I always find that men are quite hard to buy for when Birthday’s and Christmas’ roll around, and usually it is because they seem more content and never really have a huge list of things they want or need like we women do. I often find I am racking my brains as I want to be something they love and want, and maybe something that will be useful to them too. But when fathers day comes, its somehow different. I don’t ever feel that pressure and actually find it quite easy to find small gifts of appreciation for them. I also feel in someways it is an occasion where you can be a little more creative and quirky, and now the kids are older, its something they can have more of a say in too for their daddy.

This year I have done gifts for my Dad and Nathan (as Nathan’s Dad is no longer with us), which are made up from things from a number of places! For my Dad I have focused on his keen interest in cycling, and for Nathan; both a little treat and a memento of the kids. I don’t usually like to give the standard socks and ties (though I have done in the past with other things) and like more to find things they might not always think of!

My Dad

So as I say, my Dad loves bikes, cycling and being outdoors. His gift was decided a few weeks ago (purely by chance) when I popped into a cute gift shop over in Harrogate and saw this cool bike wrapping paper. It was £2 a sheet and popped into a frame (£12 from The Range) It makes a really fabulous print that I hope he will find rather cool too.

With it I have chosen for him this quirky Ted Baker bike fixing kit from Amara, which when I saw I thought he would love both the cylinder tin with screw lid and the great quality contents.

These gifts remind me a lot of all the fun we had as kids, exploring on bikes with him, and how he taught us to fix a puncture! And now how he is so keen to set his Grandkids up with bikes too!

Nathan

Nathan is not only a great husband, but an excellent father too. He works so hard for us all (which I am sure most fathers do) and is great with the kids. I love to watch him helping them, teaching them things and seeing his keenness to do with them the things his dad did with him. For all of this I felt he needed something special as a “Thank you” and sign of appreciation to him.

As someone who loves a little luxury, I decided to choose him this Ted Baker glasses case from Amara. He has been wearing his glasses way more and taking his contacts to change midday at work, and so I thought this would be a really nice accessory for him in his leather bag! He loves the leather look and plush lining, and of course the “Well ProtecTED” quote inside. With it we also got him this really cool rose gold frame (also from Amara) and put a gorgeous pic in it of him on the beach the other day with the kids! We captured an ordinary, yet special moment in fatherhood that he can have on his desk at work as a little memento of some of his biggest fans!

I also wanted this year for the kids to chose their own gifts as well as giving him something special that I would choose. At their school they have a “secret shop” where I gave the kids £1.50 each to chose him something and then during lunch they went along and bought him a gift. I loved it because it meant it was purely their choice and I had no persuasion at all! It made me laugh on Wednesday when they both came home with the same thing – A Toblerone each!!!

To me Father’s day is more about showing appreciation for who these amazing men are in our lives. Finding their favourite things (hello 2 Toblerones), or giving something that expresses how you feel and compliments them in their role as “Dad”. I am so pleased with the quality of gifts on sale at Amara and find they fit most budgets with things starting from just £7.50! I also love that if you look hard enough you can always find something random and turn it into something special!!

*Thank you to Amara for gifting us some of these products. All thoughts and pictures are my own. 

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I really thought I had another week before I would be publishing this post, and then yesterday I was reminded that in actual fact little Alice is 11 months old today – oh how my heart broke a little!

This milestone has crept up on me and I don’t think I am actually ready for the next 4 weeks, and subsequently the countdown to her turning 1. I suddenly feel at that stage where you look at your baby and realise they soon will no longer be a baby, but instead a toddler. I can’t believe how fast it has gone and especially with these last few days of sunny weather, it seems 2 minutes ago that it was July 2016 and we were having her. I am genuinely sad to be saying goodbye to having a “baby baby” and my baby becoming a tot.

These last few weeks Alice has really amazed me with her development and has made a lot of progress. On Saturday after lots of whining, she realised she did in fact love the beach and spent ages splashing with the kids and stomping in water with Grandma. It was such a beautiful day, and she was absolutely shattered after a day in the sun and playing on the beach with family, and I am so glad she finally chilled out!!!

This last week or so we have also witnessed her victory on several occasions of conquering the stairs, followed by signing “food”, “more” and “Mummy” on a regular basis, and now clapping of hands too. She is a speedy confident crawler and is constantly pulling up on things and taking the odd steps towards cruising around the furniture too. She is slowly getting better with Nathan and I leaving the room, when previously she would be almost sick with screaming and tears. But mostly it is a lot of whimpering and crying when either of us are out of sight, and we roll our eyes a little at her neediness (Sorry Alice).

I am trying to adapt to her more needy nature and snuggly personality, which for a while now has been at times wearing. I realise that breastfeeding and wearing her so much in her first 9 months have created a great bond and attachment, but I struggle with the fact she screams her head off and becomes distressed if she’s not next to Nathan or I. Grandma’s, Aunts and others have the same effect and its only ever us she wants, which of course makes it impossible to go anywhere or do anything without her right there next to you!

The other day she spent a good 20 minutes nestled down on my chest and cuddling, and it was lovely and really nice, it was also a moment I realised in that she is different to the others, and I shouldn’t try to change or fight that. Whilst she plays silly with them, she obviously needs more closeness and feels safer and more content snuggled (or at the very least close) with Mum and Dad! I do love that she loves us so much, and over her short life with us it has been most healing to have her gentle, loving personality in my life, but on the flip side it gets rather wearing too to not be able to just get on with things! I hope we can build her up to being okay left a little while with family at least for things like dates or even just a walk!

So yes – just 4 more weeks and our little rainbow will be a whole year old. It’s the first time we haven’t talked about another baby in the next few months and the first time I have really felt the sadness of losing these baby days with age. Usually I am excited for the next stage and looking forward to them getting bigger and finding independence, whilst developing their little personalities and loves in the world around them…and whilst I do look forward to all of this with Alice it almost opens that wound a little more that I don’t have a baby anymore. It feels very weird to let that go of that and allow her to grow up in to the toddler stage. She has papered over the cracks for so long that its hard to think of life without me having my little baby and instead one of chasing around a quickly growing tot called Alice!

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We still don’t have a date for moving into our own house (whaaaaaa), but are feeling more settled at Grandma’s. Most of the week she has been kind enough to take us to and from school in her mini bus, and the kids have loved it! In between that we have fun on the Northern Trains hopping on and off to and from school and sometimes taking our journey a little further afield. On Thursday Ethan took his bike on the train too – that was interesting!!!

We are all thoroughly enjoying this glorious weather that has graced us this week (What an improvement to last!) the kids have spent endless hours in the garden, and yesterday Alice and I took advantage of the lovely sunshine and hopped on a train up to Bridlington to see my mum and sisters for a lunch date. Together we celebrated mums and my little sisters Birthdays and it was lovely. It was so great to wander, see the boats, soak up the views and just generally be thankful we only live 20mins from this lush coast now!

Go Ape Competition

Next Saturday we are heading to Dalby Forest to tackle Go Ape with the kids for Megsies birthday celebrations. Unfortunately last week we had to postpone as Nathan has a job interview, but we are excited. Whilst looking into it I saw they had a competition running and wanted to share this with you all as it looks like a great way to be in with a chance of a FREE visit to your local Go Ape as well as some other goodies!

Basically they are searching for the UK’s most adventurous authors between the ages of 4 and 12, with the chance to win a selection of adventurous books – as well as a group adventure in the tree tops with their tribe!

“Go Ape is all about living life adventurously, and Mini Tarzan’s will simply need to write 100-500 words describing their favourite adventure for the team. These tales can be completely made up or a real account of an exhilarating escapade – if it’s fictional, then imaginations can run wild!

Prizes will be awarded to the winners of the following categories:

  • Best fiction author (for ages 4-7 and 8-12)
  • Best non-fiction author (for ages 4-7 and 8-12)
  • Best character (for ages 4-7 and 8-12)
  • Best use of language (for ages 4-7 and 8-12)

As well as this, an additional prize will be awarded to the favourite entry by Go Ape’s two Chief Gorillas – Tristram and Rebecca Mayhew.

Within each age range judges will review the quality relative to age, so all monkeys, whether big or small, will have the same chance of winning!”

Entries are open now until midnight, Thursday 22nd June, 2017 and for further info, T&C’s and to enter visit goape.co.uk/adventure-stories. Handwritten entries can be scanned in and sent to marketing@goape.co.uk.

Family & Friends Railcard

With our new school run being somewhat of an adventure and several miles away, I decided last week to invest in “family & friends railcard” so as to be able to save 1/3 off our adult fares, and 60% off the kids when using the train.

It has been mint and has cut down my travel expenses significantly (especially now that Megs is 5 too).

It usually costs £30 for the year but with code FAMILY10 you can save 10% making it just £27 (offer ends 2 September)! What’s great is that you can use it for up to 4 adults and 4 kids 5 – 15 in any one journey, which I find rather generous. I figure whilst it does cost initially with all of the travel we are doing now it will easily pay for itself.

I am very excited for the Summer holidays where we plan on having adventures galore, and it is going to prove to be very valuable!

Enjoy the scorcher of a weekend we’ve been promised… I am thinking beach, sandcastles, ice creams, paddling and hopefully some sneaky fish & chips. Why not when it’s on our doorstep??

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15 babies die every day in the UK before, during or shortly after birth. That’s 15 too many! Whilst this has dropped slightly in recent years, we are still 3 times slower than most European countries working to reduce the number of people experiencing baby loss, and as someone that is now one of those stats, I find it unacceptable!

Being bereaved parents its utterly heartbreaking to imagine anyone having to face such a tragedy as that of not being able to bring their precious baby home. The thought of someone being told that their baby has died doesn’t bare thinking about, and yet we never imagine that we might become the 1!

As I now befriend at Sands, I see on a regular basis (outside of my experience) what 15 a day looks like – It looks like stillbirth, premature birth, infection, a weak cervix, illness, chromosome defects and in some cases – neglect!

I see the pain, the loneliness, the longing for their baby. I see the confusion, the broken lives and dreams, and the all consuming sadness and anger. I see the mother who nurtured that baby for months to be told they could never raise them. I hear of heartache, funerals and the ignorance of others. And I see a longing to be understood.

But I also see strength as they try to navigate life without their precious baby. And amidst all of this that they are trying to make sense of, I find it very sad that many still fail to realise that the death of a baby is something that will affect them for the rest of their life. It might not be as raw as those first days, weeks and months, but without a doubt, you don’t just grieve for a few months or a year or two. Losing a baby means losing a lifetime with your child. It is something that changes you immediately and thrusts you onto a path that feels so far from anything you have ever known, and yet baby loss is still very much a taboo subject (and one people talk about less and less as time passes).

It amazes me that so many babies die each day and people still find it hard to say it or accept someone in their loss. I find it so weird that we are made to feel weird for talking about our children or remembering them – just because they’re dead!

This September (the 16th to be precise) my 3rd child “Poppy” Should be turning 3. This year we should be anxiously awaiting her taking a big step and starting nursery. We should have already had 2 birthdays celebrating her in our family and we should have tonnes of pics of our little tot getting into mischief, and enjoying life with her 3 other siblings. There should be one more face in those family pics we take each month and one more around the dinner table. My 5 seater Picasso shouldn’t be enough and I should know the colour of her eyes, the size of her feet, the things she loves and the foods she hates. I should be able to hold her when she’s sad and tickle her and chase her round whilst she giggles.

Her siblings should know her as their friend and ally – not just a memory.

Poppy died 2 days before my due date, and was stillborn on my due date. Whilst half expected with a previous diagnosis of CHD and Trisomy 18, nothing prepared me for how broken I would feel and how dull life would become for a season.

I never imagined how awful it would be to be in labour knowing what was coming. How I would feel awkward to hold my baby because she wasn’t alive. How I would be so numb and how I prayed that it wasn’t true.

No one prepared me for people not helping me how I needed or friends leaving my life because they couldn’t deal with me in my grief. I never imagine how painful it would be to say goodbye and bury one of my children and then feel so alone for so long. And whilst there were amazing people along the way to support, with time passing this too became less frequent and loneliness was a far too familiar feeling.

I never imagined feeling so awkward for saying one of kids names out loud and remembering her.

At almost 3 years on I still cry, I still feel it and I still miss her every day. We often speak her name between us and reflect upon a life lost, but the difference now is that I have almost mastered the art of keeping a lid on my grief (though in some things its impossible) and know (mostly) who I can speak to about it.

I hate time for only one reason, and that is as it passes so do peoples interest and awareness of your pain and loss. At almost 3 years it is rare for people to speak of it and common for people to change the subject. Especially since her little sister was born last year, there is more reason for people to focus on what we have as opposed to what we lost.

As time passes our loss becomes something that happened a few years ago and not something we live with everyday.

But our loss is our daughter too. Our loss is a member of our family… the talking and reflection help us keep her in the present and not as a memory. Talking helps me to slowly begin to make sense of that Sunday night that doctor told me there was no heartbeat. It helps me make sense of birthing and holding my lifeless child. It helps me make sense of the day my husband lowered her tiny casket into a 2ft grave.

Talking reminds me she was here and is ours.

This June support SANDS is helping to reduce the number of babies dying each day in the UK through their #15babiesaday campaign. Why? Because 15 babies is too many and no one should have to live this nightmare! If you can help please do. They continually help me carry my grief and find joy in life (and feel a little more normal) despite being the 1 in 15!

In memory of Poppy Quinn Smith 16/09/2014 #1ofthe15. 

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