the me and mine project.

You know when you spend hours getting lost on the internet? Trawling through blogs, laughing at funny cat videos and eating mini eggs like they’re going out of fashion?

No?

Just me then!?

Judge me not…but I like nothing more than a good Instagram session of an evening, after the ‘winks are in bed and I have dragged my bum into the kitchen to make something for dinner that is!

Last year, probably around June time, I came across a wonderful blog, Tigerlily Quinn, and I loved everything about it (Fritha is so refreshingly fab, you will love her and her posts)…but especially the Me and Mine Project feature.

It’s a very lovely community much like the ‘100 Happy Days’ project of a few years ago (which I embraced like a chocoholic at Easter) where people take at least one photo per month of their entire family…warts and all…and write a post about what they have been up to that particular month.

I instantly wanted to do what I always do…jump on the bandwagon!

Mr O always says that for someone who’s been in marketing for over 10 years I am the biggest sucker her knows.

He’s probably right…but do I actually care?

Nope!

This time around though I took stock (miraculous!) and decided to wait, it was half way through the year…why  start something half way through?

So I waited and waited and bloomin’ well waited some more…and now, it’s the last day of January and I’m ready to jump full force onto that bandwagon that I know I will love so much.

cropped-us.jpg

As a general rule I don’t like photos of myself.

I look like I have no eyes in most of them, and my teeth are a funny colour…so I tend to stick to photos of the babies.

This photo was taken whilst we froze our backsides off in a park in Ashbourne after I dragged us there to visit a shop that ended up being closed…another thing I was lured in by…yes Mr O, you were right again!

Ruby wanted a picnic so we sat on a bench in the park and ate leftover Christmas dinner sarnies and shared a bottle of water (I say shared…I had none after seeing the floaters that Henry had left in the bottle!).

All in all we’ve had a good January…only one or two small boughts of illness (which is amazing for us), and even though it has seriously felt like the longest month on record, it hasn’t been a total let down.

There has been:

  • Fun with grandparents
  • Holiday booking!
  • Crazy work schedules
  • Coming to terms with peach decor…blurgh!
  • Getting back into reading
  • Losing half a stone (no bloomin idea how mind!)
  • Fixing stuff that the mischievous Henry has broken
  • Picking up where I left off with my blog…

Yup, I may dispise winter and January might be the worst month for me but actually, it hasn’t really been that bad…still glad it’s over though!!

I hope that I will be able to look back on this project in years to come and remember a brilliant year, because goodness knows we deserve one.

But enough now of my jabbering, what have you done that you really enjoyed this month? And, more’s the point, do you fancy joining in!?

 

The Me and Mine Project

friendship.

I sent the message on a Saturday at 6.45am, apologising for sending it so early.

We’re nearly all mothers now, so really I have no idea why I apologised for sending a message so early. I knew full well that the majority of them would already be awake, but you know, I was probably trying to be polite! 

I was asking them for a photo of themselves.

A photo that captures who they are.

A photo of each one of the most special people that I am lucky enough to call my friends**

Friendship is a wonderful thing, isn’t it!?

I’m so lucky to have found so many great friends throughout my life…and to still have them now, after so many years.

I’ve had to call on my friends so much recently. Their input and their ears have been invaluable during what has been a really difficult few years, and I value their friendship more now than ever – so I wanted to celebrate them!

I love that I still have friends that were my friends at primary school and that, even though I now live so far away from them (and hardly ever see them), they are still my friends and I know that if I ever needed them they would be there.

St. Wilfrid’s CE High School brought me some of the best friends I will ever have. 7 years is a long time to get to know people – the highs and lows of teenage life brings fights and fall-outs, but these were some of the most fun and best years of my life. The common room that no longer exists was where I found myself, and where I cemented friendships that will last forever more…

University found more friends coming on board, very few of them are still in my life but thanks to the wonders of Facebook and Instagram I can see what they’re up to and it’s lovely to share in their moments of joy and pride…

And then there was Vauxhall. The best year of my life.
Friends…laughter…hangovers…work experience…debt…hangovers…
And the joy of that year still lightens my mood at even the darkest of times.

Because that’s what friendship is. And that’s what it does to you.

What is the saying, “There are some people in life that make you laugh a little louder, smile a little bigger, and live just a little better”?

And that couldn’t be more true…

Hiding me from teachers in the common room…Eating bacon sarnies on break time…Eating so many Chupa Chups you think you might be sick…Singing to Bryan Adams waaaaaay too loud…Carrying me home after one too many…Laughing so hard it feels like your sides will split…Shooting down water slides in Gran Canaria…Calming me down in my angry moments…Listening to my hurts and making them better…Holding my babies and loving them so much…

And now, my work friends that have become so, so much more than just colleagues, and my fabulous, wonderful, amazing Mummy friends that keep me sane, invite us round for play dates that involve cake and Prosecco, take me out to the cinema to watch Bridget Jones, join me for cocktails and talk and talk and laugh and laugh until closing time…

To all my friends, near and far, thankyou.

Life without you all in it, in all your various shapes and sizes would be that much more difficult.

Thankyou for the fun.
Thankyou for the laughter.
Thankyou for being you.

Always.

What are your best friendship memories? I would love to hear them in the comments!

Speak soon, x

**I haven’t actually used any of the photos that they sent to me in this blog post – I have instead used far more embarrassing ones. That’s just how I roll!

 

 

arguments with a four year old.

Our daughter, as many of you will already know, is four.

Our daughter, as many of you will know, is also very strong-willed and a feisty little creature.

This basically means the following things:

  1. She knows best
  2. She doesn’t listen to a word we say
  3. She will pretend to listen whilst rolling her eyes at you
  4. She knows best
  5. She throws monumental, melodramatic (and somewhat hilarious) strops from time to time
  6. She flicks from loving her brother to wishing he wasn’t around faster than you can blink
  7. She knows best

She’s a teeny weeny wolf in the most angelic of sheep’s clothing. With a head bob and plenty of “sass” that comes from one too many episodes of My Little Pony!

She’s awesome. She’s kind. She’s clever. She’s frustrating.

She’s Ruby.

There are the usual little arguments that I’m pretty sure are standard for any parent of a four year old…you know the ones, no you can’t have chocolate for breakfast, too much TV will make your brain mushy, no you can’t have chocolate for breakfast, please put your shoes on, I’m sorry but Jamie can’t come to live with us as his mummy would miss him too much, no you can’t have any more chocolate as you’ll be sick…and so on and so forth.

#totalbrokenrecord

But last night, and I have to admit quite often recently, her sass turned into being just plain mean to her baby brother.

And as a result, last night we had an argument that was bigger than the usual ones.

Last night she ended up in her bedroom in tears.

And last night I felt more guilt than I have ever felt after an argument with her. Ever.

Why?

Because I lost my cool. Because she cried so hard and because, last night she looked at me and said, “Does this mean you don’t love me?”.

And that, quite simply, broke my heart because oh Lord, do I love her.

I love her so, so much.

But the thing is…when I see her nastily growling in the face of her baby brother, or snatching toys from his hands just because he is enjoying himself, or laughing when he falls over, it kind of makes me cross.

And it makes me sad, because I don’t understand where that comes from. Is it normal?!

Ruby has never been that child you see. Sure there have been moments, but in general she’s had glowing reports about how good she is at sharing and we are always being told how kind she is. So why is it then, that all of a sudden she seems to have designated Henry as public enemy number 1?

Listen to me please. Stop doing that. Behave yourself.
You’re doing so well at sharing. That was so kind. Thankyou for being nice to Henry.

I’ve tried all the tactics, and I could spout ToddlerCalm, How to Encourage Sharing…all the parenting books you like… back at you, but I’m still no closer to cracking this one.

And this is the one that causes me to have arguments that make my four year old think I don’t love her!

Help!

So much has happened to our little family over the last 19 months since Henry arrived. Meningitis, starting school, we’ve moved house, I’ve gone back to work…and I guess all of these things are taking a toll on all of us.

I don’t know if how I parent is the best way to do things. I tell her I love her every single day. I worry constantly about what she thinks and feels. I spend ages explaining why we’re doing things the way we are. I talk with her after every falling out and we forgive and forget. I wonder every time we fall out how much of all of this she will remember, and how it’s affecting her “future self”. I fret about whether we should spend more time with her on her own, without Henry around. I worry about their future relationship – I want so much for them to be friends. I feel incredibly guilty about arguing with her – shouldn’t I just be loving every single minute I have with her instead!?

Shouldn’t I find it easy to take the upper-hand and just let it all go?

Maybe? Probably? Definitely?

There are lots of things that I don’t know about our four year old and how best to parent her, now and in the future. And I am hoping that this, like other triggers for arguments, is just a phase.

One thing I do know for sure is that I love her so much. I am so proud of her and how she has handled all the changes that have come her way recently.

And that will never change, no matter how many times she rolls her eyes at me!

Any advice? Sibling rivalry getting you down too? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Speak soon x

the struggle.

Hi. My name is Kathryn. And it has been exactly four months since my last blog.

Oops.

You see, I started oliphantum way back in March 2016 with the intention of blogging regularly and creating a little world through which I could get back a bit of “me”. Find my humour and get my creativity going again after having two children and spending a lot of time being poorly and at home.

But it wasn’t always that easy.

Two children is hard.

And why is it that, just like with birth and the first baby, no one actually bothers to tell you exactly how hard!?

No one tells you that sleep deprivation from two small people that don’t sleep feels like pins being consistently stuck into your eyes.

No one tells you that your first born will, at some stage, turn into a miniature Tasmanian devil and try to smother your newborn baby either with love or a pillow!

No one tells you that whilst you thought keeping up with laundry for three people was hell on earth, that doing it for four people will nearly kill you.

No one tells you that what little you had left of your former intelligence will most definitely stick two fingers up at you and leave at the first chance it gets, leaving you a blithering idiot that can only do one thing at a time and talk about nappies for approximately 19 months (I am at this point now – I may be wrong, and I may still be a blithering idiot!).

No one tells you that you will cry more after your second child. Perhaps because no one likes to talk about that part – but they should!!

Then there was my eldest starting school, me starting a new job AND a big house move…just because life didn’t seem hard enough!

Yep, the second half of 2016 was pretty much a disaster.
A really big struggle.

This isn’t a pity party. I’m not looking for sympathy. It just sometimes helps to actually tell people that it’s been hard work.

And that I haven’t coped very well with it.

At times I coped pretty darn badly to be honest.
Craaaaaaaazy woman would be a good name for me, and I’m sure that Mr O would agree.

Thankfully all the poorly in the world, all the stress, upheaval and general ridiculousness has helped me to see things a bit more clearly.

Two children is still going to be hard throughout 2017. Especially because Henry has now turned into a beast that likes to scream at me whenever I even suggest his nappy needs changing and Ruby has decided that she knows everything in the whole world and that I, actually, know nothing.

I don’t do resolutions as a rule. I am never going to give up chocolate and running is alright, but only in summer. So for 2017, here is my annual List of Stuff To Remember:

  • My children are not trying to (purposefully) drive me insane
  • I’ve had a toddler before and survived unscathed
  • Chocolate is good, but in moderation
  • My four year old is the most loving, kind and clever girl – everything we wished she would be
  • Siblings fight and argue, it’s normal
  • Gin and Tonic is my friend
  • Work, although important, is not the be all and end all
  • Find the time to write my blog, because it’s fun and I enjoy it

But mostly I think I need to remember to count my blessings.

I need to remember that I am loved and that I love my family and friends so much. Nothing is worth forgetting that for. Not ever.

Here’s to a fantastic 2017.
Let me know what’s on your Stuff to Remember list in the comments!

Speak soon x

meningitis.

I started oliphantum back in March 2016 as a way to document our life, our world, the way we see things and to show how normal life as a mother of two unfolds in South Staffordshire (if life with children can ever be described as normal that is!).

It was a way in which to get some of my creativity back (I’m a marketing Account Director by trade) and do something fun! And it was also a way to help me get my head back to “normal” after a horrific experience in September 2015.

That horrific experience was the near-loss of our 3 month old son to meningitis.

It’s Meningitis Awareness Week this week (19th – 25th September) and so I wanted to share our story with you, in the hope that it will help to spread the word about how serious the disease is and make more people aware of the symptoms we all need to look out for – especially in babies and toddlers.

the story.

Henry had been a little unsettled and unusually cranky all day, and when he started to be sick I knew that something was wrong.

We called NHS 111 (the free non-emergency advice line) and they advised that we take him to the Out Of Hours service. The Doctor there believed that Henry had a virus and that we should just take him home and monitor his symptoms.

He slept fitfully that night and the next morning he threw up each and every milk feed (a massive disaster since he was breastfed and I wasn’t pumping!!).

He was restless, kept arching his back and I just couldn’t settle him.

We walked his sister to pre-school and on the way home I called the Doctor and booked an emergency appointment as Henry wouldn’t stop being sick and his moans had turned to a constant, high pitched cry (a big symptom that I had no idea about).

I raced him to the surgery as I knew that something was wrong, this wasn’t my baby.

Henry had a fever but it was only just over the ‘normal’ levels, however, because he was just 3 months old the Doctor immediately referred us to the paediatrician at our local hospital.

The triage nurse at the hospital instantly knew that something was wrong, Henry’s screams were now ear-piercing and there was such pain in his cry. He was quickly becoming floppy and unresponsive and I was very scared.

Meningitis hadn’t even crossed my mind at this point (but I later learnt from the nurse that she thought it straight away).

The Junior Doctor assigned to Henry asked immediately for permission to perform a lumbar puncture and explained that he felt it necessary as he believed Henry was suffering from meningitis.

My whole world fell apart.

what happened next.

I couldn’t hear another word that he said as my ears were ringing and all I could think was the worst.

From that point on things happened so quickly. Henry had a cannula inserted and was whisked away for the lumbar puncture. The team advised me not to attend the procedure, and I was glad not to have been there – he was two rooms away but I could still hear him screaming.

When they returned him to me he was so lifeless. He was deteriorating so quickly, and we needed to move fast. We were placed into isolation in a side room and Henry was hooked up to all sorts of different machines to monitor his oxygen levels, vital signs and to administer fluids and medication. I couldn’t believe what was happening.

At this point I hadn’t even had a chance to call Mr O to relay the news, so I waited until he arrived that evening with Ruby (our two year old daughter, for anyone new to the blog!).

It was when Ruby arrived at the hospital that we started to worry about whether she would catch the disease too, but luckily the Doctors assured us that because meningitis has no incubation period, she would be showing symptoms by now if she had it.

The diagnosis of bacterial meningitis came back to us within a few days, and so Henry stayed on the life-saving medication that he had been originally prescribed.

His temperature was highly unstable and would drop dramatically throughout the day and night, so he was constantly monitored every hour for a week until he stabilised and finally started to show signs of improvement.

After a fortnight in hospital we were allowed home, but had to return each day for another fortnight so that Henry could have his medication through his cannula. His hands were so swollen after all the medication and fluids, but slowly that started to return to normal.

We were finally discharged a month after that bloody awful day.

one year on.

It’s been a year since all this happened now, and it has been an interesting one!

At first, every little thing had me on edge.

I didn’t want to sleep, I didn’t want to leave him for a second…which was difficult since we also had Ruby to love and care for!

She started playing up and being a bit naughty, and I don’t blame her either! Here comes this newborn baby, taking away mummy and daddy from her a little and then REALLY taking mummy away for almost a month as she cared for that baby in hospital. What a mess it all was.

A month or so after we were fully discharged we were called back to the hospital for a routine hearing check, and it was at this check that we were told it was likely that Henry’s hearing had been affected by the meningitis.

We have had three follow-up hearing tests since that point and unfortunately Henry’s hearing is deteriorating and there is fluid building up behind his eardrums. We have been advised that Henry will need grommets and/or hearing aids to enable him to hear fully.

If you follow my blog and IG account you’ll know that we have been so lucky.

Henry is a fabulous, clever, funny baby boy, and his hearing problems are minute compared to some of the after effects of meningitis…

We will always be eternally grateful that we caught the disease so early, and that the Doctors and Nurses listened to my instincts that something was wrong – as the story could have ended up far, far worse than the situation we now find ourselves in.

what you need to know.

Meningitis can kill within hours. It’s a vicious disease, and is (sadly) quite common, especially in babies and children.

I bet that the vast majority of you had “the talk” in assembly when at high school, and I bet that you’ve all seen and heard so many things about meningitis in the past. Perhaps you even know of someone that has had meningitis.

But, somehow, it’s still a disease that is all a bit too ‘background noise’ for us to pay much attention…and you never think it will happen to you, but really it’s never been more important to pay attention and learn about the symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia.

It can be quite confusing, with some conflicting symptoms. And it’s NOT all about a rash!

Let this cute little baby be your guide to the main things to look out for…

baby-with-symptoms

Looking back on it now, Henry displayed the vast majority of these symptoms…but meningitis didn’t even cross my mind!

So, after all of this I guess the main message really is this:

TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS.

You won’t necessarily know that it’s meningitis. So if you feel something is wrong, don’t wait – go and pester, tell the Doctor that you feel that there’s something really wrong.

And whatever you do, please don’t wait for a rash.

A rash can mean septicaemia. And septicaemia (the blood poisoning version of the disease) is much more life threatening and dangerous to your little one.

Click here to scoot on over to the Meningitis Research Foundation website and read up fully about the symptoms.

Do you have experience of meningitis? What’s your story? I’d love to hear your thoughts and how you dealt with the experience.

If you’re on Instagram or Twitter, share your story using #mymeningitisstory and the Meningitis Research Foundation hashtag #MRFAwarenessWeek

Speak soon,
K x

itchy.

Before you start, don’t worry…this isn’t a post about some grotty skin complaint or a post about nits  (although now Ruby has started school this could well be a topic at some point, blurgh!).

Tomorrow marks seven years since Mr O and me were married and so, by rights and if all the old wives tales surrounding marriage are to be believed then we should start feeling it.

The Seven Year Itch.

“Seven years?!” I hear you shout. “How can it possibly have been seven years already” and “you’re not old enough to have been married for so long”! Well, I was quite obviously a child bride (pffft!)…and seven years has flown by in the blink of an eye.

fb_img_1473621706836

So much has happened in the last seven years…two homes, a nice selection of awesome holidays, too many cars to mention (naughty husband), some brilliant meals out at some of the best restaurants, LOTS of arguments, the arrival of a kitty cat, the loss of loved ones, too many strops to mention (and those are just his!), oh and the small matter of two children.

How, then, does it end up flying by so quickly and what is the key to staying happy and (hopefully) not feeling the effects of “the itch”?

We went out last night (that hardly ever happens and so was VERY exciting!) and it was a topic that came up…what keeps us together? Are you happy? Are you going to run off with an exotic dancer named Trixabelle at any point in the future, or is it more likely to be Maureen from Finance?!

Thankfully his answer was, and apparently always will be, no. He’s not going anywhere. And that for me is just wonderful, since I loves him and all that.

We seemed to come to the conclusion that our friendship, the fact that we don’t take each other too seriously and that we still make time to make each other happy are all factors that help us avoid The Itch. We argue (he is a d*ck and so am I!) and we disagree lots, but we always make up and forgive each other. We work hard.

We met in 2004 when we were 20 years old. It was the start of a wonderful friendship…even though at the time he was the most grumpy person I think I’d ever met.

He never smiled. He was super tight with his money. He ate sweets by the bucket load and then couldn’t eat his dinner so we would all have to sit and wait for him to finish before we could have our pudding! He was obsessed with the gym. He wore outfits that consisted mainly of the colour brown. He was safely in the “friend zone”.

fb_img_1473621742514

Until he wasn’t anymore.

He sent me an email one day, asking to take me out on a date (how romantic hey!). We went to see ‘Closer’ and I didn’t think I could feel more uncomfortable on a first date. Ever.

But when he kissed me at the end of the evening I knew. Somehow I knew that this friend was actually my one and only. He had been right under my nose all along.

Today I’ve been in bed most of the day after being really sick all night. He has looked after me and the children, entertained my parents, tidied the house and cooked a roast (and only once did I notice a bit of a meltdown!). He’s pretty special.

And I get to keep him.

And I don’t feel itchy at all.

Happy Anniversary husband. Here’s to many more.

dear teacher.

Dear Teacher,

First let me get the dramatics out of the way…

Today I give you one of the most precious people that I will ever have in my life…my first baby.

Today I trust you, someone I have met but three times, with my pride and joy. My daughter. My heart.

Today and for the next school year, I trust you with her happiness and her education. Two of the most important things in her life. The foundations for her future.

So, dear teacher, today I want to apologise in advance and tell you a little about my daughter. My Ruby.

img_20160907_091409

I apologise if I seem overly emotional. If I am teary or distracted. If I have a tendency to believe that my baby is the only baby that matters…

Whilst we’re not the first to go through this process, it is the first time for us. So please understand that we are anxious. So scared for how our little love will cope with the big world stuff.

Wiping your bottom properly when your arms just aren’t long enough to do so. Getting un-dressed/dressed under pressure when you’ve never really had to before. Choosing your own meal for the first time, and having to choose quickly because there are tonnes of other hungry children waiting in line behind you. Carrying a tray full of food and a drink into a hall full of children you don’t know…the list is endless. How will she get on with it all?!

You probably know all too well that she, like all the others, will be just fine. But we don’t know that. Not yet. Not until we return at the end of a day that seems so long to (hopefully) a smile and a promise to return tomorrow.

Our girl is wonderful.

Our girl is so excited to join you.

She is thrilled at the thought of learning to read and to show you how well she can write her own name (albeit that she often writes it backwards..she’s left-handed, you can’t win them all!). She desperately wants to make new friends and play with them, no matter how shy she might first seem  – she most definitely isn’t!

She loves numbers and she can count to 100 (but she always misses out the numbers 20, 39 and 70). Oh, and she sounds like some random cockney when she says the words “girl”, “world” and “three”. No idea.

img_20160907_091300

And finally, can I ask you, dear teacher, to please look after her. Please be kind and try to love our girl just as we do. Please be caring and understanding with her. Don’t let the system bog you down.

She needs you.

And underneath it all, no matter how much we may cry today, we are so excited for her and we’re with you all the way.

Thankyou, x