Bedtime – my favourite time of the day! Natalie from Hello Cuppies tagged me in ‘The Bedtime Tag Quiz’, where I’ve answered a few questions about my bedtime routines. Here goes!
Just before Christmas, my youngest brother Tom and his long-term girlfriend announced they were expecting their first baby. My very first niece or nephew is due in July – I am SO excited.
I’m sure Kim and Tom are going to receive lots of little gems of advice, and will probably turn to books, internet forums and the like for advice and ideas. I thought I would offer them, and any other first time parents to be some real advice, from someone who has done it three times over and has survived. Just about anyway.
Back when Benjamin was three weeks old, he contracted a severe water infection which led to sepsis. He was really really poorly for a while – his body had started to go into septic shock – and if it hadn’t been for the wonderful efforts of the NHS, he wouldn’t be bouncing around the house like the little fruitloop that he is.
Lots of people haven’t heard of it, or don’t recognise any of the symptoms. I know I didn’t before Ben was ill. It’s had a lot of coverage in the media in recent months which I am so glad about and people are beginning to understand just how serious it can be.
This word popped up on my Pinterest feed one evening and as soon as I saw it, I knew it was a word that I had subconsciously been looking for. I have no idea how to pronounce it, but it is a word that sums up how we feel about where we are at the moment.
It’s a Welsh word to describe a habitat where someone feels they ought to live – where nature around you feels right and welcoming.
That’s exactly how we feel about North Wales. It’s where we feel we ought to live. It feels like our forever home.
I’m not going to look back or dwell on 2016 very much. For the most part, it was a horrific year for us personally, with lots of upheaval and uncertainty. The last three months, after we moved to Wales, was pretty amazing, but as a whole, it’s a year I’d rather not look back too much on. However, I wanted to look back at the good things that happened.
All that hype, build up and expense, and Christmas has come and gone in a flash as always. I can’t believe that this time last week it was Christmas Eve and we were rushing about trying to do all the last bits and pieces. We were particularly lucky to have two Christmases this year – one just us lot on Christmas Day, and then my parents, my brother, my sister-in-law and the three dogs came up the day after Boxing Day for a couple of nights. It was manic, it was chaotic, it was noisy but it was lots of fun!
For about 18 months or so, I’ve been in a very small (seven of us) blogger group on Whatsapp. It started off as a bit of a support network, but as time has gone on we have gotten to know each other really well and have become firm friends. We are scattered all over the UK, with one living in New York. It’s lovely that we can literally pop onto Whatsapp any time of the day and someone is there to chat to. We’ve supported each other with our blogging, networking, but most important in our personal lives. When we were going through all the crap of trying to sort out a new home in Wales, they were the first people I spoke to. They’re now probably my best friends – I know I can talk to all of them about anything.
Last year we all sent each other Christmas cards, and this year decided we were going to do a Secret Santa. We did it all online, using a website to draw names, create wishlists etc. Mine came today, and I thought I would share it with you.
Gift guides are pretty popular amongst bloggers, especially at Christmas. I occasionally read them for a bit of inspiration, especially for the kids. I’ve never had a 5 year old boy before – so reading guides from people who have bought gifts for 5 year old boys can be pretty useful.
One sort of gift guide I will never read though are any for stocking fillers. We just don’t do stockings here. I know my family never did it when we were little, and Graham can’t remember if his family did or not. We have some hanging up in our living room simply because the kids decorated them at a Christmas fair last year. Come Christmas morning, they will be empty as they are now.
As you all by now know, a couple of months ago we moved to Wales – 130 miles away from our family and friends. In the grand scheme of things, it isn’t too far. We can go back to Birmingham (I can’t call it home, Wales feels like it has always been my home!) and be back home again in a day easily, and we have pledged to go back there one weekend a month. My youngest brother, his fiancee and their dog are coming to stay for the night just after Christmas along with my parents, so we can still each other pretty much as often as we did when we lived in Birmingham.
Christmas has well and truly arrived in our house. All the decorations went up yesterday (and my god, have we gone overboard this year. I’m dreading my next electric bill!) and we have been to see Santa, or Siôn Corn as he is known in Wales, not once, but twice!
According to Wikipedia, random acts of kindness are ‘unpremeditated, inconsistent actions designed to offer kindness towards the outside world’. To me, it’s a phrase that’s been thrown about in recent years to describe something that most people probably do every day, without thinking, or at least, should be!
A random act of kindness isn’t some big gesture. In fact, it’s completely the opposite. It’s little things that are kind and thoughtful, that might just brighten up someone’s day. People are so busy these days and so wrapped up in their own lives and their own problems that taking even a few seconds to help someone else is completely overlooked. The really stupid thing is that not only can you help someone and make them smile, but doing just a couple of kind things a day, no matter how small they might seem, can make you feel a lot better and a lot happier.
Here are 10 small random acts of kindness to try – they won’t cost a lot of money or a lot of time, but the difference they can make to someone’s day is amazing.
When I was at secondary school, like every other child I began to learn a second language. In my case, it was French (that was all that was offered at our school). I was actually pretty good at it – I found it relatively easy and ended up with a B grade in my GCSE’s. I never carried it on after I left school, and I really regret that. I can only remember a handful of words and phrases now.
In Wales, as far as I understand, there are two types of school – English medium and Welsh medium. In a Welsh medium school, the curriculum is delivered in Welsh, and it’s pretty much the only language spoken. In an English medium school, the curriculum is in English, but Welsh is taught as a second language.
Obviously, we chose to send Harrison and Alex to our local English medium school. Other than knowing Araf (slow) and heddlu (police), neither Graham or I knew a single word of Welsh. It was important to us that all three children learned Welsh, and ideally, we would want them to be fluent in it at some point in the future. The area we live in is very popular with holidaymakers in the summer, and I haven’t heard many people speaking only in Welsh, but I do think if you move somewhere, you should make an effort to speak at least a little bit of the language.
The taste of sea salt on our lips
Catching a glance of the snow-topped mountains
The mist hanging about at the bottom of the hills
Benjamin loves boats.
I mean REALLY loves boats.
His first proper word was ‘boat’.
Taking him to see the boats is a guaranteed way of cheering him up if he’s grumpy.
Today marks a month (well, four weeks) since we upped and moved 130 miles away from Birmingham to North Wales, so I thought it was time to look back on how we have settled in and how we feel here.
I think I can definitely say that every single one of us absolutely loves it here, and I know that neither Graham or I have a single regret about moving. We already feel so much healthier and so much happier than we did in Birmingham. With views like this just a few minutes walk away, how can we not love where we live?
From a very young age, we are fed the idea of the ‘perfect proposal’ – the expensive diamond ring, the beautiful location, the bended knee and the famous words ‘Will You Marry Me?’, or something along those lines.
Most people say that the birth of their child or children was the happiest moment of their lives. For me, it wasn’t. 6.15pm on Monday 10th October 2016 was the happiest moment of my life.
It was a moment when every single doubt about moving 130 miles away from Birmingham to North Wales was erased from my mind. It was a moment when I watched the three kids playing without a care in the world. It was a moment that I will never forget.
I’ve wanted to write this blog post for about six weeks. At times, it’s felt like I would never get the chance to write it. But now, after weeks of worry, excitement, nerves, happiness, sadness, anger, disappointment and just about every other emotion someone could possibly feel, I can actually write it down. It’s a long one, I warn you!
This Birmingham born and bred family are moving house…to North Wales.
If you had asked me two or three months ago would we ever uproot ourselves and move 130 miles away from our family and our friends, I would have laughed. I couldn’t visualise living so far away from everyone. Then our situation changed.
It’s a really long story, but basically, the landlady of the house we are in now, after promising that she wanted long term tenants has decided to sell the house after just six months of us living here. We found this out at the beginning of the summer holidays, and as you can imagine we were heartbroken and worried. We’ve moved five times in five years, and we thought we had found somewhere to live that was secure. We were due to go on holiday a few days after being hit with that bombshell and decided to put it out of mind until we came home.
Our holiday, as you know, was to North Wales – in a little village just outside of Prestatyn. We have been on holiday to that area a few times now, and we absolutely love it. We’ve always said that the area is perfect for raising a family but never thought for one minute we would ever be raising our family there.
On the journey I home, I pretty much cried the whole way home, knowing we were leaving somewhere I felt safe to go back to Birmingham – a city that I absolutely loathe and detest – and all the stress of finding a new house. The next day, we started the horrible task of looking for a house and realised just how much we didn’t want to live in Birmingham anymore. It was so much more than post-holiday blues, but a feeling that we just needed to get away. It’s not a nice place to live – it’s dirty, and the areas we could afford to live in are some of the most deprived areas in the country. We phoned my mum and dad that evening to tell them about our landlord selling (we had decided not to tell them until after the holiday) and the first thing my mum and dad said was ‘move to Wales’ before we even said anything. It sounds ridiculous, but that was the point we knew we would do everything in our power to make it happen. We had nothing to lose. My work goes wherever I go, and Graham is out of work at the moment, so no worry about him losing a job. The kids are young enough to adapt to new situations. The next day we booked viewings.
It took us three trips to Wales to find our little bungalow by the sea. We saw many houses, all of which we loved, but like all rental properties, there were at least three or four applicants for every house. Unfortunately, we were always on the backfoot because of me being self-employed and Graham not having a job there immediately. We began to think it would never happen, until the third, and our final trip there.
I’ve never been superstitious, not in the slightest, but since the whole process of house hunting started, I’ve become a nightmare for looking out for signs. It was our third time going there (third time lucky!), we saw a double rainbow (sign of luck!), I heard one of my favourite songs on the radio, that I haven’t heard in years (Ocean Drive by Lighthouse Family – apt or what?) and quite a few other things that told me this house was ours.
It’s been a long process with the referencing, but yesterday we FINALLY had confirmation that we had been accepted, and we pick the keys up to our little bungalow by the sea next week and move in officially the weekend after.
It’s not perfect. It needs a lick of paint. But we are SO excited. It’s a three bedroom bungalow in a quiet little estate, which I think is mostly older people. It’s just outside of Rhyl, which in recent years has had a massive regeneration and is a beautiful place to visit. We have a beach about ten minutes walk from our bungalow, and believe me, we will be making the most of that!
At the moment, I’m just excited, but I know over the next few days it will hit me that I won’t be able to pop around and see my mum and dad, brothers and nan at the drop of a hat. I’ll miss them all a lot, as I will my friends. But…it’s only 130 miles away. It’s not the other side of the world. We can back in Birmingham in a couple of hours, and we will come back at least once a month hopefully to spend a weekend here. A blogger, and I can’t remember who, told me that when she moved away from her family, the time she did spend with them was much more appreciated and special, and I’m holding onto that. My parents adore the area as much as we do, and I know they will come and visit us as well. My mum works in a school so can come and stay a few days in the holidays, which will be lovely. I watched Harrison play with his friends at a party the other day, and I felt sad knowing I’m taking him out of that. I really hope he stays in touch with his besties, but I also know he will make new friends as well.
It’s going to be a huge change for all of us. We will literally only have each other to begin with. They’ll be no date nights or child-free days out because we don’t know anyone in the area to babysit. My dad won’t be ten minutes away when we need something fixing or to borrow a tool. It’s probably going to be tough at times, but I know, without a doubt, that the benefits of living there will outweigh any negatives. It’s going to be a much better way of life for us all – and I can’t wait to be in our bungalow by the sea.
Pretty much every day over the past few weeks, I’ve logged on to Facebook to see pregnancy and new baby announcements – it’s like there is a little baby boom going on amongst my friends! The one thing I always look forward to seeing and hearing is what my friends call their babies. Naming a child is one of the most difficult decisions that you have to make, and I love hearing why people have chosen particular names.
It got me thinking about back when we came up with the names that we chose for our boys, and why we chose those names. Being a teacher, I’ve taught a lot of children and been put off a LOT of names. I was absolutely in love with a boys name for years and ended up teaching a child with that name. He was an absolute nightmare, and now whenever I hear that name I shudder. Imagine if I had met that child after choosing that name?!
I think we are pretty lucky with our three boys. When people realise we have three boys, all aged five and under, they look amazed and comment on how difficult it must be. We laugh along and nod our heads, but generally, it’s really not that bad. They can have their moments, but they’re generally very well behaved. They’re all really close and get on well, so there’s rarely any bickering.
A couple of months ago, I was asked to send a photo to someone for an article. The photo needed to be of me and the kids. Hours of searching through the many, many photos I have saved (and I am talking thousands!) and all the pictures on Facebook proved pointless. There wasn’t any. Not a single photo of the three boys and me. We had to try and get one really quickly on the sofa, in really poor light.
Up until about six years ago I was never really a fan of the beach. It was alright for a few days, but the sand used to irritate me, and I’d much prefer looking around the towns than going to the seaside when we were on holiday. I was definitely a city girl.
Then something changed. I’m not sure exactly what made me feel so different. A couple of months before I found out I was pregnant with Harrison, we went on a big family holiday to a cottage in Wales. It was up in the hills in North Wales, with no mobile phone signal and no local shop. It was surrounded by countryside and overlooked the beach. It was stunning.
Today is the first day of the holidays (and I’m spending it pretty much child- free!!).It also means Harrison’s first year at ‘proper’ school has come to an end, and what a year it has been.
Like millions of people in the UK, we are on a tight budget. When something breaks down, needs replacing or the kids have a sudden growth spurt and need new clothes, it can be a bit ‘oh s**t, where is the money for that going to come from?’ However, over the past few years, we have saved ourselves an absolute fortune by buying second hand, or even going on freebie sites. We have had everything from furniture and appliances to clothes and toys. Thankfully, thanks to places such as eBay, there is no longer any stigma to buying second hand, and quite rightly so. After all, no one would bat an eyelid at someone buying a used car – what’s the difference with other items?
Here in Birmingham, there are just three full weeks of term left before we break up for the summer holidays. My contract at work finishes at the end of term, and although I will be really sad to finish, I can’t say I’m not looking forward to being at home with the kids! Because the kids go to the school, and I am a member of the PTA, I’ll still have lots to do with the school anyway, so I’ll still get a chance to see some of the staff that I have made friends with.