My Florida hairstyle – Including Vlog link!

My hair has gone through a few phases since moving over here and I feel finally I’m happy with it!

I started out with long box coloured blonde hair, with a fringe (bangs). You know when you go abroad on holiday and your hair decides it has a life of its own? Starts to grow upwards on your head with the humidity and won’t wash well with the different water? That. It happened to me, except it wasn’t going to be a 2 week issue then home and back to normal. This was home and blow drying and straightening my hair for it to look good for 30 or so minutes was not going to happen!

Next style was bright Florida blonde and shorter- thanks to my hair going into shock and falling out. Not figured out what happened there sunshine maybe, stress, hormones but it was bad! I ditched the hairdryer and let my hair wave / kind of curl naturally. Still had the issue of humidity and the volume my hair would go to outdoors!

The problem with bright blonde is the up keep. This mummy’s budget does not allow for that so I kept having that tell tale dark ring around my head that showed was time to hit the salon.

Around about a year ago I decided to try the curlygirl method I’d read about – google for details!!

Seemed simple enough, the products used were cheap and readily available so decided was worth a shot. The initial few weeks of starting it were not good. My hair was like straw and I was getting even less curl than before! Fast forward a year and I have curly unfrizzy hair!!

It was time to deal with my color too. My girl joan @jamhairmakeupart treated me to all sorts of colors and techniques that resulted in natural color that more importantly lasted me 5 months between visits! Was rocking the ombre look for a while there!

I get asked frequently in the street about my hair, how I style, what products or just a compliment which my fine, thinning hair has never had before!

So watch my vlog on my technique. It is so simple and fast!! Busy mummys don’t have time to spend doing their hair. At least I don’t anyway.

My Florida Style

With my trip to England coming up I’ve been sorting through my clothes deciding what to take with me. It’s still 13 days away but I like to do this inital sweep of my closet in advance – just incase i have to go shopping πŸ˜€

My closet here is pretty big. I chose the biggest one out of the 2 in the master bedroom, obviously! The items in there now, are not what I arrived with 2 years ago. It’s been evolving over time as my style has changed to fit our new surroundings. Partly out of necessity and partly through choice.

I also eventually decided the dresses I’d been hording since my pre pregnancy years were no longer necessary and handed them down to a teenager!

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The picture ☝️makes it look like I have a lot but all seasons are in there including about 5 winter coats (Just in case!) I have beach / pool wear, casual summer, summer dresses, autumn dresses, jeans, church dresses, t shirts,long sleeve tops. You get the picture, there really isn’t as much as it looks!

When we arrived all of us needed to expand our summer wardrobes rapidly! I feel looking back I spent most English summer days in black leggings or a maxi and t shirt. I didn’t wear a pair of leggings our 1st year here until November some time. So being that I spend a lot of time in shorts I definitely need 7 pairs of denim ones, right? By this time of year I feel like I have lived on just a quarter of my clothing as we’re in summer wear April to October!

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When we started looking for summer items I asked for some advice on where to shop, the 1st place I was sent I had a great time chatting to the glamorous Florida grannies but I did not find suitable clothing! (Steinmart!) Then I’d find shops that looked great, but were $$$, onto the next one. I ended up in H&M – familiar but somewhat plain unless you wanted some of the more quirky items. I began to just blend in, no real style.

Around the same time I was busy finding my tribe. They started pointing me to the right places and eventually I found my shopping groove again! (Although at the time of writing this I have been in a clothes shop 4x since the beginning of May. Clothes shopping with 3 kids tagging along is not fun)
Friends give you the confidence to wear what you like and feel good in it. I realised this is what I had been missing. My sister and my girls in England always helped me out.

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My go to’s here now are forever21, H&M, Target, Plato’s Closet consignment shop and Dillards clearance. I’m also very close to the outlets but for my budgets sake I try to stay away!

Talking of budget, I like to look out for giveaways with closet items as well as house items. Grabbed myself a nice pair of black hunter wellies recently for free!

I miss primark so badly and just having a little wander down the high street, in & out of charity shops. My kids actually liked charity shops they’d head for the toys and have a mini playgroup in each shop whilst I browsed!

I enjoy rocking what I suppose could now be classed as vintage Primark, Matalan and New Look clothes and shoes (UK shops) and always get compliments in them! However when I’m back in England shopping everything looks so different! I didn’t buy a lot last summer because I felt it was all a bit too much for my beach town. My next trip I’m going to fill a case! I’ll wear what looks and feels good now. Dress as me not who I think I should be.

I’m so ready to shop back home! Light packing on the way out to fill up the case whilst I’m there. I know there’ll probably be more for the kids than me though!

England Excitement!

I leave for England in 17 days. My first solo trip back home is for a wedding, one I would never miss. I was last there August 2017. 14 months since I sat on my parents sofa, wandered around the shops, ate a decent bacon sarnie and most importantly hung out with my besties.

I’m going to go start with what is exciting me about the trip –

  • Obviously firstly the wedding. These pair have been together since Rob and I married, 2006!! About time guys! I get to be a bridesmaid for my oldest friend with our other bestie. Be prepared for the soppy then drunk updates on the day.
  • Family, I have a little lady I’ve promised to take fairy hunting. It’s going to be freezing cold but I don’t care we’re going to beat the number of fairy doors nanny found even if it takes us hours!
  • Friends, catching up with old friends is the best. I have the kind of friends in England where we might not have spoken for weeks, months even but it’s just the same as if we’d been on the phone everyday.
  • Flying kid free – rare and probably weird but I’ll take it
  • Gregg’s sausage rolls, yes, I really need a Gregg’s
  • Closely followed by a chippy dinner – pie, chips and curry sauce
  • Walking. I drive everywhere here due to the distance and honestly the last few months of summer I’ve got in the car even when I could walk because I need the aircon.
  • Shopping. Browsing in my old favourites and rooting through racks in the charity shops.
  • The pub, cosy locals with full pint glasses!
  • Going out, out. A real bar with a real DJ, some lights , a dancefloor and drunk brummies 🀣
  • The 1st hour of crisp cool weather I’m sure that will be enough for me
  • Walking outside at night and not being bit by random horrible flying bugs

Now doing this holiday as much as I’m excited about it, it is also raising my anxiety levels. Leaving rob and 3 kids is hard. I’m obviously going to miss them all terribly but I’m also a bit (πŸ˜€) of a control freak. I’m having to trust everything will be taken care off while I’m away. Children at the right place at the right time with the correct items, clothes, shoes etc! We luckily have nanny Jen coming to help out and be me for a week which is a massive help. Dinner will be cooked and kids will be thoroughly entertained and loved on.

Being organised though I’ve thought this through. Lists and schedules are my best friend so it seemed only right I create a few for Rob and Jen!

I know they’ll probably not be looked at but I feel better for trying.

We all know Izzy will be the boss anyway! She is going to manage communicating with me. Using fb messenger kids to send me updates and rounding everyone up to call. This is by far the longest I’ve been away from them but they are all being positive about it. I suppose the move out here has helped them be independent and know a little more about timescales and when they get to see people.

I apologise in advance for the posts and pictures of seemingly mundane moments that will actually be filling me with joy πŸ˜ƒ

Day in the life of….

Its been a month now since all the children started full time school and people often ask me what I’m doing with myself ?

Well, I’m a routine person so after leaving the loose routine of our #12weeksofsummer I found myself carving out a new routine just for me – Monday to Friday 8.30 till 2.30!

I’m the ‘organised one’ so planning and scheduling is key to my week. Ensuring kids and I are where we should be at the right time, every day.

My ‘me time’ since arriving in Florida has been the gym. Initially it was because childcare was included in the membership! So I’d go work out and the kids would socialise and do activities. Now obviously I don’t need the childcare but I love the classes and the healthy lifestyle its led me to have. Gym is 3 mornings a week – I’d happily go 5 mornings but I realised I needed other ways of having ‘me time’ plus 5 days a week really hurts!

I joined a moms group 1 morning a week at a church. I’ve been to a few sessions where we are doing a book study. I enjoy the message from the book and the socialising with other moms – think playgroup chats without the babies & toddlers.

My remaining morning I’ve chosen to use as a volunteering opportunity. Today was my 1st day helping with activities at a memory care home. It was lots of fun and they’ve asked me to come back so that’s a good start!

I also volunteer in both Izzy and Leo’s classes and I can take some time out of my day to spend their lunchtime with them once a month.

I decided to volunteer because I would like to work. An application to do that will not be put in until after our visa renewal in the new year. Volunteering keeps me busy and will give me some recent experience. A job centre plus officer doesn’t really transfer over here so I’ll need to look at other options when the time comes.

Since not working I’ve looked at our house and the chores associated with it as my ‘job’. Rob is in the office all week long making the $$. The house is my domain, my way of providing for the family. Monday – Wednesday afternoons are about the house. Cleaning, laundry, food shopping etc.

I like the fact that Rob doesn’t have to come home and cook or clean. Don’t get me wrong he would and has in the past for years but now its not necessary. When he’s home its time for us both to relax!

I try to make sure home cooked food is on the table every night. I’m a fan of the slow cooker or at least prepping during the day. I can make dinner when its convenient for me that way, rather than when I feel rushed with the 3 kids home and doing homework or after school activities.

I’ll plan meals before I food shop so I know exactly what to buy. I will move the meals around (I always write them in pencil in my planner so i can erase and not cross out πŸ˜‚) if needed. I always make lunch for the kids too and some dinner leftovers for Rob. I also do a little budgeting at the same time. Things like when can I get my hair done, the dog groomed or buy something for the house.

Reading above looks like I should have 2 afternoons free each week. Obviously those afternoons are the ‘extra chore’ days! The closet sorting, deep clean, costco monthly shop and and next week I’m even painting the office! I’m anxious to do some weeding, ckear the garage amd hoover the car but the plus 100 temperatures are too much to do that right now! There’s always something though!

I try to make a point of sitting down to eat lunch every day for a break. This is the time I use to work on the blog or try and raise my instagram and facebook profile, I also do this in the evenings. I write from my phone the majority of the time so I’ve even finished things off whilst stood waiting at the school gate!

I do occasionally head to the beach or the mall for a little R&R when needed!

By 7.30pm when we start sorting the kids for bed and reading I’m ready to sleep myself! My routine allows 8pm ish onwards for me to sit πŸ™‚ Everything is generally done for the day by then. I should most nights go to bed for 10pm but these are the hours I get to spend relaxing instead of rushing and have a decent conversation with Rob. Or just veg in my pjs staring at the tv!

Being a brummie in Floridas hurricane season

Once Rob and I started sharing news of our move to Florida we were asked frequently if we were worried about hurricanes. No, was our response. Rob had already researched this and the north east coast where we were headed had few hurricanes in the last century and all low category.

Nothing to be scared of!

Or so we thought. Moving into our house June 2016, I asked our neighbor what all the metal sheets left in our garage were. “Hurricane shutters” with a laugh and “don’t worry I’ve lived here 7 years and no one has ever taken them out of the garage”. Phew, ok then.

112 days later in pouring rain & building winds Rob spends all evening putting shutters across our windows.

Matthew was on his way. I had googled, read articles, compiled lists and got all our hurricane supplies together. We were going to stay in our home and ride it out.

Until the day before, when the anticipation of being hit by a hurricane and the hysteria that comes from the media or even social media hit. I had to go, the Governor of Florida was on tv warning kids could die πŸ™„ Well that was it, panic mode. I literally felt like I couldn’t breathe, my heart was beating so fast with adrenalin and my body was shaking.

Packing, trying to find a hotel, explaining to the kids all the day before Matthew was arriving.

Now looking back I don’t regret my (Rob wanted to stay) decision to leave. We had no idea what to expect and had 3 young children including Poppy who has a fear of thunderstorms let alone hurricanes. However, the journey out of Florida was stressful and expensive. I was constantly panicking we would be stuck on the highway in traffic and Matthew would be on top of us!

That didn’t happen obviously, we ended up in Georgia. The kids at the exact time Jacksonville was being hit….

Happy & oblivious with a jam sandwich πŸ™‚

So we arrived home the morning after Matthew had blown through. I’d read comments on social media that nocatee had generally faired well. There was still a lot of worry about our home and whether there would be any damage though. We were extremely lucky and had one baby palm tree fall down.

Actually our cul de sac looked like we’d had a thunderstorm but not much else. There wasn’t even a single puddle!

The few days after the hurricane passed the weather was beautiful, its like nature calming back down.

So we put Matthew behind us as a fluke and one off.

Fast forward a year and Irma appears!! How is it possible we were doing this all over again. We did however have hindsight on our side and we stuck it out. Rode the hurricane inside our home with the big sheets of metal once again covering all our windows.

The majority of our neighbors stayed home too. The day before Irma we were all out on the driveways letting the kids play and enjoying the cooler temperatures.

Rob and I decided to keep the children with us in our bedroom as Irma was due to hit through the night. We made them a den with a mattress to sleep on in Robs closet. Wow did they sleep!! Through the whole thing, literally 8pm to 8am which is unheard of!

Rob and I – we did not sleep! It was so loud and scary. Creaking, banging, wind howling constantly, electric going in and out, random flashes of light coming through the metal shutters and just the sheer fear of the unknown kept us awake.

Irma was done pretty soon after daylight and again we ventured out and around the neighborhood everyone had faired well. The kids were all out running in the cul de sac enjoying the fresh air! We even had our own clean up crew.

Hurricanes most definitely bring a community together. Everyone is out helping protect the houses before and sorting any problems after. The kids run and play for hours either side of the hurricane.

Now we were lucky at our house with both hurricanes but other parts of our area and further south of Florida were hit really hard. Seeing what can happen with the storm surge alone, let alone the winds is terrifying.

I’m sat here writing this 1 year to the day Irma hit. Watching the progress of Florence and becoming slightly concerned about Isaac coming behind her. I know its time to prep and I’m confident I’m ready for hurricane season 3. I’m not guaranteeing I’ll be staying home for another if we are due a hit, but I certainly know now its an option.

I wouldn’t change the adventure we are on living in florida because of the hurricane season. Its all part of life here, another experience. I would prefer to not do it 3 years in a row though!!

US school vs UK school

I’ve been an American school mum for almost as long as an English school mum. 3 years in England and 2 in Florida.

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The schools are so different! The kids however, are equally happy in either.

When we were offered a transfer to Jacksonville we didn’t initially say yes. We needed to consider how a move like that would impact the kids, particularly Poppy. Their education was a big factor to consider.

Both girls were very happy at their primary school (the same one I had attended and loved myself) Leo was due to start the year after the offered move and the thought of him not attending made me sad.

Poppy in particular was happy & succeeding. Could we really justify pulling her out and starting afresh across the atlantic??

The first step was to look into potential schools. A quick google brought St. Johns County, North East Florida to our attention. The best performing school district near Robs potential office.

A few emails and phone calls were exchanged with the school board over the next few weeks that gave us the confidence we could move Poppy.

We knew Izzy would be good. She’s always been confident and at age 6 young enough to adjust.

In Florida, the school you attend is decided on your home address. No applying and hoping you get in to your chosen school. You can buy or rent a house for a particular school. This school will continue to let kids in, adding villas (porta cabins!) if neccessary. However if the school zone is amended or you move out of the zone – you leave the school.

When we arrived in Florida we picked our house and started meetings with the school board immediately. They began assessing Poppy for Speech, physical therapy and occupational therapy as well as IQ. Within 2 weeks (Incredibly fast compared to England) they had a good idea of her capabilities and decided she would be in an Exceptional student unit. Joining a regular education class for socialising – lunch, school trips etc.

They also pulled her back a year. Big difference in the school systems. Poppy really needed to go back a year. She needed to be socially closer to her peers but mainly to try and close the gap in her education. It also meant I had both girls in the same grade making it an easier transition for both. Even more reason for people to assume they’re twins!

We arrived 1st May. 3 weeks before school was due to finish so we were asked to wait until the start of the new year – 10th August, before enrolling the girls. The longest school holiday ever!! We knew no one and had no clue where to go.

It was tough but we made it. 12 weeks is a standard summer break here. There are a few days off for Thanksgiving, 2 weeks at christmas and a week for spring break. I enjoy not having to worry about all the small breaks and entertainment but by May the kids are pretty burnt out. Then that #12weeksofsummer

To my surprise before the girls started school we were given a supply list that we had to shop for. Around $50 each child was spent on stationary supplies. I don’t think I ever even sent a pencil into UK school! Over the 2 years we have been in school here I can see why the different counties have different results. If you are in a poorer area there is not going to be as much parental financial support as there will be in a good area code.

Same with the PTO it relies a lot on financial support from school families.

The day before school starts is ‘meet the teacher’. The 1st thing I noticed immediately is how hands on all staff members are. High fives along the corridor and cuddles from new teachers. Izzy had left a pretty old school teacher (also taught me!) She looked shocked when her 1st grade teacher engulfed her in a welcoming cuddle πŸ˜‚

The county we live in has started building k-8 academies. So you start at the school age 5 and leave at 14. The students are generally in different areas. The middle school students get to volunteer and intern around the school including elementary classes. I love how Poppy had teenage friends that offered to help in her class.

Each year you move through the school your home class will change. So Izzy is on her 3rd set of friends. Now i liked moving through primary as a pack and Izzy noticed this summer how she has to make new friends every year. It’s like changing teams at work you still see colleagues but you work with new people. It does mean you end up knowing the majority of kids in your grade which is nice when out in the community!

Being a popular county, school is big. We left a school of about 250 and moved into a 1300 pupil school.

Currently there are 8 classes per grade. However there are only 18 kids per class in elementary. This has been a definite advantage for Izzy. In the Uk she was good. Not noticed for playing up and not noticed for being amazing. Often lost in a class of 30 😐 I even had to ask for a certificate before we left, as 8 months in year 1 she hadn’t been given a single one.

Both girls settled in to school well. They enjoyed seeing each other for lunch and their resource lesson – art, media, computing, P.E etc.

At the beginning of every school day they pledge their allegiance to the flag. Similar to how their catholic school would start with a prayer. I like how it instills a sense of pride in all the children. Even leo knew it by the time he was 3.

Days here don’t generally start with an assembly. To quote Leo’s bestie “the walls and ceiling talk to you” πŸ˜‚ Announcements are made through the speaker system.

There is a lot more parental involvement here. You can volunteer to give artsmart or character classes, general helping in class, proctoring for tests, helping pto with fundraising- book fair, fun run, school spirit shop. My favourite- you can join your child any and every day for lunch! I like to show up and surprise mine.

If a parent or family member is going to volunteer they have to go through a county security check and sign in through a locked door. Now the security needed at schools here makes me sad and worried. Leo and Izzys school have an armed security officer and have been showing students videos on how to respond to an active shooter. Obviously I prefer them to know what to do but it breaks my heart my 5 & 8 year olds could potentially fear being at school.

Poppy has moved on from public school. Attending a private special needs school. This may have been the path in England too. She is happy and progressing already but more on that in a month or so.

 

Travelling with a Special needs child

I decided to write this blog whilst planning began for a medical conference we are attending in San Francisco.

Families from across the globe with a child that has Jordans Syndrome, the same as Poppy, will be attending.

We all get to meet each other which I feel is so important in many ways. Parents get to share stories & experiences, siblings get to see other children in their position and our JS child gets to meet others the same as them. As Poppy would put it “With a different brain”.

We also get to meet the medical team that are working on a CURE for this syndrome!! Not something we expect will “cure” Poppy. She is ours just the way she is! (Future children could benefit from this though)

To get to this conference there are a few things we have to do.

Raise some funds to help the charity get us all there! (I will blog about that too once our events are happening)

Physically get ourselves to San Francisco! A scary thought for a lot of families. Especially those on the long flights from Europe or further.

We have done the transatlantic flights with Poppy and our other 2 kids 6 times now. The first time was terrifying. Actually every time is terrifying. You never know what to expect from any child but it’s particulary scary & stressful with a Special needs child.

Here are a few tips for pre, during & post flight:

  • Before flight, Prepare, prepare & prepare!! I know a lot of our children don’t understand the concept of time but advance warning is needed about something as big as a flight. Why we are going. Where we are going. Who is going. Fun activities when we get to destination etc
  • Call the airport ahead of time to see what services they provide for special needs kids. Most usher children through security etc. Gatwick gave Poppy a special lanyard so staff all knew she would need to be sped along, not left in big queues!
  • Call airlines to let them know about your child. We always ask them which seats they recommend for a quiet journey – away from engines, bathrooms etc (Many book your seats for free) We also ask them to allow Poppy to carry her weighted blanket onboard – we’ve always been allowed.
  • Be very careful about what you choose to pack in the cabin bag. Things you know your child loves. We have used tiny pots of playdoh, squishy stress balls, stretchy figures, flash cards and obviously the tablet! Really think about what your child will do with the objects in their bag. For example Poppy, if given crayons may colour for a while but then she’ll move onto breaking the crayons into tiny pieces!
  • Snacks, pack more snacks than you think or want to be needed. It’s a great way to pass time or bribe – I mean we’ve all been there offering a pack of raisins if it means they’ll be quiet for 2 minutes.
  • If using a tablet always pack a charger or battery pack! Also not all planes have Wi-fi so download some content for them to watch and games that don’t rely on wi-fi. I’ve even looked up what entertainment is on board to ensure I don’t duplicate it.
  • Headphones will need packing too. Poppy likes to wear ear defenders (Like builders wear!) but then she wouldn’t hear her tablet so good noise cancelling headphones are a necessity
  • Check in on line where possible to avoid queues
  • At the airport we always get a trolley for bags so 1 of us can have a hand on Poppy. Airports are busy and loud we don’t need her being distraced and stopping or wandering
  • Explain where the hold baggage is going
  • Use express, special assistance or family lanes at security
  • We generally eat at the airport to pass a bit of time and ensure no one is ‘hangry’ getting on the flight
  • Find either a quiet area or a kids play area where its ok for the kids to run & climb. Get rid of all excess energy
  • Buy plenty of water, dehydrated kids are no fun
  • Regular toilet breaks to try and avoid squeezing into the tiny plane bathroom
  • Recharge any tablets
  • Most airlines offer priority boarding for special assistance passengers. We never take it. We actually keep our kids running until last minute and then board. Saves the sitting on the plane with people coming & going for 40 minutes or so. We sit, we taxi, we fly!
  • During the flight let child choose seat
  • Offer drinks and sweets to suck during take off. Often I can see Poppy has sore ears from the pressure change but she doesn’t communicate that with us
  • We try to keep Poppys seatbelt on where possible as she doesn’t take well to having it back on for turbulence or landing. Easier just to leave it on whole flight.
  • Put childs belongings where they can easily access them (After take off)
  • When they want to use the bathroom use it as an opportunity to also take a little walk & stretch legs
  • Sleep. Well we have had flights where Poppy will drift off of her own accord and we’ve had them where she fights it until we land! I would say from experience, trying to force it can actually cause more issues than letting them sit & be tired. You know your own child
  • If for any reason your child does have a tantrum or meltdown try to deal with it the same way you would at home. Try to keep calm & remember the plane is very noisy. In your head everyone can hear but in reality its probably 1 or 2 rows max. We have spoken to people around us during such occassions – explained & apologised. Told them we will calm Poppy as soon as we can. This has always been a positive experience and I feel being open with fellow travellers takes away that image of a ‘naughty child’
  • We show Poppy the map so she can track where we are and see the flight is progressing
  • Use the bathroom before seatbelts are required for landing. You could be 30 minutes or longer from descent to disembarking which is a long time to a child needing the bathroom!
  • When it comes to landing pre warn that we do not get off straight away. Poppy really struggles with this she wants to be off the second the wheels touch ground
  • Again offer drinks or something to suck for landing and the change in pressure
  • At destination airport disembark positive and happy to show your child you’re there, on holiday!
  • Again find the special assistance, express or family lanes for passport control. We have been in the general queue before with Poppy crying through exhaustion or needing the bathroom and have approached staff for support. A simple explanation of your circumstnaces and they are happy to help speed up the process
  • Grab a trolley asap for bags! You know by now you’ll be carrying all the cabin baggage & trying to hold onto children
  • Be sure kids know the risk of being near the luggage belts
  • Patience, I am admittedly the worst for this, I often don’t sleep on flights, I get stressed easily travelling and don’t want to deal with crying children on arrival but step back and think about things from their perspective.
  • Know where you are heading & how once bags have been retrieved. Look at map of arrival airport for taxis, public transport or hire car locations

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We all know our kids can suprise, both in a positive or negative way. I’ve been told many times to expect the worse and hope for the best. Poppy has had both good & bad experiences on flights but so have our other 2 children. Anyone who has travelled with a typical toddler will say the same thing. Concentrate on the end goal, the reason for the flight. Be prepared, be positive and be loving.

Youtube take 2

My 2nd vlog! 11 minutes of me apparently sounding American 😁 talking about our home. Its been previewed and approved and I have my 1st fan – 9 year old Lucas. Hey dude πŸ™‹πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ

I’ve spent an hour this morning looking for the picture of the kids in bike helmets during a tornado warning……

Love it!! πŸ˜‚ proper Florida rookie move πŸ˜€

I hope you enjoy the vlog, let me know! X

Birthday boy!

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To start with we faked Leo’s birthday this year to save him from having a boring day!

Leo turned 5 on 21st August. We celebrated 19th August. His actual birthday was a Tuesday. We leave our house at 7.30am after at least 1 pre school tantrum from Poppy. So that was my first issue- how do we do presents?? The kids are used to getting up & opening them on the morning so I couldn’t face making Leo wait. Then a full day at school followed by sitting in a gym waiting while the girls cheer.

Daddy, he’d be missing in action all day – work, representing the Hills at a school meeting and then a late night football (soccer) match.

What 5 year old would like that for a birthday?? Being unaware of dates Leo, instead, got a whole birthday weekend!

Saturday was his treat day. Instead of a party we went out as a family. Leo was given a few options and chose to try roller skating. Not thinking of the logistics of this we happily headed to the skate rink, got booted up and went straight to the floor!

Poppy freaked out, her legs would not stay still underneath her and she did not like the feeling.

Next leo went for a turn. He was crazy! Stepping rather than gliding all over the rink like a loose canon! Rob had a few comical moments helping him out too. The skate buddy frame we rented was useful but Leo kept trying to ditch it.

Izzy likes to be perfect at everything so she had to get on the ice and prove to herself she could skate. Started slowly, holding the side for dear life and only skating where there was a side. Eventually we convinced her to go all the way around the rink and she still kept a hand on the side or wall. Within the hour she was doing more of a glide but still with that wall or a hand being held.

There was also a rock wall and an indoor soft play that the kids really enjoyed. Both girls found the rock climbing difficult. Poppy preferring to bounce up & down on the bungee and Izzy quitting after a few attempts.

Leo on the other hand went into beast mode and almost made it to the top a few times!

Saturday night we told Leo his birthday was the next day. He’d already seen his wrapped presents so unsurprisingly woke in the early hours and creeped excitedly into our bed with 4 hours to wait until daylight.

Present time came quickly and he unselfishly let “the sisters ” help with his unwrapping and share the excitement.

Thanks to toys r us closing down we managed to get Leo a good amount of bargain presents! Even stashing some away for Christmas.

We did our tradition of birthday cup cake for breakfast and headed to splash for the day.

Swimming with friends and rocky’s pizza passed a few hours and made for a tired boy at bedtime. The neighbours coming for dinner topped it off.

We had a lovely, mostly relaxed and fun weekend. The last week has been a big one in terms of Leo’s milestones. Starting kindergarten, losing 1st tooth and making it to 5 years old! Leo is such a happy boy and has a massive character, we all love him to pieces!

New starts

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All 3 are in school. All day long, every day!! How did this happen ?? I’m sure Leo was just born 5 minutes ago not almost 5 years ago. To think if we were still in England I would have already let my last baby go. Definite pros and cons to this, but I am so glad I had Leo with me these last 2 years.

I’ve been told about this being another phase, something I will get used to. I’m sad all 3 of my kids are in full time education but the inital excitement of an actual break for a few hours is real! I will get used to our new routine as will they.

So Friday Izzy went happily into 3rd grade. We walked her to the gate of school, unfortunately Poppy lagged behind having a tantrum about the fact she was not going to school. Izzy managed to tune her out and concentrate on greeting our lovely crossing guards and waving at friends from the last 2 years. A quick reminder of her classroom location and off she went. Easy peasy! 2.50pm, came back out of school with hair scraggy and a smile on her face. Mainly talked about recess and the girls in her class this year. She was happy about seeing 1 of her best friends from 2nd grade but sad that her other best friend had been moved to a new school – in Florida you attend the school your community is zoned too. She was not happy about seeing an hour of maths everyday on her schedule!

Onto Monday and Leo’s turn. Sunday night I made sure he got to bed at a reasonable time and was looking forward to a snuggle and a read. When I got upstairs he was fast asleep. No nerves or jitters just happily dreaming away. Me, obviously I was a little disappointed to have missed the night before school chat.

I had to wake Leo in the morning but as usual he happily got up made his bed and dressed himself. We all took Leo into school and to his classroom where he got stuck into the morning activity with his teacher. I defenitly held back a little tear but I was so proud of his confidence.

2.45pm rolled round and we eagerly waited for him at the school gate. Poppy cheering him on as he walked towards us! He had a great day. Made a friend but forgot to ask their name and met a “smart boy”. He toured the school seeing all the places his big sisters have told him about. He was starving by the time we got home, he’s going to have to get used to lunch at 10.10am!!

Leo fell asleep 30 minutes earlier than normal, again before I’d even got upstairs to read with him. He looked happy and peaceful. A succesful day.

Tuesday and Poppy’s turn. We are going into Poppy’s 6th full year of school but even though I have been through many 1st days with her this was the hardest. Rob & I have made the decision to remove her from mainstream education and place her in a special education school. The decision took us a few months and I’m not sure when we will see if it was the right one. It makes me see how our childrens lives really are in our hands. Our decisions determine the path they follow. Lets hope we have made the right one.

Her new school is small like a little family. They have an amazing reputation in North Florida. They teach, love and support the kids until age 22. So for us no fear of middle school & high school or where to go in place of a college after graduation. For Poppy stability and familiarity.

Poppy had a 2 hour stint on Monday am to see her classroom and try the car line at dismissal. She was nervous and I had to walk her to her new classroom. She met a support dog on the way and was told he visits them in the classroom, big smiles from Poppy!

Today was her 1st real full day and her 1st experience of the school van. We were actually early, I was impressed with us for getting out of the house at 7.20am! The children all greeted each other excitedly and scrambled onto the van without a second thought for the parents waving goodbye.

Not my car pool today so we waited at the pick up point for Poppy to arrive with her besties after school. She was again very happy with her day and an email from her teacher confirmed she’d done great along with a day report covered in A’s.

Very, very tired and grumpy by 7pm so an earlier bedtime. Maybe this new routine will keep her in bed all night long. Fingers crossed!! Update – it didn’t 🀨 6x out of bed last night and up for the day at 5.30am!

So now thats it. Time for me to start filling my days with all the menial tasks I’ve put off because I have the kids home. Closet sorting, bathroom painting, blind cleaning…. pretty sure my list will get longer & longer as I try to keep myself busy.

I’m sure I’ll squeeze a few beach and brunch trips into the next month or so too though! Wine with my girls to celebrate tonight first 😁