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My Ectopic Journey

When I was younger I always imagined that I would be married by 26, have 3 children by 35 and completely secure in my life. I know I was young and naïve but it didn’t seem like that far a reach?

Nothing so far has come easy to me. I mean don’t get me wrong I’ve had an easy life, a fun life, a life full of love, laughter and joy. I dance my way through my teens, fell in love in my twenties and found my career in my thirties. It all sounds great, doesn’t it?

In reality though, although this story sounds in order there have been more bumps in the roads than my carriage could take and it has led me to this final and horrendous pot hole. 

I fell pregnant with my son when I was 23 and wasn’t with Steven then. He and I had fallen for each other but it was very complicated. We never actually properly got together until Lewis was older. We were happy, things were going great. I was studying my PGDE Education and was finding the balance between mumming and learning tricky. Everything else got put onto the backburner, including my smear. 

I know it seems really stupid to say but we had never had cancer in our family and I didn’t have any symptoms that anything was wrong. After the third letter and a year later I made time during the school holidays to get the deed done. I always hated the thought of it and I recoiled at the thought. However, I had the time and the letters were stressing me out. 

After the smear I felt really sore for days and actually had a small bleed but I put it down to being sensitive or maybe the nurse being rough- I thought no more about it .

We went off on holiday to Dubai (one of my most favourite holidays ever). It was the first holiday where we were actually able to relax- Lewis was older and much more independent, there were amazing facilities for children and the resort was all inclusive to a very high standard. The Elemis toiletries topped it all off. 

On returning home, a few pounds heavier and with a healthy glow, I had a letter waiting for me. At this point I had completely forgotten about that dreaded smear. As I read the letter my heart sank and I felt sick to the pit of my stomach. 

‘We have found abnormal cells…’. I thought about it quickly and remembered that I knew a few people who had got this letter and it was simply a case of re doing the test. I called the surgery. After A long wait a doctor called back and explained that unfortunately my changes were severe and it wasn’t a case for ‘re-testing’. I had CIN3 and was being referred to the hospital for further investigation and treatment. I cried.

I cried, Steven cried, my family cried and I cried some more. In fact, up until that point, I don’t think I had ever cried so much (yes I have led a pretty sheltered life, I suppose). I thought about dying. I thought about leaving Lewis motherless when he finally had the secure family unit he deserved. I thought about Steven- would he cope, how would he manage, would he meet someone new, would they be kind to my child. I had no life insurance and nothing to leave behind. Looking back now it all seemed so dramatic and OTT. When faced with risk your body (and mind) seems to go into this fight or flight mode. I feel like I shut down. 

I googled the life out of cervical cancer and knew every discussion thread from Jo’s inside out. I knew CIN 3 wasn’t good, I knew it was termed ‘stage zero cancer’ in the USA (which terrified the life out of me) and I knew that I was a small voice in amongst 1000 others who were fighting real cancer. Although it terrified me I was compelled to find out everything. In a way it was a good thing as it made me realise there were far sadder stories and that in most of the threads I had seen I would be ok. 

I went to the hospital within a week, YAY NHS! I was in and out within 40 minutes. They quickly, but carefully, performed LLETZ treatment. It’s a really quick procedure that they use to burn off and pre-cancerous cells. It then seemed like forever waiting on the next letter confirming if they had got it all (clear margins). Thankfully they did. It was at this point that I new I wanted another child. My chances had been slightly reduced and this scared me. I never wanted Lewis to be an only child but it had never seemed like the right time. Well bugger I though, if not now then when?! 

Within a month of getting the treatment I was pregnant with Charlotte. I had always dreamt of having another baby and being more settled. This was it. Granted it wasn’t as easy a pregnancy as the first but I was pregnant, baby was healthy and although I was suffering with what I can only describe as pre-natal depression (is that even a thing?) I was elated to be having another baby!

Charlotte Elizabeth King was born on 30thAugust 2017 (for some reason I always forget her actual birthday?!). She was healthy, perfect and made my heart burst with pride. I fell in love instantly and as soon as she graced us with her presence my pre-natal depression disappeared. I was enveloped in love. I still am. 

I know I am incredibly lucky to have two healthy, happy and loving children. They really fill me with joy every day (although don’t get me wrong, I also spend half my day pulling my hair out over lost football boots and tantrums!). I think the way I feel made me realise that I want more. I would love to have more children. I feel like your heart just gets bigger each time. I really long for that feeling when they place the baby in your arms and you just look at each and instantly overwhelmed with love. It’s that feeling that is my happy place- pure and simple love. Steven on the other hand is happy with two- one boy, one girl as he always tells me. For this reason, I would never have forced him into having a third.

So, when I found out I was pregnant on 24thJanuary I had 2 seconds of absolute, unadulterated joy. It was then rudely interrupted with hypovolemic shock. 

I only work 2 days a week as I am so lucky to spend my other days being a stay at home Mummy. I love my days off and having that bonding time. It’s truly special. The only thing that can ruin my day off buzz is being landed with a period. Now prior to having the COIL (IUD) I had really light periods but since the COIL It has been crazy. *talking period so skip to the next star if this makes you feel sick… I honestly bleed for the full 7 days and it is heavy. I mean anaemia style heavy. Changing every 2 hours heavy. Like life interrupting and problematic. Like murder scene heavy. *I woke up on the 24th, not due a period and with no bleeding, but with horrible period pains. I eventually lost the rag and called the doctors. I knew I wouldn’t get through but I wanted to make a stand. I was going to get this bloody COIL removed. I had spoken about it for months but today was the last straw. In reality I didn’t think I would even get through. I mean are you really a resident of Scotland if you get through to the doctors on the first ring AND get a morning appointment? Still high fiving myself for that bit of luck. 

Steven did me a solid and dropped Lewis off at school and I dropped Charlotte off at my parents’ house (which conveniently is 2 minutes from my house and the doctors). When my Mum came out to the car to collect Charlotte she could see I was sore so she actually ended up meeting me in the doctors (my Dad was not working so was staying home with Charlotte). 

I remember sitting in the waiting room with the pain increasing but chatting to a Mum from playgroup because I didn’t want to seem rude. It actually makes me laugh thinking about it because I was literally pinching myself to try and divert the pain. 

After a 40 minute wait the doctor finally called my name. she had a student and so I think she was extra thorough. She did the usual questions, asked about contraceptive, took my blood pressure, temp etc. She then felt my stomach and had her student do so to. This was sore. I actually cried. I don’t know if she was just shit hot at her doctoring or she was trying to be by the book for her student she immediately called the Surgical Assessment Unit at the hospital to get me a bed. She suspected appendicitis. So did I at this point because my waiting room google search had confirmed it (as you do!). 

Heading out the door she passed me a urine sample bottle and said if I needed a wee whilst waiting they might want this. I quickly went to the toilets.

My mum drove my car back to hers and Dad offered to take us up, I never bothered to call Steven as I am a bit notorious for always self-diagnosing and I wanted a real doctor confirmed diagnosis before I embarrassed myself. 

Every bump in the road felt awful. Every small movement made me wince. We were offered a wheelchair because I was walking so hunched but because I was so embarrassed I declined. I didn’t want to look like a moron if it was trapped wind (yes, this had also popped up on my google search). 

After what felt like an eternity, we found SAU. They were so short staffed that my Mum was getting annoyed. She could see I was sore and was clearly worried but again I was adamant that she control herself and just wait.

At this point I was really sore. I lay on one of the beds and they gave me painkillers (paracetamol). The doctor did my obs, felt my stomach and as a second thought whilst she was taking my blood we passed her my urine sample. I had actually forgotten it until I saw Mum move my coat. It was in the pocket and I didn’t want it sitting there overnight if I was going to be getting my appendix out. We passed it over and thought no more. Within 10 minutes they were back. I was writhing in pain. I knew something was wrong. “Aimee, do you know you are pregnant?”. I remember her face. I remember the minute she said it and how, even through the pain, I felt elated and then quickly shattered. This pain wouldn’t be a good thing. She went on to say that with this new information I was presenting with symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy. Now, being a google doctor I mentally ticked off the symptoms. I had a sore stomach but I had nothing else, no should pain, no bleeding and no headache. It didn’t feel real. It was around about that time that I passed out. I have never fainted before. It was surreal. I couldn’t hear, my body shook and I couldn’t see. 

That’s when the sh*t really went down. As I came back I was surrounded by people; doctors, nurses, my Mum, Steven was there and porters. 

I went to the pregnancy support unit, I was thinking straight and was really struggling to focus. I don’t remember much of what the staff said all I remember was how lovely they were. How honestly fantastic they were. That is the NHS. Even low on staff and under pressure they were so unbelievably kind. My scan didn’t go to well- they couldn’t see much as I had blood in my pelvis. It was only during surgery that they would find the 1.5 litres of blood. In a blur, but clearly explained, I signed a form saying that they could remove my fallopian tube and ovary (if needed but highly likely). I also signed a form about sending the ectopic pregnancy to Mortonhall Crematorium. This made me so sad and I think it was at this point that I realised I hadn’t stopped crying since she told me I was having an ectopic pregnancy.

I woke up, 4 hours later, in recovery and in a daze. Does anyone actually remember recovery? I don’t know what I said or what she said or what patients were around me but I do remember asked what I had left. I also remember the nurse being so unbelievable lovely and warm. She made me feel like I was talking to a friend, something that on hindsight was really needed. I’ll always be so grateful for that conversation, even although I can’t remember any of it.

I got back to the ward where Steven and my parents were waiting. I still knew nothing. I waited for what felt like hours but I was on morphine so I have no clue what time or day it was. A nurse came by with a pessary. Even although I was out of it I wanted to know what I was taking. She didn’t know but came back saying it was something that would remove the remaining pregnancy. It made me feel sick. I didn’t want it but I knew they wouldn’t have given me it if it wasn’t essential. I took it and cried. 

It was a short time later that a young surgeon came in to talk to me. My surgeon (who had stayed late and essentially saved my life) finally clocked off (quite rightly!!). They couldn’t locate the ectopic pregnancy but had found bleeding from my ovary which they had cauterized and thought the bleeding had come from a Corpus Luteum. Here’s something I didn’t know… when your egg is fertilised your body creates a small cyst on your ovaries called a Corpus Luteum. It feeds the baby and provides the progesterone needed for growth until the baby finds the placenta (I think that’s rights?) It was this, they think, that had ruptured causing a bleed. They were still unsure however as this seemed like an inordinate amount of blood. They ectopic pregnancy was nowhere to be seen. This meant one of 2 things. A) Its had implanted successfully in my womb (85% chance and the best thing I could have heard) or B) it had been drained out with the huge amount of blood although they thought this was unlikely. 

I couldn’t believe it. Here I was, desperate for a third child but in a position, that normally would have allowed for it. I was on the COIL, we had discussed and agreed it wasn’t right and I was planning on going back to work on a full time permanent basis. It felt like fate. I thought back; I had stopped smoking after a heavy night out back in November, my boobs had been sore and I had been quite tired.  I had really wanted a third child but would have forced it on Steven so this just seemed like fate deciding for us and I was elated. 

I told anyone who would listen… I was pretty sure I was still pregnant and we were having a baby. I knew it wasn’t confirmed and I knew I was to be retested 48 hours later but my gut feeling said yes. Why would it not be? It was fate after all. 

The 2 days were sore and dragged but eventually they re0tested my blood. It wasn’t good.

I was miscarrying or the baby was gone.

My hormone levels had dropped sharply. They never even bothered scanning me so I knew then that the dream was over.

It’s a weird feeling losing a baby you never really had. I had a mix of emotions. I was devastated, I was embarrassed, I was ashamed and I was broken. I know some of the feelings I experienced were irrational but I’m being honest and that’s how I felt.

We were discharged. I cried the whole way home. I struggled to hold back the tears as I held my children after missing them for days. I lied and said I was all better when I knew I felt worse now than I had in hypovolemic shock.

I don’t know if this is normal but for days I didn’t function. I didn’t get dressed, I didn’t want to see or speak to anyone, I just wanted to be on my own. I knew I was isolating myself and I knew it wasn’t the right thing to do but I felt lower than I had ever felt before. I had some really dark thoughts. I wanted to speak to someone and just outpour how I felt. I googled miscarriage support in my area and couldn’t find anything. I didn’t want to use the help line because I knew I wouldn’t get all my words out amongst the tears and snot. This sounds so pathetic but I didn’t want to share my feelings with anyone close. I didn’t want to be judged by anyone I knew and I didn’t want to worry anyone. 

I had recently joined Instgram and over the months had been following another Mum. She was so lovely, funny and had experienced mental health issues . More importantly she didn’t know me. I could outpour everything and not worry about her calling to ‘check in’. I messaged her and just outpoured everything. It was the best thing I could have done. She was lovely in response but I realised that talking about it was the thing that made me feel better. I felt less burdened. If I hadn’t decided to do that (on the back of seeing one of her posts) then I think I would still be in my PJ’S crying (It was Abbie from @badmamsclub )Don’t get me wrong, I’m low. I honestly feel shit and could still cry but I’m putting on a better face. I’m smiling and I’m managing my emotions better. I’ve seen some friends and family and I’ve held it together.

I don’t think I’ll ever get over this. I can’t imagine having a peaceful sleep again (without the anxiety and fear that I will die of internal bleeding through my sleep) or not crying as I’m lying in bed thinking about the baby that never was, because yes I thought about names and imagined a life for it, but what I am saying is I know it will be ok. I know that for now I am here. My children have a mother, I have a loving family and a good life. I have no other worries (in the grand scheme of things) and I am blessed for it all. I am suffering from (what I hope is) a temporary mental health issue. It’s an illness on the inside which I can work on to get better. I might not always be happy but I can remember to be positive. 

I wanted to write this to share my experience and because writing is really therapeutic for me. Find what works for you. It’s good to talk, it’s ok to feel low and it’s important to remember the positives to help get you through the dark times. And if all else fails and you feel so overwhelmed with it all speak to someone you don’t know, you can get it all out. 

If you or anyone you know if suffering due to an ectopic loss here are a few places you can go for help:

Telephone helpline: 02077332653

Email: ept@ectopic.org.uk

Website: https://www.ectopic.org.uk/patients/how-we-can-help/#helpline

Samaritans: https://www.samaritans.org

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Rugby Championing Women

I always said if I had a girl I would do everything I could to level the playing field, pun not intended, with regards to gender neutrality but from day one I really was my worst enemy.

As a lover of all things pink, frilly and sparkly I have slowly but surely (and completely unintentionally) aligned her to the thinking that pink is a girls colour, make up is something to be normalised and muddy sports are for boys.

Its ingrained in every aspect of life from the clothes choices we make (and pass on) to the TV we watch and allow our children to. Marketing campaigns brandish bright pink themes and girls playing with dolls adorn our screens followed sharply by boys covered in dirt with SAS style weaponry.

As a teacher I have highlighted this many a time when teaching about gender stereotyping, media, advertising and literacy. We have had critical discussions and swayed even the most ‘boyish’ of boys that gender should not be defined by colour, sport or attitude and the ‘pinkest’ of girls that it’s OK to try new things and take a risk.

As a parent I feel that I have really let my daughter down of late by allowing her to see me put make up on (making comments about how how I need it), negatively comment on my body shape/size as if what’s on the outside is all that counts and not giving her the freedom I should to take risks.

Play based learning isn’t only crucial for cognitive development but also for taking risks and developing resilience. Are we vanquishing this aspect to the darkness to be overshadowed by fear of the unknown?

As a parent our role is not only to love and cherish our children but to also raise them as responsible, resilient and courageous adults. I don’t want my child, regardless of gender, to feel overshadowed by sexism or excluded based on gender. I equally want my children to be respectful of all, kind and cultured. It’s such a pressure and responsibility, the thought of not fulfilling our child’s unlocked potential, of creating someone who is afraid to take risks and be bold.

In the midst of gold glitter shows and pink tutus I lost this. I lost the importance of allowing my child to stamp her own identity. Charlotte is only 2 and by no means a walk over but I want her to know she can be who ever she wants to be, judgement free. I want her to engage in all sports and wear whatever she wants. I want her to climb trees and have scraped knees, not because i’m a negligent Mum but because i’m not. I have a duty of care to protect her and this means allowing her to take (safe) risks, test the boundaries and know her limits.

Luckily Charlotte is only 2 and I have plenty of time to regain my original plan. With that in mind we have been focusing a lot on outdoor play, sports and getting messy.

If you follow me on Instagram @mum_in_the_city you will notice that I have been really diving into outdoor play/ learning and have loved following #150housoutdoors to help keep me motived and inspired. Not only does the fresh air and exercise promote a health body but it promotes a healthy mind and gives us both a great chance to bond without the distraction of our regular toys or electrical devices.

I read and inspiring article from the Telegraph recently about how World Rugby has seen a 60% rise in female rugby players since 2014. In fact, the article went on to say that a quarter of all rugby players world wide were now female. Quite clearly this number is still hugely weighed towards male players but for a sport which is often referred to as the ‘gentlemans game’ is there a door opening for gender equality within the sport?

Based on this new found energy to show my daughter she is equal we have also been enjoying a new Rugby Tots class. Inspired by the rapid rise in woman getting involved in Rugby I thought it would be a great sport to get Charlotte into.

Rugby Tots is great for developing gross motor skills, communication and listening skills. In only a few weeks Charlotte has started to throw and catch the ball (a huge improvement), is confident enough to engage independently, takes (and can actually follow) instruction of more than three pattern exercises and has grown so much in confidence.

We use the skills she learns in class to play in the garden, involving my son Lewis, and have so much fun that its hard to believe this in itself is a learning excercise.

We only do one other baby class so I wasn’t expecting Charlotte to engage so well and, most importantly, have so much fun. I worried initially about the boy to girl ratio in the class and if this would make any difference to Charlotte but again, this was me worrying about gender norms. Charlotte absolutely loves the class and Carl her coach.

I am so proud that we are able to be part of this and as a woman and a Mum I would highly recommend this class to anyone looking to boost their child’s confidence, challenge gender stereotypes and contribute to the equality of women in sport.

Well done Rugby Tots for challenging gender stereotypes, supporting women in Rugby and promoting females in sport!

Play to Learn- little effort games for busy parents.

Last week I shared some fun little activities that we have been enjoying up here in Casa del King.

This week I decided to go a bit more out of my comfort zone, being mindful of trying to reuse, I tried to use existing items to create more fun games and activities. As always, they have a learning intention to fulfil whilst still being engaging enough to create a fun learning experience.

I should also add a good principal I like to stick to: Is it valuable? Will there be a chance to develop their language acquisition? Language is so important to all of the activities I prepare for Charlotte and although most are independent and give me a great wee (well needed) break sometimes, talking about the learning and what happened it so essential for scaffolding any learning.

Enjoy…

  1. This was just one fo those ‘right time, right place’ happenings. I was in the kitchen sorting the recycling when I noticed the holes on the empty capri container. Charlottes craft box was sitting beside it with her coloured straws and boom- a little activity to encompass hand eye co-ordination and colours was born. I started by popping a coloured straw in separate holes (as above) then Charlotte had to match and put in the corresponding hole. This turned into a two man game as I wanted in on the action. It was actually really good fun and we ended up playing this for about 40 mins!! I should add Charlotte would have happily just payed this independently If I hadn’t got involved but sometimes its just nice to play. Skills– hand eye co-ordination, colour sorting, dexterity, categorisation, turn taking and problem solving. language to use– talk about the colours, why you are separating, the shape of the holes is circular, the straws are long and thin, your shot, my shot, poking, finger and thumb.
Find the shape

2. I love a wee jigsaw, as does Charlotte. So with shape in mind I used some old coloured paper that was on route to the bin (it got a bit damp in the conservatory!). I drew around some items that were in standard shape and also a pentagon as I think its important to widen exposure as early as possible (again for language acquisition, maths and literacy can go hand in hand!). I included the learning intention and success criteria here just because this is how its done in primary schools in Scotland so the early she gets used to having a wee checklist to ‘make good’ the better. And yes, I know it’s totally daft as she cant even read yet. I’m obviously just missing school. Skills- shape recognition, dexterity, find motor skills, shape/ word recognition. Language to use– circle, square, triangle, pentagon, rectangle, success criteria, we are learning, fit, too big, too small, too thick, round, sharp, edge, thin, long, corner.

3. Charlotte is still a bit young for this but she loved giving it a go. we just used a white board, some play dough and some letter tiles. We used our fingers to trace the c, we tried drawing it and then tried making it with the play dough. We also tried squishing it down. This was a really easy set up, independent activity which could have gone on for longer. We did 10 minutes before Charlotte just wanted to ‘make a ball’ with the dough. i ALWAYS STOP WHEN i see them losing interest as I want it to be fun, selected and never dull. Otherwise it loses its value and appeal. Skills- sounds, letter recognition, mark making, crocodile grip (how a pencil should be held for easy manipulation), rolling, fine motor skills. Language to use– the C sound is c (its so hard but don’t be tempted to add the i sound on i.e ci or the letter name C sounds like see), singing the jolly phonics song ‘clicking castanets c c c’, draw, write, make, say, shape, bend, squish, words that start with c.

chocolate hunt fun

4. This was a little outdoors treasure hunt. Originally for Charlotte, I adapted this and Lewis and his friend to join in. This was a wee idea I got from @fiveminutemum. I used some of the left over chocolate balls from Christmas and scattered them about. The aim was to count as you find but it all went a bit too quickly and all 12 were found in no time (the big ones!!). In an ideal world I would have explained to count as you collect loudly so the next person who found would then have to should out the next number. I always like to make counting activities beyond 10. 10 is such a definative number and we are sort of brainwashed into a count to ten mentality. There is a school of thought now which recognises that in fact counting over the decade should be an ideal for real life contexts i.e 12 hours in a day, dozen, 12 months of the year etc. Children can sometimes find this hard later on so it’s something to start early. TBH I never did this with Lewis though (or many play based learning activities) and his maths is on fire!!! His school teachers have obv taken on my short fall there!!! Skills- observation, counting, out door play, finding, number order. Language- numbers 1-12, count on, count back, find, search, under, below, above, add on one more.

cause and effect

5. Last but not least, this took 1 second to set up. a wee tub, a splash of fairy and water. I set this out so I could make brekkie in peace and she did it for way longer than I needed. Sometimes it’s just the simple ones that are the biggest hits eh? Skills- cause and effect, water play, fine motor skills. Language to use- bubbles, turn the lever, see the water whisking, thats making bubbles, the soap and water mixed make bubbles, splash, wet, water, mix, blend.

I’m back to school tomorrow so my holidays are officially over (although I am off Wed-Sun really!!). Looking forward to planning some exciting learning activities and sharing anything successful for any SAHM who do some first level home schooling.

If you don’t want to wait for my weekly round up, follow me on Instagram for daily updates @mum_in_the_city

Family Fun at Fairmont St Andrews

Before you read you must know THIS IS NOT AN AD. I absolutely gush in this review because it literally was flawless in every way. I couldn’t recommend a stay enough.

It’s been a week now since we checked in for our Christmas stay at Fairmont St Andrews and Im still smiling ear to ear every time I think of it.

Since the birth of Charlotte, over 2 years ago, we decided that every second Christmas we would spend away from home. Not only because its nice to have someone else cook and clean up on the big day but its also nice to just let the kids play, uninterrupted, all day with their new toys.

This year we decided to head to Fairmont St Andrews, so here is the rundown on our family Christmas staycation:

Arrival- after what seemed like an age of a drive, broken up with spat of Lewis unwittingly belting out Christmas ballads (he had his earphones in!) and Charlotte throwing up, we arrived at the hotel. We didn’t realise you could drive to the door and unload your bags for them to be taken to your room on arrival so instead parked the car and lugged it all (that’s what we usually do so clearly this was a bit fancier than the likes of us are used to!). We went to the desk, door opened by concierge, and checked in within 5 minutes seamlessly. The guy who checked us in (can’t remember his name but he had glasses and an accent?) was so lovely, gave us great advice and also provided us with much needed mulled wine and mince pies (nice touch Fairmont!).

The lobby and reception area itself is quite lavish. You are greeted by a large, roaring fire and rich furnishings with sets a festive and warm atmosphere.

We had booked to see Santa within 20 minutes of check in so it was a quick dash to the room to drop the bags. The hallways were well maintained and the room itself was nice. We had opted for a family room- 2 double beds- and although we had asked for a travel cot it wasn’t there but it was no problem for the housekeeping team who had it up to the room and set up by the time we arrived back from seeing Santa, again excellent service (especially for a stressed Mum on Christmas eve). Nothing felt like it was a problem. The bathroom was stunning. I always feel smug if we land a room with a nice bathroom. I know that sound really rank and a bit weird but there’s nothing better than a wee bubble bath and well lit mirror for preening after a hard day with the kids. This bathroom did not let down. It had a real Gatsby style/ Art deco feel with grey marble, a free standing bath and large separate shower/ wet room style unit. The toiletries were good too, although not the best I’ve seen or used (we once got Elemis at a hotel Dubai!). I had pre ordered chocolate dipped strawberries for our arrival (because I’m fancy like that and actually didn’t realise I had added them on when I was booking- another needless expense, can you tell I’m really bad with money?).

Lets get to the main deal though, Santa. OH MY BLOODY GOD!!!!! ^^^^^ look at this guy. I think he actually is Santa. Where did you find this guy Fairmont?? I think he could be the best Santa I have ever seen, including the big man from Santa Clause the movie. The absolute joy on Lewis’ face as he sauntered down the hallway to the gingerbread house (Santas formal abode whilst in St Andrews). Being the ripe old age of 8, Lewis was teetering on the edge of belief. Well this has definitely bought us another year of magic. What made this even more special, Santa knew Lewis’ name before we even got within 5 steps of the house and greeted us with a warm and genuine smile. Charlotte, as you can see, was absolutely mesmerised and (unlike all our other Santa visits this year- dancing, parties etc) never even cried. The personalised Fairmont teddies were a lovely touch.

In terms of activities for kids, this place has it nailed. There was a craft room, arcade style games room complete with soft play, giant chess board (outdoors) and a great pool. All the restaurants also offered reasonable priced children menus with variety. The kids had an absolute blast.

The pool and spa was stunning. It was also dimly lit which was nice as I hadn’t bothered with a pre staycation diet and have been carrying an extra few tyres this season (clearly won’t be posting swim pics- monkey covers eyes emoji!). The showers has dispensers for shampoo, conditioner and body wash which was really helpful and they showers were really powerful. The changing rooms were clean, didn’t have soggy hairy floors and smelled nice. The pool area was clean, peaceful and well equip. There was the main pool, kids pool and a jacuzzi. There was also a steam/ sauna but unfortunately Steven and I didn’t really get a chance to enjoy that :(. I heard some people complain about having to book a slot but I preferred that because it wasn’t over crowed, the maintenance to keep it clean was clearly manageable and it was a good mix of family vibes but relaxing.

Food- because food is life!!!! We had booked for breakfast both mornings, a meal in the st Andrews Grill one night and the Italian the other night. All were excellent. Breakfast was on par with the likes of Cameron House (wish that place was still going, so sad!) with hot items, cereals, pancakes, omelette station and pastry area. Immense and the favourite part of my stay personally (pig face). The serving staff were also so attentive and offered hot drinks straight away. The hot chocolate with marshmallows in the breakfast lounge is da bomb!

We didn’t really eat lunch as we slept so late and had early dinners. however, Steven did order a BLT from the bar (food in there was a bit OTT pricey for a bar meal, even for a 5* hotel?!). It looked amazing though and Stevens smug face confirmed that it tasted just as nice. Huge portion.

Diner on the first night was amazing. We had the prawns to start, which were tasty. Followed by fillet steak with double cooked fries and soy and chill broccoli, which was so delicious. For desert I had sticky toffee pud which was quite nice but really heavy (possibly because I had gone wild on the started and main?). Our waiter, Max, was so professional and attentive. He took time out to show Lewis the telescope with views over the water and was brilliant with him. Dinner on the second night was the Italian. I had read some questionable reviews on this so was a bit nervous but I really shouldn’t have been. It was your standard pizza/ pasta set up but with nice touches. Great food, great staff and quick service. Brilliant.

One of the nicest things about this stay was that on Christmas morning, whilst we were at breakfast, housekeeping had been in and had taken away all our wrapping paper/ decanted boxes/ cardboard/ waste. I was absolutely ecstatic when I came back to that- totally never expected that at all (I actually forgot to leave a tip for housekeeping and feel so so bad because of that. Won’t forget next time!!!).

All in all, this was the best family short stay that we have had. The service was beyond expectations, the atmosphere/ decorations were magical and even the smallest details were on point. Really deserves its 5 star status. My only regret was that we didn’t get longer to explore as Im sure there was much more to explore at this world class resort.

Well done Fairmont, St Andrews and Scotland for possessing such a fine establishment catering for families. See you next year!!

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

We had a lovely time last night at our friends wedding and I’m delighted to say i’ve found a drink that gives me no hangover- Jack Daniels and Coke. What an excellent way to bring in the bells!

I feel fresh as a daisy today and am looking forward to embracing all that 2019 has to offer.

Im not one for resolutions, Im a bit of a ‘live for the moment’ type of gal so I wont profess to having a list of ‘This year I will…’ however I am going to start the year as I mean to go and refresh the things I strived for this year ‘recycle, enjoy nature and play’.

They are multifaceted topics alone but together I hope to bring these together to create stimulating, fun and challenging learning opportunities for Charlotte.

I want Charlotte and Lewis to grow up with an understanding, appreciation and gratitude for the world around them. With that in mind I am going to try and educate them about the beauty of the world and develop a problem solving approach to real life problems. Contextual learning and developing transferrable skills are a great way of solidifying learning. Play and creative approaches to learning make it fun and give the kids more to look forward to.

I hope you enjoy sharing the next year with me (if you intend to do so) and in return I hope to share a full, fun and fruitful range of learning experiences.

Happy New Year or as we say Lang May Yer Lum Reek 🙂

Twixmas activities for the littles

so, as a follow on to my ‘relax its Twixmas’ post, I thought I would write a wee blog post about some little effort, fun and stimulating activities for you to enjoy with (or not with) your little.

Here’s what we have been getting up to this week (whilst i’ve been in pyjamas :D):

  1. Card Collages- Use your Christmas cards to create nice collage art or gift tags ready for next year. This is a great idea for letting your wee one practice cutting skills (its really tricky for them so this is create for cutting different shapes/ directions), glueing and getting creative. Skills– cutting, glueing, fine motor skills, design, shape and size. Language to use- remember to talk about the size and shape of cuttings, matching where possible and you could even order by shape or colour.
  2. Chocolate treasure hunt– this is a lovely one I seen on Instagram (@fiveminutemum) and involves getting the kids outside (although could be done indoors) using up all your left over chocolate coins. Dot them about and sit back as you let the kids explore their space, remember to tell them how many so they can count as they go. To up-level this you could add letters onto the back of the coins with a sharpie and then once all collected have the kids see how many words they can make (or sound out the letter sounds for the very littles). Skills- problem solving, outdoor play, team work, sounding out and letter recognition, counting. Language to use– up-level key words like find to search, discover, track and trace. talk about where the coins might have come from, who could have hidden them, what words could be made, are there any new words you could make together? OR sit back and enjoy the 10 minutes downtime during Twixmas??
  3. Play-doh monsters- this is a great activity to use some of the copious amounts of Play doh you probably got. Although it can be messy (if trampled into the carpet) its great for little fingers and lots of laughs. if you have one of those mini wipe clean white board then you can write out a mini success criteria. Obviously if the little is little they cant read it so this could be a nice opportunity to discuss and create this verbally together and even use pictures to draw your success criteria. It’s a great way for your little to remember what they need to be successful in the challenge and develops good habits for future learning. Cut up some pipe cleaners, crack out the bobbly eyes and get out the sequins, you’re creating a monster. See how many monsters you can make. An example- I can add three legs, I can add 4 eyes, I can add 8 stars. Skills– fine motor skills, cutting, counting, following instruction, manipulation, colour, shape, creativity. Language to use- squishy, soft, cold, moist, press, bend, leg, arm, eyes, mouth, push, pull and count.

4. Make some Cards baubles for next year (good gifts for the Grandparents 😉 )- use coloured card and draw around a small bowl to create your template. decant some coloured shapes (i just cut these small from card), sequins, tissues paper and any other left overs you have. Set these out with your glue sticks and scissors (left your wee one cut out some festive images from old Christmas Cards). This was a great one for allowing your self some relax time on the sofa whilst dipping in and out of the activity. Skills- glueing, fine motor skills, cutting, concentration and shape recognition. Language to use– small, large, little, big, left, right, opposite, triangle, square, circle, rectangle, round, flay, colour, sparkle, shiny, bright etc.

5. Toys- Last but not least let the kids crack out all their Christmas toys. I know this sounds obvious but, if you’re anything like me, you might have that extreme need to chase after them tidying as you go. The mass of toys and clutter seems so overwhelming sometimes but they are only young once, I need to remind myself of this constantly. I will always (hopefully) have a house but what I wont have is a home full of laughter, fun and enthusiastic little babes.

Enjoy the festivities and hope you enjoy these short but sweet activities. Feel free to share or sign up below for updates.

Find me on Instagram @mum_in_the_city for daily stories, mum chat, child chat, play to learn activities and general banter.

Merry Twixmas (…and self care)

So i’ve researched the term Twixmas and I came up blank?

Apparently all I can find is that it means the period between Christmas and New Year. Bit disappointing really, thought i’d find an exciting background there. Maybe its based on the box of celebrations, all the good choices have been eaten by the 26th so all that’s left are the Twix? If you know please share in the comments.

Anyway, with the non wisdom shared, i’ve been using the last few days to really switch off. I’ve barely crossed the threshold, the washing was piled high and we were dining on chocolate and mince pies.

Today we decided to blow off the cobwebs and so, whilst Steven did a few jobs, I got on with gutting the house (Hinchmas style). I even started to tackle the HUGE washing load (2 x coloured washed, 3 x darks and 2 x whites). With that all in hand we all headed out on a bike ride.

Lewis got one of these Mini Rocker bikes. It is actually like a little clown bike. Huge oversized handle bars and a tiny tilted seat. Charlotte got a balance bike, really cheap from Groupon, but we opted for the old Micro Mini Scooter for ease. It was actually so, so nice to be out. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, the air was crisp and we never even argued (well maybe a wee snipe here and there).

Whilst walking I just felt so appreciative of all we have. Its so easy to just focus on the negative and towards the end of the year here I have been feeling burnt out, disconnected from Steven and irritable with the kids. I realised that this Twixmas period has honestly been food for the soul. A real chance to just completely chill out. No deadlines, no stress, no schedules and no hassle. Im not usually one for staying in my PJs until 10am but when things are always so full on why not just be good to yourself?

Being a mum is a hard job; looking after the kids (sometimes the OH), keeping on top of the house, working, looking after pets and trying to scrape any time to yourself. Today made me realise the importance of taking the foot off the gas and remember that self care is so important for a happy and healthy life. Remember the saying ‘happy mummy, happy baby’.

I am now going to give a new meaning to Twixmas- the time in between Christmas and New Year where you make no plans, stay in pjs until 10 and put everything to one side and completely relax.

Enjoy xx

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Instagood

With so much pressure on life through the means of social media and the relentless posts about the best 2% of everyones life I was all set to leave social media for good. I felt it was actually negatively impacting on my mental health. The pressure to stay perfect, be the perfect parent, go the the right events, like the right photos- who has the time for this in a normal world?

Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of celebrating the genuine (non boasty) successes of my friends and family and hearing about what they have been up to but when every post is talking about how amazing their gifted and gorgeous child is it actually gives me the boak.

We all love our children but lets be honest- none of us/them are perfect. To portray this to other parents is just BS. Its not only BS but puts a silent pressure on others to conform to what may be perceived as perfect parenting- putting you child down for every club know to man, signing them up for 3 instruments, reading them Peace and War and generally indulging them in every past time known to man and beast with the view to flaunting your childs fabulousness over FB. All of our children are unique and amazing in their own way and as a parent its for you to know that. If you child is a spelling wizard and your sons friend has severe dyslexia how do you think that will make her feel? She certainly isn’t going to ‘buzzing’ that your child aced his test, she’s more than likely going to worried sick about whether her child felt shit at getting 2/10 (again).

We have probably all been guilty of it (me included) so I’m making a conscious effort to not become intoxicated in my own exuberance.

With this being said I was on a mission to dig deep into the cleaning cupboard and give social media one last chance, in the form of Instagram. I was on the hunt for cleaning tips and the elusive @theorganisedmum.

When last I wrote I was taking up the cleaning mantle. Following in the sparking footprints of the greats such as @Mrshinch and @littlemissmops. The thought of relishing in minke’d surfaces and Zoflora would have been laughable to me, even as little as 3 weeks ago.

I have a cleaner who comes fortnightly and until 2 weeks ago this always seemed enough- to keep my floors and bathroom clean was good enough for me.  I could cope with the rest of the minor cleaning aspects and happily cleaned with distain.

Well, since my introduction to the fabulous world of Instagram and the cleaning sensations sweeping my feeds I have never felt so enthused and motivated to clean. Not to sound like a complete saddow but I’m actually loving life.

I know this sounds crazy but keeping my house clean has given me a new purpose. I feel like when the house is clean, the drawers organised and dinner in the slow cooker I am winning at life. I honestly love it! I never thought the sound of a new Zoflora scent or finding Bar Keepers Friend in liquid form would give me so much joy but little by little its taking over my life. The negative connotations about perfectionism from Social Media has disappeared. I know, I know… an oxymoron I hear you cry? How could cleaning my house, organising and learning with my child make me feel less pressure to oblige to these societal demands? I HAVE NO CLUE. I feel no pressure I just do as I see! Its not fake its just fulfilling for some really strange reason.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been some downsides. I now feel OBSESSED with disinfecting everything, I had an allergic reaction to a product (still unknown) which caused an elephant man effect on my face and I am sacrificing some of my free time (but to be honest I would most likely have been napping/ eating my way through a packet of biscuits so prob a good thing that!).

Not only has this Intagram inspired cleaning craze impacted on the cleanliness of my home but its also given me a lease for life in different things. Im following fellow mummy bloggers (who talk real life and shitty nappies as opposed to superstar kids), teachers and craft minded individuals. Im taking part in learning through play related activities with Charlotte and its meaning I’m spending far more quality time with her. I feel like Instagram has not only inspired me to clean but also to be a better Mum and teacher.

So, to sum it all up… Instagood: bloggers, pics, ideas and no BS. Facebook not so good: to many free characters to post and talk absolute BS.

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Hinching the home

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So after reading so much about Mrs Hinch and this cleaning craze sweeping every corner of the UK I thought I better get my ass in gear and see what all the fuss was about.

One minute I was checking out her instagram and the next I was following every man and his mop. I finally get it!!

It is so addictive and theraputic watching the before and afters and even all the in betweens. The tips, tricks and all the bargs to be had are hard to resist.

The more I watch the more addicted I become and with this in mind its no wonder my new favourite shops are B&M and Home Bargains.

Ive been intoxicated by the smell of bleach, cleaners, minky’s and Zoflora. the more I watch the more i strive for perfection in my own home. I’ve got the bug… not that bug… the cleaning bug!!

There is nothing I have been enjoying more than a deep clean and sanitisation. What has happened to me? From shake n’ vaccing the carpets to FC (fabric conditioning for those in the biz) and water in a bottle to save my ironing (not that I did any to start with).

As I am only working 2 days per week now I feel like its a good time to put in some elbow grease, clean the sh*t out of the house and try to be a super Mum (thats really hard to do when your trying to clean with a 2 year old stuck to your foot).

I might not be aceing the latter but I’m doing A-O-K on the first. Im going to use my Inst account to document my journey, stealing tips from all the good cleaning instas I can find.

Wonder how long this will last 🙂

The Terrible Twos

Roll on round 2… 6 years apart. The last time I dealt with terrible twos I honestly cant remember what I did, said or how I parented and now I’m thinking its because its was such a bloody nightmare that my subconscious has blocked it from my memory.

Well, that’s Charlotte FINALLY HIT. Yes, like every other baby she had her spats of random outbursts but nothing could have prepared me for the other night.

It was my mother in laws 60th and I, being the great daughter in law that I am, decided to have a little shin dig in the house for the immediate famalam.

Things were going great, timings right for the food, drinks flowing, kids playing nicely and then boom. Knee deep in sausage rolls I could hear Charlotte upstairs in my sons room. Doesn’t sound too bad except from the fact, whilst trying desperately to be a cool Mum and knowing Lewis wasn’t a big sweets fan, I had given Lewis a sweet drawer.

By the time my mother in law got up there Charlotte was stuffing her face with any and every sugar treat she could lay her sticky little fingers on. With this in mind I decided to let her burn off that excess sugar rush with a late night. Oh my was I wrong.

Bad move Mum!!!

By the time things were winding down (8pm because come on I’m not that good a host) Charlotte was 1.5 hours over her bedtime and still running about like a crazed banshee.

Surrounded by a room of family (Stevens side) with me trying sheepishly to dress Charlotte into her pjs she had a record breaker meltdown. When I say meltdown I mean full scale rage mode.

Because I wasn’t expecting it I actually had no idea what to do. I ended up trying to carry her into my room, away from prying eyes, until I could work out how I was going to parent this. Of course I started off with the ‘restorative chat’ but she couldn’t hear a word I was saying through the screaming, I tried the cuddle to calm- nope, I tried the silence trick- good try and literally one black eye and burst lip later I lost it and just put her into her cot.

Whilst this fiasco was going on everyone cleaned away the party and prepared to leave, so hey not all so bad?

Yes I looked like I had been assaulted and yes I probably looked like a terrible parent however, it did get me thinking. Imagine if she does this in public where this is no ‘cot’ safety net? I have no clue what the best strategy for parenting in this situation is? I know the situation was triggered by sugar and a late night (something which will not be happening again I hope) but I’m no fool- this is the tip of the ice berg and I fully expected these irrational explosions to happen a bit more regularly over the next year.

Another unexpected development in mumming is that Charlotte has started stripping down in our house (and others) and asks “look at my botty?” or “wanna see my tummy?”. Now I know she hasn’t been exposed to anything unsavoury and this is just innocent child fun however it freaks me out a little. I found it really funny the first few times but now I’m panicking that this happens and causes an awks situation???

What I need to know is- what has worked for you? Give me your tips.

I can trial these per meltdown/strip and try and find the best to share. I know each child is different but surely these is a parenting style that can help calm a child down, let them feel listened to whilst also showing a model for how to act? Am I asking for too much?

Help a Mum out!!

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