After a pretty pants weekend

Most of my weekend has been spent feeling very sorry for myself with my head in a bucket and my bum on the sofa, so I was planning to use today to catch up, get the ironing done, plan some craft activities and finalise some of the reviews I have been doing too.

But fate has conspired against me, I went to the GP first thing to discuss my  crohn's diagnosis and get my blood results, only to find that my iron level is shockingly low.  Yes is is down to 8.1, so it looks like a need a blood transfusion again (yes it was only 4 months ago that I had one and yes I also take iron supplements every day).

So I am writing this, when really I should be arranging to have boys collected from school, mum taken to her hospital appointment, cancelling Maxi's GP appointment, arranging to get myself to hospital (no I didn't fancy going in an ambulance from the surgery) , getting MadDad home and sorting out dinner for everyone tonight, as I will be in overnight in all likelihood.

So time to turn off the PC and get cracking, catch you all later!

Edited to add that I am actually going in Tuesday now, so that I don't have to remain in overnight - fingers crossed!

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What do you do when your children are bright?

All children are unique, they are wonderful souls and a joy to be around.  But what do you do when your children are bright?  Maxi and Mini are both above average when it comes to intelligence.  I say this not as a smug mum, but as a concerned mum.  My aim for my children is and always has been happiness, for them to take life in both hands and enjoy it.  But this last week I have experienced something I never have before, Maxi has not wanted to go to school, as it is boring.


So MadDad and I decided that it was time that I spoke to his new teacher and discussed what could we all do to help and an appointment was made.  I am lucky enough to have a couple of really great twitter friends who have been available to advise me on life with bright children, the wonderful Chris at Thinly Spread and also working with bright children, Julia from What will Julia Do Next?and The Heads Office.

This cleverness is not something I discuss with many people in real life, as I don't want to Maxi to be labeled or for that matter be to be labeled as a smug, self centred mother who pushes her children, but it is becoming an issue.  The few parents who go into school and read with the children have already approached me about his reading skills and one mum asked me if he was a genius (erm no, he is a 5 year old)!  I have struggled to find an outlet for my fears and concerns as I don't want them to come across as a boasting or over proud mother, who can only define herself by her children's achievements or in the slight competitive about education, which I certainly am not.

But the fact of the matter is that Maxi not being challenged meant he was board and that mean he didn't want to go to school, which in turn meant he and I wasn't happy.  So I felt I had to take this in hand and deal with it and it that means Maxi being labeled as gifted and talented then so be it.  I am concerned for the here and now, we can deal with next years education when it comes around.  I need him to want to go to school now and moving him up a year is not the solution in my eyes.  He is 5 years old, he has the social skills of a five year old and he needs to learn to deal with his talents and also with his peers to become part of their group.

So it was with great trepidation I went to meet Mr P, Maxi's teacher.  I was keen for Maxi not to become know as the pushy mothers son and lots of other analogies, but truth is, he is clever and advanced in both mathematics and literacy.

I am pleased to say it was a great meeting and I was also delighted to realise that Maxi's talents had already been picked up on and that action was going to be taken to keep him more involved and challenged throughout the school year.  We agreed on an interim action plan for the next couple of weeks (until Parent Evening) and I came home with a new reading book for Maxi (bought by his wonderful teacher) and a much better feeling about sending my child off to school.

We also made the decision that Maxi was not going to remain in the AFA (Achievement For All) scheme and would rather be moved in to a special maths group with the older children, which will be finalised over the next couple of weeks.

We are lucky in that Maxi is great at sport and hope that he can use this as an outlet to help get through school without sticking out as the clever one or the nerd.  It was how MadDad managed his intelligence and maybe Maxi and one day Mini can do the same.

I feel so much more relieved know that we are putting a plan of action in play for Maxi.  For the next couple of weeks he will be focusing on his writing ability, to enable him to move and be taught with different classes as he needs to be.  He will be focusing on spellings of tricky words, rather than reading (which he is fine with) and also some of the mathematics from later in the year, until his teacher gets his personal learning plan in place in time for parents evening before the end of term.


I am happy to say that Mini's needs are being catered for as he has Maxi's teacher from last year, the delectable Mrs S and she is one of the best teachers I have ever had the pleasure to meet.


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I have moved!

Virtually that is, to


Please come and join me.

I would also love it if you could change my links in any blog rolls etc I have been lucky enough to be added to.

Thanks for taking this journey with me.

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Finallaly getting a Diagnosis and learning to live with it

Over the last year or so I have been pretty under the weather.  I have been constantly shattered, had major issues with my bowels and been in and out of hospital for numerous tests including scans, x-rays, a barium follow through and blood transfusions.

Yesterday I was finally given a diagnosis.  I have Crohns Disease, which although isn't curable, but it is treatable and hopefully I will go into remission once the right treatment balance is reached.  The Crohns explains why I am anemic and also low in B12, so dependant on blood results I will have either an iron infusion or blood transfusion next week (hopefully) and also a B12 injection and we will see how I progress and my options going forward will be discussed with the consultant at my next visit in a month of so's time.

The crohns diagnosis explains most of my symptoms, but not he acute pain I have in my shoulder and chest at times and also the pretty constant feeling of nausea, however, we have also discovered I have giant para esophageal hernia (which in all likelihood has been with me since birth), but with pregnancies and my mastectomy surgery may have moved to create these symptoms.  This is going to require surgery, however, I need to have a much higher hemoglobin level before this can take place.

My illness has had a pretty big impact on family life, but now we know what it is, we can take steps to treat it and I am very relieved that it isn't bowel cancer (which due to the BRCA gene I have a higher risk of).  It will also mean postponing any reconstructive surgery until after my para esophageal hernia surgery, which is a little upsetting.

However, we have come though much worse than this and I will get though, no we will get through this as a family.



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Children’s Craft Showcase – Halloween is creeping up on us!

It has been a wet, wild and windy week in TheMadHouse and what with the dark nights and dark mornings we need something to look forward to, so we are going to start on our Halloween Preparations.


Last year we did lots of things and I thought I would do a nice review post for you here to get you in the mood for the spooky festivities.

I will also be holding a special Halloween Children's Craft Showcase on the Monday 25 October (start of half term) to collate everyone's ideas and to give you some more for the half term week.


Balloon Scary Faces


Paper Pumpkins


Salt Dough Decorations


Spooky secret drawings



Boo to you ghosts

Finally if you are looking for some food inspiration for the night look no further than my super dooper hairy hotdogs.



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Liz Earle – Review

ReviewBack when I was a DINKY (Duel Income No Kids Yet) Liz Earle was my beauty brand of choice for a number of reasons.  I hadd very sensitive skin (at least I did have till I was pregnant) and Liz Earle worked really well for me.  I really agreed with their philosophy and also the fact that they do not use parabens and that they use organic whenever possible.
Believe it or not Maxi was first washed in their orange flower botanical body wash.  I still use their Cleanes and Polish every day, although I can not afford much else nowadays and I rely on birthdays and Christmas to keep me in stock.
Liz Earle kindly sent me a set of their Cleanse and Polish, Instant Boost Skin Tonic and a Skin Repair Moisturiser to try.  It has been a revelation to be using the whole system again.  My skin has visibly improved, even MadDad has noticed the difference and it feels smother, more moisturized and an even texture.
Not only has it made a real difference to my skin, but it has also been a great pick me up too.  Liz Earle products smell divine and using them is a real treat and I have got back in to a really good morning and evening routine.
They also sent me some botanical shine shampoo and Botanical shine conditioner for dry hair.  I have been using this for the last three weeks and it is wonderful.  Firstly, the smell is divine, making it a real treat to use.  I have been conditioning my hair and then cupping my hands to breath in the wonderful uplifting scent.
But smell isn't everything and yes I have seen improvements in the condition of my hair too.  It is more manageable and less frizzy.  At £7.50 a tube it is pricey, but it seems to last well, it lathers very well and the shampoo has no SLS in (which is great as Maxi has issues with SLS).
So I have made a decision, I am going to save my money and rescue the number of things I buy, but I am going to be purchasing Liz Earle's cleanse and moisturising products and also the haircare products and keep on enjoying this wonderful routine I have been using.
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My Priorities – Should our children fit in?

Way back when I had pink hair and lived my life in the minute I never thought I would be conventional.  I left home at 16 due to me and mum clashing and not agreeing on my "lifestyle" choices!  Back then I wanted to be different, I didn't want to fit it, I didn't want to become another ant on a large planet of ants, I wanted to be someone and I was happy to stand out for all the wrong reasons.

I was never the easiest child or teenager, I would rebel against convention, against expectations and would be difficult for difficult's sake, I was the black sheep of the family.  I was the one pinching the home brew pina colada from the wardrobes in  the garage and drinking then under the cinema on the beech or at the park.  I wouldn't do any homework and I skived off senior school.  

Everything was boring or normal and I was sick of living a stepford life and felt constrained by living in the town I did with the friends I had and I wanted more.

Then I met MadDad and everything changed.  I didn't need the pink hair or the outrageous behaviour (which was always a front), as I had him.  We got married and relocated to Berkshire and we lived a great life.

We had fantastic holidays, worked hard and lived life to the full coping with the potholes in the road on our way (my Dad dying, the numerous miscarries and health issues) and I started to live a conventional life.

The the minimads came along and we decided that we wanted them to grow up back in the north east close to our family and the beautiful North Yorkshire coast and country side.  I have become Mrs Conventional, not that that is an issue, but I already see my boys struggling against convention.

I see Mini not wanting to wear a school uniform, both of them not wanting short hair like the other boys and start to wonder when they will start pulling against the boundaries of society.  How to I encourage them to have their own opinions in life and to be their own men.  School doesn't allow for children to be different and my children are different.

Maxi is mathematics mad, he is a natural leader and old beyond his years in some ways, but also he is a typical 5 year old boy in others.  He loves being boisterous, playing tig and building dens, but he also loves working out how things work and wants to know how many miles are there between each planet and how much hotter the planets closer to the sun are.

Mini is already realising that he is different to the children in his class, he is having to go and get his reading books from Maxi's class and spends time reading to the TA.  Yes he can read, but he can not write and shows no interest in learning yet.  Give the boy a chance he is only just 4.  

Maxi has been chosen to take part in a special project at school (funded due to the fact he was assessed for Speech Therapy) called Achievement for All.  Initially I didn't see how my son would fit in to this project as is aims are to raise the aspirations for children and a lot of the children on the project need their confidence raised.  So I went to meet this the team implementing the project to discuss their hopes for Maxi and also what and how their thought he would gain from the project.

It turns out that they have talked to Maxi teachers and think that the project will really help Maxi, that it will hone his natural leadership skills and that his educational outcomes will be based on that and also focusing on his writing, which could do with some improvement (It isn't bad for a five year old).

The first part of the project will be music based and I will have the opportunity to go in to school once a week (Wednesday afternoons) and share in his experiences and work alongside him.  The team feel that moving Maxi from the classroom, will keep him more challenged and also help him feel less different from the other children.  But he is different from the other children, all children are unique and I am not sure how I feel about this.  It has raised all sorts of issues and thoughts for me.

Yes my boys are clever, I have discussed this before, but for me it isn't everything.  They are 4 and 5 years old.  They need to be happy, yes part of that is keeping them challenged and inspired, but also isn't it about letting them know that it is OK to be different, to be unique. 

It seems to me as this is the start of what is to be a long road through their schooling and childhood.  How do other parents cope?




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The Gallery – An Apple Tree


This apple tree is 3 years old, we planted it after we moved in and started work on the garden.  It is small and only bore 6 fruits last year, but this year its branched are bowed under the weight of its fruit.

For me this feel like parenting, sometimes you feed the children, nurture and look after them and it feels like they are just ignoring your advice, but then it just happens.  It clicks and there is please and thank you without prompting.




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Frugalicious Food = Frugal + Delicious

Myself and Cass from Diary of a Frugal Family have decided to start up a food blog - Frugaliscious Food.


Frugal + Delicious = Frugalicious.

You can find us on twitter to @frugaliscious_
We are looking for guest posts too, so if you have a great receipe, then please let either one of us know.




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Cooking with Children – Lamb Stir-Fry


 We were given a some welsh lamb and the ingredients to make a welsh lamb stir fry from the Cool2Cook2 book which has been produced by Meat Promotion Wales (Hybu Cig Cymru) to help get kids cooking.


I love getting the boys in the kitchen, so we set about following the recipe on Saturday evening.  The boys chopped all the vegetables, whilst I did the ginger and MadDad prepared the lamb, which was welsh and organic.


I have to say that the recipe was really easy to follow and the boys did the majority of the work, with me and MadDad supervising.


We really enjoyed it and there was 4 empty bowls at the end of the evening.  In fact the boys enjoyed it so much that we made Lamb Kofta Kebabs out of the book for Sunday dinner.


They went down a treat.  If you can get hold of this cook book then I would, it has some very easy, well balanced recipes in it and the MiniMads want to try them all and I can see it being used time and time again, especially when they are a little older and I can get them to cook dinner for us all!


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