Summer 2018 so far

Firstly I want to apologise for the quietness on the blog of late. We have had a very stressful time as a family recently and all my energy has gone into that. Thank you to those of you who have continued to show support and for sticking with me! The summer holidays started early for us as we dealt with a family matter, so my plans for organisation and last minute details for themes and projects didn’t get finished. However, I managed to pull together one of my main ideas just in time – with the arrival of Snowy Owl who turned up on the eve of our emergency trip away. He arrived in a little suitcase, complete with a notebook, stickers, gifts and a note. Snowy is spending the summer with us to help us learn about different places in the world. Or at least, that was the initial plan. My idea had been that we would take Snowy with us on all of our adventures, to new and exciting places as well as our favourite places and then we would collect postcards (we do this anyway) and document our adventures. I intended to use this as a way of introducing geography – places Snowy would like to travel to, different climates etc. I planned to have some international days where we looked at the flag of a new country, the food, the animals etc. I also thought it would be a fun way of engaging the boys in writing (in Snowy’s journal). However, despite all of the ideas and some of the planning, it hasn’t quite worked out so far. Whilst Snowy was initially the subject of much fuss and attention (with all 3 boys wanting to be holding him) and he was brought along on a few adventures, within a few days he was forgotten. The notebook wasn’t used and Snowy lost his appeal. The explanation simply is that with the loss the boys have been dealing with, it simply took a back seat. The remainder of our summer has also changed with various family things, so we will not have all of the time I had planned for lots of the other days either. However, I am trying to keep Snowy current in some way, so today he appeared again in his suitcase with some arts and crafts materials and a note to encourage the boys to spend some time playing creatively – and we certainly achieved this goal! We spent a lovely few hours making bracelets, threading, making sequin pictures, making hamma bead creations and making sticker pictures. I also hope to use Snowy to introduce the boys to at least one day of learning about another country. But I will adapt as necessary and I know that whatever happens, the boys will have an enjoyable summer.

I hope you are all having a wonderful summer together. I’d love to hear what you are all doing together!

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A simple exchange

During a recent trip to our local swimming pool/soft play centre, I was in the ladies (finally having 5 minutes to myself with hubby in charge of the chaos of 3 boys in soft play) when I heard a lady enter with small children. The lady was heartedly telling off one of the children for not listening and for causing his baby brother to be sick by rocking the pram to hard. The poor mum was clear upset and at the end of her tether. I heard her utter phrases that I myself have said so often – “why can’t we stand nicely in a queue, just for 2 minutes!” and “I asked you nicely to stop touching the pram” and “what must people think?”. My heart went out to her. From my place, I estimated she had 3 with her and having 3 boys myself, I felt I had a connection with this lady. So when I went out, I did what I’d have liked someone to do for me. I asked if she needed help. Her whole body tensed and she quickly said no and started explaining that she was sorry and she just couldn’t understand why no one was listening. I told her there and then, I get it. I told her I have 3 boys of my own (she also had 3 boys) so I understood. She asked how close in age mine are – the answer is close – and I could see the relief sweep through her. She knew then I did understand. I wasn’t judging. I got it. I saw her relax and she talked. And as she talked, so the kids calmed and the baby calmed. Nothing had changed – there was still sick everywhere and she still had 3 little boys – but suddenly she knew she had the power to cope. She still wouldn’t accept help, but she had the confidence to know it would be OK. I wish we could all do this for each other. Build each other up. Be there. No judgement. Just kindness. That’s all I aim to do.

Weight loss – one day at a time

If you have read my previous posts about my weight loss journey, you will see there have been highs and lows. For the first 8 months following the plan, I was highly motivated, super focused and found the weight coming off easily. I was able to resist treats or extra servings and simply focused on eating “within my means” (my smart point allowance). Following health issues and the changing to weight watchers flex in September 2017, I struggled to get back on plan. I have found that the flex plan doesn’t work for me because I don’t eat the majority of the free foods on flex. I tried no counting off and on but found it wasn’t working for me. My weight has fluuctuated up and down around 7lb since then and has left me feeling quite low. I have worked on getting outside and upping my step count and tried to have some good days. I have read my weigt watchers “be happy” book and have simply struggled on hoping for a miracle. Then just over a week ago, I got on the scales and was shocked and disheartened by what I had done to myself – I had allowed myself to put on 10lb since the start of December and found myself back at the weight I was last July. But it was the shock I needed. I had let my hard work slip. Something inside just clicked at that moment. I can’t explain it any better than that. I just started on that day – I decided on no count so that I wouldn’t feel hungry and I stuck to it. I tracked any weeklies I used. I drank more water. I thought about my meals. I walked or had a drink before eating to be sure I was actually hungry. I went outside and walked more than I had in weeks. I reached the end of the day with a massive feeling of achievement. Day one complete. Day two, I woke up and just started the day. At lunch time, knowing what I was having for dinner and fancying something that was not free on no count, I decided to point for the day – but instead of forcing myself on flex which I find difficult, I decided to carry on with what was working for me last year. I had my 30 daily points and my weeklies. Day 2 was a success. Day 3, another pointing day, another success. Day 4 the same. And so on. Yesterday, I weighed and found I have lost 6lb in a week – which spurred me on to try some new clothes in a smaller size – which all fitted. These two events provided me with the boost I needed to keep going. One day at a time. One meal at a time. I have found my rhythm again. And I am glad that I have. I needed it. Now I feel I have renewed focus and energy for the plan. I will reach my goal. It has taken me longer than I ever thought but I will get there.

If you are following a weight loss plan or just trying to eat more healthily and things aren’t going to plan, I urge you not to give up and lose faith. Take some time. Try not to worry. A few off days are nothing in the long run. On those days when you just eat, try a walk. Read a book. And just accept that this is part of your journey. You will get there. Have faith.

Catch up

So I wanted to write a little post to apologise for the silence recently. I am currently working on a new website and I was hoping to have had it up and running sooner, but I realise now that it has been a while since I have written anything so wanted to stay in touch. There have been a lot of events on since I last blogged and I have lots of things to share with you over the next few weeks! Below are a few “catch ups” on a few topics!

Summer

At the moment, my thoughts have turned to the upcoming summer school holidays (9 weeks – not that I am counting) and thinking of some fun and exciting things to do with the boys. As a family, we love being creative and exploring new things, so I have been spending some time researching ideas, looking at craft options and ordering materials. I am keen to keep the boys learning throughout the summer, but only in a fun and engaging way. I don’t want them to think they are still in school, but I think it is important to keep their minds active – but through play and experiences, rather than sitting at a desk. As I am keen to collect new ideas, I thought it might be good to share my current thoughts and see if any of you have any other suggestions (and feel free to use any of mine!).

  • Story word stones/cards – get the boys to create sentences and stories using words that are on stones or cards (depends what I can make/find). It is a way of drawing out their creativity and story telling without the need for lots of writing
  • Ice bugs – freezing various plastic bugs in cubes and getting the boys to guess what they are/melt the ice/chip through the ice. Just a little fun!
  • Story details – giving the boys the basics of a story and getting them to make it better by adding detail. They don’t have to write the whole story but get to put their own stamp on it.
  • 1 sentence stories – taking it in turns to write once sentence of a story. It makes for some very funny, crazy stories (something I remember doing as a child).
  • Making rock pools – after spending time at the seaside, I plan to get the children to make their own rock pools (little boxes, blue tissue paper, sea shells, mini creatures).
  • Fact finding – using the internet, books, magazines, other people to find out facts about a topic that interests them. My eldest absolutely loves facts so I think he will find this fun. I will encourage them to record the facts in anyway they choose.

These are just a few ideas and no doubt they won’t turn out exactly as I expect, because children are always so good at making things their own! I would love to hear any other ideas you have please!

Weight loss

Following some illness at the end of 2017, my weight loss took a back seat. I lost some weight during the illness and then I struggled to get back on track. I can’t say I am completely focused and back onto it now, but I am making steps to get back on track. I have good days and bad days. I have days where I am super active and easily exceed my daily 10,000 steps and then I have days where I don’t make 8,000. I have days where I struggle to eat my daily points and I have days where I just want to eat. Some days I find the plan easy and others where I don’t. I just have to keep trying. My mind has a lot to do with it. If I wake up feeling I can achieve it, I have a much better chance of staying focused. I am trying to take each day as it comes, with a more long term goal in my head to get me through. I am seeing myself in 6 months time rather than a week or 2.

House sale

I am not sure if I have posted this before, but we are currently trying to sell our home. It is far too small for our family (and to be honest, has been for some time). However, with such a huge drop in the market over recent years, we have put it off for a long time. We are now trying to sell, but so far it is slow. We are praying for a miracle as we really want to move onto the next stage for our boys, to give them the space and the stability they deserve. If you know anyone looking for a property, please feel free to share the link. It is a 2 bed, 2 bathroom, Penthouse apartment with 2 designated parking spaces, right on the village green. It is a modern development. The link is http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-64511215.html.

Finding a job

Now my youngest is in full time school, I have been looking at a career (or at least some work). I have been blessed to be a full time mum since my first boy was born 8.5 years ago and they have been my priority. Now they are out all day though, I would like to keep my mind active with work. I am currently trying to find something that fits in with the school day (I still need to do both school runs) and something that fits in with the school holidays (again, I still need to take care of my boys during all the holidays). I must admit it is a big ask and it isn’t easy. Although my previous training was in child care and psychology, I am thinking that I need to update some of my qualifications so am currenty looking into courses and further education. There are so many things out there that I am struggling to pin point exactly which route to take! I would love to hear from all of you about your experiences with this. Have you gone back into work? How did you find a job that fits around your family commitments? Have you needed to complete new/additonal training? I would be grateful for any thoughts/comments/advice that you may have!

I think that is probably enough chatter from me for today! I hope you have enjoyed reading the catch up and I would really love to hear from all of you!

 

Finding myself

After being unwell for over a week, I have had a lot of time to think. I have had time for soul searching and trying to make decisions about the future. With all my boys now in full time school, my thoughts have turned to work. I have been so fortunate to have been able to stay at home to raise my boys and we have had so much fun together and made so many amazing memories. It was always my wish to be at home to raise my children and I don’t regret a minute of it. It has meant, however, that I haven’t had to think about a working role for the past 8 years. I did complete a couple of mini courses, but that is all. So now I am thinking about what to do. I feel like I don’t have anything relevant. I feel like I am lost in the world without knowing where to go next. It is taking a lot of my thought process to try and figure this out. I was hoping when I started this blog that I might have been able to turn it into a writing career, something I have always wanted to do. However, I realise that there is still a lot more work to do in this area. I am currently working on some plans for the blog (they will be shared shortly) and I am looking at other writing avenues. I guess the point of this blog piece itself is just me thinking out loud. The world has changed a lot since I first thought about a career as a teen and I am exploring ways of working from home. Although all my children are in school during the day, I am still needed for school runs, sickness day, hospital appointments and all school holidays, so traditional 9-5 jobs aren’t an option. I would really like to pursue my options with writing and maybe look into some training courses. Has anyone else done this? Any thoughts or ideas you’d like to share? I’d love to hear anything!20170901_122833

Never satisfied

Having lost a considerable amount of weight now, I was expecting to feel different. To feel happier. More content. To feel I’ve achieved something. But the truth is, I don’t feel that way. Occasionally I might see that I look a little different, but I still never look in the mirror and think I look good. If someone had told me 12 months ago that I’d be 56lb lighter, I’d have thought it a miracle and would have expressed my delight at it. But having achieved that, I really don’t feel any different. I don’t feel slimmer. I don’t feel more confident in the way I look or in myself. I still dislike trying on clothes and I still don’t look good in them. People ask me if I’ve reached goal yet, but to be totally honest, I don’t even know what my goal is. I don’t have a specific weight target in mind (although I know the healthy range I should be in). For me, I think it’s more of a feeling. Where I feel confident in how I look. Where I can go shopping and feel like I’m different. My progress in the recent months has slowed considerably due to several illness amongst other things and has brought me to the point where I need a break. Not from losing weight as such, but from the pressure of attending meetings and feeling guilty for not being on plan and from groups of people. At the start of my journey I wouldn’t have made it to my first stone without my class and it was so important to be there every week. More recently though, with my anxiety bothering me, I find it more difficult. Thankfully I have been able to explain this to my coach who has always been so understanding. I’m hoping one day I’ll feel ready to go back, but for now, I feel it’s better for me to take a step back and work hard on my own, in my own time, without the pressure. I have no desire to put any of the weight back on and have to be very careful not to let that happen. I have plans to ensure that isn’t the case and I have the most supportive husband who I know will be by my side every step of the way.

Has anyone else felt the need to take some time out? To focus by yourself or just ease the pressure?

Muuuuuuummmmyyyyyy!!!

Ah my name being called. Again. And again. And again. And not just being called, but in a high pitch whine or am angry shout. I remember when I was pregnant, I was looking forward to my own little one who would call me mummy. The first time each of my boys called for me by name, it melted my heart. It was special. It still is. But some days, I’d like to change my name!!! It appears that the older my boys get, the more they disagree on things – and it ends up with me being summoned to sort the situation out. This is all well and good – except if I haven’t seen what has happened (how dare I leave the room to make dinner/get a drink/use the toilet!). The problem with me dealing with situations without having seen the  is that I never quite know “exactly” what happened. I usually have 3 slightly different versions of the same event. And I’m sure that each of them genuinely believes their version is the right one. From their perspective, what they are saying is exactly how it happened. When they were younger, I tried to get to the bottom of it and find a right and wrong. However, more and more these days, I find this simply isn’t possible all of the time, so we are having to come up with new solutions. I try now to get the boys to work out their difference between them if possible. Some of these issues are so small (someone sitting in their chair, which isn’t actually their chair, just the one they want) that I don’t feel it needs adult interference, especially between the 6yo and 8yo. However, 3 boys close in age often presents problems as they generally act first and think later. They are all bundles of energy and they all have a strong sense of right and wrong – even if it’s only from their perspective. My husband and I are often talking of ways to change their interactions with each other and our interactions with them, but it’s not always easy! Some days, I wonder what on earth we are doing wrong. Some days, I’m more forgiving of myself and realise, it’s a phase. Some days, I can rationalise it all and deal with it. Other days, I separate them as best I can and then do something I know calms them – we get outdoors in the big wide world, go explore and gain some perspective!

How about you? Do your little ones bicker? Do they work problems out for themselves or do you intervene? I’d love to hear other people’s experiences!

January blues

I’m not sure I can call them the January blues, but I am feeling sad at the impending end to the Christmas holidays. Christmas is a magical time of year and is filled with anticipation and excitement and, mostly, cheerfulness. The bitter cold of January and the lack of a big event to look forward to can certainly make it seem like a bleak month. However, despite my sadness that my boys return to school in a couple of days, I am focusing on the things I can do to make this month better. I’ve made several new year’s resolutions, which I’ve made a start on, but several of which need time that I simply do not have with the boys home. So I am going to use the school day to make these things happen. We are still trying to sell our old home so am keen to get stuck into the follow ups for that as well as begin the exciting task of looking for a new home. Anyone who has followed my Instagram account or read previous blog posts will know that I am on a weight loss journey, started this time last year. Due to illness and various factors, this was put on a back burner for me at the end of 2017, so I’m now ready to face the music and get back to making positive life changes. I’m also intending to get back to my daily walks, something that I haven’t achieved consistently over the holidays, despite being constantly on the go.

I’d love to hear how everyone else is coping with January! Are we glad to have a fresh start? Sad the holidays are ending? Glad to get back to routine?

2018

So, it’s another new year. A brand new start. I have been looking back at previous resolutions and came across one from 2012. It said I wanted to lose 3 stone that year. It didn’t happen. However, during 2017, I did lose that and a little more, totalling 51.5lb. I can only imagine what I was imagining when I wrote that resolution and how amazing I thought I would feel on achieving such a loss. In reality, I haven’t felt that way. I’ve actually been quite tough on myself and haven’t felt the positivity I would expect. But I’ve come to realise that it’s OK. I’ve achieved a lot I’m simply just not at my end goal yet. But my resolution for this year is to reach that goal. I’m also setting smaller goals, such as drinking more water and reaching my 10,000 steps every day. Whilst I planned last year to have a thankfulness jar, it never made an appearance, but I’m determined to make it happen this year. I also intend to spend a little time each day with a journal – something I did through my teens and early adulthood but that I’ve neglected since having my boys. But I value writing as a way of dealing with thoughts and feelings and events. I process a lot through the act of writing – and sometimes it just has to be good ol’ fashioned pen and paper. Another goal I’m aiming for is to finally catch up with my newsletters that I write for my boys. With my youngest starting full time school last September, I expected to catch up immediately. However, with several factors playing a role, it never happened, but this year, I have 365 opportunities to make it happen and I’m going to take them. There are so many other things I want to attempt this year, but I won’t bore you with them all. But I’m determined to make this year count. Focusing on the positive is my way through this new year after a difficult end to 2017. 2017 has left scars and sad memories, but with a young family around, it’s all about focusing on the positive and that’s my mission for 2018.

Anyone else feeling motivated this morning? Ready to make a change and try something new? Did anyone do something different last year that was successful? I’d love to hear all about it!20171231_145505

The meaning of Christmas

20171207_213701(0)It has taken a while to decide on a name for this blog post, as although as Christians we celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, that’s not what this post is actually about. This is more about the meaning of kindness and goodwill. One of the key aspects of Christmas is thinking about others, about spreading cheer and peace. So I find some of the present “traditions” quite difficult to comprehend. It appears to me, and to others I have spent time talking to, that a lot of Christmas is used as a means of controlling children’s behaviour. It doesn’t sit right with me. I recently read a brilliant article that discusses this very topic and I couldn’t have agreed more. I have never used Christmas as a tool for my children. I teach them that they should behave because it is the right thing to do, not just at Christmas but the whole year round. I don’t agree with threatening them that Christmas will be cancelled or that santa won’t bring them toys. Why? Because it’s just not true. I would never stop my children from experiencing Christmas. To be fair, we don’t focus on gifts anyway. Our children are not given a huge pile of presents and neither do they get everything on their wish list. Thankfully, having grown up away from the focus of gifts, our children don’t ask for many things and they don’t have expectations of expensive gifts. But they do know that we will always celebrate Christmas. So we don’t say santa is watching and won’t bring them gifts. Which leads me on to a new trend this year of Santa cams. I cannot tell you how much this disturbs me – and my 8yo. After hearing about Santa cams, my eldest was worried – he thought it was creepy that someone was watching him at home when he was eating and dressing etc. We’ve since explained this isn’t true. That we do not have anything of the sort in our home. That santa isn’t someone to be afraid of. Children cannot be expected to be perfect all of the time. It’s unfair and unrealistic. As an adult, I am not perfect, so how can I expect my children’s behaviour to be perfect all of the time. The very fact we are humans prevents us from being perfect. That’s not to say we don’t try, but it is impossible to be perfect.

Another tradition that has sprung up in recent years with the aim of controlling behaviour leading up to Christmas is the elf on the shelf, the idea being that an elf comes to your home to sit on a shelf and watch your behaviour and report it to Santa. This tradition irks me for 2 reasons. The first is for similar reasons to the santa cam – children’s behaviour shouldn’t dictate whether or not Christmas happens and I don’t feel such an exciting thing should be used in a negative way. My second reason is more to do with the other half of this tradition – what the elf gets up to. Here, parents put the elf in various settings over night so children wake up to the elf doing something new. However, Google ideas for this and a lot of the situations tend to be on the “naughty side” – the elf hanging from the ceiling or making snow angels from a tipped over bag of flour. The reason I dislike this is because it is teaching the children bad ways to behave. The elf is meant to be there to ensure the child is behaving whilst the elf happily disobeys rules and performs acts that we would consider inappropriate for the children to do. It screams on hypocrisy to me.

Before everyone thinks that I am being Scrooge or the like, really I’m not. I love this time of year, I love the traditions and the excitement. So that’s what I focus on with my family. I am in no way saying other people are wrong for following these traditions or for doing what works for their family, I’m simply sharing my view and why I don’t follow these things. We do have elf – he is what we call an elf not on a shelf (I shared a post about this last December if you’d like to read it). Our elf comes to play – not to sit on a shelf and judge. Instead of having yet another thing the children can’t touch and setting them up for failure, our elf comes to experience Christmas with us. He also brings his friends Gingersnap the gingerbread man and Pip the penguin. They leave notes for the children and they do get up to things during the night or when the children are out – reading books, building blocks towers, playing with toys etc. Our boys love the magic of it – and so do we!

For us, Christmas is about the joy and excitement, enjoying time together and focusing on all the good things. Being kind to one another and sharing. Thinking of others. We look forward to the festivities together, we make lots of paperchains and do arts and crafts. We enjoy Christmas movies and winter walks. We like singing carols and learning the nativity all over again.  It is a special time, not one to be controlled or used as a threat. For us, it’s the only way.

What are your thoughts on the newer traditions? Do you like to use santa cams? Do you find they work for you? Do you use elf on the shelf the way it’s intended or do you have your own version? I’d love to hear all your experiences, whether you have similar views or completely different ones!