Making the most of the bank holiday weekend.

The August bank holiday weekend; the one that normally signals the start of the Autumn as the weather tends to reflect the signs Autumn is appearing. I am delighted to say 2017 seems to have bucked that trend, and we have had a glorious sunny weekend. (I have to point out though we are definitely owed it, the UK Summer this year has been somewhat of a wash out).

We have wanted a herb garden and veggie patch in our house for ages, but being in a new build with a smaller garden it seemed impossible. This weekend we embraced the crafty and got creative with the aspiration of making something. The joys of the end of the bank holiday though, we were on a budget after the kids ate the rest of it (literally- all I have heard the Summer holidays is, “what can I eat next??”!).

I had a pot of paint left over from when I revamped the kids Wendy house a month ago, and we saw someone was giving away pallets on a local selling site so we popped and got a couple. A trip to the Poundshop for some weed resistant sheeting (£3 for a huge roll!), and we got started.

We sanded the pallets down by hand just to make sure that there were not any loose edges which could splinter. We used a tin of B and Q Garden Colours in Baltic; as I said before we had already used this tin to paint the Wendy house. There was plenty left to paint two pallets so it does go quite a long way for 0.75 litres. It was also cheaper than brands I have used previously to paint garden wood at £7 a tin and I didn’t notice a huge difference in quality.  We had a keen little helper so we set to work painting the pallets.

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It didn’t take us too long to paint the two pallets with all hands on deck. We then got the weed resistant fabric and cut it into thick strips and made it into little pouches which fit in the main 3 boards of the pallet, with a well hanging below (See photos below). We had space therefore for 6 little wells. We lined them up so they were little wells and tacked the fabric into place with small tacks we had around the edge of the pocket that falls naturally in between the three main boards that run along the middle horizontally and vertically. We tacked them enough to be strong enough to fill with compost, which is what we did next. We then popped to Asda and bought a couple of different herbs, such as Basil for just £0.70 each.

 

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I then made some DIY Stencils using the gorgeous Cricut Explore I gifted myself for my birthday a couple of years ago. We just used the font Stardos Stencil, and created some little labels.

We went along the main edges of one of the pallets and stencilled with some light grey paint with “Herb” one side, and “Garden” the other. We then gave each little Herb in our garden its own little label.  We then screwed through and attached them to the wall/fence, we didn’t want them toppling over on top of the little ones so this was a must.

Just over £10 including the compost and the herbs, and we have a gorgeous handmade little Herb garden. Ideal little project for the whole family!

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Doggy Dinners: Reviewed.

Three months ago I wrote a blog post about how I was going to change the way I fed my dogs. I read a book by the owner of Lily’s Kitchen about what was going into conventional dog food; it changed my thoughts on what I was feeding them altogether. I know people thought I was a little odd to be doing it. “You home make your dogs dinners?”.  To be fair I have taken the dogs on holiday with us two summers running too, I understand why people might think I am abit OTT with our family pets.

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Katie and Lola on Fistral Beach this Summer.

 

The thing is once you explain to people what does go in their dogs foods, people are generally surprised and often horrified.  I want to ensure our pets are well looked after, they are very much a part of our family.  You can spend so much on grooming and general care, but then feed them food which is actually doing them very little good. We know only too well nowadays the importance of healthy eating and what happens to us when you too often opt for the wrong food. This is the same with our pets yet people don’t seem to realise it. I know I didn’t! The high levels of Ash in some dog foods shocked me. The use of tomato skins and then added flavourings which are used to entice our pets to want to eat the dinner. The “Meat Derivatives”, by very definition you don’t know what part of the animal this is or if its a combination of different animals. I know I wouldn’t want to opt for random animal parts in my dinner.

I know home cooking isn’t always practical, and I know people have busy lives. I combine home cooking with feeding them Lily’s kitchen food; for example a few weeks ago when we were away it was impractical to cook for them so we fed them on Lilys Kitchen only that week. I also add Lily’s kitchen kibble to their dinners which they love. I do believe the effort is worth it though, I have noticed a marked difference in their behaviour. They bounce around like new puppies, which is quite impressive for  two 8 year old dogs (one of whom has a heart murmur!). I had my views on this confirmed this week by a visit to our vets.

It was little Lola’s turn for her annual booster; the first since her original puppy injections.

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I popped her on the table and the vet gave her a little look over. He turned to me and said, “She is looking really good! Perfect weight, and her skin is in such good condition. What are you feeding her? Its clearly doing her the world of good”.  I came home and told this to my other half, who took me totally by surprise with his response. “When you first started doing this I thought it was just a fad that wouldn’t last. I was totally wrong, and you can see what a difference its made to them”.

If you take anything from reading this, go away and read up about dog food. If you can, give it a chance. A couple of weeks to try it and see if it makes a difference. I am so glad that we did!

Beautiful Cornwall

Every year we go there. Every year I fall in love a little more. Stunning, Beautiful, peaceful Cornwall.  The rugged cliffs, the stunning scenery, the gorgeous sound of the waves lapping against the shore. Cornwall is my reset button.

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We stayed for the second year in a row in beautiful Perranporth. Perranporth is Cornish for the Cove of St. Piran (The Patron Saint of Cornwall), St Piran founded St Piran’s Oratory near Perranporth in the 7th century. With the Saint of Cornwall having a huge link to the town and the author Winston Graham writing the Poldark books about the area having lived in Perranporth for 34 years, how could you not come pay a visit if you’re in Cornwall. If you need any more convincing, the town ice cream parlour Perran Dairy makes the nicest ice creams I have EVER tasted. We went here with the children far too often! A cheeky tip from me; Try the Chocolate Orange Ice cream it’s to die for!

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The beach stretches for miles and miles, and is wonderful for surfing (so I have heard!). It also has the UKs only bar which is actually on the beach, the amazing spectacle that is, “The watering Hole”. This place is amazing! Gorgeous views, amazing food and they even have live bands playing music here on a regular basis. When I say bands I don’t mean just any bands, they had the legend that is Tom Jones playing here in late June this year. You have to take an afternoon or evening and go and check out this place. If you have a pet companion accompanying you on your visit, don’t worry they are welcome too!

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As you can see from the above, the kids loved Perranporth beach. This however is not our favourite beach in Cornwall (even thought it is amazing). One of our favourites however is just down the road in stunning St Agnes. The breathtaking Trevanaunce Cove.

This is one of the most enchanting beaches I have ever seen, it is a beach of contrasts. Huge (and I mean enormous, bigger than my 6 year old) boulders on the edges of the beach, which have fallen from the enormous cliffs above. We even witnessed an incredibly brave gentleman on a motorbike spinning his bike on the cliffs above. Stunning rockpools bursting with life, and emerald green with plants around the edges. Crystal clear waters which bobbed up and down with banana yellow kayakers off to explore the nearby caves of the beach. A trickle of water flowing down the beach to the water, pouring over the top of giant grey stones and slate pieces. It is something you would expect to see somewhere tropical, not on the South West coast of the United Kingdom. When we visited the beach was near empty, and we parked in the nearby car park for just £2. This is in my top three beaches we have visited in Cornwall over the last 5 years; the other two are Holywell Bay near Newquay and Fistral Beach in Newquay.

The picture on the left is Holywell bay and the picture of Anais being a mermaid is on Fistral Beach with the legendary Headland Hotel behind. Anais adores this hotel, as it was used in one of her favourite films, “The Witches”.  We went here this year for a Cream tea and it certainly did not disappoint.

A couple of others places which need a mention;

1) Padstow. This little fishing village is amazing.

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A beautiful harbour with some gorgeous beaches nearby, we visited Treyarnon Bay this year which has a natural swimming pool in the rocks on the beach. The shops in Padstow are lovely, and you have to pay a visit to Roly’s fudge pantry. You also have Rick Stein’s restaurant here, and although on the pricey side they do have lovely fish and chips.

 

2) Mevagissey. Another little fishing village, and this was our first visit here this year. Think you have seen this before but have never been? You probably have, it was used on the recent Boots advert! The streets are tiny and the shops are so cute. We popped into the local soap shop and bought some gorgeous soaps back home with us.

The weather sadly wasn’t really on our side this year, however we didn’t let that dampen down our fun. Cornwall, we will see you next year- missing you already!

Doggy Dinners.

I have recently purchased the brilliant book, “Dinner for Dogs” by the founder of Lily’s Kitchen Henrietta Morrison. What an eye opener! I have always been an enormous softie with our three fluffy amigos. I happened across this book when looking for a recipe to make some treats for them and I sent for it on a whim. I am so glad I did, as its changed my whole attitude to their food.

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Our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Katie has a heart murmur and after only matter of days on homemade dinners, she was flying around our garden after the kids like a new puppy. Not bad considering she’s nearly 8 and on daily medication for a heart murmur. It may be a coincidence but I cant see how it is!

The thing is as well its actually been so easy to do, and I have used things which I have actually had in my cupboards/fridge. Canned Salmon, Chicken, Rice, lentils, spinach and herbs from the garden! They are so excited by dinner times now, they no longer give me that “really?” look when I put down their bowls. Their tails are wagging all the way through dinnertimes!

I made a twist on one of the recipes in the book and it went down especially well- I used the Sardine bake recipe in the book but just subbed out the Sardine and replaced with Salmon and altered slightly.

It lasted two days, used things I already had in my house and I knew it was so much better for them then the usual stuff I had fed them previously. Empty bowls and Happy dogs!

I would definitely extend the doggy dinner challenge to anyone who wants to see a huge difference in their pups! If you are contemplating it, go and get the brilliant book, “Dinner for Dogs”. You will not regret it!

 

 

Puppy Power

Our gorgeous but rather mischievous Cavachon Lola (AKA Lola Bear) is turning one tomorrow. She is so very cheeky and can often be found chasing birds or better yet bumblebees, around our garden.

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We added her to our crazy Espiner brood last Summer and I can not imagine life without her now. I have to confess it would be a lot calmer and quieter without her though..

We decided to go to our usual go to place for her birthday cake. Yes we are the kind of insane people that spend money on a dogs birthday cake. The thing is after losing our Cavalier 18 months back it reminded us that these fluffy monsters are only with us fleetingly and bring such joy; we must appreciate them while they are with us.

I contacted the lovely team at Arton and Co. and requested a joint cake for Lola and her litter mate Lara who went to live with (& terrorise) my in-laws across the road from us. I went to pick up our parcel from the post office and discovered it was even addressed to Lola and Lara.. aww.

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These are always so sweet! A gorgeous little birthday cake which is edged in handmade peanut butter flavoured mini bones and covered in edible (sugar free) doggy friendly icing. They even make sure they add gorgeous little iced paw prints and their name/age too in the appropriate colour. You can choose from a Carob (Doggy chocolate) Cake or Peanut butter flavoured. We have always gone with Peanut butter flavoured and our little ladies love it! We choose the 5 inch size and we always have plenty to go around.

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Look how happy she was 🙂 Go and have a look at their site and treat your furry friend at http://www.artonandco.com

To our mini Miss Espiner, Happy birthday Little Bear!

I’ve lost my mojo..

Just over ten years ago I graduated from University; I was waiting to take my place in the world bright eyed and bushy tailed.1909579_50631670808_9143_n

Ten years later I am sat in my bed before 9pm at night, exhausted from two cases of chickenpox and awaiting the third. I look around my house which seems to be a constant mess, despite my best efforts to put it right hourly! I then think back to this bright eyed bushy tailed self and heave a little sigh. The comparison is some what stark from this photo to rushing to clean up the dogs vomit only to discover she’s ate it before I have had time to get back to her and clean it first. The kids ending up in a fist fight over the most minuscule of insignificant nonsense and the pressure of trying to actually leave the house on time for once seem to be my day to day life.

I honestly don’t think I realised at this point how hard being a grown up actually was. I remember as I started University feeling so inspired to have a really exciting career. I then look at my life ten years on and feel sometimes maybe I have lost my mojo.

I then remind myself that the dog vomit, and the fist fights as draining as they are, are part of my daily life. Somedays like today I feel drained from the minimal sleep and a little bit down in the dumps about what life is sometimes. Being a parent is hard. I then get the pang of guilt as actually I am so lucky to have what I have. I do know that, but I think sometimes with the stress and the exhaustion you forget it.  Those crazy little people of mine are amazing and as much as I want to bang their heads together some days where would I be without them!

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It’s the crazy contrived world of parenting, the constant feelings of guilt. The guilt I felt when I worked more hours away from them in a good job to be able to provide for them more. The guilt I have felt as a Stay at home Mum where the pressure is all on the hubby to provide for us. The guilt of taking a job working from home, when the kids walk in mid phone call and announce loudly how they need a poo at the top of their voice. I then  politely make my excuses and tell them off for interrupting Mummy while she is working, and feel guilty about it! Ahhh. The guilt regardless of what you do, its always there.

Now Harrison starts School this August I have a real sense of wanting to go out in to the world and regain some sense of me again. Start a new challenge, go back to the bright eyed bushy tailed me in the photo (except fatter and with a lot more wrinkles!). I do find however once again that niggling feeling of guilt. Am I being selfish wanting to go out and find “myself ” again? What does that even mean. I have spent the last few years off with my youngest and loved spending time with him, convincing myself at the same time I could definitely carve out a career for myself at home somewhere. That has sadly failed to materialise. Despite my best plans in my head I am not yet an awarding winning author, blogger or have a successful business which is dragons den worthy. The dream home in Cornwall will have to wait!

In ten years again when I look at these photos, what will I make about my life now. I would like to think that I look back and think I tried my best. I didn’t always get it right, but in all honesty I don’t think you will ever get it right. Parents are under so much pressure to make little ones happy. We always worry about the consequences regardless what decisions we make, we worry we made the wrong choice. I would like to think that the days like today where I feel I have lost my mojo and sulk around for a few hours, help me to re-focus and press that reset button.

I just need reminding sometimes to take it easier on myself I think 🙂

Chickenpox

Last week Anais was particularly grumpy, so much so I actually researched the internet for, “The Terrible sixes”. We had a tantrum every morning! Refusing to get dressed & just being awkward from Sunday onwards. I even ended up in with the School checking something wasn’t wrong; I collected her on Thursday and all of a sudden it became very clear what was going on. Chickenpox! We have never experienced Chickenpox in our house; which is incredulous as a mum of three with my eldest being nearly ten. Anais came out of school on Thursday & told me her head had hurt and pointed to a little lump

17160307_10155109891149461_1717746520_non her head. I looked at it & turned to look at the class LSA who looked back at me & gave me that look. Oh dear! We got Anais home and had a little look & sure enough we found another. Oddly though, that was it!

We awoke the next morning braced for a hot polka dot child & there was nothing else there. I called a lovely lady we know well at the local pharmacy and explained the odd spots and she told me to bring her down. She took one look at Anais & said “Definitely chickenpox”. Put her in a warm bath, avoid giving her anything too cold & watch what happens.  It was like a recipe; add 1 partially spotted child, add 1 portion of warm bath and leave to stew for 20 minutes. Sure enough out came a few more spots, and they they started to fill with more and more fluid! (Heave!).

The next morning we woke up to a brand new load of spots and the ones which were there from the day before looked a lot more angry & bigger. I then learned my first hard lesson about chickenpox; it gets everywhere. Like everywhere! A very unhappy camper, for quite a few days.

17160838_10155109891649461_1187747058_nThis is the same spot two days later! You can see it looked loads bigger and went a cloudy colour. I then made an epic fail as I pulled her t shirt over her head & popped it! Bad mummy! She now insists she will dress herself, incase I “hurt” anymore of her chickenpox! Eish.

I have to say though she’s been quite lucky as we are now 4 days past that first spot and I think (touchwood) we are now not getting anymore spots. Fortunately she doesn’t have too many! I do think though she might think otherwise from her “Poster’ for Mummy of her chickenpox.

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A few lessons learned from this so far.

1) Aqueous Calamine cream & Virasoothe, seemed to have worked well on cooling them and making them less itchy. I paired this with Zirtek and Calpol, which has seemed to help.  A friend of mine on Facebook who is a nurse said to avoid ibuprofen. I have seen scary Facebook stories about the side effects Nurofen on Chickenpox,  so I am glad I knew that and to have a professional back this up is worth knowing.

2) I was also expecting chickenpox to appear quite quickly & her to be covered instantly. It really threw me that the spots seemed to take their time to arrive, and I didn’t realise that they came in waves over a few days.

3) Sitz bath. Chickenpox doesn’t seem to care about where it places its spots & that can be miserable and uncomfortable. At the itchy phases when she was really miserable, A sitz bath seemed to take the edge off and give some light relief.

Lots of cuddles and TV and we are coping! I although am in cynical mum mode while watching TV, and wondering what kind of anti-anxiety medicine I need to get my hands on to become Topsy and Tims mum!

I have to confess I am watching the boys as well like a hawk, for any signs of spots. I became convinced this morning Harri had a spot, but it was just a piece of dried on Weetabix! I think I may have cabin fever.

Watch this space…

The Winter School run or The finals of the Krypton factor?

There are times where I look around at where I live in rural Leicestershire, in the heart of England and appreciate its sheer beauty.  There is stunning local wildlife and woodlands, and its something you would imagine whilst reading The Secret Garden.

Springtime in Swithland Woods,
Leicestershire.
There is one exception to this rule; The English winter.  Don’t get me wrong in England it rains.. a lot! Growing up in the UK, an umbrella becomes a staple piece of your wardrobe. The English winter though is freezing, wet and bloody miserable! I find myself sulking as soon as it hits October and the weather starts to become grey and cold. I was born in June and I think this makes me (by right of my birth month) instantly allergic to the cold! What never fails to amaze me however is how at 2:30pm every weekday it starts to become particularly grey and miserable; just in time for the 3pm School run. Today was no exception. 

 

I remember as a child watching The Krypton Factor on ITV. It was all about the contestants using their physical stamina, intelligence, memory and mental agility to take on a series of challenges. I don’t know if its my imagination but I am beginning to believe that The Krypton Factor had an underlying intention; to prepare the next generation for the School run in the winter in the UK.
This afternoon pre school run
First school run challenge is memory. Firstly you must remember to get out early enough if its looking grey to guarantee yourself a parking space! There is a quite a challenge in itself. There is another part to this later on in the run, did the kids remember to bring all of their school attire home with them? Now you would think that is their responsibility but no I am afraid not. That is your responsibility to remind them; fail to do so at your own peril! I have known friends who have children arrive in the end of the day school line with no school shoes on their feet! (I have no idea how). My personal favourite is the, “where did I leave my school jumper??” game. This happens in our house at least three out of five school runs.
Secondly mental agility and imagination. This in the school run version is all about patience. This means you are having to waiting patiently outside the gates in the freezing rain with a million other parents who are going to take you on in the race for the first through the gate to recover their child before it rains even harder. You then have to hold it together as a responsible parent as your little darling decides that now in the pouring rain is the time for them to go for a run up bumble hill across the far side of the field. Use your initiative and imagination to attract them back without making yourself look like an awful parent by throwing sweets at them in a trail.

The final challenge is physical stamina. By this point it is completely chucking it down and your children have all come out of their school classroom and lost the ability to use the upper half of their body. They have balanced all of their belongings on various parts of you like some kind of mummy game of buckaroo. The challenge is now to retain all children and their belongings and get them back to the car as soon as humanly possible. Once this has been completed the final challenge is getting home without one of the children strangling the other in the car on the way. In the words of a lovely friend of mine, eish!

Bring on old school Krypton factor any day.

Hooray for the Superheroes!

When I started this blog up I added the label “Parenting”. I then un-added it, and re-added it again. The reality is I am a Mum of three children, however adding the title “Parenting” to a blog makes it seem like I know something about it somehow. Truth be told, 10 years in to this parenting malarkey and I feel like I still know very little! The label Parenting is therefore more of a discussion of things I am still learning along this crazy parenting journey of mine.

I still feel like I am failing daily at this parenting game; try as best as I do there are somedays I just want to grab the jar of Nutella and a spoon and go to town! Then there are other days where I look at my monsters & think I can’t have done too bad a job, as they seem to be turning into half decent human beings. I think having those “Superheroes” you can turn to for some quiet relief help so much during the Nutella moments. This weekend I was reminded how valuable these Super hero people are.

We have had a rather busy week; back to school after half term, the horrible reality of Anais routine eye appointment mid week, the dog ending up having a operation at the vets and tears from Anais at the weekend about how she hated having glasses and didn’t want to be “different”. I felt my fingers reaching for the said Nutella jar.. then for the superhero intervention! My Dad and his girlfriend offered to have the kids for us on Saturday for the night. No I didn’t bite his hand off; I bit off his entire arm!

Then those feelings of guilt; the joys of parental anxiety! Its not that I want to get rid of my children; they are my very reason for everything! Its just sometimes a couple of hours of being able to walk around the shop without the inevitable Kinder egg tantrum I would get if I was to take my youngest would be heavenly. I haven’t slept through the night in ten years; being able to lie in my own bed and sleep without being karate kicked in my ribs at 3am! A dream!

I packed them a little case & took them over to spend time with Grandad and Grandma, gave them a kiss and a big hug and off we went. Before we had turned off the road my Dad lives on, I was already worrying. “I hope Harrison is okay, as this is his first overnight stay without us”.  “Do you think we should just pop back and check?”. No be brave- we can do it!
We had grand plans of going out for dinner, this did not materialise instead we ended up with a G and T and a tub of Ben and Jerry’s watching Saturday night takeaway on the TV.
We went to bed and slept ALL night and woke up at a half decent hour! I felt like I owed my dad my house!
It doesn’t have to be much but a few hours here and there can just help restore the sanity! My in laws are super heroes too! “Leave the kids with us while you go shopping if you like”. What an amazing gesture that can be.

Sunday morning I went out and ate breakfast and had a cup of tea, WHILE THEY WERE STILL WARM! No freezing cold tea, as I have had to stop and go and wipe my three year olds bum mid way through. To the Grandparents and friends out there, the uncelebrated Super heroes I salute you! You are so appreciated! The little gestures you make are amazing and do help to recharge those flattened batteries.

Having kids is tough, and yes we know we decided to bring those little cherubs in to the world! Where would we be without them! A little break here and there just to go and do something on our own, that can be my Christmas present next year! Its far more of a delight than anything you could possibly buy me (well within reason I imagine!). Thanks Superheroes, you are so valued even if we forget to tell you sometimes. xx

Nystagmus

One thing we are especially passionate about as a family, is raising awareness of the incurable eye condition Nystagmus. We had never heard of this word until 2011, when my tiny baby daughter was diagnosed with it. When my little girl was born in December 2010, I was on cloud nine. Seven pound and 12 ounces of honey blonde gorgeousness, we called her Anais Elizabeth as we had planned for the entire pregnancy (& added the middle name Maria after the lovely midwife). We were totally smitten!

When she was a few months old my father in law turned to us and said, “Have her eyes always moved so fast?”. The week before we were shopping in a Supermarket and a member of staff had dropped something on top of her pushchair she ended up being rushed into hospital. After a few days stay, we were sent home and assured all was fine. The words of my father in law were ringing in my ears after we left their house. I spent days looking, and sure enough he was right. I started researching on the internet and kept coming across this word “Nystagmus”. I had no idea how to say it, let alone any idea what it was! Every time I attempted to say it, it would come out differently; “Ny-stag-mus”, “N-stag-mus”. It can’t be that! My eldest son was nearly four, and I assured myself he must of done this too and grown out of it. I think this was just denial on my part!

At the age of 4 months, Anais ended up at the hospital again but this time due to the dreaded reflux she suffered from which left me stinking of sour milk and covered in vomit  for the first six months of her life. We were sat being booked in by a junior doctor at the local hospital who was discussing Anais reflux when all of a sudden he sat forward & surveyed Anais face. “Have you noticed anything unusual about her eyes?”. I have never answered so fast, “Yes!!
I had mentioned the eye movements to a Health visitor who seemed suitably uninterested and gave me that look. I had received the same look from a doctor when I took Anais at two weeks old as she was being sick constantly. I received “the look” followed by a sarcastic, “Babies are sick Mrs Espiner”. I left feeling stupid and embarrassed. I should have trusted my gut though, at 1 month old she wasn’t putting on as much weight as she should have been as she was being so sick! Valuable lesson there, trust your mummy instincts.
So there I sat and I began to think perhaps I wasn’t just that neurotic mum! I was perhaps going to receive some answers; the doctor and nurse seemed to be having a pretty intense conversation about my daughters eyes while I sat shifting in my chair. Anais was checked out again and a more senior doctor sat me in a chair, looked me straight in the face and said “There is nothing wrong with her eyes”. I felt so stupid and so confused all rolled into one.

The day came eventually where I was granted those answers & it was confirmed my mummy instinct had been right all along. I went back to the doctors when Anais was 6 months old & finally someone listened. A GP at our surgery saw Anais & agreed with me (finally) something wasn’t right & referred us on to the specialists at our local hospital. I was terrified; I had no idea what to expect.
We went to the hospital and it all seemed to be a bit of a blur around me. We went in and sat in front of a doctor who took one look at Anais, turned back to me and said almost nonchalantly, “Oh yes, she has nystagmus”. After that everything that he said to me, I didn’t hear. I was swimming in a sea of emotions. I was told I would be referred to the nystagmus clinic and wandered outside in to the corridor. Somehow I found my way back to the car park, I strapped my little lady in her car seat got back in the car and shut the door. I then sat and broke my heart right there in the car park.

I felt like my world had just crashed down around my ears. In the back of my head I feel like I knew she had Nystagmus all along, but I was trying to protect myself and her too. If I didn’t admit it, I wouldn’t have to face up to the reality of it. Those first few months after she was diagnosed I was in a really bad place. I would just find myself crying. I would look at her and a million thoughts would just pour out of my mind and I would end up crying. The uncertainty of it all was horrendous; I was going to have to wait until she could tell me what she was able to see. I felt like I was in limbo. At the same time of her being diagnosed, I felt like I had no idea about Nystagmus so I did the worst thing imaginable; I researched it on Google. What a bad move that was! Everything was so negative, I felt utterly isolated. I felt like no one could possibly understand how I was feeling.

After a few rough months, all of a sudden the bad days were there but they were becoming less frequent. I was looking at this little lady and all of sudden she was growing, and showing me what an amazing little lady she really was. She was hitting milestone after milestone I read that she may not meet, and not just meeting them but flying past them.  I wont lie there were days where the bad days would reappear, even now I still dread going to her appointments at the hospital.

Fast forward 6 years and the bad days are rare, the good days are frequent. On this journey we have made some amazing friends along the way, and where would we be without them! Anais has grown in to the most amazing little girl and makes me burst with pride daily. She learnt to ride a bike at 5, will be the first to try her hand at anything and is doing so well at school. She wants to be a vet or a tooth fairy when she grows up and she loves Mermaids and Princesses. One of her dreams came true recently and she got to actually meet a mermaid! She is so popular and has so many little friends.

We have always been honest with her about Nystagmus and have never hidden it from her. She embraces it as a part of who she is, but never lets it hold her back. Our view on Nystagmus as a family has always been that in the story of her life Nystagmus is not even a chapter but merely a footnote. It is something that is there, but it is insignificant. It does not define her, it just makes up a very small part of who she is.