare accessible and affordable.

Keep Your Family Happy & Healthy!

With the ability for parents to book appointments directly, and the large amount of free parking available to patients right outside the clinic, many of the usual stresses of visiting a medical establishment with children are taken away.

For more information and to book an appointment visit www.onestopdoctors.co.uk or call 0800 852 1234.

Hitchin Lavender Farm

I have wanted to go to Hitchin Lavender Farm for a few weeks since I saw lots of beautiful family photos amongst the lavender rows on Instagram but as the weather has been so awful we hand’t got to go. So on Sunday as the Sun was shining we decided to make the 30 minute journey. I packed my new Olympus Pen 8 and tripod and off we went.


Hitchin Lavender is a lavender farm attraction close to both London and Cambridge and they have 25 miles of lavender rows which you can walk through and pick your own fresh flowers from. When we arrived we parked up and paid only £11 for the four of us to get in and we got given a bag and scissors to pick and collect our own Lavender. Adults are £5.00 (picking included), Under 14’s are £1 and Under 5’s are free. You can buy additional bags to fill for £4.


The farm is open from 10am until 5pm every day throughout the season which runs from mid June until early September.


As soon as we got to the field, the smell was amazing! I love the smell of Lavender. The boys enjoyed picking their lavender and filling up their brown bags and we took so many great photos. You can also pay £50 for a professional photo shoot but if you have a good camera and a tripod you can get some great pictures.


We had a great morning, captured lots of great photos and it was a really cheap and fun family day out. We will be going back next Summer and making our family photo in the lavender rows an annual thing!

 

Personalised Photo Gifts From Snapfish & £50 Competition

I have used Snapfish for years now and always use their app on my phone to upload my photos into albums ready to use on any of my projects. I have made everything from huge acrylics to photo books. I just love making personalised photo gifts from Snapfish! Every Christmas I make Oscar & Archie calendars for the grandparents so the app is a great way of storing my favourite photos ready to use in the December.

When I was asked to review some of the photo gifts for Greg for Father’s Day I knew straight away what I wanted to order for him. The Snapfish team have also kindly given me a £50 gift card for one of my lucky readers too.

The website is easy to use and I designed Greg a personalised photo mousemat which is new to the Snapfish range, for the office with one of my favourite pictures of the boys on it that was professionally taken a few months ago. Greg loved it and it now has pride of place on his desk. You can choose all sorts of designs, photo configurations and add text to make it as personal as you like. At only £7.99 they are a bargain!


I also made Greg a personalised Father’s Day Card to go with his presents and as always you can pick from tons of different designs, colours, themes, sizes and pick your photo configuration. He loved receiving a card that was personal to him instead of the normal generic cards your can pick up in the shops. It is a card he will keep forever!


Oscar also wanted to pick a couple of pictures to make into acrylic blocks. I love the acrylic blocks as I prefer these to having photos in frames. You can pick between A5 and A6 acrylic blocks. Last Father’s Day I made three of these blocks that Greg has on his desk at work so we knew he would like them. The A6 size is £29.99 and the A5 size is £34.99.


You can also make huge acrylic panels which I ordered a couple of months ago and absolutely love it!


Head over to the Snapfish website and see for yourself how fantastic their  range of personalised photo gifts are and all at amazing prices. Don’t forget to enter below to be in with a chance of winning a £50 Snapfish voucher to use too! Good Luck!

 

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Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with Snapfish UK. 

Our Summer Holiday Round Up 2016

With Oscar returning to school on Thursday 🙁 I thought it would be nice to put together a Summer 2016 round up post of all that we have been up to. We have had a very long Summer as Oscar had nine weeks off as he broke up on the 8th of July. I absolutely love him being at home and we have had so much fun.

Week 1

We started off the holidays going straight from school at 12 o’clock to a hotel near us with Oscar’s school friends and went in the walled garden where they swam all day had hot dogs for tea and had a fantastic time! As the weather was nice we spent the rest of the week in the garden and got ready to go on holiday. We also went into London to a Finding Nemo event with Epson which was great fun! Archie had his first hair cut at Sharkey’s and he was so good sitting in the Lightning Mcqueen car.


Week 2 and 3

We flew to sunny Mallorca on the Saturday. We had an amazing time and the flight being only 2 hours was perfect for Archie who was a right fidget. We met up with one of Oscar’s school friends who was also in Mallorca which was lovely and went to see some close friends of ours that moved out there a few years ago. Our hotel was on the east of the island, the Protur Biomar Gran Hotel and Spa and it was really lovely. We went on an excursion to see the Pirates show which if you have kids is a must. The show is absolutely amazing, I have never seen anything like it. It was fantastic!


Oscar made lots of friends around the pool and both the boys loved the kids disco in the evening. We also hired a quad bike for Oscar which was so funny as Greg had to run behind him to make sure he didn’t bang in to anyone and we took a horse and carriage ride where the boys waved to everybody we went past.

Week 4

When we got home Oscar’s friend from outside his school had finished for the Summer so we went swimming with them and for a picnic. We went for our weekly fish and chips on a Tuesday with Great-Nanny which was lovely for Oscar as he is usually at school. It was great to go and check on our house build to see the progress. It was amazing to see what they had done in just 2 weeks! We had some lovely weather so I put the pool up in the garden and we also went to the local park a few times. Oscar also went to the cinema with Daddy.

Week 5

Daddy went on a stag do for a few days so I booked a few days in Norfolk with my best friend and her two children which was so amazing! Norfolk is home from home for me as as a child we went there 3 or 4 times a year staying in Brancaster. This time we stayed a few miles from there at a hotel called Briarfields and the kids loved being on the beach, building sand castles, eating ice cream and running around. We had such a fantastic time and we will try and do it every year now! We missed Daddy loads though!


Week 6

We met up with Oscar’s school friends at the walled garden for the day and the weather was amazing! I looked after my friends son for a couple of days and we went to the opening event of Gravity Force in St Albans that the boys loved. We went to visit Great-Nanny, went to the local aquadrome and went to see Scooby Doo Live at the London Palladium which was great. Even Archie sat in his own seat the whole time as he was transfixed on the singing and dancing.

Week 7

Daddy took a day off and we went bowling and for lunch with my Mum and Dad. The weather was amazing so we spent quite a lot of the time in the pool in the garden with Oscar’s friends over to play. We went to the Crayola Bus Tour event and Oscar got to do lots of art and crafts. On the weekend we went to Oxford for my Auntie’s 60th birthday and I got to see all my cousins and we even retook a photo that was taken 27 years ago!


Week 8

One of Oscar’s best friends had been away the whole Summer so we got to catch up with him and go for lunches and to the park and they played in the river. Oscar was so pleased to see him.

Week 9

This week has been a really special week! On Saturday Oscar and Archie were page boys at Greg’s best friends wedding. Greg was best man and I was asked to do a reading in the church. I won’t bore you to much but Steve has become one of my closest friends, hes more like a brother to me than a friend and we were so happy for him and Cheryl and it was an extremely emotional but amazing day. I almost crumbled in the church when I had to do my reading, I had never been so nervous! So congratulations Steve and Cheryl and thank you for a truly amazing day!


On the Sunday Greg was a little worse for ware and I was totally exhausted. We went to bed at 2am and Archie woke up at 6.30! Oscar stayed awake until 1am and partied all night long so he was a bit of a grump on the Sunday. So we decided to get some fresh air and went to the hills in Northolt, had a picnic and walked to the top of the hills and looked at the view of London.


We also went bowling with friends, went to see Great-Nanny and now we are ready for Oscar’s first day back tomorrow! Year 2 he we come….

My Positive Elective Caesarean Experience On The NHS

Last week I was on the BBC Victoria Derbyshire show talking about how I was listened to by my consultant when I opted for an elective caesarean when I was pregnant with Archie and had a really positive experience at Hillingdon Hospital.

Before I tell you about my elective caesarean I will tell you why I wanted one in the first place. In February 2010 I had Oscar at 37 weeks by emergency caesarean after being in labour for three days and Oscar’s heart rate dipping. After having Oscar at 1.58am on a Monday morning I stayed in the next day and then discharged myself on the Tuesday as I felt well enough to go home. Afterwards I was adamant that when we had another baby I would opt for a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean). After that I went on to having two miscarriages, one in 2012 and 2013 and then had to give birth to a baby in 2014 at 17 and a half weeks. I was prescribed 150mg of aspirin and when I fell pregnant with Archie in March 2014 I took it everyday.

As you can imagine I was nervous the whole way through my pregnancy. At one of my first consultant appointments at 16 weeks I was very clear that I wanted a elective caesarean as I didn’t really want to go back on the delivery suite after the experience we had had only a few months before. I walked out of the delivery suite with no baby and would of done anything not to have had to go back there.

My consultant listened to me, explained the risks and told me if I changed my mind at any time throughout the rest of my pregnancy that that was fine. I honestly couldn’t have wished for a more understanding consultant. As the pregnancy went from week to week I still wanted to go with an elective caesarean as in a silly way after loosing the three babies before and having no control over any of it it was my only bit of control that I could choose just how I wanted to have my baby.

When I read articles saying women that have had a caesarean are cheated out of giving birth or haven’t “properly” given birth it does annoy me. I carried my babies and however they were delivered I gave birth to them! I think people should keep their opinions to themselves and however a mother chooses to have their baby is their business not the rest of the Worlds to judge. We should be supporting each other as women and parents not criticising one another.

So in December 2014 I had Archie by elective caesarean. I also took part in a enhanced recovery course which meant that I had Archie on the Monday at 9.32am and was discharged at 11am the following day. I was also allowed to drive after 9 days so I was back to normal in no time, taking Oscar to school. I am quite a proactive person and like to just get on with things so being able to get up and get home quicker was great for me. Having an elective caesarean this time around was quite strange as you walk in absolutely normal and within an hour I was in theatre having my epidural put in and then Archie was here. This time around I had the curtain dropped and got to see him being born which was amazing!

I wanted to share my story as I know that the NHS make mistakes but at Hillingdon Hospital I couldn’t have paid for better care, from the support they gave me after loosing the babies and then in my pregnancy through to the birth they were fantastic.