The end of Reception year at school

So Little Z has finished reception year at school in the blink of an eye. What a difference a year makes ey? He’s gone from being my only baby boy to a big brother who absolutely loves his teachers. He can also read and write. How amazing.

We started those first few weeks really nervous. I say “we”, as it wasn’t a school known to either myself or my husband. We’d done a lot of reading and this was a really good all rounder. It’s still nerve wracking though, isn’t it? Sending your baby off to “big school” with “big children”. Off we went on those first weeks. One excited boy and one very heavily pregnant me, ready to give birth about a week later.

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After the novelty wore off, he actually didn’t want to go anymore. “I’m done now mummy, I don’t want to go anymore”. Argh! Suffice to say, there was a lot of dragging out of bed, and coaxing and, on occasion, bribery. Eventually, something clicked and he fell in love with his school, and his teachers and the dinner ladies that are not called “dinner ladies”. He learnt how to write his name, and short stories and about his adventures and the all important finger spaces. He learnt to do spidery cursive and now insists to the world that they must also do cursive. He learnt to double and halve numbers and do additions and subtractions. He learnt to put his uniform on and his shoes on the right feet. He learnt how to forget everything when it suited him and learnt how to fill in the “Wow” sheets when he thought he’d done something good. I have mentioned before, but I think teachers should rule the world. All that shaping and educating and imparting of wisdom. How amazing. I am *that* mother. The gushy one, that keeps thanking teachers at the end of every term. I try not to hug. Or bawl.

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There’s also been some huge life lessons. Disappointments at not getting the golden book, around friendships, and around not always winning. They are all things I’d prefer to cocoon him from, but they need to be learnt at some point don’t they? And we’ve hugged and stumbled through them all together. The little baby Z is changing into a 5 year old teen Z and he is hilarious and frustrating in equal measure. He has my temper and his dad’s laid back attitude. He’s stubborn and I love that he is learning to defend himself. It’s an interesting mix at times. He doesn’t realise how popular or charming he actually is and that’s probably a nice quality to have. One I hope stays and serves him well once he’s a grown up. I never thought I’d be the mum that got choked up at school reports but it was so lovely and captured his personality. He apparently loves to tell jokes in class. I’ve asked for a sample of these and they are pretty dire. I think I need to invest in a joke book for him if his comedic stint is going to continue. As much as I’m glad the holidays have started, it’s a bittersweet milestone saying goodbye to that whole year. The year that has hopefully been a good grounding to the rest of his educational life.

I won’t mention being terrified at how to constantly entertain a 5 year old plus baby through the next 6 weeks. I’m sure it’ll be fine.

Photalife

The family anniversary meal

We’ve been trying to go for our anniversary meal for a few weeks now. Each time we attempt it, just the two of us, something happens. There was the sudden ear ache incident with Little Z. Then there was a party we’d already planned to go to. Then there was the ultra clingy baby phase. Then there was the big family dinner that everyone had to go to. Then there was…etc. We’d almost given up on it when we finally found ourselves, last weekend, with a free afternoon with nothing suddenly popping up. We did have one child with ear ache still, and one baby that hated every human besides his immediate family. So it was decided, all of us would go. We WERE going to have this anniversary meal. So off we all piled into the car. One slightly miserable boy and one cranky baby that didn’t like being tied into his car seat.

Everyone cheered up eventually and we went into nostalgic mode explaining to them about how we got married all those years ago and what kind of days we had. Little Z couldn’t understand why we, or indeed anyone, would ever want to get married. He was also a bit non plussed when we showed him the university we went to, mostly responding with “Oh”, to be polite. He was slightly more taken with the huge Vimto bottle that stands on the university grounds. We chanced a Lebanese place which turned out to be lovely with all of us there, and it dawned on us after all this time that we graduated and got married on the same date, a few years apart.

We’ve found we’re rubbish at taking family photos. We don’t all look in the same direction and Little Z now hates taking photos so spends his time pulling faces and just generally doing anything to put us off. The baby isn’t bothered either way, so will oblige ocassionally and try to escape most of the time. The end result is usually a mish mash of good and bad but always makes us roll our eyes and even smile when we look back at them.

We still need a meal, just the two of us, but we may have inadvertently started a bit of a tradition. Two meals to mark the ocassion. One with the boys and a second without. I best tell the Other Half about our new thing.

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Photalife

Reviewing school shoes from Debenhams

Back when Z was starting reception, last year, we did what any clueless parents would do and panic a lot before buying his uniform and running to Clarks for his school shoes. We haven’t really ever looked further afield for school shoes and planned to go back to exactly the same place for the start of the next school year. Then Debenhams asked if we’d like to review something for the new school year and lo and behold, there was a whole school shoe section.

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I hadn’t realised that Debenhams do a range of kickers. It took me straight back to my own school days where it was oh so cool to have a pair with the trademark red and green labels with the kickers logo. As kickers always have a bit of a reputation for being strong and comfortable, I opted for a plain black leather pair with velcro straps as Z still isn’t very comfortable doing laces (or rather, he would never do them up and probably trip umpteen times a day!).

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Debenhams offer a range of delivery options and we opted to wait 3 to 5 days. Our shoes came within days in a classic kickers box. The ones we chose had a inner arched sole are really comfortable and provide a cushioned feel to the whole shoe. They have a shine to the leather and give off a smart look so they could be worn to a special occasion if you don’t mine the little red and green icons on the side of the shoes. I’m not too sure how long before Z starts to scuff the shine off them in the school yard but I remember my own kickers being very sturdy and lasting quite a while. He’s 5 years old though and loves climbing absolutely everything, putting his shoes to the test. The kickers we have look to have a very good grip so I’m hoping this’ll serve him well when he’s doing all of his climbing.

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I found on the Debenhams site that a lot of their kickers range were aimed at older boys but there is a small good selection for small feet too and I hope that they do expand some of their older boys shoes and start doing smaller sizes. Of course, they have more than just kickers and one of the big positives is that they do a whole range of prices so you don’t feel like you’re paying a small fortune for little feet for what are, essentially, plain black shoes for school, especially if you have a little child that has the special ability to completely destroy a pair of shoes within months.

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If you’re looking for a pair of shoes for the next school year or just want a bit of inspiration on other bits of school uniform then I’d definitely recommend having a look at the Debenhams range. Their selection is varied even in the black school shoe department and it’s somewhere I think I’d look again when Z needs a new pair.

The products were bought using a gift card from Debenhams as part of their back to school campaign. All words and opinions are our own.

Family Fever

My wish list for Theresa May

What I wish Theresa May would do

So Theresa May has started dropping bombshells about her new cabinet and I think it’s fair to say that things continue to shock the country as we all walk about a bit baffled as to wtf is actually going on. She’s been described as a “bloody difficult woman” and I was actually pleased about that bit, secretly hoping it would mean she’d bring in line all the utter chaos and stupidity that has gone on the last 3 weeks within the government. It’s clear that the nation needs an iron fist to rule at the moment and here’s some changes I wish she would make….(at the time of writing, Boris Johnson was made Foreign secretary. As the political climate seems to change hourly right now, I think I’ll go ahead and still put my wish list together).

Kidnap that EU lecturer from Liverpool university and appoint him as the Brexit leader.
I actually don’t know his name but, you know the one. He’s a rare breed that’s actually studied the EU laws and lectures about it for a living. Someone needs to shine a light in his eyes, gather all his knowledge, create a plan quick smart, and then push him in front of Junker and co. to negotiate the best deals for us. I only say “kidnap” as I assume the best brains in the cabinet have already invited him to join the Brexit negotiation table and he declined repeatedly as he ran for the hills.


In the same vein, it would be nice to kidnap / invite Martin S Lewis to tackle our budget.

In the days after Brexit, all eyes hunted desperately for George Osborne, wanting to know what this all meant for our finances. He emerged a few days later with words to the effect of “we have to do Brexit very very carefully”. A bit like Elmer Fudd would. Martin S Lewis had meanwhile already provided everyone with some much needed financial reassurance around what Brexit would mean for us all. At the moment, I think we need is some good robust financial advice, quickly and repeatedly as nothing is standing still. Also consider sticking him on the Brexit committee because we don’t have many from the leave campaign left to do anything productive.

Promise that worker protection laws will stay as they are.
They are currently fine and we don’t need to start taking them apart. Plus we have bigger Brexit fish to fry. Or increase quotas of. Whatever.

Sort out the Northern Ireland / Ireland border sensitivity quick smart. Because it needs to stay as is.

Make it mandatory to put a feasibility study together for big projects.
Like leaving the EU. It seems there is still no plan and Article 50 won’t be invoked until we work out what the hell we want to do about leaving. I have visions of someone horrifically discovering that the Brexit process document is actually in Draft and some poor apprentice is now chasing review comments from all involved so that they can finally trigger it all. Whatever it is that’s going on behind the scenes, it’s definitely not painting us in a good light, nor is it strengthening our bartering presence.

Implement a “you promise it during a campaign, you deliver it” policy.

This includes promises printed on leaflets, delivered in speeches anywhere on TV or painted on the side of a huge red bus. Sack anyone that blatantly lies on a grand scale. And by that, I mean presented with a P45 and not left to shilly shally about on the back benches smugly patting themselves on the back claiming they’ve “done their bit”.

Ban parliament members from publicly smearing other party members.
It’s been a bit like watching a terrible soap and cowboy western all rolled into one. People stabbing people in the back, people making speeches on national TV about how they’re the best and how their former best work colleague is unreliable, and then making us watch them all ride off into the sunset as they decide its all a bit hard and difficult and they will now support someone else instead. If I behaved like that at my work place, I’d not only be fired, I’d be stripped of certain credentials and sent on my way, with the promise of never working in the same sector again. It seems to be ok to behave this way when it comes to ruling the country.

Ban certain folk from visiting Brussels just to be abusive to the EU delegates accusing them of not doing any work.Z
Is that possible? Could he just be banned everywhere? And not just Brussels? Throw in Gove too? Please.

Eid and cakes

It’s been the quickest week ever filled with a million things. Ramadan ended this week and so it was, another Eid was celebrated, filled with lots of amazingly delicious food and frenzied trips to lots of houses visiting families and friends. I absolutely love Eid. It’s one of those days where you meet so many people you like (and, err, some you don’t!) and talk at full speed, trying to catch up on each others lives. Promises are made to definitely do lunch very soon and how it’s been far too long since the last time you had a good natter. I think I’ve eaten about 35 different cakes in one week and, somehow, they just keep appearing as if by magic. We will now endeavour to spend the next week finishing the second batch of baked goodies that’s been bestowed upon us. Like heros, we will try our very best!

I was convinced I had finished the last of our cupcakes today until my mum presented us with yet another huge tub of home made goodies that we absolutely must try. We made a huge fuss of eid this time for the little ones. It’s not something we’ve ever done before but it felt right to do it. Cue balloons everywhere, presents and explaining about how important it was to give to charity to help those less fortunate. Pop up pirates went down a storm and speak of charity confused him slightly as he realised not everyone has everything they need to survive in life. I think it may take a bit more time for Z to appreciate the differences in our world. We finished the week off with a friends party with both boys loving the bouncy castle and ball pond. As you can see, it was all very relaxing!

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Photalife

A week of madness

It’s been a mad crazy week hasn’t it? What started off as a complete shock of a morning, finding out that the UK was leaving the EU, has just gotten more and more bizarre over the last few days. I eventually stopped swearing about it all after about 4 days, which I think is fantastic. I really hope the powers that be sit down and have a good think and come up with a good plan. Right now, it just feels like everything is imploding all over the place and I think the whole country is swinging from finding it all a bit stunning, to holding their head in their hands from disbelief.

The trip to London last week was a much needed break from it all and I think we will be visiting again very soon, just to potter about a bit. All we need now is a bit of sun. How can it be July and chucking it down so much? I don’t want to wear my socks and boots all summer long!

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If I ignore all the news then it’s been a pretty nice week. An Olympic gymnast visited Zs school and he has spent the entire week doing hand stands and various other adventurous gymnastics. We’re very much in the last few weeks of fun at school now and we’ve found out all about the move to Year 1. I can’t believe this whole year has flown by so quickly and how much he’s grown up. I guess this is something I’ll say every year but I wonder if the leap from reception to year 1 may be the biggest. I’ll be sad to let the reception teachers go but Z already seems keen on his newest teacher and I think it’s probably comforting that his entire class moves together.

In all the end of year madness I’ve found the most peaceful time is when both of these boys are splashing about in the bath. I have one water heater and one water lover, but once both are in, a bit of a calm descends and all is well in our little cocoon. That is, until I take the baby out and he screams blue murder trying to get back into it!

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Photalife

Britmums Live 2016

Britmums live 2016

Britmums live 2016

I wasn’t really intending to go to Britmums Live 2016 this year. With a 9 month old baby that’s just starting to cruise furniture and speed crawling, it felt like he was a bit too young to leave. A lovely opportunity presented itself and after a bit of back and to, it was decided I would grace lovely London and catch up with all things blogging. I absolutely love London, having worked there for a number of years, and I get very wistful for it whenever I visit. It is still just as amazing and fabulous as ever and although we would never really bring our kids up there as our entire family is up North, it is such a fantastic place to visit and it always reminds me I should come much more often.

Britmums live 2016

Britmums live 2016

Britmums live 2016

Britmums live 2016

Britmums live 2016

Britmums live 2016

Britmums Live 2016 was just as crazy busy as ever. It had a different format for the very first time but I’ve previously always gone for one day only so it didn’t make much difference to me. This is my third one now so I’d prepared myself for how intense it would be. It’s always really overwhelming for the first half hour when you’re presented with a whole sea of bloggers and everyone is talking at breakneck speed and hugging. You soon get swept away in it all and eventually calm down when you see your blogging buddies and start to become a bit more confident for the day ahead. There is just SO much hugging and meeting new people and I love that. I wrote a whole post about things that happen at blogger conferences and, if you’ve never been then you can have a peek here. I don’t know about anyone else, but with me, there is always that one blogger I absolutely love but end up walking straight past them from just pure nerves. I have done that to one particular blogger two years in a row. This year I kicked myself for doing it. If I see them again I am totally rugby tackling them and saying how much I love their writing. I’ve also been the blogger who has stared a bit too long at someone with admiration. Sorry.

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I was sponsored by Johnson’s this year and they had a very knowledgeable team that had flown over from the States and France to answer any questions people had about their products, as well as just to give people a bit more background on what happens behind the scenes. We are huge Johnson’s fans, as is Baby E, who will joyfully try to put every single baby wipe into mouth, looking very much like a pleased little puppy. I’ve never given much thought to how things like wipes are even created. I just trust Johnson’s make reliable baby products and well, that’s it. So it was really interesting to learn about the sheer time and effort that goes into making products for babies and the rigorous processes that have to be followed to ensure everything is of a high standard and completely safe for what is their most precious demographic; babies. Did you know, on average, it takes about 24 months to create a product from design? There are stringent health and safety and testing processes too, one of which includes making sure that the products are tested against approximately 80 allergens. Then there’s a whole science behind making sure the product scents are right for babies and are not overpowering or clash in any way. I hadn’t realised Johnson’s work with health care professionals such as midwives, but it does make total sense for a company that works so closely with babies. I learnt so much about something I usually take for granted . I’ve never heard the words “wipe technology” before but it showed how much importance and passion the company put on something that comes across as such a straight forward product.

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I spotted their new washcloth product on their stall and it’s something I am going to try out. They are washcloths that can be used without water and ideal for in between baths. They are larger than the usual wipes that we have seen on the market and look ideal for when we’re out and about, especially right now where my baby led weaning baby likes to get very very messy.

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Britmums live 2016 5

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When it comes to going to the break out sessions, I always always want to go to two things that clash with each other and that’s one of the downsides of these types of events. But then I’m not sure how else you’d cram so much into one day. I loved Charly’s photography session (from PodcastDove). It’s so nice just to sit and take it and appreciate the amazing photos that passionate photographers take. I think it injects a lot of enthusiasm in nervous amateurs and makes me want to drive both my boys about and then become very trigger happy. My Little Z is like most 5 years olds and loves pulling faces at the camera so I’m going to experiment with shooting in continuous mode so that I can capture that split second where he’s genuinely laughing. The baby isn’t too hard to photograph right now but I know that’ll get more challenging as time goes on. YouTube collaboration was really interesting. I am not the best vlogger and my channel has 3 lonely videos right now. I have good intentions but not much time right now with the crawling baby. It’s definitely something I will ponder about though. Basically, the point of the whole thing was that collaboration really does bring you a lot of traffic, you should definitely consider it!

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Britmums live 2016

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All in all it was a hectic but wonderful day. It is just so good to see everyone and its always been far too long. I took away some good tips that I need to sit and remember to implement. It also reminded me why I love my blog and has given me the little boost I needed right now where I’m struggling to juggle it all with a new baby. I now just need more hours in the day which I’m hoping will come soon….ish!

* Blog post sponsored by the JOHNSON’S brand. The JOHNSON’S brand paid for me to be able to attend Britmums and also provided samples but all opinions are my own.

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Baby E at 9 months old

The baby is the grand old age of 9 months now and, like every single month, I wonder how it’s gone by in the blink of an eye. We now have a baby who is a total koala bear cling on and has realised his parents can leave him and walk away. Everything is a bit uncertain to him all over again and you can see in his face he thinks twice before going to someone. He’s still very much the charmer and will hold his hand out to total strangers so that he can stroke their cheeks. Not many are safe, and most melt instantly. You can see their broodiness hit the roof instantly, man or woman, as they lean in to let him. They then attempt to hold him which goes well for all of two seconds before he realises he’s not in his parents arms anymore and freaks out. I predict it’ll be another month or so before he’s confident enough to go to others again.

We have a little cruiser on our hands who will cruise any piece of furniture to get to food. This baby is the total opposite to his big brother and absolutely loves food. He will swipe his brothers food quite regularly. Not that the older brother cares too much. It means we’ve been a bit more adventurous with baby led weaning and tried a lot more things than we did with Little Z at that age. Where his brother is a chatterbox that loves attention, this baby loves his own space a lot more and isn’t too fussed with big groups of people. I think we have two very different characters on our hands and we can sometimes see myself and the Other Half in them respectively.

I’m hoping the cruising goes on for at least a couple more months. So far, he’s not braved letting go and toddling off but, at this rate, he might be walking before his birthday. Which is when it all changes again!

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