Wednesday 12 July 2017

A New Found Confidence

6 years old

Leo is now 6, and you can really see just how grown up he has become. I have found myself at a crossroads in terms of what I can share online, of course I will continue to share his journey, but when I post things now I have to sit back and consider if Leo would want me to share it, would what I write or the video I post embarrass him?

As with anything I think it is very important to be careful with what you do post online, you just need to read about the Dark Side of Mummy Blogging over on the Daily Mail to see why...

It's for this very reason that I unfortunately cannot share the video of Leo dancing like a champ to Despacito (but I will be saving it for his 18th Birthday!). In all the years of being Leo's Mother, I have never seen him move the way he does in that video, and I slyly managed to point the camera in his direction and get some rather beautiful footage, but I know that he would hate me to publish this, and it is for this very reason that I won't be.

That's something that has really progressed this year, and that is Leo's confidence. I have been amazed to watch him singing and dancing in his school assembly and then the Nativity play over the festive period, and that has just continued to blossom.

There was a point that Leo would have just stood there and not taken part, and that is what makes this video of Leo singing and dancing to Despacito so special. When I showed it to his Granny and Dad, neither of them could believe it, his Dad even rang me up from work to ask me how on earth I had captured such a display!

This confidence is pushing Leo to try new things all of the time, his swimming lessons are coming along beautifully, he's given Taekwondo a try and he even wants to get on a Football team and take part in football tournaments over the summer holiday. 

This year at school has been a changing point for Leo, and I genuinely believe that it is his fabulous teacher who has been the pivotal factor in this. She has been incredible, kind, firm and fair. She has focused on what Leo can do, and not what he can't. She has given him time, supported him , and been an incredibly positive factor in his life. 

In return I have seen Leo progress and start to enjoy learning. His reading is coming along all of the time and just last week he smashed a spelling test on the numbers One through to Five, and he only got 1 of those wrong. If you had seen how hard we practiced for this test, you would have witnessed how difficult Leo found it, you would have seen me writing in Leo's spelling book, that despite how hard we had tried, it had been a real struggle. 

So when his book came home again that night, I honestly didn't expect to find such positive news, but there it was. The practice had gone in, even if I didn't think it had. 

Leo is still delayed (whether it is classes as global development delay, I don't know), and the delay is about 12 months at this stage, but when the school report came out I couldn't help but beam with pride. Leo's teacher had wrote some absolutely lovely words, she spoke of how he was a credit to his Dad and I, how she has enjoyed teaching him and how he is always happy and well behaved. 

It is these qualities that I focus on, so even though he is not where all of the other children are, for me the absolute gold of that report is that Leo is a well liked, polite and happy little boy. I don't think his teacher will realise just how proud reading that report made me, and I cannot thank her enough for the time and patience she has had with Leo this year.

I will be sad to see Leo moving out of her class as I genuinely believe that it is because of her that Leo has made such good progress this year, and she was the perfect teacher for him, giving him everything he needed in the school environment. 

I know he will definitely miss her too.

I am excited to watch this confidence and desire to try new things develop, and I am so very much looking forward to the summer holiday's with my clever, little man.

Things to think about before committing to a puppy

Things to think about before getting a puppy

This time next month, I will have had Lux for an entire 12 months. 1 whole year.

Seriously though, what year it has been. 

Has it been easy?

Has it been hard?
In a word....YES.

Has it been stressful?

Has it been eye opening?
Hell yes.

Would I ever have another puppy?
Erm, no.

But has it been worth it?
Yes, it's been so worth it. It's been a complete eye opener, but the love little Lux conveys for his humans, and the bond that we all have with him has made everything else so worth it.

I am going to be sharing some of my personal highlights over this last year, but if they aren't enough to make you really consider 'is a puppy right for our family', then maybe these 10 points to consider before getting a puppy will help...

Although it was rather funny when Leo and Lux accidently went viral earlier this year. If you missed them, check Lux out over on the Daily Mail, and you may recognise them both from this video...

Puppies are hard work, they will push buttons you didn't even know you had. They will eat your shoes, socks, underwear (come to think of it there isn't much that they won't eat.), they will even eat your walls and make holes in your laminate flooring (Karndean Flooring is the way to go, forget about carpet...)

They will be excited, out of the box excited. You will meet people you didn't anticipate in meeting (mainly because the puppy has dragged you through the field and over the fence to get to them, Note: wear comfortable shoes). They will take things and run away just to get your attention (and then after you have done 10 laps of the garden, they will chew it up just to spite you). 

Things to think about before getting a puppy

In those early days (and then some) you can bet your bottom dollar that they will use your house as a toilet. All the puppy pads in the world cannot help you, they will just go wherever they feel like going... 

The puppy phase (which is still a thing at 13 months for us....) is hard. You will need wine, you will need thick skin and you will need patience. Lots and lots of patience. 

Granted Lux is getting better, it's taken time but with each week and month that passes, we are slowly and tentatively making progress. Although if you were to ask the poor man who had Lux for us while we were on holiday, he might tell you something completely different. He could not wait to give Lux back to us, and even attempted to bring him back a day early (while we were still out of the country!), but settled for the very first thing in the morning...(we are talking before 9am, and originally he wasn't due home until the afternoon!).

Things to think about before getting a puppy

When I describe Lux there are Two endearing terms I like to use. He is the original Asbo Pup and he is also the real life Marley, the naughtiest dog in the world. It's true, this puppy once tried to steal a mince pie from an unsuspecting elderly lady at a Christmas market in the Cotswolds, and it quite honestly seems like his actual goal in life is to humiliate/destroy me.

Let me count the ways Lux has put his life goal into action...

1. He cocked his leg on the coffee table when we went to visit the dog board for the first time...

2. He tried to dominate another dog's face....(need I say more?)

3. He did a number 2 as he walked  through town that was beyond picking up... It needed scrubbing. So guess who had to come back with hot water and a scrubber? Yes. Me,

4. We were walking up a hill through the nature reserve at the back of my parents house. Lux saw another dog, went back down the hill taking me with him. It was a case of hold on to the dog for dear life so that he doesn't run to the dog...Or smash my face into the tree. I opted to let go of the lead, leaving the man and the dog at the bottom of the slope in disbelief, he didn't believe that my family home was at the top of the hill and quite obviously thought I was dodgy...

5.  He once chewed my phone to the point that the screen was nothing but colorful lines... Yes I had to upgrade early.

6. One time I walked into the kitchen and found him in bed with £300 of cash... Thankfully I got in there before the shredding had commenced (Luke doesn't leave his wallet on the work surface anymore...)

7. He once pooped on Leo's pillow...

8. He once ate my sisters Biology coursework... The dog really did eat her homework.

9. He once ran away from Luke on a walk and decided to go swimming in the marsh... it took him an hour (and my help...) to get him back.

10. He made a hole in our laminate floor, so I taped down a mat (which he later ripped up and destroyed as I watched and protested over his pet cam). I walked around B&M Bargains like a mad lady shouting at her phone.... I haven't dared go back in since...

Still want a puppy?

Friday 7 July 2017

The ideal car for a dog?

good car for a dog

I have been thinking about getting a new car for a while now, and with the addition of our spotty dog Lux, the practicality of keeping a Mini Convertible seemed slim to none. Imagine if you will, one rather large Dalmatian, riding around in luxury on my leather seats, if you have ever driven a Mini yourself, you will appreciate that the back seats and front seats are almost one and the same, which for me meant that Lux would occasionally seize the opportunity to lay one massive kiss on my face (not ideal when A. it is completely unexpected, and B. you are trying your darndest to not crash....).

These realisations pretty much sealed my little Mini's fate, and it dawned on me that for the first time in my life I actually needed a 'grown up' car. My mind started pondering what that meant, I didn't want anything too big... But at the same time I needed the additional space, and that really only left me with an estate as an option. Along with the space factor, I wanted something that was economic and cheap to run, something that had little to no road tax (after the Mini crippled me at £305 a year!).

Mini Cooper S Convertible

That's when I discovered the Skoda Fabia Estate and found a rather good deal for one not to far from me. The Skoda is only a 1.2 engine (where as the Mini was a 1.6 Turbo Cooper S!), it cosrs absolutely nothing in road tax each year and I have discovered that a full tank is under £50 (and let me tell you that it can go for miles upon miles with its Diesel consumption!).

Along with the money saving aspects of this car, I have also gained the space I need for that rather hefty puppy of mine (no more face licks as I cruise along...). Lux is now confined to the boot of the car and kept there thanks to the dog guard I purchased.

I am currently in the process of dog proofing my entire car. I want to get a boot liner so that if we take Lux out for a walk and he get's filthy, it won't matter so much when we have to get him back in the car, and not to mention how much Lux sheds, Dalmatian dog hair is always falling out, and it can be rather difficult to clean up (it took me HOURS and a whole roll of sellotape to rid the Mini of dog hair...), so I am thinking of getting seat covers as well even though Lux won't be in the main part of the car (dog hair finds it's way EVERYWHERE).

I have found some great Pets At Home Discount Cards over on Voucher Slug that I am going to be making the most of, because it's going to cost me a pretty penny to kit the car out with everything that I need to Lux proof it.

Dalmatian Puppy

I may have lost a substantial amount of power with my car upgrade (I can tell you that picking it up and driving it around was a shock to the system when I was putting the pedal to the floor and only just managing to find the speed to overtake cars!), but I am really pleased with just how practical my little estate is, and it's just in time for Summer!

I cannot wait to pack the pup and Leo into the car and just taking a drive to the beach with them both. I want to try and find a dog friendly holiday within the UK over the Summer break, it will be so lovely to go away as an entire family (this of course includes Lux), make some memories and explore the treasures hidden within England.

Wednesday 5 July 2017

Leo Turns SIX

Sixth Birthday Haul


It doesn't matter what you do, time is going to pass. 

Days, weeks, months and subsequently years too.

The reason I started blogging all of those years ago was to capture those fleeting moments in time, the kind that appear before your eyes if only for a split second, and then disappear as quickly as they surfaced. 

Over the last 6 years that is what I have done, I have shared our journey, Leo's story. If you are reading this then the chances are that you have seen Leo blossom into the beautiful boy he is today.  

On the 27th June 2017, Leo turned SIX years old, and in that 6 years, my baby boy has grown up. He has become kind, caring and thoughtful, and he has become someone that I am incredibly proud of. His wicked sense of humour never ceases to put a smile on my face, and his cheeky smile that beams out through his glassy blue eyes is enough to make anyones day.

So when Leo's birthday came around again, I wanted him to have a very special day. Leo didn't ask for a lot, in fact if you asked him he simply said he didn't know, but I already knew what the perfect gift would be.

Sixth Birthday

Leo loves computer games, if he has some spare time then there is nothing he loves more than getting lost in a Minecraft world or embarking on a race against Luigi in Mario Kart 8 on his Nintendo Wii U. That little console has served him well, but it has started to fail him over the last few months, so Daddy and I decided that the absolute perfect gift would be to treat him to the brand new Nintendo Switch.

It's no secret that I love preparing for Leo's birthday, and I get a real buzz out of seeing just how excited he is for the big day. This year he was counting down the sleeps from at least 17 days before... Everyday we had to tick off another sleep on the calendar, and then suddenly it was the eve of Leo's special day...

I always remember the 26th June with fondness, because it was on this day that I was in the early stages of labour (even if I didn't know it yet!), and I can remember the day like it was yesterday. It was a super hot day, and my ankles were so happy they decided to swell up to the size of balloons. It was a Sunday, a week before my due date and I was supposed to be heading into work the very next day...Obviously this didn't happen because that Leo was waiting around for nobody.

Leo's birthday eve is not spent pacing around the house in a bid to get comfortable (because you couldn't sit down) anymore, it is making sure everything is ready for the Birthday boy when he wakes up in the morning, making sure that he knows just how proud we are of him.

Sixth Birthday Haul 

Leo's big day falls on a school day so I decided to get up extra early and make sure that everything was ready for him when he came downstairs. Daddy and I had set the new Switch up the night before so that he could have a quick go before he had to head out of the door for school.

I sent him off to school with his brand new Minecraft Creeper Backpack from Noisy Sauce (so we had to promptly take everything out of his old school bag!), and of course with a big Birthday badge and armed with cupcakes for all of his school friends.

Minecraft Creeper Backpack from Noisy Sauce

After school we all went out for a Birthday dinner at Frankie and Benny's before we went back to Granny's to light his Minecraft Cake! 

Minecraft Birthday Cake

Minecraft Birthday Cake

I couldn't resist purchasing relighting candles for the cake this year (it's also the first year I cheated and didn't make the cake! *INSERT HORRIFIED LOOKS HERE*, and I couldn't help chuckling as each time Leo blew out the candles, they all relit again. Daddy was in charge of recording at this point, and apparently he neglected to hit *REC*, as when I came to edit this footage... it wasn't there!

I should probably mention here that Daddy also got Leo his very first motorbike. It's one of those small petrol ones, so now we need to purchase a helmet and other safety bits and find a suitable field for Luke to teach him how to ride. I expect this will come in a future blog/vlog.

For now though, he is a snippet of Leo's special day.

Saturday 1 July 2017

The Best Cars for Young Adults Who Have Just Passed

The Best Cars for young adults who have just passed their driving test

When your child passes their driving test, it opens up an entirely new world for them and gives them a tremendous amount of independence. It is a major milestone in their life, so you will want to congratulate them with a car that they will be happy with.

If somebody has only recently passed, it is vital that their first car is something that is reliable, safe, economical and not too expensive. It can be hard to find a car that ticks all of these boxes and still impresses the young driver, so here are a few recommendations.

Ford Fiesta
The Fiesta is a superb little car that is perfect for new and young drivers. The supermini is one of Ford’s best selling automobiles and popular with young drivers; this is because it is fun to drive, full of character and also very reliable. Parents will be happy to hear that it scores highly on safety, plus it is also much cheaper to insure than other vehicles. As such a popular car, you should also be able to find a great deal when you visit online dealerships like Motorpoint.

Ford Ka
Another excellent Ford for first time drivers, the Ka is a cheap, compact and stylish automobile that also offers good fuel economy and it is cheap to insure (this is due to the small engine). It is designed for city use so it is a great choice if you live in the city. The distinctive and quirky design make it popular with young drivers too.

Fiat 500
If your child is considered about style, then you may want to take a look at the Fiat 500. This city car looks like a MINI and the interior and exterior can be customised in many different ways, making it a fashionable choice. Fortunately, it is much more affordable than the MINI and is small, safe and affordable to run and has received great reviews.

Vauxhall Corsa
The Corsa is used by many UK driving schools, so you can be sure that it is a good choice for new motorists. This is down to its excellent handling, comfort and the fact that it is easy to drive. It is also cheap to run and more spacious than other vehicles in its class. It features a simple yet stylish design that will be appealing to most.

These four automobiles are all great options for those that have recently passed their test. They are stylish, fun and cheap enough to drive for young drivers, whilst any parent will feel reassured as they are affordable, reliable and safe.