Manchester // My thoughts

This wasn’t the post I was planning to publish today. I am not usually one for social commentary or current affairs. I always feel like I don’t have a right to comment on things that have not directly affected me but these words have been swimming around my head all day.

The post I was intending to publish was about how I’ve been a Take That fan for 25 years and how much I enjoyed seeing them at the Manchester Arena on Friday night.

And then last night, as I was editing video of the concert my husband came downstairs and told me the news. There had been an explosion, at a concert which was full of children and families, people were dead. I was shocked, and saddened but initially there was hope that maybe it had been some sort of tragic accident and not another bomb, another terrorist doing something unthinkable in the name of religion.

But by the time I got up this morning it had been confirmed that it was a bomb, a lone suicide bomber. Whether he was acting alone or as part of a wider organisation isn’t yet clear. What is certain though is that 22 people are dead, another 59 injured in hospital. Among the dead, an 8 year old girl. It is just incomprehensible that someone could target children and families on what should have been an incredible night out.

Three months before I started university in 1996 the IRA blew up Manchester city centre. Somehow nobody died that day but I spent the next three years living in a city slowly emerging from scaffolding and boarded up windows. Manchester has recovered from terrorism once before and I’m sure it will again. You only have to look at the news, at social media, to see how the people of the city; the paramedics, police, taxi drivers, bus drivers and all the other people who were there last night and today came together and did whatever they could to help.

What happened last night is senseless. I will never understand what these terrorists are hoping to achieve with their bombs and their seemingly indiscriminate campaign of violence and killing.

The events of the last 24 hours have affected me more than I expected. I am normally resolutely immune to tragedy. I see terrible things on the news and I think ‘well, that’s terrible’ and then I get on with my day. But today is different.

It was only four days ago that I was there, in that arena. It could so easily have been me that didn’t come home to my family after what should have been a night of fun and enjoyment. And I cannot comprehend how the families of those that were killed, or seriously injured must be feeling. Tonight I cried for the lives lost. The lives of people I didn’t know, and never will.

But I refuse to be scared. We cannot be scared. We must continue in our lives, make the most of what we have.

My boys are too little to be aware of what has happened this time. I have not needed to have a conversation about good and evil. But there will be other times to come I’m sure, when I will need to reassure my boys. Tell them that no matter what happens there will always be good people and bad people.

And that they should always look for the good people.

Be one of the good people.

My thoughts tonight are with the families of those that didn’t come home.

Stay Strong Our Kid - my thoughts on Manchester

Three pictures of childhood

I was looking through some old photos on my laptop and came across these pictures from my childhood that I must have scanned at some point. I share so many photos of Toby and Gabe here that I thought you might be interested to see what I looked like as a baby.

This first photo is me and my brother. He is exactly two years older than me (our birthdays are the next day to each other) and I reckon in this photo I must have been about five months and he was nearly two and a half. I love my brother’s 70’s bowl cut and mushroom jumper!

me and my brother aged 5 months and two and half

The next photo was taken at playschool when I was two I think. Read more

Has my baby grown out of reflux?

Toby and Gabe have both had reflux. Toby’s was silent, meaning he wasn’t sick, and was diagnosed at six weeks. With Gabe I recognised the signs much sooner (with him the vast amounts of vomit were also a clue!) and he was on medication by two weeks old. But how do you know when your baby has grown out of reflux?

Well, if your little one is on medication for reflux then the only way to see if they have grown out of it, as opposed to the symptoms just being well controlled by the medication, is to stop giving it to them and see what happens.

In fact dealing with reflux in babies and toddlers is all just trial and error, because they can’t tell you what’s wrong, what hurts, what helps – and as the parent of children who have suffered with reflux it is incredibly frustrating and it can make you feel as guilty as hell.

Gabe at eight weeks old with reflux

We were incredibly lucky that despite both Toby and Gabe having reflux neither of them have had any allergies. Read more

Choosing a baby name // Toby

Choosing a baby name is possibly one of the most difficult decisions you’ll have to make. I always like to hear stories about how people chose their baby’s name so I thought I’d share with you how we found Toby’s name.

Tiny Toby baby

Before we had the 20 week scan and found out we were having a boy I had already thought of lots of names I liked but most of them were girls’ names. After the scan I still kept coming up with girl’s names but couldn’t really find any inspiration for boys’ names. There are so many things to think of when choosing a name for your baby and we knew there were a few things that were important to us… Read more

10 things that make me happy

I was tagged (ages ago now) by Tasha from Mummy & Moose to write about 10 things that make me happy. You would think this should be pretty easy but I’ve actually found it quite difficult to think of ten things, that aren’t all food! (N.B. Some of them are food)

I’m just going to launch right in with this, so here goes…

Sleep

I love sleep. I always have. Well, according to my mum I didn’t sleep until I was three but after that I have always loved sleeping. I have also inherited from my dad the ability to sleep anywhere at any time. Before the boys arrived and stole all my sleep away from me I loved nothing more than a long lie in, and then maybe an afternoon nap too. If I was on a long journey whether by car, train or plane, I would just sleep to pass the time. I used to fly from Edinburgh to London quite a lot and had perfected my technique of falling asleep before take off and waking up when the wheels hit the tarmac at the other end.

So I love sleep which is why the last four years have been so hard. I am hoping one day my kids might actually sleep all night and I can indulge in my love of sleep once again.

Family days out

Family day out at Grizedale Forest

Days out with a preschooler and a toddler are not always stress-free. Read more

Me & Mine // A Family Portrait (April 2017)

April seems to have absolutely flown by this year. I don’t know whether it was because of Easter or because it’s a shorter month but whatever the reason I seem to have blinked and missed it! Having said that, when I look back we’ve actually fit quite a lot into the month.

The first weekend we headed up to the Lakes to see my in-laws and had a trip to Cartmel too. The next weekend we went to the beach at St Annes after Toby reached the end of his first reward chart.  On Easter Monday we went back up to the Lake District to hunt the Gruffalo in Grizedale Forest. And then yesterday we went to the SeaLife Centre in Blackpool as Toby’s reward from his second chart.

So looking back it’s actually been a very busy month. No wonder I’m exhausted! Anyway, this month’s Me & Mine photo was taken on our trip to Grizedale. Read more

20 things about me

If you follow me on Instagram then you may well have read this already…and if you don’t then you really should – you can find me here.

Anyway, lots of people are joining in with these posts about 20 things and I thought it might be nice to share my 20 facts over here on the blog too, and I’ve added in a bit more detail here too. So here goes…

1. I’m actually called Sarah-Jane although no one calls me that (apart from my mum if I’m in trouble).
2. I was named after Dr Who’s assistant, Sarah-Jane Smith. My mum was actually so convinced I was going to be a boy that they hadn’t thought of any girl’s names. I was going to be Luke Matthew but then I turned out to be a girl and my dad was a big Dr Who fan so Sarah-Jane it was.
3. I was born and brought up in Blackpool – it wasn’t as exciting as you might think. I didn’t even go to the Pleasure Beach until I was about 14!
4. I danced in summer shows at in the famous Blackpool Tower ballroom for two summers when I was a teenager. The backstage is tiny and I don’t know how they fit everyone in when Strictly goes there.
5. I was head girl at secondary school. I had to apply for it like a job and be interviewed by the head teacher.

Me in my school uniform and gown as head girl
6. I’ve worn glasses since I was 7 – without them I can’t see much past the end of my nose! At first I only needed them for watching TV and reading the blackboard at school but my eye sight got steadily worse until I was in my twenties. Read more

Homesick for my old life

I’m writing this on the train, on my way home from a lovely night in Dunfermline. Dunfermline, the place I called home for 13 years until we upped sticks and moved back to the north west last summer. And as I leave I’m feeling a bit homesick for my old life – can you even be homesick for a place that isn’t home anymore?

View of the Forth Road bridges from the train

Before we moved, I was involved in local musical theatre. I was in about 10 different musicals in the time I lived here but the last one was before I got pregnant with Gabe. This week the company I used to be in were performing Priscilla Queen of the Desert so I decided to come up for a night to see the show. It was also a chance to catch up with some of my old friends as I joined the cast and crew at the Chinese buffet after the show. Read more

Exante Diet Flexi Solution // Discount code

Back in 2014 I tried out the Exante Diet Total Solution for one week and wrote all about it here. Since then I’ve had another baby and moved house, and found myself in need of losing some weight again. Having two small children though means that a total meal replacement diet isn’t really what I’m looking for any more. And so that’s where the Exante Diet Flexi Solution comes in.

Exante Diet Flexi Solution Giveaway

The Flexi Solution is a 1200 calorie flexible diet – it combines two Exante meal replacement products, one healthy recipe meal and an Exante snack every day. This kind of plan fits in really easily to my family life – I can have my meal replacements for breakfast and lunch but still eat dinner with the rest of the family. We try to eat healthy meals anyway so with a few adjustments we can still all eat the same meal in the evening. Read more

5 things I wish I’d known before having a baby

Before Toby was born I read loads of pregnancy and baby books. I went to antenatal classes with my husband. I signed up for all the ‘your baby this week’ emails…basically I did my research. That’s just the kind of person I am; I liked to be informed and therefore hopefully be prepared. But it turns out no amount of research can actually prepare you for that first night at home with a newborn. I’ve now had two babies and I thought I’d share some things I wish I’d known before having a baby.

5 things I wish I'd known before having a baby Read more