Monday 29 February 2016


Learning has always been a path laced with hurdles for Leo. It's something he has struggled with, it is something that I have struggled helping him with. It's a topic I have shared in my little piece of cyber space over the years, because it hasn't been easy, when your child falls behind you blame yourself. You take everything that people say to you as a personal criticism. It's as though they are telling you that you have failed your child, that you are failing as a parent. 

Of course that is not what they are saying, but when people speak about your child, it's about as personal as it gets. Leo was a late talker, he has been behind his peers since 18 months old so it's not really any surprise to me, that he is now behind at school. He spent last year behind, and the main concern at that point was that his speech would not be up to scratch for school, but you should hear him now! 

Something clicked and all the words just came to him, and today he is a complete chatter box, and to everyone's surprise it's not Leo's speech that is holding him back.

Within the first couple of weeks of school, the first concerns were raised. I went along to the parent/teacher meeting and I wasn't shocked or taken a back by what was said. I know my boy, I know his capabilities and I know his traits. I know when he doesn't want to do something and I know when he can't do something. He will use all the excuses under the sun 'im tired, im poorly' if it's something that doesn't tickle his fancy, and if he can't do something he will sit there and go silent. 

Let me tell you a little something about my blue eyed boy. Leo is funny, cheeky, mischievious and curious, he cracks jokes that make me laugh so hard I cry. He's innocent and long may that continue, but Leo is lazy too, and it materialises in things that he doesn't want to do. For instance when Leo dresses himself, he would quite happily lie there and let you get him dressed, but now he's at school and P.E. happens on a weekly basis he has no choice but to conform. You always know it's been P.E. at school when he rocks out at 3:15pm with his polo shirt on inside out, and his trousers so high that his boxers have ridden up around his waist. 

He has tried though, and that's all I can ask.

Last week I attended parent's evening and although on a whole it was a positive experience, again it highlighted that Leo is not where the other children are, not where he should be. Leo is a good boy, he doesn't disrupt the class, he tries. They said that he tries, but he does struggle, He struggles with reading, he struggles with writing, he struggles with patterns. He forgets things meaning that they have to go back over old ground with Leo to make sure that it has sunk in, they can feel like he has grasped something and move on to something different, only for them to re-visit the previous topic and find out that he can no longer remember how to do it.

It's funny though, because Leo's memory is so sharp. He can remember things about places we visited years ago, and aspects that I have long since forgotten, The school can see that Leo is learning, they can see him developing, but despite this he is struggling. He is behind. 

The conversation with Leo's teacher continued and although I cannot re-call the exact way the sentence was presented, it was something along the lines of 'Leo fits in with reception but whether this is the right place for him long term I don't know.' That to me highlights that they feel there is an underlying problem that needs addressing. Nothing has been mentioned or hinted at, but it's something I have been thinking about ever since. There has to be a reason that Leo struggles the way that he does. He's a smart boy, other things just click, but then school and academically something holds him back. 

I turned to google and just started having a read about learning difficulties, I started to read more into Dyslexia, and straight away I started ticking the indicator boxes that related to Leo which I have shared below: 

Your child is not picking up the pre- reading and writing skills as expected 
Leo is behind in his reading and his writing. He recognises his name, he can spell it out and he can at times write it down for you. He goes forward but then he goes backwards again.

- Your child's speech development has/is been delayed 
Leo had speech therapy spanning over last year, and slowly but surely his vocabulary has exploded. Today they boy I see before me speaks about anything and everything, some of the words he comes out with just astound me.

Your child shows no interest in print - Leo likes to have stories read to them, we have just started reading Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone and he is loving it, but when it comes to Leo reading to me, he is not interested and ever day is a constant battle. 

Your child seems especially tired after a day at school
 Leo is exhausted after a day at school, and I am not just talking a little bit sleepy, he is so tired and it doesn't take long for his mood to deteriorate. A typical afternoon following the school day will see Leo come home and cuddle up with his much loved blanket on the sofa, He just needs time to sit there in silence and not do anything. I get him into bed for 6:30pm on a school night where I read to him for half an hour before he goes to bed at 7pm. School comment on a regular basis how tired Leo is during the day. Leo blinks heavily and this was another cause for their concern, but I have had Leo's eyes tested and he's absolutely fine. I can't realistically get Leo to bed any earlier than I do at the moment, and the demand of the school day is certainly taking it's toll.

- Poor concentration and is easily distracted
This is something I have always noticed with Leo, unless it is something he wants to be doing, you will never get all of his attention. You can sit and do something with him and he will turn off, you can see his eyes glaze over in front of you. His interest is easily lead astray and it's a mission to keep him at the table let alone co-operating with what you are doing. 9 times out of 10 Leo will completely shut down and refuse to even try with me, and not only is this hindering his learning, it's incredibly frustrating for me.

Your child cannot remember a sequence of instructions and they have a poor sense of direction

- Has a poor standard of written work compared with oral ability.

- Is persistently confused by letters which look similar, particularly b/d

- Fails to recognise familiar words.

- Late to establish a dominant hand
This is something that has been mentioned to me for a long time. 'Leo is still switching hands regularly'. At one point everyone was convinced that he was going to be a lefty, but then he switched back to his Right hand. The school have said that he still doesn't have a dominant hand today.

Sequencing problems.

I know I am grasping at straws and that 4 years old is too early for a diagnosis, but if there is something underlying that is holding Leo back for any reason what so ever. I want measures in place to help him achieve his potential. In a way having an actual reason for Leo learning differently, at a slower pace than other children would be a relief. At times I feel like I have to justify the way Leo learns to people that I shouldn't even think twice about, but when you just want the best for your child, you do it anyway because your his Mum and you want to protect him from anything and anyone that you feel causes a threat.

I myself struggled as a child. I attended the very school Leo is at today. I struggled primarily with Mathematics, and to this day I am completely rubbish, I was told as a child I had Dyscalculia, a learning difficulty that affects arithmetical calculations, and although it was never documented, and I never received any additional support through my later school years, I came out the other end. 

As I think back to my worst subject at school, Maths... I remember the humiliation that I used to endure every single lesson. I sat in fear of being picked on the spot with a problem that I knew I was either going to take ages to think about, or not even be able to answer. My hate for Maths never went away, at Middle School I would feign illness just before or during that lesson just so I could escape and go home to avoid embarrassment. I hated it, and it was soon picked up by my Mother who called a meeting with my Mathematics teacher and my little sickness stunt was rumbled, resulting in me having to attend every class.

It wasn't that I was stupid, it was just something I struggled with. It's something to this very day that I struggle with. Give me a calculator and i'm fine, I use a calculator for everything because I don't trust my mental arithmetic. I hid it away from everyone because I didn't want them to think I was different to them, I didn't want them to think I was stupid, that I wasn't capable. I didn't want them not to like me. I didn't want the teachers to send in support for me because I was embarrassed, the thought of having some sort of teaching aid coming with me to class filled me with dread. Looking back I know that sounds silly, but even as a child you think about how people perceive you, and we all know that children can be harsh at times.

I never want Leo to feel embarrassed or scared of going to school. I want him to continue to enjoy it. I don't want him to worry about what the other children will think if he can't answer a question. I want to protect him, because I have been there, and I never want him to feel so scared of being picked out to answer a question that his tummy does cartwheels inside like he is in the throws of a game of Russian Roulette.

Leo is a bright, clever little boy. He just takes a little longer, he just takes his good sweet time. This is what he has always done. This is perhaps his chosen path, and it is my job to help him navigate his way along, bumps and all. I don't care how long it takes Leo to learn, as long as he IS learning, as long as he keeps going, no matter how much time he takes, as long as he is still going forward, as long as he is HAPPY. 

That is ALL that matters.

Holiday Plans for 2016

Tunisia Mirage Beach

As the cold February winds blow over us showing no sign of Spring, I let my mind float away to warmer climates. It's not hard to in-vision myself on the sandy Greek shores of Chania, where the entire family will be jetting off to in just a few short months for a week of all inclusive indulgence, and more importantly...Sun!

I live for warmer days and to say that I am ready to leave the colder months far behind are the ultimate understatement. I have one very excited Four year old on my hands, and the usual excitement of jetting away for a week is only stronger because we are going on the biggest family holiday in the history of our family holiday's. The family today is full to bursting, and I don't say that lightly, being one of 4 children, 3 of whom are now grown up and have partners and families of their own... We have done a wonderful job of adding partners and children to the family over the years. The holiday will be Grandparents, Parents, Children, Grandchildren and of course the partners... In sum of around 10 plus people.

Large UK Families

You might have read about us in The Guardian back in September... If you didn't...Get ready to meet my crazy family! This holiday is only possible though because of my Father, Leo's Grandad. Completely unexpectedly he has taken it upon himself to take the entire brood away. He has treated the family to a week that quite simply would never have been possible without his generosity, because this year it would have been a financial burden on me to afford a weeks holiday abroad without his help.

I am so looking forward to a week with my little man, we are going to squeeze so much into those 7 days, and most importantly we are going to get some much needed quality time. We are booked to go in the half term holiday, and with Leo at school now this was an essential influence over the dates we chose, because we all know how hard it is to get children out of school these days. Gone are the days that you can simply specify the dates that you want to book your child out of school, it was made perfectly clear before Leo even started at the school that any requested leave of absence would not be authorized, which of course meant that it would be a black mark against mine and Leo's names.

Tunisia Mirage Beach

Tunisia Mirage Beach

The week will be spent in and out of the pool, it will be spent on the beach, where we will dig holes and make sand castles while chasing the surf. It will be spent under the sun and laughing, there will be so many giggles, and those memories I make with that beautiful boy of mine will be treasured close to my heart, because he is only like this once. He is growing up, and life is changing all of the time. 

A week of no school runs, no commitments, no place to be. Just a week of silliness, my beautiful boy and a beautiful destination to be explored and enjoyed. 

It's just 7 days, and ultimately we have to return to the real world and everything that is associated with it, but for those 7 days we can completely switch off, and close the door on the rest of the world.

For those 7 days nothing else matters.

Tunisia Mirage Beach

Sunday 28 February 2016

Back to Thomas Land

Thomas Land at Drayton Manor Theme Park

Every year without fail we have made a trip to Drayton Manor with Leo, right from his very first year. Admittedly the first experience was more for the big kids than our pre toddler, but I am sure he enjoyed taking in the sights and sounds as we navigated his very first theme park on his very newly found feet. Little did we know, that trains and Thomas the Tank Engine in particular were going to become firm favourites over the next few years!

Thomas Land at Drayton Manor Theme Park

Thomas Land at Drayton Manor Theme ParkThe second time we visited Leo was older, he was now 2 years old and it was here at Thomas Land that Leo took his very first roller coaster ride on the troublesome trucks.

That day still makes me smile as I think back on it, the laughter that flowed so naturally throughout our time there on that early date in September. I remember the weather being on our side and Leo decided he wanted to have a go on the Troublesome Trucks. I was over the moon, he was going to be a little adrenaline junkie just like his Mumma! So we hopped on and I admit I was expecting tears, I thought it was going to be a long couple of minutes around the track, but that boy of mine couldn't stop smiling, and his reactions just kept me chuckling as we continued to get on and off again.

You know those days that just happen so naturally, those days that are so un-planned that everything just unfolds exactly as it should? That day was perfect, I couldn't have planned for it, because if I had it would not have been as successful as it was. This moment right here sums up my entire day, that smile as I enjoy my little man growing up is something I still treasure today. It is one of my favourite photos of us naturally having a good time and enjoying new things for the very first time.

I shall tell you what else puts a massive smile on my face, and it's one of the most simple things in the world, but makes such a difference in my book....

The Fat Controller is ALWAYS played by the same actor. ALWAYS. Each and every time I have been, we are greeted by the same cheerful man who always makes such an effort. 

Thomas Land at Drayton Manor Theme Park

Thomas Land at Drayton Manor Theme Park

Thomas Land at Drayton Manor Theme ParkOver the past year, Leo and I have been able to visit Drayton Manor even more frequently than just annually. We live just over 50 minutes away from Tamworth and the commute is so easy, and back in 2015 we were invited to Thomas Land for the day with the potential opportunity to become ambassadors  for the year, and you guessed it... We rose to the occasion and were over the moon to be able to work with a brand that we truly hold close to our hearts. We have so many fantastic memories that we have created here over the past couple of years, and it has been a real honour to be able to create so many more.

At the end of the Summer holidays before Leo started his very first day of school, Leo and I took a trip over to spend a few hours and just let our hair down before things got more serious with his very first day of reception. Then in October I was really excited to see the very impressive War of the World Firework Spectacular situated over the lake, to celebrate Drayton Manor's 65th Birthday! Then at the beginning of December Leo and I were back again for the Magical Christmas!

Thomas Land at Drayton Manor Theme ParkIf there is one thing Drayton Manor know how to do, it's put on an event and keep you wanting to come back for more! So when I told Leo that we were heading back on over this weekend for a fun filled day out, he was over the moon. So far over that he was late to bed last night, and up bright and early ready to get over to the park for 9:30am. The press in attendance were able to enjoy the park for an hour before it opened up to the public, and this went down beautifully. At 4 years old Leo is still no good at lining up. He doesn't understand the concept and if it's any longer than 5 minutes, then we usually have to say goodbye to the idea. 

It was a cold clear day but with no rain to contend with I knew we were on to a winner, we made our way around our favourites but Leo had already informed me upon arrival that today... Today we would not be following tradition and riding the Troublesome Trucks. Apparently we are going through a bit of a scaredy cat streak,,, I think it might have something to do with riding Ben 10 for the first time last year... The video below might shed some insight.

We didn't let that stop us though and happily rode Bertie Bus, Jeremy Jets Flying Academy, Harold's Helicopter Tours, Sodor Classic Cars and of course Leo's all time favourite... that he would quite honestly get on and off all day given half the chance... Thomas's Engine Tour.

We took a good friend of mine along on this occasion with her lovely little boy Jack. It was the first time that Leo and Jack had met, so we thought that this would be the absolute perfect opportunity to get them together, and of course so us Mummies could benefit from a gossip on the way around. 

Two boys ready to take on Thomas Land.

Thomas Land at Drayton Manor Theme Park

What I love about a visit to Thomas Land, is that I know we are guaranteed a great day out. For Leo and I this really is a day that we are quite happy to do as a twosome. I get to enjoy him all to myself, I get to watch him laugh and smile in an environment that he adores. It is even more special these days with school being thrown into the mix, and any opportunity that we have to just tune out from just how serious life can be at times is a welcome distraction.

Thomas Land at Drayton Manor Theme Park

Thomas Land at Drayton Manor Theme Park

We brought a picnic along with us and sat under the winter sun by the lake, there are plenty of benches and picnic benches around if you decide to bring your own food with you. I usually like to go and sit in the Grill Inn for more of a sit down meal, but today the adventure of a picnic won over, and I knew this would appeal more to Leo.

I am pleased to report that yet another fantastic day was enjoyed all around. Leo is already asking when he can return again, and I don't think that date will be to far around the corner. Now the weather is warming up again we will most definitely be looking to get outside and enjoying ourselves more (especially when we can leave the coats at home!). 

Thomas Land at Drayton Manor Theme Park

The day completely wiped Leo out, and as soon as the car was pulling away, I had one sleeping 4 year old dreaming in the back of the car. 

See you soon Drayton Manor! Thank you for another fantastic day full of new memories to add to our beautiful collection.

You can see some snippets from our fun day out below

Disclaimer: Leo and I were invited along to Drayton Manor and provided complimentary access in exchange for this post. All views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own, we have been big fans of the park for many years, and getting to work with a brand that we are genuinely passionate about has been a fantastic experience. 

Friday 26 February 2016

Leo's New Bed

Mika Midsleeper

Back in December I took the plunge and upgraded Leo's bed from a toddler racing car to a full size 
single mid sleeper. Leo had wanted a 'ladder bed' ever since our trip to Falmouth back in June 2014, and as he is always growing, when I came across a rather fantastic deal, I couldn't not take the opportunity. 

I found the deal on Tesco and through doubling up my clubcard points from the year, the bed that should have cost me £114.00 plus a delivery fee, cost me under £15.00. In TOTAL. It didn't come with a mattress though so I had a shop around and found one on Mattress Next Day that would be absolutely perfect for Leo. I needed something to arrive on the same day as the bed so that I could have it all set up and ready for Leo to go to bed with that night.

It was right before Christmas so I wanted to keep this as a surprise for him, but I knew Christmas eve was going to be insanely busy and with so much else to do, it was not the time to build a bed. Instead the bed arrived the day before Christmas Eve, so with Leo set up with a film in the lounge.. I carted the box upstairs and began to build, or at least attempt to build his shiny new bed.

Mika Midsleeper

Those who know me will know that I am not a D.I.Y lady, I once built a play kitchen over the course of 3+ hours only to realise my victory was shortly lived. One of the very first initial steps I had taken at the begining of my labour was putting the doors that needed hinges on back to front, which now meant I could not attach the hinges for the cupboard doors... *head meets wall moment*. With this memory at the forefront of my mind, I wondered what was going to go wrong on this occasion... But we live and we learn. 

I read the instructions which straight off told me that it was going to take around 3 hours to put this bed together... So right then and there I knew that it was going to take me much, much longer to see the finished product... Which also meant keeping Leo entertained and out of sight for the duration. The construction wasn't without it's mishaps, I put things on back to front, upside down and in the wrong place, but somehow I worked it out. Even Granny came and helped for a little bit, but the most amazing feeling ever, was almost completing the bed all on my own. 

Night had fallen and Leo had known something was going on all day, he had been beyond eager to get upstairs and see what I had been up to all this time. He had no idea that I had been so busy building him a bed, no idea that I had carted the bed and the new mattress up the stairs all on my own. I finally found a use for all that effort in the gym! 

Mika Midsleeper

The bed was done, it was ready for Leo to see for himself. So without giving the name of the game away, I beckoned for him to come upstairs... His reaction was lovely and worth all of the effort that had gone into getting this surprise ready for him as you can see below.

Leo could not wait to go to bed that night, and it definitely added to the magic and excitement of Christmas for him, he most certainly was not expecting his room to get such a big over haul. The entire bed has served is amazingly so far, having all of his toys stored underneath is fantastic and gives him so much more floor space to play. 

Can you believe that he was even more excited about the new mattress than the bed though!?

Chinos: No Thank You

Whether it's a date who rolls up in an outfit that looks like his Mum picked it out for him or a partner who seems to have lost all ideas of how to dress over the years, we have all had those moments where we would love nothing more than to take the power out of there hands, and simply pick out their outfits for them. 

Of course this switch of power is to help them, encourage them and of course awaken their passion to dress themselves in a way that put's a smile on our faces. A smile that will be wiped clean off my face if you rock up to meet me in a pair of tight fitting, coloured chinos. 


I have a personal hate for chinos. I hate the different colour ways. I full stop hate chinos. I don't care how you dress them, for me they are never going to work. I don't know exactly what it is about chinos that I dislike so much, but seriously plum coloured chinos? A guy wearing trousers tighter than your own...No thank you. 

What's wrong with a simple pair of smart jeans? Nice jeans I mean, not the kind that hang around below your waist. A nice pair of jeans like these very dapper Armani Jeans (£110.00) that can be dressed up or down if you change up the shoes. You could pair them with trainers for a more casual look or even some brown shoes and a shirt if you are heading out for the evening. 

For a more casual look the Tommy Hilfiger Finn Stripe Jumper (£55.00) is smart and great for everyday wear, especially at this time of year where you can't quite get away with a t-shirt. To keep things simple finish the look with the Hugo Boss Spacit Lace up Trainers (£129.00), smart but simple.

Jeans just work, They work for you and they work for me. For a start they aren't Plum, and second they are a essential wardrobe addition. You cannot go wrong with a pair of jeans, and if you are torn between a smart pair of jeans or chinos... Wear the jeans because the chinos aren't even a contender. 

Say this is our first date and you roll up in chinos... I can assure you hand on heart, that I will sit there the entire time asking myself what made you opt for the chinos. I'll be asking myself why. Why did you think plum worked? Did you even own a pair of jeans? Would you always opt for the chinos? Why are you trousers tighter than mine? 

Guys... Say no to Chinos.

Of course the weather is soon going to be warming up, so you may be thinking about adding some new tee's to your collection. T-shirts that compliment your denim of course. Here are a few of my favourites that I think would team up perfectly:

Tommy Hilfiger Terrance T-Shirt - Was £30.00 - NOW: £15.00
Tommy Hilfiger Slim Fit Polo - Was £65.00 - NOW: £32.50
Calvin Klein Talca T-Shirt - Was £35 - NOW: £17.00
6th Sense 5 Colour Stripe Polo - Was £35.00 - NOW: £14.00

Im not opposed to colour, in fact I love seeing men embracing colour (unless it's in chinos... Sorry guys!). I think this shows in the tee's I have shared above.

Clothing choices in men and women are both such a personal choice and I know first hand how sometimes we aren't brave enough to try certain outfits through fear of not being able to pull them off. It's important to throw caution to the wind and try different styles out, find what works and what doesn't.

Couples who shop together, look good together.