Here is something I do on the blog every year. It is good to look back and reflect on a whole year. It helps to put things in perspective. I always tag people to do a post using the same questions but anyone should feel free to join in. Just take the questions and answer them in a way that makes sense to you and preferably although it is not a rule say that the idea for the post came from this blog.

Here is my 2015

1. What was your happiest event?

Moving house away from that rotten place to a city by the sea and into a house of our dreams.

Seeing people’s real joy in my weight loss with a special thanks to Katy Hill who gave me the self-belief to start the journey in the first place.

2. What was the saddest thing to happen?

Learning my brother is very ill and also knowing that I am unlikely to see him again.

3. What was the most unlikely thing to happen that actually went ahead and did?

Losing so much weight. Hugging Caprice. Attending my college reunion. Telling Carol Smillie I was an expert in wet knickers.

4. Who let you down?

I don’t think anyone let me down although perhaps this year I started to learn who my true friends are and who is along for only part of the ride.

5. Who supported you?

My husband and children.

My brother.

Special thanks to blogging friends as always but this year I really valued the support given to me by friends from school and college days.

Aunties SJ

Bloggers. So many do this throughout the year. I look back and remember so many encouraging tweets, offers of telephone numbers, emails and comments. I appreciate them all. They sustain me.

Home educators

The people in my local community who chat, call me “Sweetie” and make me feel that I have found the right place for me.

6. Tell us what you learned

That I have spent far too many years focusing on the past or the future rather than enjoying the present.

That life circumstances can change very radically and quickly and in the most unexpected ways.

That people were there all long just waiting for me to tap on their door.

That people who know me via social media and the blog often have a very restricted view of who I really am.

That I am becoming less comfy with sharing heart and soul stuff with people who are fundamentally strangers.

That I am rich in the ways that matter to me.

That those who have everything may still be deeply unhappy.

7. Tell us what made you laugh

Laughter is a huge part of our family dynamic. We do a lot of analysing of current affairs and television shows complete with strong opinions, wit and voices.

My undergarments falling off whilst I was facilitating at BritMums Live and thinking if they actually hit the floor at least it would e proof positive of the substantial weight loss.

Political cartoons put together by my left-wing teenage son and his general questioning of authority.

My tween son’s comic faces.

My tween daughter’s language.


8. Tell us the things that made you cry

Reflecting on how much time I have wasted thinking I am not good enough when it is now clear to me that I am more than good enough and I make a contribution to the world just by being in it.

Missing people.

9. Tell us three things your child or children did to make you feel proud.

My oldest son is easy to be proud of – handsome, intelligent, sensitive and caring. I was most proud when he summoned up the courage to ask someone out and she said yes! I also love how he regularly gives his spending money to homeless people and charities.

My daughter takes no prisoners and I love seeing that in her even if it is sometimes not easy to deal with. She remains creative and the best story-teller in words, films and songs. She is very political and I enjoy that she has firm opinions even when I don’t agree with then.

My youngest son remains gifted and good at everything he tackles. He is gorgeous, funny and a master at all things gaming.

10. Tell us the things that made you proud of yourself.

Discovering the old me by sticking with my medication. It is good to have me back.

Keeping on keeping on through challenges.

Relaxing more about home education – a work in progress.

Losing loads of weight and inspiring others to do so.

Feeling the fear and attending the college reunion anyway.

11. Tell us the challenges you overcame

Moving away from an awful area.

Pushing myself outside my comfort zone.

Juggling it all and I have a lot to juggle.

12. Tell us the things you would like to change about your life in 2016

1. New challenges in my working life.

2. To continue to lose weight and get fitter.

3. To forgive myself and others for their imperfections.

4. To continue to build on friendships old and new. To learn who is worth investing in and who is not.

5. To inject more fun into our home education efforts.

6. To be more organised with domestic stuff.

Overall to build on the amazing progress made on so many fronts in 2015.

Over to you. Any blogger or reader can have a go at this one if they fancy reflecting back on the year. What were your highs and lows of 2015?

What are fostering facts and statistics and might they encourage you to look at fostering as a life option?

I was fostered at the age of 11 months and adopted a few months later back in 1970. I am always interested to hear about developments in fostering and adoption.

Local Authorities, with the support of leading organisations and charities such as Ofsted, the Coram, The Fostering Network and IFAs (Independent Fostering Agencies), play a leading role in securing a brighter future for children in care.

To give you an idea of how important the foster care industry is to helping these children fulfil their potential, Foster Plus have pulled together some facts and stats that will shed light on this vital service.

I urge you to read which I think may hold some surprises for you.

For example I found it really encouraging that 52 per cent of fostered children remain living with their foster carers after their 18th birthday. That suggests something is going very well indeed. My adoptive parents fostered me first and I am aware how vital fostering was in providing specialist support for an abused person I know. Fostering rocks in my view and I just wish more people would look into it.

As I was fostered 200 miles away from my birth family, I have many children are now placed closer to home. 88 per cent are placed within a 10 mile radius of the local authority. I hope this enables closer relationships with family members or members of their support network where possible.

As a person who has several siblings who I have never met, I think it will usually be best if siblings are placed together so they can support each other through a time of upheaval and change. 70 per cent of sibling groups are placed together which seems a little low for me but perhaps there are good reasons why.

Please do check out the infographic and share on your social media accounts. You might encourage someone to look into fostering and down the line that too can lead to a safe and secure environment for a vulnerable child in need.

Tis the season to be jolly and we are!

1. I am enjoying a little me time before Him Indoors returns from late shift.

2. I had a great weekend pleasing myself as my husband attended a 2-3 day away day thing with work. I think we both really gained from it. I had loads of relaxation and also worked hard blitzing the house.

3. I have discovered the Investigation Discovery channel on telly and am really enjoying it. I like the stories and working out people’s motives. When I studied Law, my tutor said he did not need to know the defendant has a green tie but I need to know what shade of green, who bought it, from what store etc. You get the idea!

4. I have had life decorating the house for Christmas. All the decorations have either come from past times or from charity shops ranging from 10 pence to 99 pence. Even our tree came from an animal charity shop and is one of the nicest we have ever had.

5. I am looking to a major baking extravaganza over the weekend.

6. I bought a book for my daughter today and she had read the whole thing already. Jacqueline Wilson clearly appeals to her.

7. We had huge fun making our own Christmas tree out of twigs collected from the park and then spray painting with gusto. We did it outside on Grandma’s memorial bench. Mum was a demon with gold and silver paint at Christmas so if we have made her bench sparkle I am sure she will highly approve.

8. My 15 year old has a girlfriend so there is lots of late night “revising” going on. It has given him a huge boost of confidence so I am thrilled to bits which has surprised all of us.

9. I had quality time with Him indoors walking the dogs and going for a greasy spoon breakfast at our favourite café this morning.

10. I went to see the nurse yesterday and she did not treat me like a fat person. The blood pressure thing went round and round my arm and the results were good. I am so proud of how I have improved both my physical and ental wellbeing this year.

11. Yesterday we went to see a Christmas Play and all joined in and Santa put me on his naughty list!

12. It is my birthday in a couple of days and something tells me it may be the best ever!

Tis the season to be jolly and all that!

Are you a confident parent? When did that feeling kick in?

confident mum

Taking a new baby home is a milestone in itself. I remember the lovely outfit I had bought for my son whilst pregnant being way too big when it came to the time to put him in his car seat for the first time. Car seats can be a challenge too for sure! I am the first to admit I was not the most confident new mum having not spent any time around babies before. My husband who had children from previous relationships seemed to know how to do things so much better than I did. The first nappy change my son experienced was by my GP as it was all too much for me to take in. I quickly worked out I was a clueless rather than a confident parent.

I was very quick to handover daily childcare to my parents so that I could return to work. That worked really well for all involved although I did sometimes miss moments that matter.

I read up about every parenting book on the market and slowly learned to distinguish between different sorts of cry. There is a great joy in being able to second guess why your baby is distressed. Like most things in life, you get better with practice.

I also made great use of online networks like Mumsnet where you could share openly and learn from others with more experienced and confident parents.

I guess my most important tip for new parents is to seek support and to recognise that doing so is a sign of great strength. None of us can know everything. Not all of us have the best support networks. It is OK to be unsure and if you are asking questions, you are showing that you are parent who cares.

The team at Nurofen for Children say, “it’s no surprise that in our survey almost nine in ten first time mums reflect on having a baby as a life changing experience as they rework their normal routines to take care of their little one. During their baby’s first year, mums say they felt the biggest impacts on their relationships work life and friendships[1]. Our research shows that on average, it takes a first time mum six months to feel confident as a parent[1], and for almost half (47%), the health of their child is one of their biggest parenting worries[2]”.

This is important – let’s realise that if we struggle we are not alone!

As time went on I loved that I knew my baby put his arms back when he was ready to sleep, got red cheeks when teething and only wanted a cuddle when he was poorly.

Take a look at Nurofen for Children’top 10 tips for becoming a confident parent.

They say that 38% rely on the advice and experience of their own mothers, and one in five turn to other parents for guidance. My Mum brought up babies in the Fifties so some of her advice was a little dated. I was terrible at reaching out to mums in the real world but did seek support online as 12% of survey respondents did. You can be that much more anonymous online and feel less judged.

19% mentioned taking the advice of a GP. I found my GP lovely but unhelpful when I sought help and he did not pick up that I was experiencing depression. 9% of respondents mentioned a pharmacist as a source of support and it never entered my head really to reach out to a pharmacist although I know my husband did.

My oldest child is now a teenager and I recently outlined my ideas on how not only to be a confident parent but also a happy mum because I think children need to us both confident and happy.

I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to blog about a specified subject or review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity. I have been entered into a prize draw to win a £100 voucher as a token of thanks for this post. Find out more about Mumsnet Bloggers here. And to see the other posts about this topic, see the linky here.

Please note that this post is not intended to contain any medical advice. Always contact your own doctor or health professional if you have any concerns about your child’s health.

(i) Survey of 2,000 parents with a baby under 6 years old, commissioned by Nurofen for Children (May 2014)
(ii) Survey of 2,000 mums by One Poll, commissioned by Nurofen for Children (October 2013)

What a funny old week! Lots has gone right and surprisingly well. On the other hand, some things have gone awry and one big one in particular leaving me a bit glum and frustrated. This makes it a great time to reflect on the good things in my week.

Reasons to be Cheerful

1. The cheque was finally in the post even if in the wrong name!

2. I picked up some freelance work that I was not expecting making December more likely to be fun-filled.

3. My son did come home last night safe and sound after going AWOL until after 9pm! At 15 he is clearly developing a life away from the family and I need to respect that whilst still ensuring I keep him safe. That sounds like quite a juggling act to me!

4. When the man with a huge skyscraper of parcels in his arms walked right into me, it did hurt but I was not seriously injured.

5. My youngest son no longer needs glasses now he is not in school according to the optician as he does not need to read at long distances. This is great as he hates glasses. He is also sporting a funky new haircut to his own specification.

6. My daughter seems happy enough although often in her own little creative world or chatting on and on so it is Death by Pokémon!

7. I have enjoyed some lovely walks with my husband and pets.

8. Myself and Him Indoors managed a lovely lunch at a country pub.

9. I sorted out a mountain of paperwork.

10. I am still not stressed about Christmas but have started decorating the house.

11. My birthday is just 10 days away and I have a very good feeling about it this year.

12. Things that would have hurt me deeply in the past don’t do so now and sometimes I am getting lovely surprises from people that I have not always treated well.

13. Him Indoors seems to have got into the habit of bringing me roses on a weekly basis and I am not complaining.

14. Yesterday we had a shopping session of the charity shop variety acquiring a Giant Beagle soft toy which caused much festive hilarity and nearly got me thrown out of Subway. We are always at our best when we are laughing and being silly.

15. I started my weight loss programme about 1 year ago and didn’t I do well?

Now you have to admit that is pretty good for someone who was feeling glum at the start of this post.

A funny old week!