The Blog

What I think and get up to.


Last week my sister graduated from university, with a 2:1 in Business Studies and Human Resources. As an older sibling, it felt somewhat weird to see this young woman, who I remember visiting in hospital hours after she was born, wearing a gown and mortar board. I felt a huge sense of pride seeing her hard work and commitment being rewarded with a degree certificate.

Graduation 1

It was yet another occasion where someone was missed. I felt a sadness that our mum wasn't there to witness how this once tiny bundle has positively flourished in to a strong, clever, bright young woman.

It would of course be easy to suggest that our mum's death scarred us. That we went off the rails because of it and to wallow in self-pity and anger at the unfairness of it all. And for many years, I did, without realising it.

For a short time it gave me a sense of determination. It was, after all, her death which became the trigger for me to get a job, to move out of the hostel and then meet my husband. However, it also gave me an excuse to be irresponsible. To do things which I never thought I would do, to largely wear a mask, making myself vulnerable only to those I trusted.

For a number of years I was plagued my fear and insecurity. I was paranoid that every little disagreement would see the husband leave me, call our relationship off. He deserved someone who knew, always, that they were loved and adored. Getting engaged, then married and then having a child all briefly helped but ultimately that voice would win, the one that tells me I am not good enough. Except now it changed.  Not only was the husband going to leave me, he would take Harry, I'd never see him again. Harry would grow to hate me, never know how much I love him. Maybe those naysayers were right and I haven't done my best to create a secure and loving environment for me. The mask of confidence and self-assurance is off in private.

More recently I have become insecure about my appearance. I have put on weight and whilst I am not overweight I am bigger than I would like to be. I took this picture of me at my sister's house last week.

Skirt from Joules, top from Warehouse
Skirt from Joules, top from Warehouse

Whilst people told me I looked nice, I didn't, still don't I suppose, believe them. I have found myself analysing this one over and over, pointing out the bits I am unhappy with. It's a strange place for me to be in as I have never really felt that I want to lose weight and I find myself working out ways to do so. I found myself comparing myself to my sisters, which is just silly because I am now in my early thirties and have a child (as well as having my mobility issues) whereas they are late teens and early twenties. I know before I had Harry my figure was very similar.

I am working on changing my perception of myself. A bit at a time I hope to have confidence that I have never had. To accept that I won't have the body I want but I can make the best of the one that I have. To realise that my husband does love me and works pretty darn hard to reassure me of that despite any difficulties we may have had. To prepare myself to be able to grab opportunities that come my way and not think I am not good enough or convince myself that I will fail. Most of all, to become the person I want to be.

My sister, that once small bundle wrapped in a blanket in our mother's arm, has proven that your past doesn't have to haunt you. Maybe I can finally do the same.

Disclosure: I was sent the skirt by Joules (which I love by the way!). The content in this post is my own thoughts and ramblings.

Long before the husband and I decided to start our own family, we discussed fostering or even adoption. I was in a place whereby I wasn't sure that I wanted my own child but felt that instead, we could offer a home for one or two of the many children who are in care. I knew people who had grown up in foster care and how much they valued those families. Even now, it is still something we will consider if we are ever in a better position in terms of housing (we only have a two bedroom flat).

If you’re considering foster care then there is a tremendous amount to consider and organise. However, one thing that might not have crossed your mind is exactly what type of foster care you feel is best. Some don’t actually realise that there are several types of foster care, all offering something a little different.

Here’s a quick rundown of the different types of foster care available.

Permanent Fostering

This is probably the type of foster care that springs to mind for most people but is very different to other forms. With permanent fostering (or long-term fostering) the foster family will look after child until they reach adulthood. This option is often preferred over adoption if the child still has strong links to the birth family.

However, the foster carers have no legal responsibility for the child at any point. This is slightly different in Scotland, where the carers can share responsibility with local authorities and the birth parents.

Foster Care

Short-term Foster Care

This is pretty self-explanatory and involves the foster family looking after the child for a short-term, usually a few weeks or months, whilst more permanent arrangements are put in place.

Emergency Foster Care

This is a little like short-term foster care but is for an even shorter length of time and may only be a few days. This can be at very short notice so the foster carers would need to be prepared to take a child in at pretty much any time. This may occur if the child needs to be quickly taken out of their home for whatever reason.

Private Fostering

This may sound a little odd to some, but private fostering involved the birth parents making private arrangements for their child to stay with someone who isn’t a close relative, usually for a period of more than 28 days. However, the local authority must be told about the arrangements and will still pay visits to check on the situation and the welfare of the child.

Remand Fostering

Remand fostering involves looking after a young person who has been placed under the care of a local authority by the courts. The young person would stay with the foster carers while they await court proceedings; this is usually on a short-term basis and provides an alternative to being in custody. The foster family will often be expected to work closely with youth justice officials.

Kinship Care

Quite simply, this is where a child is cared by someone they already know, probably a family member or close family friend. This is what my Uncle and Auntie have offered to my two younger sisters since our Mum died and enabled them to continue to grow up together as they have different Dads.

Parent & Child Care

This is a type of care that many people might not know about but can be incredibly beneficial. This is where a foster family takes in a child and parent (often the mother) and helps them prepare for the future.

It’s important that you’re fully informed about all aspects of foster care if you’re thinking about becoming a carer, so it’s always best to speak things through with professionals such as Capstone Foster Care to get a complete picture.

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.


Way back in March, Harry's nursery teacher told us she felt that he would benefit from a Speech and Language Therapy assessment (SLT). She asked our permission to refer him to which we agreed. Whilst we know what he says, she said that sometimes the staff struggle to understand what he is saying.

In all honesty, it came as a bit of a surprise to hear that they felt he needed it and we were told that it was more of a "just in case" measure, that it may well turn out that a SLT specialist would feel that there would be no need for intervention. Like most parents, we only want the best for our son, to feel that he is supported and so we agreed.

The teacher went on maternity leave and I was assured that there had been a smooth transition and open communication, having been present at a handover meeting involving both the outgoing teacher and incoming one. Months passed. Every few weeks one or the other of us checked in and an update was given, mainly that NHS resources in SLT are stretched, as they are across the service.

After chatting with Rachel from Confessions of a SAHM and hearing her experience of SLT, we decided to have a private assessment. Harry starts Reception in September and we wanted to be in a place to support him if needed. We felt frustrated that we were no further forward with regards to the school assessment.

After a bit of research, I contacted Child Speech. Within 24 hours I received an initial phone call and was advised that it sounded like Harry would benefit from an assessment at the very least. An appointment was made for the following week, which was yesterday.

Kate arrived promptly and immediately put all three of us at ease. She had a warm, friendly manner and we were quite impressed that Harry was not in the least bit shy as he has a tendency to take some time to warm to people usually. The assessment consisted of her showing Harry a series of pictures and asking him to tell her what was happening. As is usual for him, he adored being the centre of attention and every now and again deliberately said the wrong word to get a laugh out of us.

She was here for a good 1.5 hours and was really thorough. It would seem that Harry has a vast vocabulary and no issues at all with language and understanding, just as we thought but it's always nice to be reassured particularly if issues have been brought up. Whilst he does not say the "p" sound (even in isolation) he can say every other sound and clearly has the ability to say it since he makes similar sounds easily, albeit not always consistently. He also has a tendency to talk quickly, blending sounds together and making himself difficult to understand.

Kate suggested a few things we can do at home with Harry, such as placing items into a bag, pulling one out and getting him to tap out the number of sounds (and say them) in order to slow him down a little, putting sounds into context, picking a sound of the day to practise and a few other things. She is going to send us some resources to help, basically a series of pictures in which every word starts with the same sound. Effectively, it seems that Harry's brain simply needs a little re-training to use the correct sounds in context consistently.

She noted his willingness to learn, his extensive vocabulary and understanding and unusually long concentration span, even suggesting that he is a bright boy who just needs a little help in a small area.

I am so happy that we are currently in a position to be able to afford the assessment and any intervention sessions, had they been appropriate. I liked how we were advised that in Kate's opinion, there is no need for further sessions, although of course she would be happy to help if needed. As a private therapist, I am sure it would have been very easy for her to suggest differently. We will be sent a report early next week, with the school, Health Visitor, SLT team at the hospital and GP all being copied in.

We had such a positive experience and feel much more confident in our ability to support Harry as well as just a bit proud that someone had such nice things to say about him! Hopefully he will be talking as clearly as his peers before we know it!


Just yesterday I wrote about how we felt somewhat let down by Harry's nursery. We were upset that a referral for speech therapy made in March had not yet happened, that the NHS team seemed to be waiting on information from the school and yet the school had told us they were waiting on the NHS team based at the hospital. We were also somewhat annoyed that Harry's report seemed to suggest he is developmentally delayed and we had not been previously informed. All of this lead to me wondering whether we had made the right choice over school since Harry's nursery is attached to the school he will be attending and operates pretty much as a part of the school community.

Having emailed the Head teacher of the school on Tuesday afternoon, I received an apologetic response yesterday morning. The Head apologised for the confusion caused and had spoken to the SENCO who was trying to sort out what had happened with regards to the Speech and Language Therapy referral. She also said that the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) manager would speak to us with regards to Harry's report.

I was pleased to hear that my concerns were being taken seriously and there was an immediate attempt to resolve the situation. All we wanted was reassurance and we were pleased we seemed to have it although still concerned whether Harry's needs were being met.

As is normal, the husband took Harry to nursery on Wednesday afternoon, he was late coming back, I assumed that he had gone to the shop to get my lunch. It turned out that the EYFS manager spoke to him at drop off. Which would have been fine, if the husband had understood what she had said. He told me it mostly went over his head but it was warm and humid, she seemed flustered and rushed so he didn't want to clarify the things he hadn't understood. Instead I went to collect to Harry at 3.20 pm.

Harry's report was explained to me. The fact they had highlighted the age group 22-36 months and not 30-50 months merely meant that he had met all the criteria within the 22-36 months, that he is working at the 30-50 months level and, as the comments suggested, they have absolutely no concerns. They feel that to highlight the 30-50 months group would mean that his next teacher may not plan the right support, that perhaps he just needs a little more work to bring him up to that level and they did not want that to be missed in hand over to Reception.

Which all makes perfect sense I guess, once it was explained. It just made me wonder why this was not made clear in the report. The EYFS manager recognised that perhaps in future it may be worth explaining to parents and carers and seemed to understand the confusion we had.

We then moved on to the Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) referral. I was reassured that the school had believed that they have done what they should but that SENCO was working with the hospital to try to establish what went wrong, where there had been a failure of communication. As a result, the school have been promised a SLT therapist twice a week from September and Harry is to be prioritised. I was asked when our private speech therapy, assessment which I booked after getting frustrated at the lack of progress with Harry's assessment and after reading Rachel of Confessions of a SAHM post, was booked for and whether it was possible to cancel it. As it was booked for this morning, with less than 24 hours notice we would still have had to pay. The husband and I also decided that knowing where we stand and how we can help Harry was a huge priority to us. More on that another day.

It is safe to say that both the husband and I feel satisfied that the school are meeting Harry's needs. Yes, it is frustrating that there has been a loss of communication somewhere but I am happy that this has been (or at least is being) resolved. I am not often one who will speak up but I have discovered that where my son's education is concerned, I bounce into Mamma Bear mode, determined that he will get the best possible.

I have been impressed with how promptly the school addressed our concerns, particularly at what must be a busy time of year for them and feel confident over our choice of school once more. I also have no doubt that this will not be the last time I will need to discuss something that we are unhappy with but at least now I am confident that I can do it!


Then end of term is nigh and I can hardly believe than in two short months Harry will be starting Reception, full-time. I have no doubt that he will settle in easily although I naturally expect some level of tiredness for the first term or two. He already attends the nursery attached to the school 2.5 days a week, wears the uniform and enjoys going. He clearly thrives on going and asks every day what day it is, is excited when it is a nursery day, disappointed when it is not even though we do lots of things with him!

At the beginning of March we had a bit of a wobble after his outgoing nursery teacher informed us that she thought it would be worth Harry having a Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) assessment. Just before she left on Maternity Leave, she confirmed that she had made the referral and again reassured us that it was more of an early intervention "just in case" measure, than obvious cause for concern.

As the months passed and the new teacher settled in, I frequently asked if Harry was meeting expected levels and if there had been any progress with regards to the SLT referral. Each time I was reassured that the school were on top of it and that there were no causes for concern in terms of his development.

Having been frustrated at the lack of progress in terms of SLT intervention and not knowing whether further support was required, I have arranged a private speech therapist to come to our home for an assessment on Thursday morning. I was then advised by my Auntie to get in touch with the SLT team directly, to check if they had received the referral and whether they could give me an idea of when I could expect an assessment. I was pleased to receive a prompt response but disappointed when it quickly became clear that the school have been at fault (for want of a better word). I was informed that the original referral was not made until the end of May (remember, the first conversation was at the beginning of March) and that in June the SLT team had requested further information, which has yet to be forthcoming.

I was further surprised when last Friday I received his report "grading" Harry in all areas as at 22-36 months, having turned 4 years old at the beginning of May. These areas include (but are not limited to) "self-confidence and self-awareness", "making relationships", "health and self-care" "speaking" and "understanding". Whilst I understand that ANY school report, much less one made in nursery, cannot possibly cover all angles, I was, along with other people who know Harry well, quite literally shocked at him being graded as at BARE MINIMUM 13 months younger than he is. The comments are nothing but positive.

My husband and I both show an active interest in what happens while Harry is at nursery and regularly ask questions. I have voiced interest in becoming a parent governor, the husband was among the first of the parents to volunteer as a helper on a recent outing. We both feel that there have been ample opportunities, instigated by one or both of us for perceived issues to have been brought up before. Why wait until now?

I know I shouldn't worry but I do. Not so much that Harry is potentially delayed, I know children do things at their own pace and everyone loves and adores Harry, commenting on how polite and happy he is and at this moment in time, that is far more important to me  I am however concerned because this is the school he will be attending, I worry that this has given me an insight into the support and systems (or perhaps lack thereof) that are in place. I worry that we have made the wrong choice over school, perhaps we should have thought about things like this back in September when we put our application in. Things change and then we picked largely based on not wanting to have to uproot him yet again, something we still do not want to do.

I have emailed the headteacher, who I am sure will be none too pleased to receive my request for a meeting with a week left of term. I hope that we receive reassurance somehow, that my fears are somehow unfounded.

I am not in a place that I expected to be in. I want to look forward to the summer holidays, to be confident again in my choice of school. Instead I find myself fretting, concerned that my four-year old son's needs are not being met and wondering if he would be better catered for elsewhere.

Have you experienced a similar situation with your child? How did you handle it?


Regular readers may (or may not) have noticed that I have been a little quiet over here of late. I haven't really felt the love for the blog; I'm not really sure what it is. I suspect I need a change of direction, or perhaps simply to take some time out. I am no longer sure what I want to write about although I am starting to realise what I want to put less of on here.

Much like many bloggers, this started as a place for me. A sort of free therapy. At a time in my life when we had just moved to Bristol it was a time of uncertainty as we started getting answers to my illness, realised the impact of it, that the husband and I couldn't work. We soon went through a long, uncertain period of homelessness filled with reams of paperwork; paperwork for housing, for financial support from the state, appeals in both areas. We felt judged as parents and as people. Exhausting, stressful with lots of angry tears. Then came the getting the flat. Decorating with support from the blogging community. Feeling settled, content and pretty darn thankful.

Then earlier this year we had a couple of more periods of uncertainty. Uncertainty in our marriage, our family unit. When in days gone by I would have blogged through it, I had since "grown up", realised that whatever I said I would not be sharing the whole story, certainly not the husband's side, how then could I share that on here? Something so personal that I felt I needed to process myself but what of the husband; how would he feel? And, more importantly, would I say something that I'd later regret and never be able to take back. I may be able to delete the post, or the blog entirely but it could always be found. It made me question my honesty, my integrity and what that means to me personally as well as for my readers.

Now, we are happier than ever. Truly. Content. Our days are largely filled with fun and laughter. The positive attitude that got me through last year has come back. Of course, the nature of my health issues means there are more days when I cannot go outside than I can but I have realised that doesn't have to mean feeling sorry for myself or that I am missing out (although I am only human and still have them). I can listen to Harry retelling the fun he had at the park with Daddy, or how Daddy has taught him how to swing a golf club on the field or what about at nursery when one child hit another, again? When I am well enough I can absorb myself fully to going along and watching him laugh, hearing him cry out "Look at me mummy!". Dare I say even, that this more positive attitude has a physical benefit, I seem to be able to get out a little more often.

I am excited about the future. I am currently doing a couple of e-courses, I shall be applying to become a parent governor at Harry's school from September and in October I hope to start an Open University course. All of which I am hoping to help me get the confidence I need to start my own business from home. In September I have another meeting with my Neurosurgeon as well to find out what, if any, further surgery I need.

All of this combined, I hope means the future is looking optimistic. The husband is job hunting and I am sure that he will find the right job eventually. We want to support ourselves, our little boy and we want our self-respect back.

It has been a tough few years and I have a huge fear that things are about to go wrong again. So huge that it fills my waking thoughts and my dreams (or nightmares!) at night but hopefully, finally, things are on the up and this time for good.


I am a self-confessed book worm. Despite quite a few house moves in recent years I still have several boxes full of books that I don't want to get rid of. I can re-read books and I frustrate the husband with my frequent trips to charity shops to pick up more. It will, therefore, come as little surprise that one of my favourite things to do with Harry is to read to him.

It's far more than reading really. We explore books together, talk about the pictures and once the same book has been read a couple of times, he will join in, narrating the story with me and will often be found lying on his bed "reading" to himself, long after we have said goodnight. I am absolutely convinced that reading with him has helped his imaginative play. How could it not? It's also a pleasant sight when walking into his bedroom to discover that he is in fact simply "reading"; after all we all know that a quiet four-year-old usually spells disaster!

I was really excited to hear about a new reading scheme, run by Bristol company Education Umbrella, Routes to Reading which is being launched with a "Little Readers" day out. The event will be this Saturday 28 June at @Bristol. Set to feature children's authors Paul Stickland (Dinosaur Roar!), Michelle Robinson (How to Wash A Woolly Mammoth) and Jan Dobbins (Driving My Tractor) the free event will be held from 10.30 am to 3 pm and will have fun activities such as face painting, crafts, colouring and Peppa Pig is set to make an appearance!

We are very much looking forward to attending! Will any of you be going?

Keeping your home secure

Our home holds everything that is precious to us – that’s what makes it a home and not just a house. When we go on holiday, often on the last couple of days we start to yearn for the things we love, our own little comforts, back home. Also, within our digital age, our homes are now full of very expensive technical items, like plasma TVs, computers, tablets and so on. Ensuring our home is safe from intruders is a must. The Metropolitan Police gives a concise lowdown on how to keep your home secure. Each police force has its own section on this, which is available on their respective websites. But what are some basic steps we can take to minimise the risk of being burgled?

Fit an intruder alarm

Alarms are a long-term investment. They can be expensive so great consideration should be taken when buying one. Some alarms will come with a support package, but they can incur hefty costs as you are required to pay a service charge to the company that will attend if your alarm goes off. It may be a cheaper option to look at what is available on websites like as you’ll find various types of alarms and you can research them thoroughly on your own without a pushy salesman trying to force a sale!

Keep the garden secure

It is essential that a burglar is deterred from even setting foot on to your property. Make all access ways hard to get into – intruders want easy exits, so make sure your fencing is strong and secure, that your gates are locked when you are out or away, and finally that your sheds and storage areas are secure and locked.

Use lighting wisely

There are two ways to use lighting to deter a burglar: fit some good security lighting to your property – the infrared sensor lights are a good deterrent – although be careful you don’t aim the sensor on the local cats’ evening hangout point! These are bright and can flood a whole garden with light. You can also leave a light on inside the house, and draw the curtains in one bedroom. Timer switches may also be useful for switching a lamp on and off.

Securing windows and doors

These are obviously the means of entry for a burglar, so keep them secure. Your ground floor windows should be double glazed as single-pain glass can be smashed very easily. Do not leave your windows open when you go out, even if it’s only for a short time. Lock the windows when you go out – even if your windows don’t have them as standard, separate locks and alarms can be fitted. Of course you should always lock your doors when you go out, but also beware of distraction burglars. If someone you’re not expecting knocks at your door, lock your back door before you answer the front door.

Sign up to Neighbourhood Watch

You can take an active part in keeping your neighbourhood safe by joining your local Neighbourhood Watch scheme. If there isn’t one, look at starting one up – it’s a great way to get to know your neighbours and keep up to date with local policing issues. The easiest way to get in touch is through their website.

Disclosure: In collaboration with Ella Mason

Young children have a true talent for attracting dirt and grime, and it’s only after a certain age they recognise this. Establishing good hygiene habits in kids from a young age is really important, as they’ll carry those habits with them for the rest of their lives. Getting them engaged with a cleanliness routine doesn’t have to be hard work, either. As much as they love dirt and grime, kids often relish the chance to splash in soap and water. Here are a few tips to make their routine even more engaging.

One approach is to make things fun for the kids. This keeps them more interested in the topic and they’re more likely to stick to it. For instance, with oral hygiene, children should brush their teeth regularly, so you could invest in a colourful electric toothbrush. You can often find an electric toothbrush as part of tie-in merchandise from your children's favourite film and television characters, which will make this oral hygiene regime more fun and enjoyable for them.


The other main effective approach is to go straight for the facts. Let the children know that without good hygiene, they can catch germs and even get ill. Identify bad habits early on that are common with kids, such as nail-biting and nose-picking (those old classics!), and put a stop to them immediately. There’s no need to terrorise them with horror stories about what could happen if they don't brush their teeth or fail to wash their hands, but you should explain the concept of bacteria and germs clearly, and how they are spread.

You can demonstrate this by dipping your hand into some chalk or flour, then touching various items and shake their hand — this provides you with a visual representation to help explain how easily germs can be spread. If your kids are old enough, consider listing instances together where they might come into contact with germs like this — after using the toilet, when they're playing outside, especially when they have a cold. Then take them over to where you can both wash your hands, while making sure you show them how to get thoroughly clean using soap and warm water.

A simple but important way to influence your kids to follow these hygiene rules is to lead by example; if you wash your hands before eating, they'll develop that habit. Spend time together to establish this routine. Guaranteed — your kids will be proud to show you how well they can brush their teeth if you enjoy this ritual together.

You know the saying ‘Old habits die-hard’, but you can prevent them from even developing in your kids. They just need a little educating and, like all kids, with some fun thrown into the mix. They’ll then hate germs!

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

If you’re looking to update a room or two in your home but don’t quite have the funds to go for a full overhaul, we’ve looked into some room decor ideas that are relatively small in terms of work and budget but are still guaranteed to have a surprisingly large impact on the room.

Here are five of our favourites, along with some tips on how you can make these small changes in your home.

1. Add a pop of statement colour to an otherwise plain space

If you are looking to add a bit of interest to a neutral or plain space, a really easy way to inject a sense of fun and fashion into it is to add pops of statement colour. Go brave with this season’s hottest interior colours; yellow, aqua, purple and duck egg. Start small with bold throw cushions, and then build on this with colour pop frames on the walls, coffee tables, throws and rugs.

room decor bold cushion

2. Upcycling old pieces of furniture

Crafters and thrifty people everywhere are upcycling old pieces of furniture and turning them into something new and exciting. This can not only be great for saving the pennies but it’s perfect for giving you something fresh, original and unique that no one else will have. Breathe a new lease of life into old chairs with this tutorial, or take to the web to find something else that’s suitable for your space and taste.

3. Add an accent or feature wall

Why not just concentrate on wall specific wall in the space that you want to transform? Draw the eye in with an interesting accent wall in a beautiful, interesting colour that compliments but also slightly contrasts with the rest of the space for extra impact. If you don’t fancy grabbing a paint brush, you could do something different with the plain wall instead, including adding lots of photos or prints to it. There are some gorgeous examples of that on Pinterest.

home decor ideas wall
shutterstock_138547388 (1)

4. Upgrade the lighting – natural and artificial

Getting the lighting right is crucial for achieving a desired atmosphere in each room. Therefore, consider changing your lamp shades, adding a lamp or adding spot lights to the ceiling. Why not upgrade and update the curtains themselves? They’re not as expensive as you think too, if you look at sites like, too, and they have some really lovely ones that are sure to brighten a room.

5. Find new ways to get organised and tidy

Keep the space uncluttered and free from mess to give it an instant, refreshing feel. Invest in some new furniture/organisation solutions to make your life easier and to help keep the room feeling this way. IKEA have some great organisation solutions for each room in the home that isn’t too pricey which is good. Shelving always works too, as do things like hooks. Giving little ones their own hooks can be useful for helping them keep their things tidy, too!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.