Magic Ears.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

I know, I know, it’s been too long.. but I don’t want to bore you with an update of where on earth I have been and why I have been neglecting my blog so much, so let’s just leave it at that and I’ll say hello!

It feels like Harry was given his magic ears SO long ago now but it’s actually only been 6 months since he was implanted and just 5 months since they were switched on!  I can’t remember life before he had hearing, it’s so strange thinking about it and all the sounds he was missing out on.

If you follow us on Instagram you will know that Harry wears his CI’s all the waking hours of the day,  just like normal ears!  A few people have been quite surprised he wears them to things like soft play as they might fall off, get tangled or broken.  But these things are built to withstand “the toddler” and as long as I'm near him to pop them back on when they fall off there is no issue.  That’s the great thing about his magic ears, so far we haven’t really found any boundaries which is one of the most important things about Harry having them, I don’t want him to be unable to do something and I want him to have every opportunity there in front of him ready for him to grasp.  This includes going swimming.. we do get some bizarre looks sometimes when Harry launches himself head first into the water wearing his equipment as the first thing you think of is that they are electrical and surely can’t be submersed in water!  Yet his CI’s are fully waterproof meaning he can splash away till his heart’s content.

I still get so many comments and questions from passers-by, mainly all very positive and nice, wanting to know what on earth his Magic Ears are and how amazing technology is these days!  I have had one incident where I was ready to be rather rude to a fellow parent (male) at a local soft play who decided to sit and stare at Harry’s head with a look of horror!!  I understand that it isn't the “norm” but jeez do you have to make the staring that obvious!!

Hearing wise we couldn't ask for more from H.  He is surpassing all expectations and his audiologists and teachers are over the moon with his progress.  We are noticing more and more everyday how many low volume/frequency sounds he can hear, his favourite sounds are of course music and he really loves his Daddy’s whistling!  Our hearts are warmed every single day with every new noise he hears or sound he makes, however minor or silly it is.  Hearing the word "Mama" never fails to make me beam with pride

We still use Sign language on a daily basis with Harry and it has been one of the most useful things as he can tell me when he is hungry, thirsty, tired, wants more of something or pointing and signing what something is.  He loves to sign rabbit, duck and sea!  I will most definitely be teaching any future children basic signs as I think it’s a huge help in learning to communicate long before the use of speech.  We aren’t expecting any solid words from Harry just yet, hes obviously going to be a little behind at this stage but he’s really trying to copy sounds and mouths the way we say things.  Mama and Dada is enough for now!

Sometimes I completely forget that Harry is deaf which I can only see as a good thing.  He has taught me so much already about the world and how we shouldn't take things such as our senses for granted.  I think he is so beautiful even with his special magic ears, they are just part of who he is now.  I'm so excited for his future and I'm so proud of where we are as a family today

** If anyone is interested Harry is going to be featured in the NDCS (National Deaf Childrens Society) Winter Edition of their magazine – which we are SO excited about!  There will be a whole spread in the mag on his story from the moment we found out he was deaf to this very day.  I think it will also be available online so I will make sure to link it via my social media!

Fathers Day Gift Guide

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Daddy's Day is fast approaching, a day where your men can be forgiven for laying on the sofa with beer in hand and footy on the telly!

If you haven't sorted a gift for your Pops yet then here are a few of my favourite finds...

Personalised Map Cufflinks, £23.95 from All Things Brighton Beautiful - Lets start with these lovely little cufflinks from All Things Brighton Beautiful, an online boutique jam packed with unique crafty bits and handmade jewellry.  Mr H will be so pleased with his as they are personalised with tiny maps of our two favourite places in the world! 

Personalised Clasp Bracelet, £24 from Hurley Burley - This plaited genuine leather bracelet with personalised clasp is available in black and brown and in 2 sizes.  I love the idea of having initials on a leather bracelet and I think these look a lot more expensive than they are!  ALSO there is 15% off all Fathers Day gifts on their website now using the code DAD15

Shirt and Onesie Set, £21.76 from Etsy - This set is absolutely genius and oh so true!!!!  A father and son shot in these matching tops would be golden!

Horween Personalised Leather Toiletry Bag, £72.55 from Etsy - Horween Leather has been making the best leather for over 100 years and this gorgeous toiletry bag is no exception and would make an amazing luxury gift for the dad in your life! 

Smartphone Dock, £19.79 from Etsy - .. and finally for the gadget man in your life this smartphone dock is just perfection.  I love the idea of putting a little succulent in the docks storage compartment to make it into more of a decorative item, which would take pride of place on any dads desk

What are you getting your dad this Father's Day?

I'm a Working Mum.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

There is no "one-size-fits-all" definition of being a mum, there just isn't.  There is no rule book, guidelines or a walkthrough, you just get through it however is best for you and your family!

I'm a working mum.

I work by choice and nobody's forcing me into it.  Cue the shocked face and gasps from various mums and maybe dads out there but I actually enjoy going to work and having another purpose in life, outside of being Harry's mother.

For some people it is more than enough being mum and that is completely and utterly OK! For me, it just isn't!  Everyone is different.
Don't get me wrong I love that kid... I love that kid so much i want to eat him up like a squishy marshmallow sometimes but to feel complete I need to keep my brain whirring without the constant buzz of Thomas the Tank Engine in the background.  I need to drink a cup of hot tea without having to re-heat it twice three times.  I need to converse with like minded adults about the latest office gossip or last nights episode of Gogglebox

I obviously don't just work for my own selfish reasons.. promise!  I now get a payslip at the end of the month, which I missed so so much being on maternity leave.  I am once again able to contribute to the household and I love not feeling guilty when I want to splash out in baby Zara for Harry or take him out for a day of no expense spared fun!

Of course being a working mum comes with some down sides, the mum guilt being the biggest one of all!  The tears every morning when I leave my son can sometimes be unbearable and missing out on things he is doing is hard, I miss him immensely! n There are days when I look out of the window in my office and wish we could be running around at the park together or chilling on the sofa watching his favourite movie Despicable Me (no matter how many times I've watched it)
I actually only work 3 days out of the 5 though which is a great balance for us and I honestly think its good for both Harry and myself to have that time apart to both learn and grow as our own beings.

For now it works for us.  It might not be forever, things may change one day but right now i'm pretty happy with our setup

Whether you're a working mum, a stay-at-home mum OR a working-stay-at-home mum/dad/auntie/uncle/nan/carer.. I salute you, you're doing a fab job as neither is perfect or easy!

Are you a working or stay at home parent??

Lodge Life | Bluestone National Park Resort

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

I feel completely at home when swinging from trees, sitting round a campfire and basically just breathing in fresh air in big open green spaces! There is something kinda special about the smell of the great outdoors, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
So when I was invited to stay at Bluestone National Park Resort as one of their #BluestoneBloggers I jumped at the opportunity to go!
As you know Harry recently went through major surgery to have Cochlear Implant's fitted so we were in dire need of a break.  We needed to get away from cars, noise and appointments, so to say this trip was a blessing is an understatement

Checking in was a drive-thru system which we thought was fantastic as it meant no lugging a grouchy Harry in and out of the car.  We were lucky though and were the only guests arriving at that time but I could imagine there being quite a hefty queue at busier times of day or at peak season.  We were handed maps, park info and the all important keys and off we headed in search of 23 Augustus Way!  We found our lodge really quickly but I can imagine a lot of people getting lost as its not signposted that well and the verbal directions could easily be forgotten!  Bluestone is actually a car free place which i adored but you are allowed to drive down to your lodge to unpack your car, for us this wasn't a big deal as our lodge was close to the main car park (disabled/blue badge visitors are allowed a vehicle on site though of course)

After a 3 and a half hour car trip to Pembrokeshire where Bluestone National Park is based, we were more than ready to crash out with a pot of tea at our Lodge.  We arrived quite late in the afternoon as check in wasn't until 4.30pm (you can however pay a small fee for an earlier check in) so the plan was to get Harry fed and us all tucked up in bed nice and early ready for action the next day!  Despite the late check in, guests are very welcome from 11am to use all the facilities they have to offer which I think is a great touch and there are plenty of places to chill out, eat and drink if needed

We were so happy with our accommodation it was absolutely perfect and we took along some friends to enjoy the trip with us.  We were allocated the Caldey Connect Lodge which is actually two lodges with an interconnecting door, handy for when our friends wanted some down time or peace and quiet from little-but-loud Harry.  Both lodges were so spacious with plenty of room for Haribo to run and bike around and I also loved that it was all on one floor with no stairs or such dangers (However the lodges that are multi floor all come with baby gates)
The Caldey Connect sleeps up to 8 very comfortably and came with a travel cot which saved us so much space for the car journey!
I couldn't fault the cleanliness of the place in the slightest, it was impeccable and quite clearly very well maintained - Even the highchair provided was super clean!
One thing I was disappointed with was our bathroom, it was a wet room but it was literally a SOAKING wet room!  It basically flooded with every shower we ran so we spent a good while mopping it up with spare towels and trying to stop Harry from going swimming in it!  I have since heard though that you can request a lodge with a bath which is something to consider if you have a littl'un.  
There is no cleaning service or towel replenishment included as part of your stay but you can pay an additional fee if its something you would like to have and there is also no laundry facilities, but again Bluestone do provide a service at an extra cost.
Outside the patio doors of our lodge was a lovely green grassy area with picnic benches, which I am sure we would have made full use of during the summertime and you are welcome to use disposable BBQs if you wish!

In the heart of Bluestone is The Village which actually feels like a proper little Welsh village with cute little terrace cottages (which you can also stay in), where you can buy freshly baked cakes from Miller's Bakery, a pint at The Knights Tafarn or emergency supplies at Newtons Store.  I also came across a milk and butter vending machine which I thought was such a fab idea!  There were three restaurants in the village, The Farmhouse Grill, The Knights Tafern and The Oak Tree.  We only ate at the Tafarn which served traditional pub grub but it was surprisingly delicious!  I opted for hearty fish and chips with mushy peas and it was divine!  There is also a little spa in the village which unfortunately we didn't get time to try, but I have only heard good things and it looked like the perfect place to unwind.
The outdoor playground for the kiddies was SO good, 100% one of the best parks I have seen with all its tunnels, swings and slides to play on, Harry was in his element!

There was so many activities for both adults and children - including the babies and toddlers!  At the Adventure Centre was a whole list of sensory classes and crèche sessions as well as a Circus themed soft play area with giant Lego and cars to ride on!
Also in the adventure centre was a huge indoor playground which included rock climbing, crazy golf, a bouncy castle and a Lego wall as well as big squishy sofas for us oldies to rest our toes.

The Blue Lagoon water park was a massive highlight of the our trip, Harry absolutely loved it!  There were four different slides for the big kids and adults, a lazy river, water shooting out from everywhere and best of all a wave machine which had us in stitches!  Our friends also took a dip in the hot tub located outside and said the views were fantastic!  The changing rooms were again so clean, much cleaner and tidier than our local pools and we had no trouble finding somewhere for us all to change relatively quickly.  The pool water was also SO warm, almost like a bath which is perfect for young bubbas! We got to try out Harry's waterproof Cochlear Implants for the first time there which was so exciting! 

Our favourite place at Bluestone was most definitely Camp Smokey, a rustic woodland diner with a working water mill and camp fires.  I felt so relaxed and "at one with nature" and the chilli dogs were out of this world - yummy!!!  Also on the menu were toasted marshmallows which put a smile on everybody's face, especially Harry's!
The staff there were telling us tales of the "Adult Guest Only" parties they have there, with live music, food and dancing so if you are planning on visiting Bluestone with no children, Camp Smokey sounds like where the party's at! Ahhh I can still smell the camp fire smoke in my hair...

Also down at Camp Smokey was the Steep Ravine where a lot of the activities for big kids and adults took place including Laser Combat, Tree Climbing and Sky Wires.  We couldn't go to Bluestone without experiencing a bit of high rise adrenaline so we booked up for the High Ropes Course, which is very much like a mini Go Ape with added zip lining!  It was SO much fun we didn't stop laughing!  Mr H is a bit of a wus when it comes to heights so he was well out of his comfort zone and would still probably say now he would have preferred to have been sat with a pint of cider watching us swinging from the trees instead!  Our instructor Jack was lovely and lots of fun, trying to challenge us to do each of the obstacles with no hands (no chance) and making sure we were safe whilst up there with 50 foot drops beneath us - eek!  These activities are at a charge which we paid for ourselves, the High Ropes session was £28 pp for 2 hours and we enjoyed every second

Whilst we were zip wiring across 50 foot drops trees Harry attended a 3 hour crèche session which he seemed quite happy with!  I was really anxious about leaving him at a place I didn't know and with people I didn't know but as soon as we got in the room he was straight in there playing with a dolls house and didn't even notice us leaving!  Apparently he spent most of the 3 hours sat on a key workers lap but he was fine.  The crèche session again was at an additional cost of £25 for the 3 hours, which is pricey when you add on the cost of your "adults" activity, however we found it was worth it for a bit of a break and were really glad we got to do the High Ropes!

We also hired bikes for the duration of our stay and somehow I got roped into a 7 mile bike ride!  To say Harry enjoyed it would be a lie.. he pretty much cried the whole time and then eventually wore himself out so much he fell asleep.. ON the bike!!  I also wanted to cry myself.. i'm not cut out for exercise!!! We only went on the one bike ride but it was in such a beautiful setting, the scenery on route as stunning.  There are tons of different cycle and walking routes so make sure you grab a map or ask the staff which ones they recommend

So I think you can tell by my rave review that we had a great time at Bluestone!! I can't wait to go back again it was the perfect break for our little family and for our friends as well!!

My top tips if you're visiting Bluestone

  • Take a lot of warm clothes if you're going out of the warmer months.  Although our lodge had heating it took a long time to warm up and I found myself quite chilly in the evenings!
  • Take more clothes than you think you will need, you're bound to get muddy during the activities or even riding bikes and there are no laundry facilities on site
  • Take a pack of toilet rolls, enough for your stay as you only receive one or 2 per lodge
  • Request a lodge with a bath if you have babies
  • Take extra dishwasher tablets if you plan to use it
  • Be prepared for a lot of "hilly" walking, the site is massive!  Unless you fancy hiring bikes or a golf buggy (the golf buggies actually look like so much fun!!)
  • If you are planning on hiring bikes make sure you take your own helmet.  We assumed these came with the bikes but you either have to bring your own or buy one for a whopping £20!  We went without but got stung when it came to Harry as he had to have one of course!  We also took our own toddler bike seat as they don't provide these either
  • If you plan to eat out I highly recommend the Tafern Pub for dinner.  I had fish and chips and it was delicious!  Service was great and the food came really quickly, perfect when you have an impatient and tired toddler on your hands

Will you be visiting Bluestone this year??  Take a look at my YouTube video for more info on Bluestone!

*Our stay at Bluestone National Park Resort was kindly provided to us for free in exchange for an honest and open review! All of the opinions expressed are entirely my own!  Thank you so much Bluestone for such a great trip!!

#HelpingHarryHear | A World of New Sounds

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

It’s been almost 2 weeks since Harry’s Cochlear Implant’s were activated and we are starting to see the first signs of some real reactions from our little chap.  He has been turning a little to loud noises, laughing at some and his babble has become louder and constant!  There is no doubt about it that he is hearing himself more than anything else and spends ages chatting away to himself and shouting at us!

It’s so nice to see and hear because at first we weren’t really seeing any changes in him at all.  The Auditory Implant Centre assure us that Harry is doing so well and the implants are definitely stimulating his auditory nerve providing some hearing for him but they don’t want to shock or scare him so they are being “turned up” very gradually week by week.  We may not see any strong reactions for a couple of months, his brain needs to learn sound as if he was a newborn baby and eventually he will start to realise what he is hearing and where it is coming from.

As for keeping the actual head gear on, he has done amazingly!!  He very rarely touches them or yanks them off they just fall off a lot of the time as the magnet isn’t very strong.  A few people have asked why they can’t just use a stronger magnet in the headpiece and the reason is because it would rub on his delicate skin and become uncomfortable, eventually tearing his scalp so he wouldn’t be able to wear it.  As he grows and gets older his skin will get tougher and the magnet will be changed – we can’t wait for that as it’s a pain in the arse them falling off all the time!!

People tend to immediately stare at him when we have been out and about but this doesn’t bother me in the slightest.  In fact it makes me super proud and its lovely when strangers actually come over and ask what he has on his head rather than just shying away from it uneducated.  I am more than happy to explain what his magic ears are, how they work and how they are changing his little life already! 

Again, I just want to thank each and every one of you who have taken the time to check up on how Haribo is doing, and for your amazing comments on his first reactions video – I will pop it below in case you missed it!  I hope by now you have more of an understanding as to what a Cochlear Implant is and that you can help us to spread the word about them and deaf awareness as a whole

Mother's Day Gift Guide | with Etsy

Monday, 2 March 2015

Does anyone feel like its only just been Christmas?!! But now Valentine’s and Pancake Day is out of the way it’s time to focus on a more important holiday and that is MOTHERS DAY!  Yes.  A whole day dedicated to us mums/slaves to our babies!  One of my favourite placea to buy people gifts is Etsy, I know I will always find something unique, handmade and of amazing quality!  Let’s see some gift ideas for every type of mother..

Beautysets - Etsy Gift Guide Glam

What are you getting your mum this Mother's Day?!

Surgery Advice From One Parent to Another

Monday, 23 February 2015

Harry gowned up and ready to go!

Your child needing to have an operation whether they are a baby or a teenager is completely daunting and a scary thought. It could be the smallest of surgeries but you will still be filled with dread about the day and what it involves.  Just a couple of weeks ago my son Harry had a 6 hour long operation to have a cochlear implant, it was the most terrifying day of our lives but we got through it and surprisingly coped with it a lot better than we imagined we would!  These are the reasons why…

Harry in the recovery area straight after his operation

We knew exactly what was going to happen to Harry before, during and after the surgery and we had tons of information about expectations on the day.  We knew what to expect when he came round from the anaesthetic and there were no shocks or surprises.  Even though he looked such a swollen mess afterwards I knew that is what he would look like so I was prepared for it at least!
Make sure you have been provided absolutely everything you need to know about your childs operation, if you know everything good and bad you will automatically feel more confident about the whole process.  Questions to ask would usually be – how long will it take?  How long will the hospital stay be?  Can I stay with my child? What happens in the operating room? Whats the average recovery time? What extra precautions do I need to take after surgery?

In recovery and having his first sip of water!

Friends and Family
For me, having our family there to support us was so important and I’m so glad they came.  We were able to take it in turns to entertain Harry - who wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything and didn’t actually go down to theatre until 2.30pm!!  It also helped having them there to talk about something other than the operation and to help take our minds on what was about to happen.  If you have someone who can come along with you to keep you company and help out where possible then take them up on their offer, trust me you will be grateful to have them there!

Back on the ward and downing all the water!

Look After Yourself
We made sure we had a bag jam packed with food and drink as we weren’t sure if we would be able to get access to anything whilst Harry was waiting for his surgery or when he was in recovery. This turned out to be pretty true after surgery, he was of course very clingey and I didn’t really want to leave his side either. Its really important you look after yourself during this time so you can deal with your little one as and when they need you! Things like crisps, biscuits, breakfast bars and energy drinks are good things to pack

Sucking on a biscuit the morning after the night before!

Fresh Air
As I mentioned Harrys surgery was 6 hours long and cochlear implant surgery is often up to 8 hours so once he had gone down to thatre, we actually took ourselves away from the hospital and went for lunch and a browse round the shops before heading back to be near our boy.  It felt really weird leaving him in the hands of surgeons but it did us the world of good to get some fresh air, fill our tummies and it made the time go a lot faster.  By the time we were back in the hospital he was pretty much back in my arms right away.  Even if you just go for a walk outside, get out there and breathe!

Just after having his bandages removed - look at his sticky out ears!

All the Medicine
We made sure we were super stocked up at home with Calpol and Nurofen as well as the antibiotics prescribed after his operation.  Its handy to have pain relief to hand if its really needed, Harry was dosed up for a good 4 or 5 days after his surgery and it was a lifesaver having it all at home ready without us having to drag ourselves to the chemist!
If your little one is due an operation, I wish you all the best and hope my tips help you to “keep calm and carry on” as they say!!

Lucie & The Bump. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.