09/04/2018

Imagine That!

Kelly works every other Saturday so Sundays are precious to us.  I made sure our meal plan was done for the week ahead and the food shop was done so we had Sunday free to have a family day out.  I was trying to think of somewhere we could go and remembered that one of our friends had been to Imagine That in Liverpool.  I had a look on the website and it looked like great fun.  I don’t know if you’re like me but I like to have a plan!  What time to set off, can we park there, do they have a cafe (Amelia is obsessed with cafes!)?  The website answered all my questions so I mentioned it to Kelly and we decided to go.

My plan didn’t start off well as we all woke up late!  I wanted to set off at 9:15 and we only got out of bed at ten to.  Although I like a plan, I’m also trying to ‘go with the flow’ which I find hard at times so we just all got ready as quickly as we could, had breakfast and set off.  Liverpool is about 40 minutes away from where we live and Amelia isn’t the best on car journeys but I have found something to keep her quiet..an apple!  Apart from saying ‘I don’t like that bit’ and handing me pieces of chewed up apple (lovely) Amelia was happy on the way there.

There is a good sized car park outside and there is another car park on the industrial estate that you are allowed to park in if it is full.  We went in and didn’t have to wait very long to pay and go in.  In the first area of Imagine That it is all about role play.  You can go from a diner to the hairdressers to the supermarket to a car wash.  There was a dress up area, a stage and a play bus.  I think Amelia was a bit young to really appreciate this area properly.  She enjoyed looking around but I don’t think she understood that she could pretend to go to the shops or be a hairdresser.

The next area is all about construction.  You can put bricks on a conveyor belt or put them in a bucket and pull them up and then build a wall with them.  Amelia wasn’t too keen on this area but mainly because it was very busy.  Most of the children in this area were a lot bigger than Amelia and I think she felt a bit intimidated.  I picked her up and we had a go at some of the things but I think it will be better when she’s older and can stand her ground with the other kids.

In the next area there is a sand pit, craft area and the cafe.  This was definitely her favourite area.  Amelia loved the sand pit and went in there a few times.  There were bucket and spades for them to play with but unfortunately it wasn’t the type of sand you can build with.  Amelia didn’t care though and bossed us about at one point saying to Kelly ‘go and get it then’ referring to a bucket so we could help her with the sand!  In the craft area Amelia painted some magnets and even did some painting on a car.  I’d like it if they could provide some toddler size overalls as they were massive on Amelia which made it difficult and it kept coming undone.

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There was a walkway from that area that was called the ‘ConservARTory’  In here there were art supplies like paper, pens and chalk.  You could sit down and do some drawings in here and just take a little time out from the other busy areas.  Amelia did some faces on the chalkboard which is all she draws at the moment!

The next area was the science area and mine and Kelly’s favourite.  Amelia enjoyed it to but obviously didn’t understand the science aspect of it.  She especially liked the wind tubes and could have stayed playing with that all day.  You scrunched little bits of fabric up in a ball and put them into a machine that pushed them using air through a maze of tubes and then they came out of the top and floated down to the ground.  Amelia loved collecting all the bits of fabric up and watching them wizz round the tubes.

There are two cafes at Imagine That.  One is near the entrance and I think they just do drinks and cakes.  A lot of parents of older children who were happy going around on their own seemed to be sat here as it’s an ideal place to sit and still be near them.  The other cafe was in the craft area and this is where we had lunch.  Amelia got a kids lunch which included a sandwich, crisps, cheese, a yoghurt, a drink and an ice cream.  Kelly and I both had a tuna wrap; Kelly’s was gluten free.  We were impressed with the gluten free options.  There were wraps, sandwiches, crumpets and jacket potatoes.  I’ve been trying to be a bit better with food recently but as we were having a day out I got a slice of the carrot cake and Kelly got a gluten free millionaires shortbread.  Amelia helped us with both!

We ended up spending about 3 hours here.  Amelia didn’t want to leave but she was so tired and was flat out in the car on the way home.  Imagine That is definitely somewhere we want to return to and we know Amelia will get more out of it every time we go and I can’t wait to see her be able to experience the other areas she was too young for this time.

 

 

 

04/04/2018

No Longer A Butlin’s Snob!

I admit it, I was a Butlin’s snob.  If anyone had mentioned Butlin’s to me in the past I’d always imagined some run down cheap place where our parents went when they were younger.  I saw peeling paint, tacky shows and cringe worthy red coats.

Well…I am a convert!  After having Amelia and going to Center Parcs with her once we were disappointed with how little there was to do with her other than swimming that was included in the price we paid.  I love the nature at Center Parcs and the accommodation is great but when we looked at prices for this year they were nearly double what we paid the year before.

I did a bit of research on places to go that were like Center Parcs and everything seemed to be pointing to Butlin’s.  I looked on the website and read some reviews and people were raving about it!  I looked at the prices and was so surprised that nearly all the activities were included and there were so many of them.  We couldn’t argue with the price so we booked it.  I was still a bit apprehensive about what it would be like and every time someone asked me where we were going I nervously laughed when I told them, waiting for their reaction.

Monday 12th March came and we made our way to sunny (pouring it down) Skegness.  The check in was a drive through which was great as it was still raining and this is where we encountered our first lovely staff member.  He was so helpful and friendly and started our holiday off really nicely.  We found the car park near our apartment which was in the mermaid block (I was thrilled about this!) and we grabbed Amelia and ran in to the apartment.  I was pleasantly surprised, it was bigger than I expected.  I later found out this is because the Gold apartments which are meant to be two beds are always three beds in Skegness.  We had a double room, two twin rooms, a kitchen, bathroom and lounge.  We were on the second floor out of three and heard little noise from our neighbours.  Our apartment looked over a grass area which attracted some ducks which was lovely.  Being in a double bed was a bit of a test after being used to a king size and the shower could have been more powerful but for the price we couldn’t complain.

We arrived quite late on the first day so all we did was go for dinner.  The restaurants were a 5-10 minute walk from our apartment, as were most of the attractions.  This is one area that I feel Butlin’s lets itself down.  The variety of foods for adults was okay but I found the children’s choices small.  Gluten free options were practically none existent though and if there was an option it wasn’t great.  The first night Kelly had gluten free pasta which was basically mush as it had been overcooked.  I really hope this improves as it’s getting so much better everywhere now to be able to find a gluten free option.

The next day we got up and ready early and went to the morning bear show.  Amelia sat on my knee and took it all in.  I was worried that she might be a bit scared of the big bears but she really enjoyed it.  We then went to tots football which I’ll admit I was a bit dubious about but Amelia loved it and was actually quite good at dribbling the ball around the pitch!

We took Amelia to a puppet show and then after her nap to the library where a member of the skyline gang read her a story which was so cute.  The staff work so hard and are always smiling.  They really do make your stay feel special.IMG_20180313_162727

We watched a bit of a show after dinner but Amelia was so tired we took her back to the apartment.  She slept a lot while we were away.  She had great naps and slept in longer than us in the morning which was amazing, although we didn’t know what to do with ourselves!

On the Wednesday we took Amelia to the Teletubbie show in the morning which she got very excited about and then went to tots football again.  We went for lunch, Amelia had a nap and in the afternoon we went to archery.  Kelly was very excited for this but Amelia wasn’t as keen.  She enjoyed going to retrieve the darts and put the targets back up though!

We had a chilled night of dinner and then playing on the arcade machines.

On Thursday we had a lazy morning in the apartment. and then went to a craft session where Amelia (with quite a bit of help!) made a rocket.  We went for an ice cream treat afterwards and Amelia zoomed her rocket around the diner.

That afternoon we went swimming.  The pool was lovely and warm so it’s great for kids.  It’s big and has a separate baby pool with it’s own slides.  Amelia took her time to come out of her shell in the water but was soon on the slides, going down by herself.  She didn’t like the big one I took her on though!

Swimming really tired her out and we went for dinner afterwards but Amelia wasn’t really in the mood, she just wanted her bed!  We got back to the apartment, put her to bed and then started packing to go home the next day.

We had that much fun that we’ve booked to go again next year in May.  Hopefully the weather will be a bit better and we can go to the beach.  There is so much to do and the staff all work so hard.  I am definitely a Butlin’s convert and have recommended it to everyone that has asked me about it.  Amelia loved it and we can’t wait to go again.

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01/02/2018

#TimeToTalk

Hi!  It’s been a while since I last sat and wrote a blog post.  To be honest I just haven’t felt like writing until now.  Today is #TimeToTalk Day so that’s what I’m going to do.  Today is a chance for us all to be more open about our mental health.  Mental health is not talked about or understood enough.  It’s hard for people to understand mental health issues if they haven’t been through it themselves.  This is exactly what I was like until I went through it myself.  I didn’t understand, I was even scared of it.  How do I talk to someone with mental health issues?

At the end of last year I had a bad time with my mental health.  It started with me not being able to sleep properly which gave me really bad anxiety and I ended up back on medication.  I won’t go into loads of detail but it was awful.  Not being able to sleep is a big trigger for me and I knew it was linked to when it happened the first time when Amelia was 4/5 months old.

I decided that medication alone wasn’t going to sort this out and I started therapy.  I decided to go to private therapy as I couldn’t wait for the NHS.  Unfortunately mental health help on the NHS is not great.  The waiting lists are long and when I went to the doctors, medication was all I was offered.  Hopefully this will change as not everyone is in the position to have private therapy.  The therapist was amazing and helped to really calm my anxiety down and gave me some coping mechanisms for when I couldn’t sleep.  Although I haven’t felt like blogging I have found that writing down my thoughts has really helped, especially if I’ve had a bad nights sleep.  I’m doing quite well now.  I’m reducing my medication slowly and putting into practice the tools the therapist gave me.  I really don’t think medication alone would have helped me in the long run, I had things that I needed to get sorted out.

Having people around you that care, listen and look after you is so important when you’re struggling.  Luckily I have that support network but many don’t or think they don’t because they haven’t talked to people close to them.  I can’t emphasis enough how much talking helps.  If you think someone may be struggling, ask them how they are, offer to listen or just be a shoulder to cry on.  If you’re struggling, as hard as it might be, try and reach out to someone you know will listen.  Take each day at a time and remember that things can and will get better.

06/10/2017

Holidaying with a toddler!

We went away with Amelia at a similar time last year and to be honest it put me off going abroad again.  The airport stress, the sheer amount of stuff you have to take and the fact that she’d only sleep in bed with me attached to my boob.  It wasn’t exactly relaxing!  Then our crappy summer happened and we decided we needed a bit of sunshine and all the struggles of the last one were forgotten about as excitement took over.

About a month before the holiday in all the excitement I got the suitcases down from the attic so I could pack bit by bit in an attempt to be prepared and to be fair the morning of the flight we were all ready and felt relaxed.  My plan was that Amelia would fall asleep in the airport before our flight but of course that didn’t happen!  She fell asleep in the car on the way there so I hoped she’d get some more on the plane.  After check in and security (where Kelly left a bottle of bubbles in her pocket – mum probs!) we went for some lunch.  Everywhere was packed due to the Ryanair fiasco but we managed to eat and get to our gate in time.

 

My hopes for Amelia to nap on the plane didn’t go to plan at all!  She was quite good but wanted to be passed between us and we had regular walks down the aisle.  Thankfully the guy sat next to us didn’t mind letting us out every time.

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Baby’s first plane ride!

We bought some things to keep Amelia amused on the plane and these are our must haves:

  • Sticker book – Kelly and the plane were covered in stickers but it was a must have!
  • Apps – I made sure these apps were on my phone and the tablet so we could access them when we needed.  Amelia’s favourite two were the CBeebies Playtime App and the In The Night Garden Web App.
  • Headphones – Before we went on holiday I thought about buying some toddler headphones but I didn’t think Amelia would keep them on.  At the airport the Groov-e Kidz headphones were reduced in WHSmith so we bought them and they were a lifesaver!  No one wants to listen to Igglepiggle or the Teletubbies for 4 hours and Amelia kept them on and really liked them.  They will last her a few years as well so they were a great buy.
  • Youtube – Amelia loves watching anything with babies on Youtube, she is always asking for us to put them on at home.  I downloaded one video onto the tablet and she must have watched it on repeat about 15 times on the plane which is why the headphones were a must have!

We landed and it was already past Amelia’s bedtime and she had only slept for 30 minutes all day so we were happy that security and getting our bags didn’t take too long (apart from the buggy being on an entirely different belt and no one telling us!).  We sorted out car hire before the holiday through AutoReisen which was really simple and they even upgraded our car when we arrived.  The drive to the hotel was quite simple and I only nearly went into a ditch once which was quite an achievement I think!  We checked in, eventually got Amelia to sleep and got a takeaway pizza and then tried to get some sleep ourselves.

The hotel we were staying in was the Coridal Mogan Valle in Puerto Mogan, Gran Canaria.  We went self catering, mainly because the meal times in the evening weren’t great for Amelia’s bed time and we wanted to sample some of the local restaurants.  The apartment was a really good size with a bedroom, kitchen, dining table (never got used), lounge, bathroom and a really big balcony which was great for us when Amelia was napping.  There were three pools; one for adults, one family pool and then a splash area and baby pool.  There was a soft play area which wasn’t the best but Amelia went in it a couple of times and a few slides dotted around the hotel.  The splash area and family pool was where we spent most of our time.  Amelia loved jumping (falling) in and getting attention from anyone and everyone around the pool.

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We spent most of our holiday having lazy mornings, swimming, walking into the town and eating!  The hotel was in a great location.  There’s a supermarket and a few shops and bars nearby and Puerto Mogan harbour is lovely and was about a twenty minute walk from our hotel.  Amelia walked or was carried quite a lot of the way there or back as she didn’t like being in her pram much this holiday so we all got some exercise in which helped with all the treats we had!  We went down to the beach a couple of times so Amelia could play in the sand and have a paddle.  As we had the car we drove to Amadores beach one day but I didn’t like it as much as where we were staying; it felt more touristy.

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With little sleep the first couple of days I thought seven days was long enough but as we all started to relax and really enjoy ourselves it was time to come home!  I’d definitely think about going for ten days next time we go abroad.    I’d revisit Puerto Mogan but I don’t think we’d go to the same hotel unless they invested in some proper air con.  We had to rent an aircon unit and it just wasn’t strong enough.  It was OK for the bedroom so it was fine for sleeping but when Amelia was in bed and we were in the lounge it was too hot.  I also didn’t like the fact that the tube that came out of the back of the aircon unit had to hang out of the french doors meaning we couldn’t lock the apartment properly when we were out.  The sister hotel Cordial Mogan Playa was next door and could be an option if we returned.  We had a nosey round and it was lovely!

Of course to end the holiday we had to have some airport stress.  We needed to drop the hire car off but could we find where we were meant to be?  No!  Every turning said car rental and we went every way possible and got stuck in a car park and my road rage was at an all time high!  Trying to reverse the wrong way in a car park sitting in the opposite side of the car was a nightmare.  Eventually we found it and it ran pretty smoothly from there thankfully.  Amelia even had a little sleep on the plane home and the couple sat next to us were great with Amelia and I even managed to read some of my book!

Holidaying with a toddler is a challenge and I wouldn’t call it relaxing but the memories last forever and make it all worth while.

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10/08/2017

Weaning Off Booby Update

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I haven’t blogged about how breastfeeding is going since April so I thought I’d do a little update.  Amelia is nearly 21 months old and I haven’t fed her in the day now for quite a few months; I probably stopped soon after my last post about it.  She took to it quite well and only asked for ‘booby’ two or three times during the day (one of these times being really loud in a play group!) before she forgot all about it.

About 3 weeks ago we decided to night wean as well.  I could tell that it was for comfort in the night and at this age she definitely doesn’t need it.  I’m going to regret saying this…first rule about sleep club…Amelia took to it well and most of the time is happy with a cuddle if she wakes up and goes back down easily.

Since then her morning and night feeds seem to have changed.  I don’t feel the let down anymore and I’m not sure if it’s my body that has changed or Amelia is using it more for comfort now and isn’t taking much milk.  She seems to just enjoy having a bit and then saying ‘side’ and then having some from the other side and saying ‘side’ again until I get fed up and tell her no more.  I double checked that I’m still producing and I definitely am!  In April I was really struggling to see the ‘stopping at 2’ goal being realistic but I think it might actually be possible now.

This morning when Amelia woke up instead of sitting down and feeding her straight away I took her out of her sleeping bag and asked her to wake up her new dolly who we put to bed the night before.  She didn’t ask for booby and I didn’t offer it and that was that.  She seemed a bit grumpier than usual when we were trying to get her ready but was fine when we left her at nursery.  Is this the end of morning feeds?  I’m not really sure how I feel about it.

A lot of Amelia’s baby friends have started turning 2 and I feel like time is going too quickly.  It seems like she changes every day and although I love seeing her learn and grow I am loving this toddler stage and I want time to slow down!  Breastfeeding in a way makes me feel like she’s still my little baby and although I know I can’t keep her that way forever (because that would be weird!) I’m going to miss it when we stop.  Kelly always joked that I’d still be breastfeeding her when she’s 5 and we honestly thought we’d have more difficulty weaning her off than this.  Don’t get me wrong I’m thankful that we’re not having tears and tantrums and it’s happened smoothly but it’s definitely me that will struggle more when it’s over!

 

 

31/07/2017

A Super Weekend

I wanted to blog about this weekend because although it has been knackering and we haven’t had any down time it has been amazing.  On Saturday we went to our friends wedding which was so different to any wedding we have have ever been to because it was a superhero themed wedding!  The bride was Wonder Woman and the groom was Superman.

img_20170729_145055.jpgWe went as the Incredibles and managed to get some rather fetching lycra suits from George at Asda and we got Amelia’s romper off eBay.  Everyone’s outfits were amazing and it was funny watching people’s reactions to us all stood outside the registry office!  The wedding was emotional as they had both written their own vows which was lovely and set us all off.  The registrars even got involved, announcing the Bride’s entrance as Wonder Woman!

After the wedding we went back to their house and had a party.  It was so relaxed and a lovely change from a formal wedding.  There was a buffet and an amazing wedding cake to go along with the theme.

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Amelia had a great time playing and getting loads of attention and before we knew it, it was way past her bedtime and time to head home.  The bride and groom are the perfect pair and really are superheros bringing up their brood and planning a wedding less than three weeks after having a baby!  Thank you for a super day!

20/07/1988

The Best Birthday Gift

Today is my birthday.  I woke up, opened my lovely cards and presents and then got ready to take Amelia to nursery.  I treated myself to a Starbucks drive-through whilst my Dad sang happy birthday on loud speaker, had a few more birthday phone calls and then I went for a smear test.  Not your usual birthday activity, I know!  When I rang for an appointment and they gave me 20th July I almost rearranged but I’d already had to cancel it a few times so didn’t want to delay it any longer.

In 2013 I had my first smear test.  I thought nothing of it and just assumed everything would come back normal.  I got a letter stating that they had found CIN2 cells which indicates moderate changes; affecting two-thirds of the thickness of the surface layer of the cervix and that I needed to go to the hospital so they could have a closer look.  I was petrified and to be honest the letter wasn’t very reassuring.  I ended up having a Loop Excision of the Cervix which involves using a small wire loop with an electrical current running through it to cut away the affected area of tissue and seal the wound at the same time. The procedure was carried out using local anaesthetic and although it was a bit scary being awake the nurses did a fantastic job of talking me through it and keeping me calm.  Three months later I had another smear and thankfully it came back all clear.

After this experience I spoke to everyone I could about going for smears.  ‘Make sure you don’t miss your appointment’ or ‘Better to be safe than sorry’ but I’ve found myself having to have this conversation with myself this time.  I’ve rearranged my appointment at least 4 times due to my own poor planning.  I was annoyed at myself for leaving it so long and with a family member being very ill with cancer it should have been a top priority, but it wasn’t.  We have a toddler, jobs and a house to keep on top of and life just seems to get in the way sometimes.

“Among women aged 25-49 in England and women aged 20-60 in Scotland, age-appropriate cervical screening coverage fell between 2004/05 and 2007/08, then rose and plateaued for several years (probably partly due to the death of young celebrity from cervical cancer), before starting to fall again in recent years.  Age-appropriate cervical screening coverage among women in England aged 50-64 has fallen steadily since 2003/04.” – Cancer Research UK

Only 70-73% of women are having their routine smear tests.  Whether this is because they are embarrassed, scared or just too busy they are putting their health at risk.  I don’t get embarrassed easily but trust me, the nurses have seen it all before, many many times!  It’s a little uncomfortable but it shouldn’t hurt.  If it does, that’s an even bigger reason to see the nurse.  We need to learn to put ourselves first sometimes.  If we’re not healthy then it’s not just us who suffers.

That’s why I didn’t rearrange this time.  What better birthday present could I give to myself and my family?

For more information on smear tests click here.

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