Tuesday, 12 February 2019

A McCullough Family Catch Up

Well, I guess it's time for a McCullough catch up! - Just a wee bit of an insight to what we have been up to from December! 

Obviously December was an extremely busy month, with Christmas Nativities, Christmas Showcases in the dance school, Christmas parties, visiting family, and then off course Christmas Day itself and the whole hype leading up to it. 

School Nativity:

So this year, for the second year running, Lacey-Beth played the part of an Angel in the school nativity - and Lexie-Anna played a Star - Unfortunately, I couldn't get a proper photo of Lexie-Anna to upload as other children that I don't know them or their families personally were in the pics, so I can't obviously upload them. 
Anyway - the school nativity was fabulous as always, and the girls really enjoyed taking part. 
A bit of a bittersweet one this year - as it was Lexie-Anna's first school nativity, however, it was also the last nativity Lacey-Beth will take part in, as from Primary Four onwards, they don't participate. 
So it was a bit sad that it was the first and last time we'll have seen the girls, together in a nativity, still lovely all the same. 

ABD Dance Exam and Medal Test:

So, another huge milestone reached for Lacey-Beth. On 17th December, she took part in her very first dance exam and medal test. The exam she had to do the examination dance moves / stretches that she had been learning for weeks since August - and the medal test she had to perform her Jazz/Modern solo to go for a Bronze medal. 

And after a six week wait - she finally got the results, and she PASSED both! 
She passed her exam with a merit, and passed the medal test with a high merit. 

This is the first time her dance school have done examinations, and the first time Lacey-Beth has ever sat such an important exam. She loved every moment though, and was so proud of herself, as were we very proud of her. 

And she's now moved up a level for the next exam! 

Dance Christmas Showcase:

The girls took part in their dance school's Christmas Showcase performing a dance each on stage. 
Lexie-Anna was a gingerbread lady, and Lacey-Beth a snow woman. 

The Christmas show as always was incredible, and the girls really enjoyed themselves, and loved performing.. Their dance school always puts on a fantastic show for both Christmas and End of Year. 

Photo Competition:

Lacey-Beth entered a photo competition for a local shop in town, and WON
This was the photo she entered with, captioned with - Dancing infront of the Tree

She won a christmas hamper from the shop - so kind of them. The basket they gave her was absolutely beautiful, and im now using it to keep all my cleaning products in. 

Sweet Shop Competition:

I, also feeling very lucky, entered a competition for a new local sweet shop in town, to win a giant lolly - and won. So the girls were over the moon to get this huge lollypop that was bigger than them. 
And no, they couldn't finish it. 

Hand Foot and Mouth:

Lexie-Anna came down with hand, foot and mouth disease, which unfortunately meant she had to miss a week of school. And unfortunately, during this week, her class were doing fairytale day, which she had been looking forward to, bless her. So, we decided to do fairytale day at home, and let her have one of her christmas presents a bit early, to cheer her up a bit - so she was over the moon to dress up as Rapunzel. Her favourite princess atm. 

Improving with Writing Work: 

Lexie-Anna is definitely improving with her writing work in school. She's doing fantastic, and her teachers have said she's a little pleasure. Very hardworking and tries her hardest at everything shes asked to do! Very proud to hear such a good report, especially as I know she had been fretting about going. 

The Ear Piercing Incident:

Lacey-Beth decided she wanted to use some money she received from her great grandparents on Christmas Eve, to get her ears pierced. 
Now - a little story here - Lacey-Beth got her ears pierced for an Easter Present, two years ago, which she let close over, because she was terrified about changing the earrings, and needed to after one of the studs fell out - so two years later - with her closed holes, she was desperate to get them pierced again - using the argument, she was older now, and wouldn't cry, and would be brave, and everything else - So I said, fine, its her money, let her do what she wants with it - so yes, she was brave, she got them pierced no issues - but now, two months later, shes gone and let them close again, due to being afraid to put new earrings in after a problem with Claires Accessories studs. 

So NO.. while shes under our roof - she will NEVER have another piercing again! 

Christmas Eve:

 Christmas Eve, we had a quite day! We went into town for a walk that day, then had a chinese for dinner that night, while we watched the Christmas Chronicles on Netflix. 
The girls had a bath and put their Christmas Eve PJs on, and LOVED their LOL Christmas Eve Boxes. 

Christmas Day: 

We had a lovely Christmas Day! Spent the day at my Mum and Dads for dinner. The girls had the best day ever and got everything they asked for. Lacey-Beth is absolutely smitten by her Baby Boy - Jack! 
The Luvabella Boy! 
Definitely worth every single penny! 

A magical Christmas, and spent with the most important people, which is all that matters. 

D a n c e:

The girls are still loving their dance days! 
Lexie-Anna got pupil of the week just after Christmas and it made her week - and Lacey-Beth is coming on well with her private lessons and is LOVING her new solo. 

First Dance Competition of 2019:

Lacey-Beth competed in her first dance competition of 2019 at the start of January. It was a Lyrical comp, so she only danced her lyrical routine, but she got to wear her new lyrical costume, and it was beautiful on her. 

She didn't place in this comp, but she loved every moment and had a ball. 


Lexie-Anna has always hated eating Mince - spag bol was never a favourite of hers. 
However, I made some meatballs last week, and she loved them. 
I was so chuffed that she had tried them, after thinking she wouldn't entertain the thoughts! 
Such a challenge for her to do this, and now she's found a new food she can enjoy at dinner times! 

So yeah, this is pretty much it in a nutshell. Nothing else much exciting has happened over the last month or so! 

Hope you have all been well? 

Monday, 4 February 2019

Instagram Influencers: How they helped me

If you don't know by now who Mrs Hinch is, where the hell have you been living? 
Instagram Influencers such as Mrs Hinch, Lynsey Queen of Clean, Little Miss Mops, The Secret Cleaner, and Sian, from TheMumWays are all the range right now in the world of Insta. 

I've never really been "big" into Instagram, I had my own personal account for family and friends, and that was that, then I'd seen this hype on Facebook about Mrs Hinch and how wonderful her cleaning tips were - so being the nosey cow I am, I had to go check her out, and instantly I was hooked. 

Now, obviously with being an instagram influencer, comes a lot of backlash, negativity and LOTS of trolls, which certainly has been the case for Mrs Hinch, and when this hype started, I can remember being so excited to purchase a Dave and posting about this, that and the other cleaning tip that I'd tried that week, that so many people were leaving shitty facebook statuses about how people clearly never cleaned before Mrs Hinch. 

Which for me, wasn't the case, and i'm pretty sure for a lot of other people who became hooked with hinching. 

Cleaning to me was a chore though. I mopped, hoovered, dusted, just the same as I do now, but it didn't seem fun - it just seemed like a job needing doing, something that I'd no choice but to do, something tiresome and dull. 

Whereas now, cleaning (or hinching) is a lot brighter, more fun, colourful, exciting. 
Mrs Hinch doesn't just share tips, tricks and the latest zoflora scent, she puts the fun into cleaning, she makes you want to get up off your ass and vera the floor, she makes you want to bounce out of bed to Paul the Toilet, she makes you wanna dirty your sink, just so you can CLIFF IT. 

So, how did these insta influencers help me? 

Well, my best friend suggested to me, I should make a 'home account' on Insta, and I thought, why the heck not - I couldn't think of a good home account name - Mrs McC clean with me, was a bit shit to be honest, and most catchy names, were already taken, plus the fact I am the least bit creative so thinking of a catchy name wasn't gonna come easy, so I decided, why not use my blog name, and just have it as a blog/family/cleaning account, mix it all up a little? 

So I started following a few - then following some more - soon I was gathering up quite a few 'home accounts' and loving it. I was becoming hooked. 
I followed Mrs Hinch, obviously - Little Miss Mops - and all the usual. Then found The Mum Ways. 

The Mum Ways - Sian is one of my favourite accounts on Instagram. I love watching her stories, and find her amazing. She keeps it so real, and talks about everything from cleaning to mum life. When comparing my life to other mum accounts on Insta, I always felt I was lacking something - like I was doing something wrong - but watching The Mum Ways - she makes you feel like a normal mum! She shares the normal every day realities, not just the best bits that most people (including myself probably) do share.  She makes me feel good as a mother, because of how real she is, and it helped me come round to the idea of being able to do selfie videos! (I still don't think i'd have the balls to go live) 

Mrs Hinch - the lovely Mrs Hinch! 
She has helped inspire so many people, and continues to do so everyday! 
Like i said before, cleaning before Mrs Hinch came into my life, was a drag, it got done, but I never got excited about it. 
Mrs Hinch - although is a cleaning account - she adds that oompf to cleaning that makes you want to get it done. 
From naming the majority of the products she uses - to getting you to write little but often to do lists - and the insta music videos that you can secretly have a little boogie too while filming yourself cleaning your loo. 
Cleaning got a lot more fun, and the cleaning aisle in Tesco has become my new favourite place. 

I've also found, since I am enjoying cleaning a lot more now, that it is keeping my anxiety at bay. Don't get me wrong, I'll always suffer until I learn to control it properly, but cleaning is something that keeps my mind busy, keeps me motivated and gives me a focus. I'm always wondering what new tips Mrs Hinch has lined up, is Little Miss Mops doing an end of tenancy today, what science is The Secret Cleaner gonna share with us today? Is The Mum Ways gonna give us a dance this morning?

It's like a little community, on your phone screen, and although that does sound bad, it actually isn't. All these home cleaning and mum accounts I have found to be so supportive of one another, like a little family. These are just a select few I have named - there are LOADS more amazing accounts that I follow, and love to watch their stories daily because each of them bring something to their stories that I feel I can relate to, or think, wow, what an awesome tip! 

And because I have become a little bit more confident since joining this little community, I do want to thank them all, for sharing little bits of their lives on their grids and stories each day, for us all to enjoy, and learn from. 

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Mum guilt is a real thing, it does exist, and for many, if not all Mum's, we are affected by it, daily. 
Well, I know I am. Every single day!

My Husband, bless his heart, offered to buy me a brand spanking new hoover - the fecking joy I felt at the thoughts - a new top of the range, cordless job - no more breaking my damn back lobbing the monstrosity shit mobile we currently own up and down the stairs. So, online I popped, as you do, to pick out my new best mate to be, only to see the prices of something that sucks up fecking dirt, and BAM, like a brick being threw at my head, I was wacked with that sinking guilt feeling. 

"oh no" I thought - "I couldn't possibly spend that much on a hoover for myself, the kids could use that money for something else" 
Now, I know, they don't need anything, because I've them fully stocked up on clothes for the next year, infact Lexie-Anna is fully stocked up on clothes for the next decade considering Lacey-Beth's hand me downs will go to her, but that didn't stop me rhyming off a list of things they really might need soon. Because I couldn't justify spending that kinda money, on me! 

In my life, since gaining that title "Mummy" - I've just always put myself, last. I think most of us do, it's kind of a given, isn't it?

The kids
The house
A million other things I can think of
Then me. 

I don't know why I do it. I just do. And i'm just used to that being the way things are for me. It's my routine I guess. Now David, my husband, will argue with me to spend a little money on myself, to treat me for a change, I always find a way to object, or just won't do it.

I feel guilt if I do just treat me and start questioning myself. And why? Because I have NO REASONS to, but I start to think things like - I have these two girls, who come before my selfish needs. 

ButI wasn't always like this - Heck no! 
I remember the pre-parent me. 
ALWAYS had her face caked in make-up. I wouldn't have dared cross over the door without my make-up done. I spent a fortune on make-up on a monthly basis. I remember a time where I wouldn't have dreamed of shopping in Primark, let alone even so much as carry a bag from Primark. It had to be the more "expensive" shops, or it wasn't good enough, because that's where all my friends shopped. 
I had the latest and most up to date phone or gadget there was. 

Now, the parent me, runs about in leggings, infact I own at least ten pairs of the same leggings, from, low and behold - Primark. £4.00 and you can't go wrong, they're comfy and ideal when you spend the day running around after two kids and maintaining a home. I have zero time to be maintaining myself. 

I spend £16.00 per month on myself, that is for my contract phone. and the only reason I do have a contract, is incase I need to ring the doctor for any of the kids, at least I know i'll always have the credit, because I never kept my pay as you go, topped up, due to that little mum guilt again. 

That same contract phone was due for a renewal in December, and I still haven't upgraded due to that Mum Guilt again - because damn it exists. 

I spend nothing else on myself - my winter coat is that old, it has lost a few stitches. I never have time to make myself look presentable because firstly the kids have to look immaculate before me and secondly the house needs to be cleaned before me. By the time those things are done I haven't time to do myself, so I run a hairbrush through my hair, shove it up a "mum bun" and get myself out the door. No makeup routine or straighteners in this household anymore, even though I would love to get back to 'finding' the time to at least run my wasted GHD's through this raggity bap, but then I feel guilty for not doing "other more important things in the daily life of a mum"  

I live my life in over sized hoodies and leggings because comfort over style and all that shiz. I haven't the extra to spend on other things because I always find excuses or something ALWAYS crops up. 

Lexie-Anna needs new trainers 
Lacey-Beth needs a new dance costume
Dance bills are due
Theres another competition around the corner 
Lacey-Beth has had another growth spurt and needs new trousers
Lexie-Anna wants to join an after school club
One of them has been invited to a birthday party 
They want a friend over for a sleepover 
The internet bill is due 
Ooops we forgot to pay T.V licence again, look at that massive bill. 
Shit - its world book day next week - two costumes needed, PROMPT. 
Valentines Disco at school? Eugh, new dresses needed because God forbid you send them in something they've already wore to a disco before - it would be a fashion crisis!!!!!

The list is endless - there is ALWAYS an excuse that I manage to pull out of the bag. 
And to be honest, when you have kids, handing out money is never ending, especially to school, who always want for something. So when these things to crop up, and I can't treat myself to that lovely top I spied, or the book I really wanted, and I do feel a bit pissed off because of that, then I start to feel guilty and think - meh, this is the life I chose - I wanted kids, so I shouldn't get that top.  

But why?

Why shouldn't I? Why should I feel guilty about treating myself to a £5.50 t-shirt in Primark? 
Why should ANY of us, just because we are mothers, feel guilty for spending an hour out of nights to pop a face mask on and relax in a bubble bath? 
Why should we as mothers feel guilty for devouring that Galaxy bar we had secretly stashed away because we didn't want to share it? 
Why should we as mothers feel guilty because we said NO to the LOL doll the kids wanted and used the money on a new Yankee Candle instead? 

Moral of the story - STOP FEELING GUILTY!
Mum guilt exists - but you were your own person before being a mum, and the pre-parent you, still needs to feel loved, spoiled and cared for. So buy the top, book the spa day - treat YOU! Because you fucking well deserve it!

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Once again, the bad blogger side of me has shown it's ugly head. I apologise. I haven't been blogging since 29th September. 
Not much has really happened since then, as let's face it, our lives aren't exactly the most interesting, fun or exciting, nothing much happens. 
But, i'll do a 'catch up' for you all, just so you know what we've all been up to since September. 

Well, around the first week of October, my mum went abroad - it was her first ever holiday, abroad. She turned the big 50 in April and her sister turned the big 60 in September - so their Brother and his wife, surprised them both with a holiday to Greece during the first week of October. 
She absolutely loved it - A week of peace without me, or the girls annoying her. Peace away from her husband (my dad) - and away from my brother. No-one bothering her, no worries, no stresses, some much needed and well deserved time for her to relax. It was strange, I will be honest. Me and my mum are so close, we don't go a single day without seeing each other - even if it is only for five minutes after or before the school run - (pffft who am I kidding? it's never for a quick 5 minutes) - so going from seeing her every single day, to not seeing her at all - and barely having contact as lets face it, overseas calls cost a fortune, and the fact she was too busy lapping up the sun to be bothered with texts or phone calls, and rightly so. The girls missed her like crazy too, and I know she missed them, but, she was back within a week - and everything went back to normal. 

While she was away, I got gas heating installed in my own home - and my Dad and David decorated Mum's living room for her while she was away - so it was a busy week at home for us aswell. 

The night before the gas was due to be installed - I had to stay over night with the girls at my Dad's - as our beds had to be moved, and everything piled on top of them - So it was nice to have a bit of quality time with Dad - as that's something we NEVER do, ever.. We watched a movie with the girls and he got munchies in for us all. It was nice. 

The gas getting installed left a HUGE mess - but it was totally worth it. The heating ever since we changed over has been incredible. We are all so much warmer. It's a lot cheaper to run, and the water pressure since changing - WOW! - I would definitely recommend gas heating over oil heating, any day. 

The girls started at a new girls brigade in October also. Their old GB was lovely, and all the leaders so nice - unfortunately the girls didn't really know anybody, and so were not enjoying it for those reasons, so we moved them to a new Girls Brigade that all of their friends attend, and so far, they are absolutely loving it, and look forward to going each and every week, which is fabulous! 
How cute do they look in their new uniforms though? 

Lacey-Beth took part in another dance competition in October - WLDF (world lyrical dance federation) - where she danced her Jazz Solo and Lyrical Solo! 

She placed 7th Place, in the Under 8's Section with her Jazz Solo and 8th Place in the Under 8's section with her Lyrical, and won two trophies, so she was overwhelmed. 
She was planning on taking part in the improv section - but backed out at the last minute. 
The competitions are definitely giving her a new found confidence. 

Lexie-Anna returned to dance for a second year - after taking a month out, she decided she wanted to go back. We've put her in on her own, well in a class on her own, without Lacey-Beth with her - and to be honest, it is the best move we made, shes become a lot more independent instead of relying on Lacey-Beth, and she can enjoy learning the dances more, rather than Lacey-Beth bossing her about. 
She's looking forward to performing in the Christmas Showcase next week. 

Lexie-Anna's class in school were doing the topic - "what do I want to be when I grow up"
and Lexie-Anna has decided she would like to be a Paramedic. 
She's become really interested and obsessed with paramedics since October. 
My granda (her great granda) - took sick, and the paramedics came out to the house. She witnessed this, and became intrigued in what they do, and how they helped her Granda Benny, and ever since then, she has said, she wants to be a paramedic when she grows up.
She loved it, that the paramedics came into the school for a visit to her class aswell. 

The girls had a very busy week leading up to Halloween - School had a Halloween Disco, and the girls dressed up as a Broken Doll, and a Candy Witch - then their youth club had a halloween disco - again Lacey-Beth went as a broken doll, and Lexie-Anna as a Zombie Bride - then Halloween it's self they dressed up as a Broken Doll and Witch for trick or treating. 

Halloween was also Lacey-Beth's 7th Birthday! I can't believe my first born, is now seven years old. 
We celebrated earlier on in the day, with a trip to Build-a-Bear, followed by lunch at Cosmo's all you can eat buffet, and a shopping trip in Belfast - visiting Castle Court's The Entertainer, and Lush Cosmetics - where the girls picked out some Halloween Bath Bombs and Bubble Bars. 

We then had cake when we arrived home - a gorgeous LOL themed birthday cake, for an LOL mad little girl. 

It was a nice chilled, relaxing day, and she said it was the best birthday she had ever had. 

We put our Christmas Tree up quite early on in November - I have no idea why, I was feeling a tad excited at the time, and thought, yes, let's do it - But, our Charlie came down once it was all up, and was loving the lights.
He's almost 5 months old, and will soon be celebrating his first Christmas, it's hard to believe. 

And lastly - in the last few days - Our elf Peppermint returned - bringing with him his Wife snowflake and their babies - Buddy and Cindy-Lou-Who. 
And the girls also went to visit Santa in the grotto at the school Christmas fayre. 


That's us all caught up to date! 
Like I said, nothing very exciting, just the days of our normal everyday lives. 

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Mental Health Progression | I've taken back my life

Previously I made a post about my mental health story, if you haven't read it yet, you can do so here

This was the image I used whilst posting that story, it must be two years (or almost) ago!
My eyes, are dead. I am not myself at all. I had no life about me. Friends asked me to do anything, I agreed, but inside, didn't want to do it, or i'd try and find some kind of excuse to get out of it.

I didn't want to do anything. I was stuck in a rut, stuck in my own wee bubble.

Anyway, i'm not here to talk about that path - because fast forward two years later, and here I am.

I have just finished a seven week course in Confidence Building and Life Coaching with an incredible local lady.
This lady has done more for me, in seven short weeks, than any councillor or doctor done in twelve years, and she barely knows just how much she helped me, save me!

I will be honest, when I first started this course, I was oblivious. Pfft I thought, it'll never help me. I've been down the same pathways for the last twelve years, and still end up in the same rut, feeling like the world is on top of me, feeling wacked with this endless guilt, not wanting to do anything, stopping myself from being my true self, but hell was I proved wrong.

Here I am now.

On the right - and by God, I feel a lot better! The smile, is a true smile, not fake. 

My eyes are lit up. I feel back to - my true self. 

Granted, it's a filter pic - but I have an excuse for that - I literally did look like shit that day - and no, not because I felt shit, as in down but because I was bunged with a cold - and couldn't be assed putting makeup on, for me to be wiping it all away under my nose, so we went for the bare-faced look, hence the filter to hide my snotty-ish red nosed reindeer look. 

This lady helped me build my self-esteem back up, my confidence, she helped bring me back out of myself and for that I am forever grateful. 

When I was a teenager, I was a mouthy little cow, anyone who knew me, will tell you that. After losing my Uncle, and the grief of his death set in, that's when I started to shut myself away, and keep myself to myself - a couple of years later, following a miscarriage, things escalated then. 
Add on PND when my first born came along, and me not seeking help after my local mental health team failed me, I let things escalate until they got so bad that I was in and out of hospital like a yo-yo.  I stopped doing things for myself anymore, relying on my mum or husband to make phone calls on my behalf, accompany me to meetings, or anywhere else I had to go. I even feared being in my own home alone. I couldn't go to the shop alone - I couldn't even go to the girls school to pick them up or drop them off alone. I was a prisoner in my own body, and only I could help me escape. 

And that is exactly what I have done. Debbie helped me realise that I am safe, all is well 
Everyday is a new day, everyday is a beautiful day, and everyday I can find at least one thing I like about myself, everyday I can find at least one thing I am grateful for. 

And after seven weeks of hard work trying to get myself to this point, I now know that yes I AM SAFE, ALL IS WELL. 

I am back to being me. I am back to being that mouthy teenager again - I'm not afraid to express myself. I'm not afraid to stand up for what I believe in. 
I can now travel to the girls school to pick them up or drop them off, alone. 
I can now stay at home everyday alone, while the kids and hubby are out at school or work. 
I can now make phone calls without relying on others. 
I can walk in the dark, without being afraid. 

I haven't had palpitations in a few weeks - something which became an everyday occurrence.  

Now don't get me wrong - My depression and anxiety and panic attacks, they haven't magically gone away. Of course they haven't . 
They are still there - but it's ok to have a down day, it's ok to have a sad day, it's ok to feel nervous. 
It doesn't mean I'm falling back into that pattern, these kind of days happen to even the happiest of people. They are normal. 
But now? I am in control 
I no longer let depression, anxiety and panic attacks control me or my life, and I vow to never let them get the better of me again. I have taken back my life, and won't hand it over again without a fight.