Tropical butterfly house – A mummy & daughter morning

Over the last few weeks and particularly over the last few days I’ve noticed a slight change in K’s attitude. She has gone from being a happy-go-lucky pleasant little girl to a tantrum throwing, emotional little terror! I feel myself lucky that I think I skipped the whole “terrible twos” stage as K has always being a dream to look after. I loved spending time with her. But recently, her little outbursts, her tantrums and general attitude has been slacking slightly. So much so that I’ve been counting the hours down to bedtime every night and thanking the lord that the day was over. I do genuinely think this is a little stage she is going through especially since we are nearly hitting the “threenager” milestone and I’m sure it will pass as quick as it came on. (Please, for the love of all things sweet, let it pass soon) That said, I am also aware that there has been a lot of adjustments in our household of late. One being the arrival and sudden illness of D which takes a lot of our time up and attention away from K who is used to being the centre of attention in our universe. Therefore I arranged a morning where it was just me and K again, like old times. It was me giving her my full attention and the morning being all about her. Which, both she and I absolutely loved.

I left D with grandparents for the morning and I took K to the Tropical butterfly house wildlife and falconry centre in Sheffield. We are really fortunate as this little gem of a place is about 15minutes away from where we live. It’s basically what it says on the tin. It’s a tropical butterfly house which is situated on large grounds within a wildlife and falconry centre. It is home to lots of animals including Lemurs, Meerkats, Wallaby’s and Otters and also has farm yard animals and a falconry area which houses owls, ravens, parrots and other birds of pray. The butterfly house is a warm tropical hut which has butterflies and reptiles within it. The grounds are lovely and there are some decent nature trails within it where you can spot local wildlife and different species of birds. There is also an outdoor play area and splash zone but it was far too cold today to experience those! It is such a good day out. We only spent the morning there as we were on a time restraint but you could quite easily spend the day there and it enables you to purchase food and drink within their café or there is an indoor and outdoor picnic area if you want to bring your own packed lunches. They also give you a timetable of what is happening throughout the day including different talks and animal feeding times. It costs £9.75 for adult entry and £8.50 for child entry (over 2yrs old). In all honesty, I do think it’s worth £9.75 for an adult but I think it’s slightly expensive for a child admission. Most Zoos and wildlife centres charge a fraction of the price for children and most places allow under 3’s free admission. It can make it quite an expensive day if there are two adults and two or more children visiting. But that’s just my opinion.

Watching the parrots

Watching the parrots

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A working ant within the butterfly house

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Feeding the fish

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Trying to spot the butterflies in the tropical house

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It was too cold to play in the outdoor play area but we did sneak a quick ride on the bull

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There is a lot of food and drink to choose from in the café. Katie is enjoying a children’s meal box

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The Meerkats were her favourite but it was very windy outside!!

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I think they thought I had food!!!

Overall, both K and I had a fantastic morning. She loved seeing all the animals and butterflies. It was nice to spend some quality mummy-daughter time and in all honesty it was much needed by both of us.  I have made a promise to myself to spend some alone time with her on a more regular basis and just touch base with her a little bit more as it is quite easy to let every day life become the focus of everything. It’s also hard when a lot of my focus and attention is based around D at the moment.

How do you all cope when there is more than one child to focus on? Do you spend time with each child individually? I’d love to hear what you think. Feel free to leave me a comment!

XOXOXO

Being the parents of a critically ill child

I was in two minds whether or not to publish a post like this as it is still a very raw subject. I’ve edited it so many times and hovered over the “publish” button with doubt. But with the aim of this blog being a memory, this is still apart of our journey as a family. It was a time in our life where we were the most vunerable, where we saw each other at our weakest and a time where we needed each other the most. That’s because we experienced something no parent ever wants to go through.

We had the awful experience of nearly loosing our child.

I have skipped a lot out from this experience due to the length of the post but the memories (however bad they were) are still stay with me.

D is now 17 weeks old, and a happy thriving 17 week old boy he is. He’s such a little charmer and a complete picture of health. But this wasn’t always the case. D came into the world a healthy (albeit in a slightly dramatic way – that will be for another post) little boy all 7lb 9oz of him. We were absolutely over the moon with him and K relished being a big sister. We brought him home and the first 3-4days were a haze of newborn craziness. On day 5 of his little life, looking back (it wasn’t particularly obvious at the time) he was very sleepy (I say this wasn’t obvious because most newborns spend their days sleeping) he never cried (really- he didn’t) and never really wanted food. I was desperately trying to breastfeed at the time and D really struggled to latch on. No amount of persuasion would get him to latch and for fear of him refusing the breast completely we opted to feed him via a cup until he was established. It would take him around 30-40mins to feed 3oz of breast milk from a cup which we thought at the time was odd but put it down to him being a bit lazy. When we spoke to health professionals about all his little “quirks” especially him not crying or waking they just reassured me that he was just a “content baby”. This went on for a few days and my mothering instinct alarm bells were starting to ring. So when we went to the midwife for our 10day check up we insisted that D was checked over. As it was, the midwife agreed that something wasn’t right especially as he had lost weight since day 5 and sent us to the local children’s hospital for D to be looked at. First impressions from all the staff was that D had not been eating much therefore his blood sugar levels were low resulting in him being lethargic. Not an ideal diagnosis but one that was relevantly easy to treat. We were instantly admitted with a view for D to have some fluids then to be discharged home. The next 48hrs were filled with D having blood test after blood test to determine why he was so lethargic as they believed that his low blood sugar wasn’t only to blame. For the sake of this post (and the fact that I don’t want it to be 10 pages long) I will skip a lot of the medical tests they were doing.

On the 4th night of our hospital stay around 1am, Dylan became even more unwell than he already was and the Drs took him away to be examined. After what felt like a lifetime, a doctor came in to my room and devastatingly told me that some of D’s blood results had come back earlier that evening and it had showed that he had liver failure caused by an unknown infection.

Coming from a nursing background, I understood that this was extremely serious. The first thing I could think to do was ask the doctor if my baby was going to die. The honest answer? It was that she really didn’t know.

I was heartbroken. I was hysterical. I couldn’t think straight. I felt angry. Angry that this was happening to us. Angry that my poor defenceless 2 week old baby was suffering like this. Angry that it wasn’t me going through it instead.

We were immediately transferred to a hospital that had a liver speciality but this was in Leeds almost 50 miles from where we lived. Thankfully there is a charity called The Sick Childrens Trust which provided us with accommodation for the time we were there rather than trailing back and forth to Leeds from Sheffield. We will be forever grateful that there are charities out there that provide such service. I don’t know how we would have coped without that support.

D was instantly brought to the High Dependency Ward where the consultants made the decision to transfer him to the Intensive Care Ward and put him on a life support machine to help D concentrate on fighting the infection rather than concentrating on breathing. No parent should ever have to witness their baby hooked up to so many wires and machines. We spent our days there continuously watching the monitors, making sure his vital stats were stable and that he was stable in himself. I cried every single day. I cried because my baby was ill, I cried because I was away from my  daughter who is only 2 years old and although she was safe with grandparents and visited us most days I desperately wanted to be at home with her doing the normal mum stuff, I cried because I felt guilty that I couldn’t be with them both at the same time when they both needed me. I cried because I felt cheated of those precious new born days where all you do is sit and snuggle and bond and I cried the hardest because with everything that was going on I couldn’t make it better. I couldn’t make my son better. We were sat down over the weekend that D arrived in Leeds and were told that the next 24-48hrs were critical and to brace ourselves for the worst.

On life support in intensive care.

On life support in intensive care.

I genuinely thought my life was over.

After a lot of investigation, It turned out that D had caught the Type 1 Herpes Virus which generally comes from a cold sore. The most frustrating part of this whole scenario is that myself nor my husband have ever had a cold sore. Nor did any of our visitors. How unlucky is that!?

His big sister visited him nearly everyday

His big sister visited him nearly everyday

Thankfully after a couple of days on intensive care, D was taken off  the life support machine and transferred to a ward and (after  jumpy start where he was transferred back to HDU for a few days) gradually made a full recovery. It took 3.5 weeks in hospital, which is no time at all given the seriousness of his condition. We were (and are) so lucky. We are so grateful that he’s here to tell the tale. We are blessed that he made a speedy recovery as we were told on many occasions by many doctors that we might still be in hospital at Christmas. How did he make such a quick recovery? I have no idea. He is a fighter. He is my fighter. He was determined that he was going to be apart of our family. Someone up there was looking down on us and helped us win our miracle.

We will be forever in the doctors debt, they were truly fantastic, knowledgeable and skilled human beings. Thanks to them I have my life, my soul and my family of 4.

All smiles. The day before we were discharged from hospital at 5 weeks old.

All smiles. The day before we were discharged from hospital at 5 weeks old.

 

XOXOXO

Potty training hints and tips

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I was going to write a post on “how to potty train” but realised that this wouldn’t be helpful to anyone given that everyone’s potty training experience is different. So rather than a “this is what we did” post I am going to write down hints and tips that I felt were useful to me and helped K to become dry during the day.

It’s taken K around two weeks to become dry during the day, granted we still have the odd accident but that is usually in the evening time when she’s starting to become a little tired from her day. So far (touch wood) we haven’t had an accident whilst out and about. But I am prepared for it if and when this happens.

Just as a note – K isn’t dry at nap time or during the night just yet so for these times she still wears a nappy and it comes straight off the minute I get her up.

My potty training hints and tips

  1. Make sure they are ready to potty train. This sounds so obvious but actually I find so many people say “Oh, s/he’s two years old now, I must potty train” – no. It really doesn’t work like that. Some children are going on 3yrs old when they are ready to train. They will let you know they are ready by telling you when they are having a wee (or a poo) and that’s usually a good indication that they are ready. Trying to train them any earlier will leave you both stressed out and it will make it an unsuccessful attempt. If you try and train when they seem ready but they just don’t crack it, don’t worry. Leave it a few weeks (or months) and try again. I tried training K a few weeks before Christmas and it just didn’t work so I stopped and left it until after Christmas and by this time she grasped it much easier.
  2. Try and clear your schedule and stay in for the week. Granted, this doesn’t work for everyone and was my idea of hell but it really did work for us. There were no distractions, no moments of “Goodness me she needs the toilet NOW and I don’t have one to hand”, no public puddles and no stressed out toddler.
  3. Ask them if they need a wee every 15/20 minutes. You end up sounding like a broken record, but asking them regularly makes them remember that they need to go.
  4. Put them on the potty every 30-40mins even if they say they don’t need to go. More often than not they did actually need to go they just didn’t know it and even if they didn’t need it, it gets them used to sitting on the potty.
  5. Bribes, bribes and more bribes. Am I a bribing mum? Yes. Am I ashamed of it? No. Does it work? Yes. Offering out rewards (or bribes – however you see it) works wonders. It gives the child something to aim for and makes them feel like they’ve achieved something. Tailor the reward (bribe) to your child whether that be a little chocolate, a sticker or a new book/toy. We had daily rewards of a little chocolate every time K successfully went on the potty and then at the end of the 1st week we went to the toy shop and she chose a small toy for being such a big girl. Those treats have completely trailed off now because using the potty or toilet is just the norm but it really did work for us in the beginning.
  6. Have a potty in every room. We bought K a potty with a high back support to make it more comfortable when she sits on it and this is her main potty in the house but I also went to a £1 shop and bought 4 or 5 cheap plastic ones and placed them in different rooms in our house because I found that when she needed to go, she needed to go NOW. Having a potty in the room she was in helped to reduce accidents. I also bought a child training seat that fits over the normal toilet so she can practice using the big toilet as well as the potty.
  7. If you go out – bring plenty of spare pants/trousers/tops/socks. You will have an accident at some point. Don’t be caught off hand when this happens.

So these are my hints and tips. I hope they were useful. I’d love to hear if you have any hints or tips that worked for you. Let me know in the comment box below.

 

XOXOXO

10 things I have learnt about becoming a parent

I think there comes a time in every parents life (both mum and dad) when they think about what their life was like before they had children. I won’t lie, I have thought about what my life was like pre-children many a time. Especially at 2am when D is screaming his head off for milk or the time I put a book in the fridge because I was so sleep deprived (true story!). You sometimes mourn the fact that you can’t be foot loose and fancy free anymore and those 11am lie ins on a Sunday morning are forever gone. But with all that, becoming a parent is something you will never EVER regret and a process which teaches you more about yourself and life than any amount of studying, travelling or working will ever do.

Here are my top 10 things I have learnt since becoming a parent myself.

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  1. I am capable of infinite love – People talk about love all the time. Whether it be in books on the TV or loving the taste of chocolate. But the level of love you experience when these tiny people come into your word is the most intense feeling you will ever have. It’s fierce, it’s overwhelming and its something that will never ever go away (no matter what they do in life or say) and your love only grows when you have more than one child.
  2. Guilt will become part of your daily life – This is something that, as a mum, I have come to accept. “Mum Guilt” is the worse kind of guilt because it comes with everything you do with your child. From feeling guilty because you told them off for being too giddy to feeling guilty because you forgot to bring their favourite toy out with you. It’s something that will follow you around like a bad smell. Learn to accept it, don’t dwell on it and (try) to move on.
  3.  You will go to the end of the earth to avoid the colour white – It is categorically impossible to own ANYTHING white when you have children. Don’t even try. It’s really not worth the hassle.
  4. You learn to have more patience – Something I have had to learn in great quantities since becoming a parent as I had very little of it PC (pre-children). You learn (frustratingly) that children will only go at their own pace and do things only they want to do. They ask the same question a GAZILLION times in a day and they will mess up the living room literally 5 seconds after you’ve just tidied up. It takes every ounce of your being sometimes to stop, breathe (count to 5) and be more patient with these little people, whom ultimately, are just learning to become their own individual.
  5. You will want to kill whichever idiot decided to invent felt tips – Something I am only just learning. K has just discovered the joy of felt tips and its something as a person with a cream sofa utterly despises. Don’t get me wrong, I love that K enjoys colouring but can we just stick to wax crayons or colouring pencils? Please?
  6. You will say/do/sing the most ridiculous things – As a parent there is nothing nicer in life than hearing the sound of your baby or toddler laughing. So if that involves you singing the “dingle dangle scarecrow” or “I’ve got a pimple on my bum” song whilst standing on one leg with your tongue out (in public) then so be it.
  7. It is important to take care of yourself – Again, something I am only just starting to realise. It is all so easy to put every ounce of your energy into keeping your children and husband happy whilst trying to juggle housework and family life that time for yourself is extremely limited. If I had a spare hour (ha) I would spend that doing something that helped everyone else but this year I am making more of an attempt to do something for me. That I enjoy. Whether that be having a hot bath, going to the gym or just catching up on sleep. Its for me and it’s my time. Taking time out for yourself helps you be a better mother and wife believe me.
  8. Life is too short – Babies are babies for about 2 seconds. Seriously. Toddlers are toddlers for around 5 minutes and before you know it these little people who depend on you so much and require everything from you are off to school. So let the house work lie, turn off the TV and your phone and spend time playing and cuddling your little ones before its too late. You will never ever get that time back again.
  9. Parenting is the hardest job you will ever do – I genuinely don’t care if you are an undercover MI5 agent cracking Da Vinci style codes, nothing is as hard as being a parent. Nothing. Both mums and dads will agree with this.
  10. You are happier than you have ever been in your life – As stressful, frustrating and utterly relentless as little ones are. You seriously wouldn’t change them for the world. They are the reason you get up in a morning, the reason you feel so content at the end of the day despite them having the most horrendous tantrum in the middle of Sainsburys  (Which you do learn to laugh about eventually) .  They are yours, you created them and they need you. There is no finer feeling in the world. Sitting down at the end of the day with a cuppa and my husband knowing that the little ones are safely tucked up in their bed (hopefully) sleeping soundly makes me the happiest person alive!

So, that’s my list. Are your lessons the same or have you experienced something completely different? I love to hear from you. Please feel free to comment below!

XOXOXO