To move schools or not to move schools?

September 27, 2014 in Childhood, Parenting, School, Uncategorized by Emma Day

Sports Day July 2014 (54)

Bunny is in year 3 at school. Some days she comes home from school excited about the great day she has had, and other times, she says she hates school. She chats constantly about her friends some days, but other days, says her friends have been nasty to her. This is just children being children though isn’t it? My girl is quite the drama queen at the best of times.

Her school is graded “outstanding” by OFSTED and has numerous other awards for things like arts, and environment. There are lots of after school clubs, a breakfast club and a nice friendly atmosphere. It is in one of the more affluent areas of Gloucestershire and is an overly popular school, but admittedly, there is a fair bit of school-gate snobbery from parents and teachers alike. Equally I’ve had my rifts with a few members of staff there. Having read Suzanne’s post from 3 Children & IT, I wonder if I might be a Helicopter parent, but if I am… I don’t care. It’s all about what is best for my daughter.

We have recently moved house. To another town. School is now a twenty to thirty minute drive in rush hour. The school run takes up a full two hours of every day. That’s two hours that the twins are stuck in the car and I’m not able to do more productive things.

There are two schools within walking distance of our new house. One a five minute walk, and one a ten minute walk. These schools are both graded “Good” by OFSTED, but also have both had quite a few “Inadequate” ratings in the past. Should I overlook past scores and focus on the now? How important are OFSTED scores anyway?

Both schools have a waiting list for year 3… surely that’s a good sign? One got converted to an academy after numerous OFSTED failures and has since shown considerable improvement. I’ve heard the other school raved about in the local park, for being brilliant.

Part of me thinks that moving to a less snobby school, will be good for the bad attitude Bunny has recently developed. It might help me to be less of a snob too!

If she moves school, we will save a fortune on petrol, be a more environmentally friendly family, as we wont use the car every day and I will have a lot more time at home to play with the twins and to focus on my housework writing.

But… what if she doesn’t make friends very quickly or doesn’t settle? After reception class, Bunny’s friends were all split into different classes and it really upset her. It took almost a year for her to settle back in and in that year we had night terrors, lots of dreading school and her learning suffered. She has caught up now, but what if it happens again? 

I’ve asked her opinion and she says she’d like to move schools, but she is only seven, she hasn’t thought about all the angles. 

What if the teachers aren’t as good, the education isn’t quite as high a standard? The school has excellent resources for children who are struggling, but what if her talents aren’t encouraged? 

There are so many what-if’s and it seems such a big decision to make. This is my daughter’s education and her happiness too. There are pro and cons to both moving her to a new school or keeping her in her current school.

I’ve had a look around one of the schools, but it hasn’t helped my decision at all. It seemed much nicer than I anticipated, but really quite different to the school she is in now. I can’t work out if that is a positive thing or a negative one.  

I hope to look around the other school soon too, but would love to hear opinions of other parents who have moved their children from one school to another. What kinds of things did you consider? How did you know which school to choose? What are the most important factors to consider and how do you know where your child will thrive and be happiest?

Family time with the X Factor

September 26, 2014 in Entertainment, Family by Emma Day

We are an X factor watching family. However, sometimes we have to watch it separately! Why? Because Hubs and I divide dramatically on our opinions. 

I love to hear peoples back stories. How they got there. Why there are auditioning. What makes them think they can win. Why they couldn’t make it on their own. Especially when people have had a tough time or gone through huge ordeals to get to where they are now. I am quite happy to shed a tear or two for the emotional stories. I like to root for inspiring and determined people who have overcome obstacles. 

Hubs… hates hearing the stories. He gets stroppy, sarcastic and moans at “all the sob stories”. He feels that the stories outshine the talent and that some of the contestants only do well because of their stories.

So to avoid rows… we often watch the X factor separately.

Bunny, however, who has always had a huge interest in fashion and fashion design, loves looking at the outfits and commenting on the outifts, even more than the singing! Particularly the judges, who always look phenomenal. So I decided to put together a quick mood board of the kind of dresses I would wear if I got to be an X-factor judge for the day…

Wear the X Factor

 

Unbelievably – two of those dresses only cost £18 to buy online! I wouldn’t recommend adding the bracelet to your Christmas list though – not unless you have a spare £115k *gasps*.

So here’s where I come clean… I am a betting woman. I like the odd flutter here and there. Only £1 or so, but still… it gets the adrenaline racing. I found out the other day, that you can actually bet on the X Factor! So now, for me, the X-factor has just gotten ten times more interesting!

The finals are always the night we watch the X Factor together as a family. There is a little bickering and a few “I told you so’s”, but it’s a great excuse to get some good snacks and drinks in and veg out on the sofa for some family time. 

Family time

 

 

In exchange for writing this post, I was given a voucher to cover the cost of a good family night in, watching the Xfactor.

That first post-cancer check up

September 25, 2014 in #EmmasArmy, Cancer, Charity / Awareness, Health, Medical, Radioactive mum, Uncategorized by Emma Day

Macmillan booklet

My 6 month post-cancer check up with my consultant oncologist got a little bit delayed, due to a bout of depression and a phase in which I kept cancelling my appointments. It ended up being a 10 month post-cancer check up.

I dutifully popped to the hospital to get my bloods taken the week before, which was actually quite funny. The twins were being really loud and naughty. Fluffy kept leaving the toy area and running off, so I strapped her into the pushchair and chaos ensued. There were 11 people in front of me in the queue, when the nurse came over to me and quietly said “shall we pretend you’re next – would you like to come in now?”. To be fair, she was probably just saving the eardrums of the other patients in line.

Anyway, the point of the bloods…

1) To check I am on the correct dose of Thyroxine. This is the hormone your thyroid produces, but since I had my thyroid cut out, I now have to take those hormones by tablet. To prevent the Cancer from returning, I have to always be slightly overdosed on Thyroxine. When Thyroxine levels drop, something called TSH, tells the brain to produce more. My brain forgets that I don’t have a thyroid and sends out signals anyway. If Cancer cells are present in the body, these signals would encourage the Cancer cells to grow. So I have to make sure my TSH is constantly surpressed. Still with me? Right…

2) To check for Thyroglobulin. Thyroglobulin are indicators of thyroid cancer. So basically, cancer markers. The aim is to not find any Thyroglobulin in the blood. Thyroglobulin is a bad sign – we don’t want it.

So my results…

My Thyroxine is at the correct level.

Thyroglobulin… completely undetectable!

This is the best news.

I have however, still been finding it hard to recover, physically I have a lot less energy that when I had a thyroid, and lately I’ve been suffering from headaches, palpitations and high blood pressure. All of these things are unusual for me. Mentally… I have off days. In light of this, my consultant agreed, that my results were SO good, that we could take a little more risk and lower my dose of Thyroxine. This will hopefully, make me start feeling better in a few months time.

All round a great result.

My consultant said, “Well done, you’ve done really well and I’m very pleased with you”. I found this a bit strange… afterall, I didn’t do anything! Him and his team treated me. I was just there for the ride (and to get rid of the Cancer). I was a bit sad I didn’t get to see my favourite radiographer, but… maybe next time. I will have these tests every year for the rest of my life, but until I’m feeling 100% back to normal, it will be every 6 months.

LeapReader teacher testimonials and why I want one for the twins

September 25, 2014 in Baby development, Childhood, Parenting, School, Shopping, Technology, Toys, Videos by Emma Day

Bunny loves reading. She recently joined the library, completed the summer reading challenge and she reads every single evening before bed. At 7 years old, she is very competent at reading, but she hasn’t always been. When she was 5 years old, she used to get frustrated and cross if she couldn’t read a word. When reading first clicked, she would concentrate on how fast she could read, but wouldn’t actually take in the content that she was reading. If you asked her questions about it afterwards, she wouldn’t know what the story was about. Now, at 7, she will give a long and thorough description of the book she has just read.

If I had known about the LeapReader from LeapFrog, I would have got her that, to help her with her reading. It’s aimed at 4-8 year olds and is definitely on my to-buy list for the twins when they turn four. My twins have had a developmental delay in reaching most of their milestones so far, so I really think a LeapReader will help them catch up as they reach school age. 

LeapReader

The LeapReader helps children to learn to read independently, understand what they are reading, learn phonics and pronunciation and take in the content. It has stories of fiction and non fiction, interactive games and a voice that speaks the words and sounds. Using the LeapReader pen, children can touch the words and pictures to sound them out, or use the pen to keep track of where they are. 

LeapReader have launched eight videos on YouTube of teacher testimonials. All the teachers explain what’s so good about the LeapReader and how it helps school children progress with their reading and writing skills, as well as helping children with learning disabilities and developmental delay.

Here’s one of the videos:

 

You can find all the other LeapReader teacher testimonial videos by clicking here.

There is a big range of books available for the LeapReader, from Disney stories, princesses and characters to learning about geography, food and science, just to name a few. You can find out more on the LeapFrog website.

Q&A: My first car

September 24, 2014 in Home and Garden, Shopping, Uncategorized by Emma Day

I was recently asked if I’d be happy to answer a Q&A about my first car. I got my first car ten years ago, as a gift from my dad. I loved that car and drove it until I wore it out. To me, a car is freedom. It allows you to go anywhere you want, at your own times and pace. So here is my Q&A below…

1.       What was your first car?

A bright yellow Vauxhall Agila. It’s basically the same as a Suzuki WagonR. Yes, it was a strange looking car – a rectangular box on wheels, but it was quirky, it was an awesome colour and it was my freedom!

My first car!

2.       How did you came to possess it?

My parents always promised me they’d buy me a car when I passed my test, as they did with my older siblings too. Unfortuantely I failed my first and second tests and my instructor said I really needed a car to practice in, before I took another test. As all I could afford were dodgy old bangers, my parents eventually decided to get me a car before I passed, so I could practice in it. They knew I’d be driving a lot in the evenings and were worried about me breaking down in something unreliable. My dad had recently decided he wanted a smaller car, so he generously gave me his 6 month old Agila. It was brilliant. How many 18 year old’s had a brand new car?

3.       What made the car special? 

For starters, not many other people had this car back then, so everyone knew it was mine and my friends loved it, even though they took the mick. That car saw me through passing my first test, my first crash, my first breakdown and my first “oh no I forgot where I parked it” moment. It was my saviour for 3 months whilst I was homeless, it was my shelter after a few disastrous camping trips and it was the car that saw me go from a teenager, to an adult, to a mum. 

4.       What is your fondest memory of that car?

A week or so after passing my driving test, a friend and I decided to go on an impromptu camping trip for a night or two, to celebrate. We borrowed a tent and other supplies, ready to head off to Newquay. My friend printed off directions and I told her to make sure there were no motorways on the list. She assured me there weren’t, so we set off. About an hour into the journey, whilst reading out the direction, my friend said, “Merge onto the M5″. THE M WHAT?! It was too late. There was no other option. So we sat in my car, half screaming, half laughing hysterically, all the way down the motorway!

We got to the campsite after it had shut and spent the night asleep in the car on a very steep hill!

That first taste of freedom, on a totally unplanned trip, turned out to be a 7 night holiday full of laughter. We left Newquay, when we had 40p left between us. 

5.       Why did you choose that particular car?

I didn’t choose it, but I certainly loved it. I drove it until the engine wore out and then I sold it to a mechanic. 

6.       Do you have any funny stories or memories of your first car?

One dark November night, I drove to Glastonbury Carnival (a former hobby of mine) to watch the procession and party with my friends. I didn’t know my way around Glastonbury, but I saw a line of cars, parked on a random country lane at the side of the road, and decided that was probably the best place to park mine too. I parked it, walked to the carnival, walked to the party and slept on a mates floor after a hard night’s partying. The following lunch time, when I felt sober enough to drive, I got a friend to drive me to my car. “Where did you park it?” they asked.

My reply of “On a country lane somewhere near Glastonbury”, didn’t go down too well. It took a good hour of driving around, before we found it, all alone, in possibly one of the most random looking places to park, ever. 

7.       Do you have any tips for those buying their first car?

Weigh up the pro’s and con’s of what is costs, versus how reliable it’s likely to be. It’s definitely worth investing a bit more in a car that won’t need repairs every MOT.

Research road tax bands, fuel consumption and insurance costs before you buy, or it could end up costing you a fortune to maintain.

If buying a second hand car – get a vehicle inspection test done first, to make sure it is in good condition and roadworthy. Also check to make sure it’s not been registered lost, stolen or scrapped, before you buy.

8.       Do you have any tips for those selling their first car?

List all faults. Don’t try to rip people off by lying. It’s not worth it. 

The more thorough the description, the more people will be interested. 

Good, clear photographs. 

Keep all service history and receipts from new parts and offer this to the new owner. This shows the car has been looked after.

 

There are a lot more tips and advice for buying your first car on The Car Buying Service website

My Sunday Photo from The MAD Blog Awards 2014

September 21, 2014 in #EmmasArmy, Blog Hops / Memes / Linkies, Blogging, Cancer, Charity / Awareness, Family, Friends, My Sunday Photo, Photography, Radioactive mum, Uncategorized, Videos by Emma Day

image

This weekend was the prestigious MAD Blog Awards, where I was lucky to be a finalist in the category for Outstanding Contribution. I was in this category for all the work I’ve done to raise awareness of different cancers, supporting and promoting different campaigns, fundraising, and launching my own campaign, #EmmasArmy against Cancer which has so far raised just shy of £3000. This campaign saw some amazing people, walking between 10 and 104 miles each, for Cancer Research. I told my story, no details spared, whilst battling Cancer last year and aim to continue raising money and awareness.

Thank you so much to everyone who got involved in any of these campaigns, shared my posts, RT’d my tweets, walked in #EmmasArmy, sponsored, wrote a blog post, nominated me for an award or voted for me for an award.

I didn’t win at the awards this year, but all of the Outstanding Contribution finalists were called up on stage after watching a lovely tribute video of us, and presented with winner trophies. Massive congratulations to the overall winners, Team Honk, who raised a staggering £33,000.00 for Comic Relief.

You can watch the video made by Tots100 and the MAD Blog Awards, which we were presented with at the awards here – and hear a little about the incredible women I was up against, and honoured to stand on stage, hand in hand with…

I would be hugely grateful if any of you who haven’t yet sponsored my campaign, could help us get to that £3000 milestone, by sponsoring one of the team here.

OneDad3Girls

Lost keys, locked out, flat tyre, hurty leg and lots of kind village people!

September 17, 2014 in Childhood, Home and Garden, Uncategorized by Emma Day

Last weekend, Hubs went away to teach percussion to a drum corps (his hobby and his passion). He took the car, so we knew we had a weekend of travelling by foot, whatever we wanted to do. As it turned out, I had a rather bizarre weekend, where the kindness of strangers, meant I didn’t crack under the pressure of a trio of unfortunate events.

Bunny had FINALLY agreed (aged 7) to let me take the stabilisers off of her bicycle, so we went to the park so she could practice riding her bike like a big girl.

September 2014 (13)

Whilst I was videoing her and taking photos (in true blogger style), the twins were happily playing, about five feet away from me. I thought to myself, “I really need to take the house keys away from Fluffy before she loses them”. As quickly as it fleeted through my brain, that thought left me. It wasn’t until an hour later, when we started walking home, that I realised I never took the keys back. And that Fluffy hadn’t had them in her squidgy little hand, for a really long time.

After retracing our steps, and triple checking underneath the buggy, I approached some parents in the park and asked if anyone had seen a bunch of keys. Within minutes, there were five adults and about fifteen children looking for our keys… for TWO HOURS. Those kind-hearted strangers stayed in the park all that time, scouring it up and down, kicking away piles of mown grass and pushing back stinging nettles with sticks. Eventually I knew I had to give up, but with nobody owning a spare key, my phone at home on charge, Hubs a three hour drive away (with the car) and no windows left open in the house, I was starting to panic. The twins needed clean nappies, we needed a drink and some dinner. Where would we sleep?

I tried to think where I would take the keys, if I’d found a set, and decided to leave my phone number at the local co-op. It was a long shot, but it was in the centre of the village and had the longest opening hours of any other shop over a weekend. The shop assistant looked at me as though it was my mind I had lost.

On the way back home, the tyre burst on our Mountain Buggy. I can’t begin to tell you how difficult it is to push a pushchair that heavy, with twins in it, with a tyre gone. Before I had time to wonder what else might go wrong, Bunny lost concentration, cycled into a hedge and went crashing to the pavement. There were tears galore, but after a few minutes cuddle, she was okay. I was now left, not only pushing a buggy with a flat tyre, to a house I couldn’t get into, but also carrying a bike and trying to soothe a daughter with a hurty leg. “Welcome to Motherhood”, I thought to myself, “Did you think it would always be easy?”

One of the Daddy’s in the park, who’d been helping us look for the keys, offered to help me get into my house. He took his children home and met me at my house with his van full of tools. Within minutes, this kind man, had chiselled the trim off my living room window and gently lifted out the double glazed pane. He climbed in, opened the patio door from the inside, and put the window back together. I was so lucky to have bumped into this guy and so grateful to him for giving up his afternoon to help me (don’t worry – I bought him a crate of beer to say thank you). He told me his own wife had also lost the house keys in the park before and having little children of his own, he couldn’t leave us stranded.

I was feeling very blessed to be living in a village with such helpful citizens. I know this certainly wouldn’t have happened where I lived before.

On Sunday, as I walked home from the supermarket, I got a phone call from the man at the co-op… another kind honest stranger had come to my rescue, and not only found my keys, but handed them in too. They must have had the same thoughts as me, about where to hand them in.

Having encountered so many selfless and considerate people over the weekend, I am now happier than ever, with our choice to move house and area codes.

Back to school grumbles

September 17, 2014 in Childhood, Parenting, School, Shopping, Uncategorized by Emma Day

It’s no secret… I HATE the school run.

Firstly – I have to actually get up early and attempt to be organised. Hopefully somewhere in the house is enough clean uniform to complete a full outfit. I have to make a packed lunch before I’ve even had breakfast. If the twins are being awkward, it can take ten minutes, just to get us all in the car. Half an hour sat in traffic (No I can’t walk – it’s miles away). Then there’s a fight to find somewhere to park and the five minute walk to school takes a lot longer at the twins pace. The school run, takes two hours out of my day.

School uniform

If we arrive late, I have to decide whether or not we will make the gate if we run, or whether we should just go straight to reception with our heads hung in shame. And why is it, that once people have dropped their offspring at school, they suddenly lose all coordination and just walk into you, as you’re trying to get past?

There’s the fortune, that the school charge for cooked lunches, school trips, and now increasingly commonly – expenses to pay experts to come in and talk to our children for an hour. Oh and you also have to pay for milk at break time, after school clubs and anything else they can think of to charge you.

There’s that stupid first parents evening and report day, when Bunny has only been in school for five weeks and her teachers haven’t even learnt how to pronounce her name yet, but they want to tell me how she’s doing. 

There’s all that fuss, throughout the summer, about panic buying uniforms. This year, I waited until the night before Bunny was due to go back to school and popped into Asda to buy some bits of school uniform from George clothing. The store was quiet, the uniform fully stocked and I was in and out within about 5 minutes.

I realise that most of my school run gripes, could be resolved by moving Bunny to a closer school, but that’s a big decision to make, and one we are struggling with, as our local schools aren’t as good as the one she is in now. I’m doing my research and will be blogging about it soon!

 What do you hate most about the school run?

What does Thyroid Cancer look like?

September 15, 2014 in Cancer, Charity / Awareness, Health, Medical, Radioactive mum, Videos by Emma Day

What does Thyroid Cancer look like?

Last year I had Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma – a malignant tumour on my thyroid. I was treated with surgery (Hemithyroidectomy followed by a total thyroidectomy) and Radioactive Iodine Treatment (also known as RAI). 

Thyroid Cancer often has few or no symptoms, unless you also have an underlying thyroid disorder, such as an under-active or over-active thyroid.

My tumour was 6cm in size and I had ignored the lump for two years, before I saw a doctor and got my diagnosis. If I had seen a doctor sooner, I might not have need the radioactive iodine treatment, and could have been treated with surgery alone. My only symptoms for the most part of those two years, was a lump. For the last few months, I also developed a hoarse voice and had difficulty swallowing.

I am now doing what I can to raise awareness of Thyroid Cancer and help other people get a speedy diagnosis and treatment.

Here is a short video showing what my tumour looked like, before the surgeons cut it out. Despite the tumour being 6cm in size, you will see in the video, that it was not really visible until I swallowed. I am publishing the video to raise awareness of Thyroid Cancer, in the hope that other people with similar lumps on their neck, will see their doctor before it reaches this size. You can see the tumour twice in this video – once each from two different angles. There is a short delay between the two, as I found it difficult to swallow at the time.

PLEASE TAKE NOTE: Having a lump similar to this DOES NOT mean you have Cancer. My mother also had a lump the same and hers was NOT Cancerous. The point is… DON’T PANIC, BUT DON’T IGNORE IT. See a doctor and find out.

If you would like to help raise awareness of Thyroid Cancer, feel free to share this video (you can also find it on YouTube) or this blog post.

You can also raise awareness of Thyroid Cancer by taking part in the #Scarfies4Thyca campaign by taking a selfie in a scarf and nominating friends to check their necks and post a scarfie too. You can find out more about the #Scarfies4Thyca campaign by clicking here.

 

 

Please note: I am a patient, not a doctor. I cannot give people advice on their own health. Please see your doctor.

My Sunday Photo

September 14, 2014 in Baby development, Blog Hops / Memes / Linkies, Childhood, My Sunday Photo, Photography, Silent Sunday by Emma Day

Diva Toddler

OneDad3Girls
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