Toilet Training : Ten Ways You Know They’re Ready | Toilet training

*This post was written in collaboration with Andrex and the Clean Routine.  I’m thrilled to be working with Andrex in the upcoming months to help families be ready for little ones that are starting school in September.  

With Eden now finally ready to begin her toilet training journey I thought I would share some of the tips and advice I found while affirming that she was indeed ready.  Some of these may seem obvious, some are a little tongue in cheek, but hopefully it can reassure those that are feeling the struggle of toilet training.

1 They start telling you they need the toilet

This may seem really obvious but if your little one isn’t aware of their bodily functions then they’re not ready.  Eden was really difficult to read, she didn’t even have a ‘poo face’, you know, that look they have where they go and squat discreetly in a corner and you can tell however minor the expression is that they’re filling their nappy.  To this day I can’t read Eden in this way, she is absolutely discreet in every way.  Before she started telling me that she needed the toilet I would have no clue when she wanted to go.  When you’ve started toilet training and they’re nappy free, this is a fantastic warning sign when you’re in the middle of the school sports day, or in the queue for a coffee at Costa – RUN, RUN, RUN

2 They won’t keep their nappy on

This tends to be a ‘do or die’ baptism of fire into toilet training.  There’s not much you can do if you have a little one that refuses to keep their nappy on.  It’s at this point you’re either really glad you went with the easy clean vinyl flooring, or wishing your carpet wasn’t cream.  Harsh realities aside though, I can highly recommend dungarees, playsuits for a child that is always trying to take their nappy off that definitely ISN’T ready for toilet training.  It’s a lot more difficult for your little poodini to make a mess that way.

3 They stop denying when they’ve filled their nappy

It’s only been in the last couple of months that Eden has embraced her bowel movements.  I was becoming more aware that she was an intelligent child who was getting to an age where really she was more than capable of beginning toilet training but when she would be screaming at me that there was ‘no poo’ in her nappy even when I had a baby wipe to her bottom cleaning it up, I realised that it may prove more difficult to start toilet training this one.  If the whole scenario was disturbing her for whatever reason, I wasn’t going to introduce a source of stress into the mix for her.  Judah had been nappy free for about 7 months at her age, so sometimes you put the pressure on yourself, or feel like you’re failing them.  If they’re not ready though, they’re not ready.  It’s much better to wait and make it an easier transition all round than end up making it traumatic for them.

4 They want to start wearing underwear

Being the youngest of four the appeal of knickers and underpants with pretty patterns or superheroes on had a big appeal to Eden.  Even if they did mostly end up on her head or over the top of the clothes she already had on.  She definitely was aware of the difference and wanted to wear ‘big girl pants’.

5 They can stay dry for a few hours

When your little one is able to stay dry through their afternoon nap, or going a few hours at a time without needing to be changed, this is a good sign that their little bodies are starting to master the art of bladder control.  I remember this was more difficult for Shayla-Rae when she was little, even to the point we had her tested for urine infections and diabetes at one point.  The girl just liked to drink a lot of water, but it was better to check I guess than not.

6 They can sit still for 2 to 5 minutes

This may seem really obvious but if you have a highly intelligent child who is ready physically, mentally, emotionally to start toilet training but they can never sit still, you may just have to wait a bit longer for them to be ready.  It will only result in you and them being frustrated.  If this area does become an area of concern as your toddler becomes a pre-schooler and older just always run through any concerns with your GP who will probably put your mind quickly at rest, but can let you know if there are reasons for this going on.  Eden is absolutely wild 95% of the time but she will sit still occasionally and for quite a long time when she does choose to rest.  This is definitely a reason we have waited longer to start toilet training though with this little one than her older brother and sisters.

7 They have an understanding of where things belong

This one is a sign Eden mastered very quickly, she was barely walking before she’d be putting rubbish in the bin and helping put washing in the washing machine.  She was very observant but didn’t tick a lot of the other points for a lot longer.  This sounds simple and maybe obvious, but it will make things go a lot better (and less messy) if your little one knows to go and do a number two on the potty, as opposed to in their cupboard, which happened to my friend’s little girl.  She would leave her mummy surprises in many weird and wonderful places.

8 They are going through a cooperative stage

If your little one is going through a particularly interesting phase of the ‘terrible two’s’ or are being an assertive ‘threenager’ it may be better waiting until they’ve got over this little stage.  Usually this is only the difference of waiting a couple of weeks as you reaffirm their boundaries.  James tells me funny stories of Isis as a three year old deliberately standing on the table to do a wee when she was in a bad mood and didn’t get what she wanted.  I bet he wished she still wore a nappy when she was going through that particular stage.

9 They can pull their own pants up and down

Initially this may not seem to big a deal as you’re going to be on hand to help, but if they attend nursery or pre-school this is a biggie, they may not feel as secure asking for help, they also won’t be the only little one being supervised in that type of environment so being able to go and take their own pants down will mean a lot fewer accidents.  We stupidly put Shayla in a playsuit once with so many buttons when she was first toilet training there was no way she could even take it off herself and even with help it took longer than the few minutes warning she would give sometimes.  Wardrobe is definitely important to consider when toilet training.

10 They can follow simple instructions

I’ve heard crazy tales of people who started toilet training from as soon as their little one could sit up unaided, and if that works for you, then great.  Having worked with children with autism and having friends with children that may not have the cognitive abilities even though the physically tick all the other boxes, it is really important not to put too much pressure on yourself.  I know from experience some children with extreme autism may be in their teens before they achieve toilet training or later and may always need some level of supervision.  I guess I only put this in because you should never feel pressure when it comes to toilet training every single child is different and attains their milestones at their own pace.  There are many different contributing factors, I only highlight autism as I had first hand experience with this and have seen friends pressuring themselves unneccessarily.

Hope my little guide is helpful, there’s also more information about the Andrex Clean Routine, if you’d like to have a nosey then just click here.  Please if you have any more tips or advice for us then comment below.

VEGAN CAULIFLOWER CHEESE | VEGAN CAULIFLOWER CHEESE

Vegan Cauliflower Cheese

Hello my lovelies, so last week I shared a photo of our vegan cauliflower cheese on my social media channels and a lot of you were interested in how we made our vegan cauliflower cheese so I thought I would pop it here on the blog for you.  I know that not a lot of my readers are vegan, but I also know that there are quite a few people who need to have a dairy free diet, or have little ones that need a dairy free diet, so it’s always good to share these little tricks and make it easier for people to find recipes the whole family can enjoy.

I have to say when I first saw how this was made I didn’t expect it to taste particularly cheesy.  Obviously it does have a different taste to it, but when you’re dairy free it is a fantastic dupe and the children were happily fooled and really enjoyed every mouthful.  I have been watching a lot of vegan recipe YouTube channels and I’m going to write a post about my favourite ones to watch soon.  There are so many ideas.  This recipe is over on Pinterest for a vegan nacho cheese sauce but it works fantastically over cauliflower cheese.  This would also be amazing with enchiladas, chilli with nachos, packed with vegetables you like for a cheesy pasta sauce.  I’m so excited that we found it and want to say thank you to Jess Beautician for her Vegan June videos as they are giving us so many ideas.  Jess is such a lovely person, she always chats to me on snapchat and answers any questions that I have.  She also is really thoughtful and provides me with nut free alternatives to her recipes as she knows that I have an allergy.  It’s quite difficult being a vegan that can’t eat nuts.  So, back to the vegan cauliflower cheese.

Ingredients

2 cauliflower

3 medium potatoes

1 large carrot

6 tbsp of nutritional yeast (Jess advised me on this to make it extra cheesy)

1 tbsp of lemon juice

1 tbsp of garlic powder

a pinch of paprika

salt and pepper to season

I started by peeling and chopping up the potatoes into approximately eigths, just basically to a good size that they can soften thoroughly when added to boiling water.  Also the carrots were peeled and chopped.  This was added to pan of boiling water to cook until soft.  While I was waiting for those to soften I also prepared the cauliflowers, getting rid of all the leeves and chopping up the heads ready to go into another pan of boiling water so that it could soften up too ready to go into the baking dish when the sauce was ready.

Once the potatoes and carrots were soft, ours took quite a while, maybe 15 minutes, we then kept a cup of the water it had been boiled in and added that with the carrots and potatoes into our food processor and blended it up until smooth.  The children took turns in turning the dial on as they wanted to be involved.  I should also add they were munching raw carrots the whole time too.  I can’t cook anything without them wanting some of it to snack on while they wait.  Once this was nice and smooth I added in the rest of the ingredients and seasoning and blended that back up for another minute.

The children all had a taste at this point and I knew straight away that the sauce was approved.  I laid out the cauliflower in my baking dish and covered it in the “cheese” sauce and cooked for around half an hour.  It was so tasty, they all enjoyed it, and I thought about what a good side dish it would be to spice up a roast dinner (without meat for us obviously).  If anyone has good ideas for a vegan roast that doesn’t involve nut I’d be really interested, please comment and leave me links to any alternatives you can suggest.

Well, there you have it vegan cauliflower cheese, it was so delicious.  The only issue for us is when you’re cooking for 6 it just didn’t seem enough.  Might have to make more next time if we had it as a main and not as a side.  Our little clan were not bothered though as they scoffed down some more fruit afterwards instead.

If you’d like to see other places I get ideas from please check out my Pinterest : Vegan Comfort Food board.

https://uk.pinterest.com/ImEveryMum/comfort-food-vegan/

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

THE FIRST TIME I HELD YOU | THE FIRST TIME

The First Time I Held You

Having a baby for the first time is such an amazing experience.  Nervous, anxious, feeling unprepared no matter how many times I’d checked my hospital bag over and knowing that I’d ironed everything in the home while nesting, including every single sock and pair of underwear.  There was nothing left to do, but nothing could prepare me for what was to come.

An incredibly long labour that was officially in “latent” form for the first four days, but you were stuck and something was very wrong and I just wasn’t aware because it was my first baby.  Going through a traumatic birthing process and then between my son being unwell and my being suspected of being unwell we were kept apart for over 2 days.

Nervously and excitedly pumping milk for this little man that I was yet to meet was all that was keeping me going, knowing that they would check me over and allow me up to see him after 48 hours.  I had a terrible blurry picture on Daddy’s old mobile phone that I would stare at while expressing milk for him and dreaming of the first time we could have the skin to skin that I so desperately craved.

That second evening it became too difficult, sitting expressing in a babyless room and they came to tell me I had a hungry growing boy who had some healthy lungs on him screaming for more milk and I wasn’t pumping it quick enough.  I burst into tears and agreed that they should top him up with Aptamil.

That night was the hardest.  The next morning they let me know that I could finally go and see him up on the neonatal ward.  I was so nervous and excited.  This little bundle that was missing from my tummy where I had grown him for nine months was waiting and ready to meet me.

He was getting better quickly and had less wires than the picture I had.  I had to wait while they did the ward round and the doctors determined that it was ok for me to get him out of his little incubator.  Still a tube in his nose and a canula in his hand I was able to hold my baby boy.

I can honestly say it was the most precious moment.  I was completely in shock still from the traumatic birth but for that moment, I felt like I was walking on air.  He was the most perfect thing I had ever seen and I never wanted to let him go.

We had to get help from the breastfeeding specialist once he had got to a place where he could feed on me, so that we could establish a good latch as he had been having drip feeds and then lapping from a cup.  It wasn’t easy but I never wanted to be apart from him ever again.

To hear the details of my birth story see my YouTube video here that I filmed a few months back.

*This post is an entry into the Tots100/WaterWipes Baby Milestones challenge.

LOVE LETTERS TO OUR LITTLE ONES {6TH JUNE 2016} | LOVE LETTERS

Love Letters to Our Little Ones {6th June 2016}

So, you may remember last week I decided to start a little weekly series of love letters to the children and I’m really glad that I’ve decided to do this.  We had a lovely weekend together as a family and I’m sure that I’ll be writing more about the charity work that we were supporting on the blog soon, but for now, let’s get started….

Isis Mae

Isis Mae, this weekend you absolutely blew us all away.  We were singing at Ashton Park for ‘The Big Lunch‘ fundraising together and literally words cannot express how proud we are of you.  I felt so privileged to be able to sing a duet with you, it was a very special moment.  We sang together at Nana and Grandad’s church once but this was different somehow.  Singing a song we’d learned together just this week, and having you introduce me back on stage after you’d finished your set.  You were just astounding.  Cool as a cucumber, speaking to a field full of at least a thousand people.  They may not have all been staring at you but you were looking out at them, fearless, engaging with the audience.  I couldn’t be more proud.  I know I tell you that’s what you should do and you are the best pupil, you just do what I say, but that doesn’t make it easy.  Your self-belief is amazing.  I love that you trust that you can do things that make you nervous.  I have been singing solos since I was about 7 years old and so have you, the difference is I would be vomiting before and afterward up until the age of 15 with nerves.  It was only at that age that I realised I didn’t care what people thought of me, and I could only bring my best.  You seem to have caught this already and I hope and pray with every part of me that you never lose this.  That your confidence grows from strength to strength.  I was amazed that you practiced so hard in the run up to the event too.  We all went swimming Saturday but that was the only specific fun task that we did, considering it was half-term.  I’m so pleased you all play so lovely together and that you don’t feel like you’re missing out if you’re not off on day trips for half-term.  You have just as much fun with your siblings in the home.  You learned to swim on your back this weekend.  You said that because Shayla could do it, that gave you the final push to learn for yourself.  I could literally babble for thousands of words and never express how much you blessed the entire family this weekend.  Uncle John was so happy listening to you sing.  What a gift that is, to bring such happiness to people.  You have an exceptional talent and grace about you that will bring many smiles to people.  You hadn’t finished your first song before people were trying to book you for their next event.  Always believe in yourself darling girl, we will always believe in you.

Shayla-Rae

Baby girl it was hard for you this weekend with Isis needing to practice so much and being up on the stage.  You were so desperate to be up there too.  You were made for the stage and I promise you your time will come.  Last year when Isis and I sang at a charity event we were able to get you up on stage to sing a song too.  It was a lot more of a relaxed atmosphere and this crazy little 5 year old shouting Bon Jovi’s ‘Living on a Prayer’ went down really well.  Your little voice is becoming so beautiful too, you were joining in with Isis and I when we were practicing and it was lovely to hear your gorgeous voice.  You are super confident and when it’s your name being asked for when people call to book I know that all we’ll need to do is unleash you because you are absolutely fearless when it comes to performing and I love that about you.  You can come across so quiet but give you a microphone, some lines to say or a dance routine and you are the star of the show without a doubt.  You learned to swim on your back this weekend.  You were the reason Isis pushed herself to do it.  You were playing so nicely in the pool with Judah too and encouraging him.  You were able to have some special time with Grandad when he came.  You two have such a wonderful and precious bond and it’s really beautiful to see.  I love seeing you and Judah together.  You’ve got such an interesting relationship.  You are either amazing together and making hearts melt or you bicker.  It’s a typical sibling relationship but I just love seeing that dynamic as you’re into a lot of similar things.  You two make it seem as though you live together all the time, no-one would know that you and Isis spend time together separately.  Of course, that’s the reality and you have a wonderful home that doesn’t involve Judah but seeing you together and your bond, it would be impossible for anyone to pick up on that.  I love how you always include him in all your games.  You’re a very kind big sister.  We had lots of fun cooking together this weekend.  You’re the fastest stirrer in the house.  Whipping up the guacamole almost as good as the blender could.  We love you very much and we miss you terribly when you’re not here.

Judah

You were so amazingly brave going down the huge inflatable slide at the event yesterday.  You used to be so cautious and I love that about you.  You’re still cautious now but you seem able to judge and weigh up dangers really well these days.  You can see that it’s high but that it’s safe and off you climb so excited.  You were funny singing along with Isis and I while we were doing warm ups, and you kept singing ‘My car has flat tyres’ when we were in the car and Daddy was hoping you didn’t have a strange prophetic gift, but I knew you were just singing your warm ups.  You are such a hilarious character.  You were incredibly brave in the swimming pool on Saturday, you learned to swim on your back and you were extremely chuffed with yourself.  You also told me that you loved going swimming.  I asked you why and you told me ‘because you can spit wherever you want’ and took in some water and projected it from out of your mouth.  I laughed so hard.  You have the funniest reasoning.  You kept telling us how much you loved having fun with Uncle John.  ‘Uncle John’s my best friend’ you said.  I asked you why and you informed me ‘he always plays with me, and we can say stinky things’.   You are such a boy, it’s brilliant.  I love how you are so beautifully sensitive but still a crazy character that loves everything to do with farts and attacking us while saying ‘Lightning strikes’.  Your favourite programme is ‘Dinosaur King’ at the moment and you know all the names of the different dinosaur types.  Your memory is staggering.  You don’t seem to have a concept of time though, everything that happened in the past, happened ‘last week’ to you.  If it was in the morning, or indeed last week, it’s all ‘last week’ to you.  You seem to have developed a conscience all of a sudden.  You keep apologising for things that happened in the past, as something happens to trigger your memory.  ‘I’m sorry that I smashed the plate at Nana’s last week Mummy’ (it actually was last week this time).  I tell you that it’s ok and you apologised to Nana at the time.  I like this new trait and I hope it means that you will soon stop hitting your sister when she has a toy you want, instead of just apologising afterwards.  We were shooting some pictures for a campaign we have coming up earlier and you told me you wanted an icepop when you had finished your work.  I love that you understand what I do.  You told me you want to do my job when you’re older.  You want me to teach you how to take pictures.  You were snapping pictures of me last night and telling me you were ‘capturing my beautiful hair’.  You decided to vlog while I was editing, you were chatting into the camera ‘Mummy taked me somewhere pretty and new today’.  You’re so unbelievably sweet.  I can imagine your Daddy being like this as a child.  I hope this means you’ll grow up to be as loving as he is, if not more.  We love you handsome boy.

Eden

Our darling baby girl.  You are just so funny.  You cling to me all the time.  You’re like my little shadow and I love you so much.  This week you’ve asked me for your own make-up and I couldn’t help but find myself saying yes, so I now have the task of finding something suitable for a teeny toddler that doesn’t make me cringe but satisfies your desire to play at being like Mummy.  You kept asking me to put your hair to one side in a bobble which is often how I wear mine and telling everyone that you ‘got hair like Mummy’.  The funniest thing you did this weekend was deciding you were going to teach yourself to swim.  You were literally pushing Daddy and I away as you were spluttering in the water because you wanted to do it yourself.  It was scary at first until you clicked what you were doing.  Oh my goodness it maybe only took you seconds, but those seconds watching you only just keeping your head above water felt like hours.  You would hit us away if we tried to help ‘leave me now Mummy’ you would say.  I had my eyes glued to you following you like a hawk the entire time we were in the pool.  You were jumping in off the side, which inevitably took you under the water but you were absolutely unphased.  You’d bob back up with your arm bands in your own sweet time and take yourself off to do it again.  You were unbelievably brave and really I’ve got to say it, incredible.  Daddy and I were literally awestruck.  Not to be left behind by your brother and sisters you also were pleased with yourself as you learned to swim on your back too.  Your vocabulary is astonishing.  You told Judah how to do his drawing earlier ‘if you put some stickers here and then draw a dinosaur that will be awesome’.  You said ‘awesome’ with such excitement.  I just love everything about who you are becoming but also know that we will need to keep our eyes glued to you as you are not deterred by anything and dangerous things seem enticing to you, like most toddlers.  You weren’t at full health this weekend, we had to sit in the bathroom with steam quite often.  It only seems to play up at night otherwise we would’ve taken you to the GP by now.  We have also been giving you your inhaler as and when you need it.  I hate when you’re unwell, but you still always carry on the same.  You just may toddle a little slower, but not by much.  You really are amazing, I pray you never change.

CHANGING MY PERSPECTIVE | CHANGING MY PERSPECTIVE

Changing My Perspective

It’s been such an interesting time for us recently and to say that I’m changing my perspective almost seems like an understatement.  Things have changed dramatically since I reached a turning point nearly 9 weeks ago.  April 2nd I was feeling horrendously low.  I was in so much pain walking, and just not wanting to leave the house.  It was getting worse.  Have you ever treated your body so badly that you literally get that feeling, ‘I’m going to die if I don’t change something soon’.  I had got to a point where I didn’t see a way out.  I didn’t feel like anything was ever going to change.  That we’d got to the point that I was going to be one of those people who just live in their bed and their husbands bring them food, and they start to become the bed as they are so huge and then magazines come and write articles about them.  I wanted to die.

Looking at all the things around me that I have going for me, my amazing husband, our beautiful children, I’m talented in a lot of areas, maybe a jack of all trades and a master of none, but there are many things that I could turn my hand to and do well.  There’s something horrendously wrong when my eating habits, weight issues, anxiety and depression are bringing me to the point of suicide.  I told James how I was feeling and said ‘we HAVE to go to church tomorrow’.  I was desperate.  Something needed to change, and I didn’t know where else to turn.

I’ve grown up in a christian family, I’ve always known Jesus, but over the previous 6 months I had got myself to a point where I was so low I was shutting out everyone and everything.  Cancelling everything in my diary, not wanting to see people because I was so aware of how much weight I’d put on.  I could barely walk at times due to my weight and declining health.  I was being tested for everything under the sun, cameras down throats, cameras needing to go in my tummy, ultrasounds, smears, blood tests, my body was telling me that something was wrong and the doctors were trying to figure out what it was.  Every test turned up nothing.  Constant vomiting, blood appearing in lots of places that it shouldn’t meant that they kept testing me but they weren’t finding anything.  Anxiety was not doing so well at this point either.  I just didn’t want to be around people, I felt a fraud around the children, I was avoiding the older ones as I felt they could see through me.  It was just an awful time, and it was getting worse.

James heard my cry and agreed we’d go to church the next day.  We went somewhere new, I didn’t want to see anyone that knew me, I’d closed them out.  I also didn’t want everyone gossiping about how much weight I’d put on.  So, we decided to try a new church in Manchester.  There was a visiting preacher that week who was a comedian.  He was really funny, but he also chatted about how he tended to be really introverted with his thoughts and get so caught up in his thinking he’d destroy an idea before it even had a chance, he was describing how I felt.  He talked about how he would tell himself ‘I need to be changing my perspective‘.  To have listened to this guy chat about life and be so funny, to then hear how down he could get if he left his mind to it’s own devices.  I just really related and felt a freedom for how I had been feeling and that I wasn’t so abnormal.

I realised that something needed to change dramatically but I didn’t know how to do it.  I just pretty much cried through most of his preach and most of the singing.  They did an alter call at the end if anyone wanted to become a christian.  This wasn’t me.  I knew Jesus, I’d grown up loving Him.  Then they asked if anyone felt distant from God.  I knew, I knew I had to put my hand up.  Some people came over and brought me a little pack, with a Bible in and invited us to chat to them at the end in the coffee area.  I chatted to a lovely lady who I think didn’t know how to deal with me.  Seeing a lady with four children telling her they’d got to the point of suicide the night before.  She could sense my desperation, and see how tragic it was with all these beautiful faces around me.  This lovely lady, her name was Janet, just prayed for me.  I cried some more and we went home.

Something changed in me that day.  That week, I attended a meeting in someone’s home that I’d never met before.  They invited us all as a family as we couldn’t get a babysitter.  I also took myself off to my Mum’s one of the days that week.  This was just absolutely unheard of and James didn’t know what was going on.  I can’t say that everything is magically better, but bit by bit, step by step I’m getting stronger all the time.  I attended a party this week to celebrate my Mum’s friends sixtieth (which I blogged about here) with people who’ve known me for years, this is something I doubted I would be able to do again, unless I somehow miraculously lost all my weight.  But because I’d been changing my perspective I just didn’t care anymore what people thought of me.  I realised that people can think whatever they like, they always will anyway.  I can’t let it stop me living my life.  This had definitely been a huge part of the anxiety for me.

I have a MASSIVE amount of weight to lose.  So much weight that a brand want to work with me, and if we collaborate together they want to get my story into the press.  I’ve decided not to shy away from this.  I don’t know if it will happen, I don’t know what people will think when they read the article.  I know there will be negative comments, but I’ve determined not to let this be something that stops me encouraging other people that it’s never too late to change, to make a difference.  Changing my perspective has saved my life.  Looking outside of myself, and for me personally, looking to Jesus when I’m feeling low is getting me through.  The difference in who I am now is gigantic.  My husband can’t believe the difference.  It’s been two months and I’m living a completely different lifestyle.

Is everything magically better?  Is it heck.  I still have about two people’s worth of weight to lose, my home is still messy, it will take me time to sort it all out while doing all the other things that I need to do in a day, looking after two toddlers, preparing meals for my family, cleaning up after preparing the meals, getting back on top of my blog as I have deadlines and contracts to live up to (more about that to come soon).  I read the Marie Kondo book ‘The Life-changing magic of tidying‘ last week and we’re working our way through the decluttering stage.  I’ll write more about that sometime in the near future also.  Nothing happens overnight, but I’m changing my perspective and slowly I’m getting there.  I’m feeling excited for the future and I hope that this general blurt about where I’m up to at the moment can encourage somebody else.

There are so many people in this world with real, life-altering problems, and I don’t want to be someone who destroys their own life with their negative mind when I am so blessed to have my health, and my family.  When you’re feeling down choose to look above your circumstances.  Focus on other things.  You’ll soon realise how insignificant the thoughts that captivated you are and start to live for the things that make you feel free.

SENSATIONAL AT SIXTY | SENSATIONAL AT SIXTY

Sensational at Sixty

Yesterday evening I was privileged to attend a sixtieth birthday party for one of my Mum’s nearest and dearest friends.  My Mum’s friend June has been in our lives for as long as I can remember and hearing everyone speak about the wonderful woman that she is last night made my heart want to sing.  If there’s anyone that is sensational at sixty, June is.

Sometimes we go through difficult times and attend funerals for those that we have loved and lost, it’s often in these moments we realise we never really praised them while they were still alive.  We have so many wonderful things to say but we regret not saying it to them when we had the chance.  Also, you can find at weddings, funerals when eulogies and toasts are involved it’s very easy to focus on the good when everything is romanticised.  No-one talks about their terrible attitude at times etc. Last night I realised though, Mum’s friend June just doesn’t have a bad side.  To me she’s living proof that angels walk among us.

So, I just wanted to take the time out here on my blog to celebrate the life of June, who is absolutely sensational at sixty and one of the most amazing ladies I think I’ve ever been privileged to meet.

Kind and Generous

June is a beautiful, classy lady who has a velvet voice and is extremely well spoken.  Being a Northerner and growing up in Chorley (of Peter Kay’s “Chorley Labour Club” infamy) meeting people who are so well spoken can seem daunting.  My maid of honour Sophie is from Bath and when we first met I always felt like it was so obvious we were from two different class systems.  Growing up knowing June that wasn’t the case for me because I never knew any different, but hearing some of her oldest, truest friends chat about meeting June last night made me realise this is how they felt at first too.  That is until they focused on the words she spoke rather than how eloquently they were spoken.  June is ALWAYS peaceful, kind, gracious, and generous in all her dealings.

When I talk about June being generous I mean that she extravagantly goes above and beyond in encouraging people.  She is generous with her words, abundant in showing her love.  Yet, she’s always dignified and graceful in all her ways.

One of her friends regaled us all with a funny story about when she was trying to quit smoking and June would send her cards encouraging her with “well done, I’m so proud of you, you can do this” messages inside.  She said as she then inevitably would start again June would just lovingly reassure her that it was ok, she could try again.  Everytime she quit smoking lo and behold another encouraging card would come through the door, stating how proud June was of her.  Such a simple anecdote but it completely sums up June.  She did manage to give up in the end but how many of us would still be sending cards by the fourth and fifth attempt?  June was. Always faithful, always loving, always true.  Never wavering in her belief in people and consistently showing up as her most sensational self day after day.

Army Bride

You may think reading this and not knowing this lady I’m chatting about, who I deem is sensational at sixty, fair enough, but I bet she’s had an easy life.  It’s easy to be that way when life has dealt you an easy hand.  This is not the case.  June met her husband in the army and has been an army wife, raising children overseas and understandably known times of true loneliness.  June has been through extremely difficult situations within her family.  One thing you observe as a child of their friend, viewing things from the periphery, is that June knows a quiet but fierce determination of strength and belief in people.  If she believes in a resolution, or redemption she will hold on with all that is within her until it becomes a reality.  She fights for her family, but not with aggression, with an unshakeable faith that believes for the best.

June is not the sort of character to spill out all her woes to every man and his dog but there has been the odd time I’ve been privy to some of her difficulties and I have to say even in the face of hurt she never, ever gives up on people or speaks a bad word about them.

June is the sort of person I want to celebrate, as a wife, as a mum, as a grandma she is who you would aspire to be like.  Alas, for this candid girl from the backstreets of Chorley, it’s probably not that attainable, but my gosh I’m feeling inspired to try.

Time After Time

After the speeches my sister sang a song and had me in tears as it was so appropriate:

“If you’re lost you can look and you will find me

Time after time”

Hearing account after account from her friendships that were mostly three decades long just showed what a faithful, beautiful lady she is.  Also, seeing people walk in and out of my Mum’s life as we’ve been through hardships, there is one lady who has ALWAYS been there, stuck closer than a brother and that’s June.

So June I just want to honour you today and immortalise here on the internet for as long as this web server survives, you fabulous lady who I adore with every fibre of my being and I know I have probably taken for granted in my life.  You indeed are sensational at sixty and an inspiration for women everwhere.

WHAT CAN VEGANS EAT {HANDMADE BURGER COMPANY REVIEW} | WHAT CAN VEGANS EAT

What Can Vegans Eat {Handmade Burger Company Review}

Last month the lovely Lucy from Hello Beautiful Bear invited me to come and review the Handmade Burger Company’s vegan menu.  I know while making the transition to cruelty-free it’s often the question in my mind if we try and go out to a restaurant for food ‘what can vegans eat?’  I am never one to want to be fussy and usually always order similar meals from wherever I go.  I know that sounds so boring, but I’m usually such a plain eater.  Having made the change to go vegan has made a MASSIVE difference to my palette with experimenting on so many different levels both cooking and eating out.  So now that we’re spending more time in Manchester as a family, and there is always the potential for a Sunday afternoon treat, I’m going to be posing the question at many different restaurants ‘what can vegans eat?’

What Can Vegans Eat?

The answer at the Handmade Burger Company is quite a lot actually.  They have multiple vegan options on the menu, and also, if you ask there are a lot of extras that they can also make vegan for you.  All of the desserts are now able to be made vegan as they just replace with dairy free ice-cream, so please just ask and they can make any of the sundaes vegan for you.

Lucy and I opted to try the newest additions to the vegan menu:  I had the Thai Vegetable burger and Lucy had the Veg Mex.  There are so many options of sides that you can have too.  Lucy enjoyed munching on some gherkins, my husband James would’ve joined her in this quest as he loves gherkins and would always pinch them from the children back in our Happy Meal buying days.  I was so excited that they had sweet potato fries, which seem to be my newest obsession and I make them at LEAST once a week for the family.  Lucy enjoyed some Piri Piri fries which also looked delicious, I should’ve tried one really, I don’t know why I didn’t, but Lucy didn’t have any left by the end so that speaks for itself.  We also had some vegetable skewers to share but I was just too full.  They kindly packaged up the leftovers for Lucy to take back for her husband Mike in a lovely little box.  Being a Mum of four I always really appreciate places that package up leftovers well.  It makes a big difference when you’ve paid for something that the children weren’t really ready to eat, and then they can enjoy it when they’re hungry because the restaurant supplied a lovely take out box.

I also enjoyed a really yummy vegan strawberry milkshake.  I would never have thought to order a milkshake with my meal, and definitely wouldn’t have expected it to be included in the ‘what can vegans eat’ category.  It was perfect though, it really kept the balance right as my thai burger was quite spicy.

I was blessed that Lucy had invited me so there was no cost involved but if we had paid it would’ve been under £20 each which seems completely reasonable to me.  If I were to go again, I wouldn’t have as many sides and would maybe try one of the yummy sundaes and that would’ve come under £20 a head too.  I’m not really one to eat dessert but they looked so delicious it would definitely tempt me.  James and I would probably get one to share.

Anyway, I’ve rattled on long enough.  I made a little vlog for you to see for yourself what it was like……  ENJOY!

Happy In School Child

There has been so much going on over the last month and I get sad with myself when I go through phases of not wanting to blog as sooooo much has changed recently.  We have been making lots of important decisions and I have been getting a lot better emotionally (with my mental health) but having all sorts of interesting issues physically, and I’m under investigation for a few things.  As I sat and thought what on earth could I break this blogging silence with as there are too many posts inside of me to write.  I want to take this time to celebrate our happy in school Shayla-Rae.

Shayla is such a beautiful character in so many ways, quiet around some company, but really she has an absolute firework of a personality.  So much joy, laughter, and a very cheeky sense of humour.  Her laugh is infectious and will have you in hysterics if it catches you unaware, and probably even if it doesn’t.  It’s a proper filthy laugh that usually comes out when she’s plotted something naughty, or when Judah’s decided to talk about poo, as boy toddlers often do (or if my husband is anything to go by, this is something boys never fully grow out of).

Shayla can appear introverted sometimes at home.  When you’re one of four it can be really easy to get caught up in the crowd.  She’s never demanded much attention I guess is the main thing with Shayla as I sit and write this.  She was so well behaved as a baby, a toddler, a pre-schooler.  She was NEVER EVER any trouble.  I am not exaggerating.  She would go on time out for various things when she pushed some boundaries, but this was very rare and never a big drama (well apart from maybe the first time).  She was dancing from the age of 2 and 2 months, she ran into her first ballet class without so much as looking back and followed instruction amazingly well.

We definitely misjudged this little beauty.  I think because she was so quiet we assumed she wasn’t as bright as Isis, who had been the centre of attention her whole life, so talkative and wowing us with her extensive vocabulary and amazing recollection of information she had learned.  We were so busy trying to deal with the many issues that Isis was facing at school we assumed that Shayla wouldn’t have any of those but neither would she have the demand for being pushed academically, or so we thought.

Happy In School

As it turns out, Shayla-Rae is an absolute freakin’ genius.  This child inoffensively just sits at her desk, gets her head down and does the work that she has been set until it is done.  She is such a delight, everyone who has the pleasure of teaching her goes on about how great she is.  She has been winning little school awards left, right and centre ever since she started September 2014 but last week it seemed to really catch our attention just how teachable she must be.  We’ve recently started attending a new church.  There’s about 85 children in the kids group that the two eldest attend.  They split into different age groups and the teachers rotate every three weeks.  On our first week Shayla came out with child of the week award, on our second week, Shayla came out with child of the week award, this same week she came home from school with the ‘Headteacher’s Award’ for being so bright and happy in school all the time.  Also another star award which she seems to receive a couple of a term.  I don’t want this to sound like we’re bragging.  All of our children are amazing and special in their own unique ways, but I just wanted to take the time to celebrate Shayla-Rae right now.

Not every child thrives in a school environment.  Some learn better outdoors, some if they are home educated.  This does not make the child any better than another, we are all so different as human beings and the whole point of I’m Every Mum is to celebrate diversity.  I just wanted to take this time to say well done to Shayla-Rae and tell her how proud of her we are and how much we love her.  We are so thrilled that she is happy in school and that it was worth driving so far for this to be the case.  I want her to be able to look back here when she’s older and know that we did not overlook this.  We appreciate how helpful, caring and teachable you are Shayla.  If you listen to instruction and follow it well from the right people, you will go far in life.  It is our duty to help guide you in wisdom to know which voices to listen to.  We are super proud of you princess.  Never stop being you and know that if you never won another award for the rest of your life, for anything it wouldn’t change the way we feel about you one little bit.  You are loved because you are you.

GIRLS’ FOOTBALL WEEK

It’s Girls’ Football Week

A couple of weeks ago we were invited to Wembley by the FA to learn all about Girls’ Football Week.  Our two eldest were so excited and I’m gutted to report that on the actual day of the event I’d been up all night with sickness and was far too unwell to drive the 4 hour drive down to Wembley nevermind the journey back again.  One of those moments were you’re actually devastated as it felt like such a once in a lifetime moment and the girls would’ve remembered it forever.  However, bless them, without complaining off they went to school instead.

Determined to make sure that the girls still got to try football as this opportunity had shown me how much they were looking forward to it, I was straight on to the FA’s website to find somewhere local that the girls could play.  The first thing that I noticed, there are so many local football teams.  Being a Mum of predominantly girls, and not having the desire to watch football after moving out from a football crazed family home, I had become a bit delusional in my mind to just how much football infiltrates our society.  It is definitely our nations passtime and there are literally hundreds of opportunities within half an hours drive for anyone of all ages to get involved.

I managed to find an all female team for both of them to be involved in for their first attempt, both within 10 minutes drive.  At Isis’ age (10) it can be a bit more difficult as a lot of teams by this age can be well established.  They allow for mixed teams (where boys and girls play together), but at this age for a girl to play in a mixed team they tend to be a girl that can dribble the ball like she has glue stuck to the side of her boot.  I found it a little bit more difficult to find a suitable beginners team for Isis to join but by a little bit more difficult, I mean that involved maybe a couple more phone calls.  The community is great and tight knit.  The gentleman who runs the team that Shayla was trying out for knew of a contact for me to try for Isis.

On Thursday evening after school, Isis was excited to go and see what all the fuss was about.  Having kicked the ball around a bit at school, she was interested in football but wasn’t sure how much she would enjoy it unless she had a proper go.  This is why I am so thrilled about Girls’ Football Week it is so good to raise awareness and remind us that girls can play too.  We set off early so that we could go via Sports Direct to pick her up some supplies.  The basics for a first week would be comfortable clothing, trainers, shin pads and a bottle of water.  Having already expressed an interest we decided to kit Isis out properly.  A gamble I know as she may have hated it, but I sensed her excitement and went for it.  New football shorts, shirt, socks, astro boots, shin pads and a water bottle.  She was all kitted out.

We arrived at a local high school’s astro pitch and I introduced her to man in charge.  He had a girl in her late teens helping out, she ran the warm ups for the girls.  Having been a dance pupil of three disciplines for many years I was shocked how much of it transferred.  Before Isis started dancing she had two left feet.  The co-ordination involved in dance seemed to apply to all the football warm ups.  The way she was able to balance, follow instruction, fitness levels, it all seemed so similar.  If you have a girl who isn’t interested in dance at all but would want to play football, I can imagine that the skills learned from football would transfer if they ever wanted to dance in the future.  Being able to utilise your body and control a football is such a skill.  It requires power, balance and grace.  How are they not female qualities?  Women are so often overlooked when it comes to football (I hold my hand up and say I played into that belief myself), and yet there are currently more than 5,900 women’s and girls’ teams playing affiliated club football.

Isis had an amazing time.  She was thrilled, she made some friends, she slotted in like she’d been playing a while.  I was actually really shocked at how well she did, that sounds terrible doesn’t it?  but I knew that she would either love it or hate it.  She LOVED it.  We will be going every week, and as a family with four children that can no longer afford for everyone to do 3 disciplines of dance I am thrilled to find something that breeds so many of the same principles.  Team work, skill, balance, poise, athleticism, fresh air and exercise….what more could I want for such a small amount of finance, £2.50 a week.

Girls’ Football Week is a fabulous initiative that was started last year to raise awareness that girls can play too.  I’m so pleased that they did.  Had this not prompted me we may never have decided to give it a go…. and who knows?  Maybe Isis, Shayla-Rae or Eden could be the next Kelly Smith and get to play football for England one day.  If you want to find out more head to http://www.thefa.com/girlsfootballweek to support this initiative.  There are so many ways to get involved, head to http://www.thefa.com/play-football to find a local club for you.

This will definitely be an ongoing part of our lives for the foreseeable future.  The girls will just be training now until season starts, but Nanny and Grandad are already excited to come and watch their first game.  So, what are you waiting for?  Find out where your littles can play, or where you can, and if you try this week make sure to tag the FA in your photos by joining in the hashtag #WeCanPlay

Football is definitely not just for boys and I’m so grateful to Girls’ Football Week for opening up my eyes and expanding my girls opportunities.

*We were asked to write about Girls’ Football Week in exchange for a visit and tour of Wembley as guests of the FA, however, we were unable to attend and so posted this because we think it’s an amazing initiative and our girls will be football lovers for years to come.

A LITTLE PINK COAT {THE ORDINARY MOMENTS 16 #4} | LITTLE PINK COAT

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A Little Pink Coat {The Ordinary Moments 16 #4}

I remember the day that we bought it for Shayla-Rae while we were in Debenhams.  I remember being gutted that they’d sold out in Isis’ size.  A little pink coat with hearts, and a swing style flare.  It was the most adorable thing we’d ever seen her in.  Shayla-Rae really suits pink with her bright blonde locks, big blue eyes, she is a true summer and suits all of these beautiful bright colours.  When she grew out of the little pink coat we made sure that we put it away in case we ever had a girl.  I had a baby Judah when she’d grown out of it, but I don’t think we had any plans for anymore at that point.  We just kept it anyway.

Along came Eden, the baby that just wouldn’t grow.  She finally weighed 10lb when she reached 1 year old.  So I don’t think we ever imagined the day that she would fit into the little pink coat that we loved to see Shayla-Rae in so much.  James went to put it on her recently and I said, don’t be silly, it will never fit.  Ok, it hangs longer than it’s meant to, but it still looks absolutely darling on her.  She’ll be able to wear it even longer than Shayla so long as it doesn’t get ruined.

Eden loves her little pink coat and is constantly wearing it even in the house, she’ll wake up and go to find it and put it on.  She gets attached to things this way.  This child is the ultimate girly girl.  At heart, this is who I am, but this isn’t something she’s learned from me, she’s barely seen me dress up or wear make-up since she was born.  Running around after a toddler and a newborn didn’t really allow the time.  Not to mention the postnatal issues.  Now, with two toddlers and bad anxiety, she sees me in make-up and dressed up even less, but it doesn’t stop her.  She is like a magpie when it comes to anything girly.  She is drawn to handbags, tutus, jewellery, make-up, asks me to do her hair, and paint her nails.  I did give in and paint her nails once.  I didn’t like it, she’s far too young, but it made her so happy.  I think I will need to invest in those children’s versions that pretty much wipe off.  They’re not cheap considering that they don’t last but for the smile it placed on her face… this will need to happen at some point soon *goes off to google the brand again*.

Seeing Eden in this beautiful little pink coat at the weekend really cheered me up and I couldn’t help but snap some pictures of her, as we convinced her that if she stood on a plastic bottle top someone had carelessly discarded in the woods, it would make us all dance and sing.  She loved her magical button (the bottle top) and we were able to capture quite a few pictures of her with this lovely sunlight coming through behind her.

She is so loved and I love seeing her in something pre-loved by one of our elder daughters.  They have a great attitude to the hand me downs that they get.  It makes them really excited to receive something they’ve coveted for a while.  We only pass down the beautiful things, and honestly Shayla has more clothes than anyone in the home because she has all of Isis’ old clothes and all of the new things that she gets often too.  Shayla loves that Eden now wears her little pink coat.  It’s funny isn’t it, how something so simple, made us all smile so much?

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Linking up with Katie and The Ordinary Moments over on her beautiful blog ‘Mummy Daddy Me‘.