Sunday, 22 January 2017

Look in my Letterbox number 3 2017

It's time for our weekly look through the letterbox at the Monkey House. I may have got slightly carried away internet shopping lately so it's been a busy week.

Mummy's penpals
It was a quiet week for penpal letters but I did have three lovely letters from Kevin, Kerry and Elaine.

It was a Toucan Box week again this week. We've not had chance to make it yet but the theme of the box was fireworks. It seems a strange theme for this time of year but I'm sure Monkey will have lots of fun with it.

We also received our quarterly Nature Detectives pack from the Woodland Trust. I love these packs as they give us lots of ideas for things to do outside. We're looking forward to going on a twig hunt sometime next week and painting with pine cones sounds like a lot of fun.

I've done quite a lot of shopping over the last few weeks and a lot of it has arrived this week. I have a slight problem with writing paper - I'm addicted - and lots has arrived this week. Me and Monkey had a set each from Amazon.

I also bought this bumper bundle from a group on facebook. It's mainly for Monkey but I'll probably use some of it for myself.

We're a huge fan of instagram shops and one of our favourites is Yellow Bird Kids. They do gorgeous handmade skirts, dresses and bloomers. They've had a great winter sale on and we managed to get these three skirts for a fiver each.

I've also had a few books. I bought Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella for myself as part of my goal to read more this year. I didn't read anything about it other than who it was by so missed that it was actually classed as a YA book. It's been a very long time since I was a young anything but I decided to give it a try anyway and I've been pleasantly surprised.

I treated Monkey to North by Nick Dowson after seeing it at work. It tells the story of the winter migration but what made me want it was the illustrations. It's an absolutely beautiful book.

The third book to arrive was 101 Books to Read Before you Grow Up. The recommendations start at age 4 so a bit older than Monkey is but there are a few I think she'd enjoy and it will definitely be good for ideas as she gets older. She loves books at the moment and I want to encourage that as much as I can.

What's dropped through your letterbox this week?

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Why I'm rocking motherhood

Being a mum is hard. Some days it's really hard and some days it's even harder than that. But us mums are all just doing our best and do you know what - we're rocking it!

I was tagged by Sara at Home with Mrs Harvey in the Rocking Motherhood post so now I'm going to share with you 10 reasons why I am totally rocking motherhood.

1. I'm an expert in allergies
Before Monkey was born I didn't really believe in allergies but that was mainly because I knew nothing about them and had never had to deal with them. Worringly, whilst stuck in hospital with a very poorly 3 month old I realised that many NHS staff either don't believe in or understand allergies either. We're under a great team now but we really struggled to get there and had lots of frustrating appointments. In those early days my Health Visitor was a great support but she told me that I needed to become an expert in all Monkey's allergies and associated conditions and be prepared to fight for her. And that's what I've done! Two years down the line and I've got a good understanding of her allergies - what helps, what doesn't and what to do when it all goes wrong.

2. I breast fed till she self weaned
When Monkey first became poorly lots of people said that formula would make her better. She'd keep it down easier and it would help with weight gain. I now know that it would have made her far worse as she would be having dairy direct rather than diluted through my milk. Once her allergies were discovered I was put under lots of pressure to move to formula as it would be 'easier'. Easier isn't what was best for Monkey though. I knew she was feeding well and that breast milk would help repair her damaged gut. I'm proud that despite initial challenges and a lot of pressure I continued to feed her until she decided it was time to stop.

3. Introducing a love of books
Books are important in this house. It was inportant to me that Monkey grew up loving books and so from being tiny we have always read to her. I read to her long before she understood the words I was saying but she always seemed to enjoy it. Now she has her favourite books that she demands we read over and over again. I also set up the baby book club. It was mainly because I was having a strop about her being excluded from messy play but it has helped her explore books in a fun way and lots of her favourites are ones we've done at book club.

4. Letting her grow up...
With all Monkey's health issues and the fact that she is so tiny it would be easy to wrap her up in cotton wool. She's still at an age where I can stop her doing things and keep her as my baby. But whilst that may mean I could relax more, I know it wouldn't be good for Monkey. She is fiesty, fiercely independent and all she wants out of life is to be big! I have to let her grow up, spread her wings a little and learn things for herself.

5. ...but letting her still be little
I love Monkey's independence and can do attitude and will always encourage that but at the same time I do remember that even though she's about 27 in her head she is still only two. The world can be a big and scary place. Sometimes she needs reassurance, someone to hold her hand of just a big cuddle. And that's fine. She has plenty of time to be big.

6. Monkey has great manners
Monkey's manners have been commented on by lots of people and it's something that always make me proud. She says please, thank you and excuse me. She is great at sharing and taking turns. She does have the odd diva moment but for her age she is great.

7. She sees me work
Going back to work was such a hard decision. At that point Monkey was still so tiny and poorly and I felt terrible about leaving her but it was absolutely the right decision. Monkey loves nursery and has learnt so much there but more than that I feel that I'm a good role model for her. She sees that mummy and daddy go out to work and they work hard so she can have nice things. She still has a lot to learn about the cost of things but she knows that if you want something you have to work for it.

8. But we fit loads into my days off
My worry about going back to work was that Monkey would miss out on things but that isn't the case at all. I've been lucky enough to go back part time and we fit so much into my days off. She goes to ballet, swimming and rock climbing lessons as well as baby book club and pramtime at a local church. We have lots of trips to the park and library too and love going to play with her friends.

9. I got over my own fears to get her the care she needs
I'm scared of hospitals. Not just scared, I'm terrified. Monkey has to spend a lot of time at hospitals. I will never let her know I'm scared. To her, it's all just a big adventure. She has no idea it is something to be scared of. She sometimes doesn't like the things they do to her but somehow the toys and the fact that everyone makes a big fuss of her make up for it.

10. Look how smiley she is....I have to be doing something right!

I'm tagging Kerry at Ramblings of a Biscornu Addict Raimy at Readaraptor Hatchling and Ann at Rainbows are too Beautiful to share the reasons why they are rocking motherhood.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Living Arrows 16/1/17

"You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth" Kahlil Gibran

Checking Laura's good toes
This week's picture is from the first day back at ballet after christmas. Monkey had been so excited to take her new doll Laura as they had matching tutus. Laura really joined in and became part of the class but she needed Monkey to show her what to do. Monkey took her role as teacher VERY seriously.

Living Arrows

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Look in my letterbox number 2 2017

It's been a quiet week for post here at the Monkey House but I thought I should still check in and show you what's arrived.

Mummy's Penpals
Six letters arrived this week all from penpals in the UK.

Mummy's mail pile this week
Charity Stuff
My penpal Ellen included a package of stamps with her letter to help our Allergy UK Fundraising Group. We collect used stanps from any country and it's a great way to help out for free.

I've got quite a few bits ordered andcon their way to me but this is all that arrived this week...

... a waterproof sheet! Hardly the most exciting item but we do need it. Monkey did really well with toilet training and has been dry in the day for ages now but I've been putting off tackling nights. But even though I'm not ready, she is! She is dry most mornings and we've had nights where she has ripped her nappy off and it's all been fine. I need to just go for it. Wish me luck!

What's dropped through your postbox this week?

Monday, 9 January 2017

Living Arrows 9/1/17

I love the idea of this linky from one of my favourite blogs What the redhead said. It's all about celebrating  childhood. I'm already discovering that they grow up far too fast so it's something I'm going to make an effort to join in with each week.

The project originally took it’s name from a poem by Kahlil Gibran, “You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth” and  the idea is that every Monday we share a moment from our week.

So here goes...

My favourite picture from this week was taken at the library. We're lucky to have a wonderful library just across the road and it's one of Monkey's favourite places to visit. I love that she loves reading so much and I hope it's something that she'll continue to enjoy as she gets older.

The thing I like best you can't actually see in the picture. All Monkey wants in the world is to be big - and that includes reading. She's been nagging me to teach her to read for ages and has learnt a few sounds. She is super confident tough and believes she can read. She managed to get a gaggle of kids round her listening to her story.

Living Arrows

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Look in my Letterbox number 1 2017

I've been really looking forward to doing this post as Look in my Letterbox was always one of my favourite linkies. Sadly I don't think it exists anymore but I decided to do it anyway. Here's what has arrived at the Monkey House this week.

Mummy's Penpals
I've had four letters this week - one from the UK (Sheffield), one from Holland, one from the Czech Republic and one from Korea.

Monkey's Penpals
Monkey hasn't had any letters this week. She has this super cute bag that was a present from the Smiling Minion hung on her door ready for when she does though. She posted quite a few letters last week so hopefully she'll get something next week.

Monkey's letterbox

Charity Stuff
Two envelopes arrived from Uganda this week with a letter and christmas card from Regina, the little girl we sponsor through World Vision. The christmas card included a recipe for a traditional Ugandan dish called Rolex which looks yummy so I'm looking forward to trying that.

I also received a package of used stamps all the way from Australia. Our Allergy UK fundraising group use them to raise funds. It's a great way for people to get involved without it costing them anything and given the amount of penpals I have we manage to collect quite a few.

More details of our stamp project

After treating ourselves to a Dolce Gusto coffee machine and hundreds of pods for christmas we needed somewhere to store them. We got this stand from Amazon and it's loads neater.

All that lovely coffee

Other stuff
Monkey receives a toucanbox craft kit through the post every fortnight. We had lots of fun making a bird feeder from lolly sticks.

Look what I made!
What's dropped through your letterbox this week?

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Our goals for 2017

New year always feels like a new start to me. I don't make resolutions anymore as I seem to churn out the same tired ones every year - get fit, get organised, win the lottery, the usual stuff! I do love to think about things I'd like to achieve in the next year though so here are my hopes/goals for 2017.

Improved health for Monkey
2016 on the whole was actually pretty good in terms of Monkey's health. We had a few scary times along the way but we've ended the year in a much more positive place than we started it. At the start of 2016 I was beginning to give up hope that she would ever grow out of any of her allergies despite being told by many experts that she could. However she passed her soya and wheat challenges in hospital during the summer. She failed her egg ladder at the first step so we won't be trying that one for a while but I think 2017 may be the year she first tries milk! Her asthma and eczema don't seem as bad this winter and she's had a bit of a growth spurt. She is still tiny for her age but doesn't look poorly with it any more. I hope that she can continue to improve like this in 2017 and am feeling much more positive these days.

Complete the Great North Run
Although I'm feeling positive these days, we have had some really tough times with Monkey's allergies. Allergy UK were so helpful when Monkey was first diagnosed and continue to be a great support to us today. I was offered a charity place in the Great North Run to raise money for them. I'm hoping I can get round in one piece and meet my fundraising target. The furthest I've ever run before is 10k so it's a huge challenge but I have the best motivation. I think Monkey will be doing the mini run too. She did the Toddler Trot in the summer and loved it. You can sponsor us both here.

Ready to run for Allergy UK

Raise lots of money for Allergy UK
Linking in nicely with the Great North Run is our aim to raise as much money as we can for Allergy UK. We took part in their Free From Feast in the summer and were the top fundraisers. We really enjoyed it and spoke to the charity about how we could get more involved. That led to us setting up a fundraising group. We hoping to hold a few events this year which you can find out about on our facebook page. We are also collecting used stamps to raise funds - they have raised £34 so far without costing anyone anything. It's a great free way to help.

Read more books
A bit of a selfish one to finish with. I used to read loads and for various reasons I hardly ever seem to anymore. I got Jodi Picoult's new book Small Great Thingsfor christmas though and was hooked. I finished it in just a few days and really enjoyed taking that time for myself to relax with a book. I definitely need to keep it up.
Monkey has always loved her books. But now she is determined to read them by herself. We've done a little bit of phonics with her and she's doing really well so hopefully by this time next year she'll be able to.

Monday, 2 January 2017

A look back at our Christmas

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Christmas. I'm that annoying person who starts getting excited in February. And I always kind of hoped that Monkey would love it just as much as me.

And now she does!

This is the first year she has really understood what is going on. She's been so excited and it's been really lovely to watch. She's been singing christmas songs, looking at all the decorations, being excited about Father Christmas and learning about the christmas story at church. Those last two have been getting a bit mixed up though leading to this very cute explaination of what christmas is all about.

"It's christmas soon. I'm very excited because it's baby Jesus' birthday. He was a very special baby. The sheep and some kings brought him presents. We get presents to 'member but the sheep don't know where all the children live so Father Christmas brings them."

It needs a bit of work but I think for two years old it's not a bad understanding of what's going on.

Monkey saw Father Christmas three times this christmas. He came to book club, popped into nursery with Marshall and we went to visit him at rock climbing. She was a little bit unsure at first but she did go and sit with him at all three which was much better than the screaming we had last year.

Father Christmas at Book Club

Three seems to be the number this year as we also had three christmas day type celebrations. We spent actual christmas day at home with Nana and Grandad, had a day with Granny and Grandad and also spent a day at Grandma's house.

Christmas Day part 1

Christmas Day part 2

Christmas Day part 3
Despite her coming home and telling me she was Mary, Monkey was still too young to take part in the nativity at nursery. She was determined to get involved and gave me a very detailed description of the costume she needed and even had a strop that she wanted to be a donkey instead but she is still two rooms away from their nativity. She did take part in a nativity at church on Christmas Eve though where she was a very beautiful angel. I was so proud of her.

My angel ready for her nativity
Monkey was very excited about Father Christmas coming this year and he didn't let her down. She was spoilt with lots and lots of lovely presents. Highlights were a Thomas scooter, doll's house and Mr Tumble's spotty bag but she loved eerything. It was lovely to see her so excited.

Father Christmas caught on camera
It's been a lovely few weeks but now it's back to reality. Back to work and nursery in the morning. Hope you've had a wonderful christmas.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Ooops I did it again

So I seem to have a habit of starting blog challenges I can't finish.

And then I start beating myself up that I'm behind and feel like I can't post anything else till I'm caught up.

So I don't post anything.

But then I realise how much I miss blogging and wonder if I can really come back.

That's me in a nutshell since April but I've decided to go for it.

So much has happened since then it would be impossible to recap but here are some of our best bits.

  • Monkey PASSED her soya challenge!
  • She turned 2 and celebrated with a baby ballet party.
  • We raised lots of money for Allergy UK by taking part in the We Love Manchester 10k and toddler trot
  • Monkey started rock climbing lessons
  • We were invited down to London for Allergy UK's Hero Awards
  • My baby has very definitely gone to be replaced by the most amazing little girl.
  • We had lots of fun at the first christmas Monkey understood.
So it's not been a bad few months really. Can't wait to see what 2017 has to offer.