Holidaying Abroad With Tots

Although I might be speaking too soon I think this holiday is going quite well. It’s exceeding my expectations anyway, although admittedly, my expectations were that the whole week would be a stressful nightmare. Happily, that is not the case!

I’m in Mallorca with Omar (3), Zaki (11 months) and my mum (she doesn’t want you knowing her age, sorry). We opted for a 4* all inclusive package holiday. I know, I know. It’s a soulless choice and I’m a slave to the capitalist machine. Really sorry for not chucking both my kids in a sling and backpacking around the Far East but quite frankly after the hellish last 12 months I’ve had I needed an easy option and this holiday, so far, has been pretty easy. 

The living room in our spacious apartment. Omar is mesmerised by Scooby Doo in German.
We’re staying in an apartment, so we have facilities to make Zaki’s bottles and a cuppa when we need one, but I don’t have to cook because we’re all inclusive, win! The restaurant is a buffet style one so I can always find something the kids will eat and there’s loads and loads of fruit for dessert, so I don’t feel too bad when they turn their nose up at all the veg I heap onto their plates and have chips. 

The occassional bowl of ice cream is obviously a holiday essential.


We’ve spent most of our days around the pool and both boys LOVE it in the kid
paddling pool. Obviously I have to supervise them in there but it’s no hardship. I actually like being in there, it stops me from melting from the heat.

I bought Zaki a baby swim support seat and I’d definitely recommend one, it was about €8 and would be worth every cent if it was triple that. 


Omar loves wearing a swimming ring and arm bands for some reason (weird kid) but he doesn’t actually need them in the little pool, I don’t think there’s much cope for drowning in a metre of water. 

We went to the beach for a day but to be honest, I can’t stand getting sand everywhere and Omar wasn’t keen on the sea, so as lovely as it was, I don’t think we’ll go back. 

There are lots of potential days out we could have; Alcudia Old Town and Porta Pollensa look beautiful, but this holiday is all about the kids and they just wouldn’t appreciate a day of walking around looking at ruins or eating in upmarket fish restaurants at the marina, so pool days work just fine for us.  

Out for an evening stroll and its still boiling at 7pm.

In the evening we sometimes go for a walk after dinner or have a coffee in the hotel bar but often it’s just bath and bed for the kids and then me and mum read or watch a bit of TV before we go to sleep. There is hotel entertainment on each night but Omar and Zaki are always too tired to stay awake for the cheesy tribute acts and magicians, which is no skin off my nose.

Overall I think we’re all having a great time, just being in the sunshine makes people feel better, don’t you think? If you’re considering going abroad for a sunny holiday with young kids, do it! It’s not as difficult or stressful as you might think, the kids will love it and if nothing else, at least you get to feel the sun on your skin and a break from the washing up. Win. 


If you’ve been on a successful package holiday to somewhere sunny please let me know where in the comments. I’m already thinking about where we’ll go next year. I quite fancy Turkey. 

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My Child’s Age Ain’t Nuthin’ But A Number

‘Two. He’s only two.’ Was my reply to the mother who loudly asked ‘how old is he?!’ with disbelief in her voice when I told her that I didn’t need the toilet cubicle thank you, because I was waiting to change my child’s nappy on the changing table.

It’s wasn’t a lie, he was two. But he was a week off his 3rd birthday.  I omitted that information when the mother exclaimed that he was extremely tall for his age. (He is tall for his age anyway, as it goes. He wears 4-5 year clothes, mostly.)

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So anyway. My son has just turned 3 but in terms of some aspects of development he is more like 2. The main delay is with speech and language; he’s not yet talking and he doesn’t understand as much as he should. And so he’s not yet toilet trained because we just can’t communicate with each other enough for him to grasp the concept. I’ve tried 3 times but he just isn’t ready.

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I’ve gotten over the grief of finding out my boy has learning disabilities and now I plough my energy into trying to help him and encourage him wherever I can. So it really pisses me off that I still cringe when strangers ask me how old he is. I shouldn’t care. I should just give them the honest answer without feeling the need to justify his behaviour/silence/nappy to them. But I don’t. I don’t want them to judge him as a child or me as a mother.

The difficulty is, if I say ‘oh he’s just turned 3 but has learning disabilities so is actually more like just turned 2’ the poor strangers don’t know where to put themselves. And if I just tell them his age with no explanation of his delays they assume he’s a brat and I’m a rubbish mother. It’s a tough one.

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Now he is actually 3 I know I’m going to find it even harder. When he was 2 (or ‘only 2′ as I always found myself saying) there were some 2 year olds that were at the same stage as him developmentally. Albeit they had just turned 2 and he was almost 3. But 2’s 2. Now he’s 3 people expect so much more from him.

At the doctors surgery yesterday I was struggling to keep him sat next to me, gripping onto him for dear life if I’m honest. Two old ladies told me to just let him have a wander. ‘Oh I can’t’, I told them. ‘He’d be out of those doors and into the carpark.’ They looked at him. ‘You won’t will you? Tell mummy you’re a big boy and you’ll be good.’ They meant well but they had no idea. If I’d have been able to tell them he was ‘only 2′ their expectations would have lowered instantly.

My son’s age really doesn’t matter. If I tell people he’s 2 they won’t question his behaviour and abilities, although they’ll probably have him pegged as a giant. They’ll tell me he’s going through the ‘terrible two’s’ with a sympathetic look on their faces and assure me that he’ll grow out of it soon. But I refuse to lie. His age in terms of the how many years it’s been since he was born means nothing to him, or to me really. I’m more concerned with the age his brain is operating at. 

He’s 3. My boy is 3. And it ain’t nuthin’ but a number.

It’s Been A Long Time, I Shouldn’t Have Left You…

… I sincerely hope you had a dope beat to step to. (If you don’t get it, never mind.)

Hello! I’ve been gone for too long, I know. I lost the will to blog to be honest. Lots has happened and I’ve been busy and stressed and feeling like I should be doing more productive things with my time rather than writing my self-indulgent little blog. But I do love my self indulgent little blog, so here’s a quick update on my life:

What I’ve Been Doing

DIY! Of sorts. I finally finished Zaki’s bedroom and I love it! I’m pretty proud because I did it all myself, from the painting to hanging the wallpaper, to putting up the shelves. No doubt I’ll go off it within a year but for now it’s my fave room in the house.

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What I’ve Been Buying

Too much stuff for my kids, that’s what! We go on holiday to Spain next month and my kids have about 6 outfits for each day we’re there. I, however, will be wearing the same ASOS dress I bought in 2014 day in, day out if I don’t get my act together soon. Always the way. Anyway, one of the best things I’ve bought is this t shirt for Omar. I love it!

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What I’ve been watching

Peaky Blinders, Peaky Blinders, Peaky Blinders. I am OBSESSED.

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I am totally obsessed. In true me fashion. And that means I now know all there is to know about Cillian Murphy, who is just so bloody beautiful. Heart eyes for days I tell you! Anyway, I came late to the party and recently discovered Peaky  Blinders on NetFlix. It was so bingeable it didn’t take me long to catch up and I watched the season 3 finale on Thursday night with every other sane person in Britain. Ahhh Thomas Shelby, how I love thee.

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If you haven’t seen Peaky Blinders you NEED to. I’m serious, stop what you’re doing and go and watch it right now. I never watch stuff people enthusiastically tell me I need to watch (probably part of my insulant nature) but don’t be like me. This is the best thing I’ve seen in years, you’ll love it!

Omar Update

He turned 3! My boy is 3 whole years old. I can’t get my head around it. We didn’t have a party this year because quite frankly he didn’t really get involved at his last two so I avoided the stress. I had planned on having a mini tea party but illness struck our house and it had to be postponed. I will still do that for him but with no pressure on him to play party games that he has no desire to play. We had some lovely days out to celebrate anyway. We went to a huge farm and Omar loved the outdoor play areas but the cows made him boke. To be fair, they did whiff a bit haha. 

 

He is still progressing with his words and communication, just very slowly. He says about 30-40 words now but still not mama! When will he say mama?! I really can’t wait for that day.

Zaki Update

Zaki is still doing well but he’s had a sickness bug that stuck around for ages and caused him to lose 4lbs so I’m trying to fatten him up again now. He has a cardiac check up tomorrow, keeping everything crossed that his echo scan shows all is ok. Zaki will be 1 next month, which is ridiculous quite frankly! He was only born 5 minutes ago. He cruises the furniture really well now and can manoeuvre himself off the sofa. He’s desperate to be able to walk and chase after Omar but his little legs aren’t quite strong enough yet. 

So that’s about it really. Or more accurately that’s all I really want to share on my blog. Sorry if you’ve found this post a bit dull, I felt I needed to kind of catch the regular readers up (if there even are any!) and thought this would be a quick way of doing that.

Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy 

Once again I need to start by apologising for neglecting my poor little blog. Life has been quite hectic and I just haven’t found the time but I’m back now. 

So, since my last post on Omar, (Finding Out Your Child Has Learning Disabilities) which was about a month ago, there have been some developments. The main one being: we have some more words!!! For such a long time he would only say  two words (oh no and ball) but over the past 4 or so weeks this has increased to 20 words! (Not that I’m counting or anything.) His receptive language (understanding) also seems to have improved a lot and he generally just seems to be engaging more. The little toad still hasn’t said mama though, I’m so desperate for that word to come!

  
I’m not sure whether these steps forward he has taken can be put down to the brilliant speech therapist we have started to see; an online video program we started called Gemiini; or whether it was just time for him to start talking more. But I’m just so glad he’s moving in the right direction and we’re going to keep doing what we’ve been doing and hope it continues. 

With each new word he says I get ridiculously excited and it lifts me for the whole day. The first new word he said spontaneously was cat. We were walking down the street and he pointed to a cat and said ‘cat’. I wasn’t quite sure I’d heard it right and didn’t dare believe it. But then later that day he also said cake and balloon. I was so overjoyed but didn’t dare revel in it too much in case it was a fluke and he’d be stuck on those words for months and months and months, the same way he was with ‘oh no’ and ‘ball’.

But his words continued to increase and I’m so proud of him. I make him work hard with the tasks the speech therapist has given us but we make it fun too and so far so good. 

  
He also had an appointment with a paediatrician a few weeks ago. She was great and spent over an hour with us. She saw Omar in action; he was in a whirlwind mood and kept filling toy pans up in the doctor’s hand washing basin and then trying to soak her with them (I know it shouldn’t have been funny but it so was). He also managed to hit her on the head twice with a ball, clapping and cheering afterwards both times (which leads me to believe her head was the target). Anyway, she didn’t really tell me anything I didn’t already know in terms of his development. He is delayed. We knew that. But she did say ‘he doesn’t have autism’. She actually said it like that. Not that she doesn’t think/believe/suspect he has autism. Just that he hasn’t got it. I don’t know whether she’s able to know that just from one hour with him; I thought a team of people would need to be involved to make that kind of decision. But anyway, that particular paediatrician doesn’t think Omar’s on the spectrum and neither does his speech therapist. Honestly, I don’t think he is either. I’m not ruling it out though. Just in case. His behaviour definitely isn’t typical but it doesn’t seem to fit with autism either. I’m stumped to be honest. 

 

First day of his new pre school
 
Omar has started at a new pre school recently too and the staff there are so supportive. He’s only been 6 times so far but I’ve got high hopes about the place. I’m especially hoping they can help with his challenging behaviour. They seem firmer with him than his last nursery and are working on boundaries, which can only be a good thing because he has no concept of them at the moment. 

So at 2 years 10 months Omar says 20 words spontaneously and copies around another 5. I know this is waaaay behind typical kids his age but he is talking and at one point I genuinely feared that he never would. His 25 words bring me joy. 

On the way home from pre school, when he points to a tree and says ‘tree’ I’m so so thrilled. I’m ecstatic! I’m walking on air! Until behind us, I hear a child younger than him taking in full sentences, telling their parents what they did that day. 

Then it hits me again how delayed Omar is and the grief comes creeping back in. 

So I have to block all other children out at the moment. Because comparison is the thief of joy and I won’t let anything steal this joy. For now, other children are irrelevant. Even yours. Sorry. I will still be pleased for you when they reach a milestone or make you proud. I will like your Facebook posts and leave kind comments on your Instagram photos. And I’m not being fake, I am genuinely celebrating that achievement with you. But I’m ignoring the age of your child and I’m oblivious to their stage of development. It’s the only way at the moment. I need to preserve my joy. 

I hope you understand. 

Clarisonic Review

I wrote this review a while ago for guest list on another blog but I’ve recently fallen back in love with my Clarisonic after forgetting about it for a while so I’m re-publishing it here…

While I was pregnant for the second time I noticed that my skin became extra oily and my pores even more noticeable. Already feeling like a huge frump, the last thing I wanted was terrible skin, so I decided to invest in a Clarisonic facial cleansing system. There are several different types available but I opted for the Mia 2 Deep Pore Decongesting Solution, which seemed perfect for me because the box read ‘Reduces pore appearance and helps control excess oil on skin’s surface, for visibly clearer looking skin’. Great, just what I needed!

 So I handed over £140.00 (ouch!) and headed home with what I hoped would be my new skincare saviour. Inside the box was a white deep pore Mia 2 cleanser with deep pore brush head attached, 177ml deep pore daily cleanser, 60ml decongesting clay mask, charger and a hard travel case. I was also given a free travel bag as part of a promotion.

That evening, after I had removed my makeup, I was excited to use the Clarisonic. I followed the instructions, splashed water on my face, put a penny sized amount of the daily cleanser straight onto the brush head and got to work on my face.

The Clarisonic uses patented sonic frequency and the brush head moves at a rate of over 300 movements per second. There are 2 speed settings on the Mia 2 and a 1 minute timer. I must say, I loved the feel of the Clarisonic against my skin, I could feel the dead skin and dirt faking away. I had to resist the temptation to keep using it for one more minute. Twice daily for one minute each time is what Clarisonic recommend.

Clarisonic claim a visible improvement will be seen after just one use but I didn’t really believe that would be true. However let me tell you – it is! My pores were tighter, especially on my nose, and my skin felt so amazingly soft I couldn’t stop touching it. I was so impressed and immediately felt it was a justified spend.

Several months on and I still use the Clarisonic daily. It is now part of my morning and evening skincare routine. When the daily cleanser ran out though I didn’t replace it. I went back to my old faithful Johnson’s Clean and Clear. I’ve used so many facial cleaners over the years, from Clarins to Superdrug’s own brand, but I find this cheap and cheerful choice great for my oily skin.

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I use the decongestant clay mask weekly and I still have some left. A little goes a long way and it’s very easy to spread, unlike a lot of clay masks. I find that a weekly application is enough to really clean my skin and unclog my pores.

Overall I’m very pleased with the Clarisonic Mia 2. We can never totally remove our pores, it just isn’t possible, but using the Clarisonic definitely makes mine appear much tighter and smaller and helps me keep my oily skin under control.

A totally unfiltered selfie to show you my skin.

Finding Out Your Child Has Learning Disabilities

Things keep happening to me that only happen to other people. I’ve already blogged about my second baby being born with a congenital heart defect and having open heart surgery when he was 2 days old. That happened in July last year. When the doctor first told me, hours after Zaki had been born, I thought to myself ‘this can’t be happening because I’ve read about this sort of thing but it only happens to other people‘. Well it did happen and we got through it. But I’ll admit that I got through it by the skin of my teeth and almost lost the plot more than once.

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I took Zaki home and genuinely believed that once we were all settled my little family would be in for an easy ride for a while. At least a little while. If not forever. I mean, after something as terrifying and traumatic as that how could the universe possibly heap any more shit on us?

Unfortunately we didn’t qualify for the easy ride and more shit was on its way.

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Within days of being home I started to realise things weren’t quite right with my oldest boy, who was 2 years 1 month old when Zaki was born. I wrote about some of my my concerns that he still wasn’t talking here. Well, he’s now 2 years 9 months and still not talking. He still hasn’t said mama or mummy…

If you read my blog regularly you’ll have realised I’ve been quiet lately. Not just here but on social media too. I’ve been trying to come to terms with the fact that my gorgeous boy, the kid that changed my life and taught me what true love really is, has learning disabilities.

Now I’m coming to terms with it, and I fully understand what it means, it’s actually not as scary as it sounds. But at first I was an absolute wreck. It was all I thought about and I spent every waking moment obsessing about it and what it meant. I cried and cried and cried. Then I cried a bit more. Mostly because I was scared. I had no idea what the future would hold for my sweet, precious, gorgeous, innocent boy. Well I still don’t. And I’m still scared and I still cry. But much, much less now.

He hasn’t had an official diagnosis yet but I’ve had enough dealings with doctors to recognise the warning shots that we’ve been given from them. And I’m switched on enough to realise that he definitely has learning disabilities.

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It all started to become clear when a paediatrician carried out a hearing test on Omar about 3 weeks ago. This was after 12 sessions of speech and language therapy hadn’t really had much effect. The paediatrician told me that Omar was delayed not only with speech and language but also with social and emotional development. That set me off on a crusade of Internet research, which although can be hit and miss, I have to say, did prepare me for what was to come. I read that a delay in 2 areas or more means Gloval Development Delay (GDD). And GDD means learning disability. I still hadn’t really accepted it though. But deep deep down, I knew.

I found an amazing group on Facebook, of parents dealing with similar situations and through that group I found a lovely, supportive beacon of light in the form of another blogger. She prepared me for the emotions I was about to go through. She gave me hope and positivity too. She has been nothing short of amazing. Even though we’ve only messaged online and I haven’t actually met her, I feel like I’ve known her for years. She’s called Janine and she’s great, check out her blog here – Unhinged Mummy.

I finally, properly, fully came to terms with reality a few days ago when a private speech pathologist told us that Omar is severely delayed and is operating at a level at least a year younger than his actual age. She predicts that he will talk but not for around another year. Although obviously she can’t guarantee it. I took comfort in that though and I’m praying she’s right.

She used the terms ‘learning disabilities’ and ‘special needs’ and it was hard to digest but once it had been spoken out loud by a professional there was no going back. It was out there and I had to take a deep breath and do what needed to be done to help my boy.

These years are so so important, if gains are to be made, they will mostly be made before a child is 5. I keep hearing that early intervention is the key. He needs as much support as possible as soon as possible. Great! Let’s put it in place. If only it were that easy…

Everything takes so long and services have been ruthlessly cut, meaning there just aren’t enough resources to go round. I’m already fighting and battling to get my son the help he needs and I’m only a few weeks into what it going to be a really long, hard journey. It’s actually so cruel, the way this Tory government is slashing funding for services. Services for the most vulnerable in society. It actually disgusts me, actually physically disgusts me. Anyway, I digress…

 

So back to how it feels when you find out your child has a learning disability. Grief. That’s the overwhelming feeling. Nobody has died but there is a sense of loss. Loss of the child you thought you were going to raise. That’s not to say I love my baby any less, or wish he was someone else. Of course I don’t. I wouldn’t change him for the world and that’s the truth. But I am so,so sad that his life won’t be as easy as I thought it would be. He will have to work so much harder to achieve every milestone and it just all seems so unfair.

Aside from the grief, I also feel a huge amount of pressure to do everything I can to help Omar to develop and also get him the professional support that he needs. I’ve already hounded his health visitor and early years co-ordinater. I’ve contacted pretty much every nursery and pre school in the area and been to look round a few, trying to figure out where he will get the best help. I’ve spoken to professionals who should only really get involved after a diagnosis, just by being pushy and pressing for help. I can almost hear their eyes rolling when they answer the phone and it’s me again, the pushy mum in the early stages of accepting her child has learning disabilities. But I don’t care. I’ll gladly be a pushy, embarrassing mum if it helps my boy.

It’s a lonely situation to be in at first. It feels like everyone else is going in one direction with their kids and I’m going in another direction with mine, to a place unknown. But slowly I have started to realise that Omar is still Omar. Nothing has actually changed, it’s just that now I’m more aware and now I know for sure he’s different to most other kids.

Maybe harder times are yet to come. We don’t yet know the cause of his delays or how much progress he’ll be able to make. Maybe I’ll be a wreck again once he has an official diagnosis, or if his speech doesn’t progress. But for now I’m trying to take each day as it comes and see the positives.

So here we are. One boy with learning disabilities and one boy with a congenital heart defect. It’s not the life I thought we’d have but it’s the only one we’ve got so we’ll live it together and just as before, I’ll be doing everything I can to make sure it’s a happy one for my beautiful boys.

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They F*ck You Up

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.

They may not mean to, but they do.

Yep. Philip Larkin hit the nail on the head with ‘This Be The Verse’. We can all probably attribute some of our issues to our parents and the way they did (or in some cases didn’t) raise us. Even if they did their absolute best Even if they were attentive and doting and as mumsy and dadsy as could be. 

And if we know that our parents messed us up then we have to know that we’re messing our kids up. And we can’t stop because we don’t even know we’re doing it.

But it works the other way too.

They fuck you up, those kids you had.

They make you feel helpless, useless and like you’ve lost control.

And that pretty much sums up how I’ve been feeling for the last ten days. I don’t mean that I haven’t been coping with the general parenting stuff or that I’m tired or my house is a tip. Well yeah, that too. But it’s more serious and it’s got me feeling like absolute crap. To the point that I couldn’t face writing any blog posts or even watching tv. I just wanted to cry and sleep. Sleep brought sweet relief from having to think. 

You might have read about my baby Zaki and his heart. Open heart surgery and a 3 week stint in intensive care saved his life but he so very nearly died and life was hell for a while. Then it got better and I dared to think that we might be in for an easier ride for a while. Because we deserved it after what we’d been through, didn’t we?

I know it doesn’t really work that way but I thought that after something so awful, that was our fair share of crapness done with and there’d be nothing else major coming up. But yeah, it doesn’t work that way.

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I’m not quite ready to explain just yet but there are things going on with my oldest boy that are breaking my heart. I don’t have proper answers yet but what I do know is that we’re going to be in for a tough time of it. Again. And yes, I am feeling sorry for myself because quite frankly, it’s not bloody fair.

I’ve been a total mess but I’m starting to pull myself together now, for his sake, so I can get him the help he needs. I’ve done an awful lot of crying and wallowing though and I’m guessing there’s more to come.

See, this is how our kids fuck us up. They make us vulnerable because anything that hurts them or impacts on them in a negative way, hurts us a million times more. And I’ll be honest, I find it hard to deal with. Especially when everything is totally out of my control and nothing I do will change the outcome.

I’m sure it’s not healthy to love our kids to the extent that we do. For our whole happiness and wellbeing to depend on their happiness and wellbeing just cannot be healthy. And that’s how they fuck us up.

Get out as early as you can,

And don’t have any kids yourself.

Lately I’ve found myself telling people they really ought to consider not having any kids… ‘I mean, if you can live without them, do. Don’t put yourself through it…’ I said.

Now that my kids are here I love them with every fibre of my being, of course. I couldn’t live without them. But if I could stop my currently childless friends going through the pain that they bring, I would. I don’t buy into the ‘oh you need the tough times to appreciate the good times‘ school of thought either. I can do without the tough times. Honestly. They do nothing for me.

Just give me the good times, please. I promise I’ll appreciate them.