Monday, 30 April 2012

Meal Planning Monday 30 Apr 2012

We actually almost stuck to our meal plan last week - hurray!! Got in a bit of a muddle on Saturday when I realised that I hadn't bought anything for our Beef Stroganoff (oops...) but my Other Half came to the rescue and rustled something up. And then we ate out last night as we'd been to a birthday party late into the afternoon.

Oh, and the Tomato & Crispy Crumb chicken was de-licious, I took a photo but I don't think it does it justice as my presentation skills aren't up to much!

So, for this week:

Monday: Creamy pesto chicken

Tuesday: Sausage special

Wednesday: For the kids - Salmon fishcakes.  For us (as neither of us like fish): Make your own

Thursday: Chilli & rice

Friday: Homemade pizza and wedges

Saturday: Kids joint birthday party so probably party food.

Sunday: Beef & vegetable casserole

Make your own stands for anything you can rustle up from the cupboard you are welcome to eat.  Usually an excuse to gorge and eat bad things ;)

This is part of a Mrs M's linky #mealplanningmonday.  Visit here for more ideas.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Let's Play: Water Gauge

This is perfect for the months when we experience a lot of rain (when do we ever not?!?)

What you need:
- Empty drinks bottle
- Scissors
- Ruler
- Pen for marking
- Things to decorate the bottle with

What you need to do:
- Cut the top of the bottle (see photo)

- Mark the sides at intervals using your ruler for accuracy (or just guess depending on serious your toddler is taking it!)

- Decorate the bottle using stickers/sparkles/glitters/whatever you like!

- Find suitable place for water gauge outside.  NB: You may need to weigh it down initially.  We had several false starts when ours blew away in the bad weather!

Birthday season is upon us....

We had the amazing planning skills to make sure that all our birthdays fell within the same pay packet.  My Other Half is first, 11 days later it's Eli's birthday, 5 days after that it's Meg's and 6 days after that it's mine.

The only positive I have discovered thus far is that my Other Half can't forget, because they all come at once.  That said, he does struggle to remember the dates our children were born and on at least two occasions I've overheard the GP's receptionist double checking that he is the father as he gets in such a muddle.

I'm unsure of where I sit on the whole birthday parties issue.  When Meg was a baby we put on this huge first birthday party for her, which was mostly attended by our adult friends.  I think there were three children there of a similar age. 

Last year, Eli was less than a week old so we just had family round and whilst she had a superb cake (as a lover of all things cake related, you should have guessed it would feature heavily!) we didn't do anything special.

This year we're doing a joint party for Meg and Eli.   As it's Eli's first birthday I feel guilty that we aren't pulling out all the stops for him.  I've invited two children of a similar age to him and the rest of the children coming are closer to Meg's age. 

I know he won't remember but I will.  When I look back at the photos of Meg's first birthday and then Eli's, I'm worried that I will always feel that rush of guilt.  I already feel bad that I have hardly any photos of Eli, compared with the number I have of Meg.  This is just another thing to worry over!

After discussing this issue several times over with my Other Half (who's choice was to do nothing for either of the children) we settled on having a semi decent party but at home. 

We didn't want to fall into the trap of having to be bigger and better each year (there's no way our bank balance would allow it either!) and had aimed to stick to the "one friend for the number of years they are" rule but I don't think we've done too badly. We have only invited children Meg actually talks about, and if we weren't part of a community of friends who've all had children at the same time as well as Meg attending nursery then I think three friends would be about right.

I've even pushed the boat out and invited some of Meg's friends from nursery.  This actually fills me with dread as I don't do well in big social situations and I really dislike having to make small talk.  But I'm fairly sure she will end up going to primary school with two of the children so it makes sense to build bridges (at least, that's what I'm telling myself whenever the panic sets in!)

We've hired a bouncy castle and I'm going to plan some games that the older children can join in with.  Whilst we've gone for 'simple' and have planned it to be in the afternoon so we don't have to provide food, I still can't stop worrying.  The weather has been so rubbish lately I'm wondering whether we should hire a hall 'just in case' otherwise the bouncy castle will be a no go.  And what games are easy enough for three year olds to grasp?

See, now I've blogged myself into a panic!

On the plus side, I've asked my friend to make the cake (see, here it is again) so that's one less thing to think about.  Now I've just got to rouse my brain cells and plan some party games, and buy some decorations, and make sure my Other Half clears the garden and buy and wrap presents...

*potters outside and has a little scream*

I'm sure it will all turn out fine...these things always do.  Now if I could just hold on to that positivity...

Thursday, 26 April 2012

The pill to be given to girls as young as 13...

I've seen this line appearing all over the place today, Twitter & Facebook as well as the news pages. 

This is my two cents on the subject...

It's completely pointless.

First, you have the health implications.  Does a 13 year old girl know her family history?  At 13 I was completely unaware that my family has a history of breast cancer, something that taking the pill can increase the risk of.  Or that on my dad's side there is a history of high blood pressure.  How many other girls are in the same boat?  I actually didn't find out about either of these things until I was pregnant with Meg and I asked my mum.

Not to mention my own experience with the pill, I have tried at least eight versions...all of which have had negative side effects.  The last one I was given actually gave me permanent PMT and my OH thought I'd lost the plot for a while.  Without ongoing discussions with my GP, I would never have thought to try other pills or even other contraceptive methods.  How will these girls get that advice?

Secondly, if a teenager is going to run the risk of having unprotected sex (in terms of pregnancy risk) I think they will carry on regardless of where they can get the pill.  I can see the logic in suggesting that young girls would be more likely to go and get the pill if they didn't have to make an appointment but really, if they are having sex then it should be an informed choice, made by someone who is mentally and emotionally mature enough to be having sex.  For that person I don't think it would be difficult to make an appointment with their GP and obtain a prescription.  The ones who aren't able to make that sound judgement call are probably not likely to get the pill at all, wherever it's offered.

And I'm confused about how 'they' think a private appointment with a GP is less favourable than asking in a public place for the pill.  If these teenage girls are too embarrassed to go and see their GP how will getting it over the counter be less embarrassing?

According to the article I read on BBC news, the scheme will have to meet certain guidelines:

"These include that the girl is able to understand the advice of a health professional, and the likelihood she will start having sex regardless of whether she gets access to contraception."

How on earth can a pharmacist make that kind of judgement?  I personally don't hold out much hope for my local pharmacy.  When Eli was on his various medications for his reflux I would often be left waiting for 15-20 minutes before the bright spark faffing around at the back (supposedly getting my prescription) would come and ask me what medication I needed.  And I was on repeat prescription!  I can honestly say I wouldn't trust him to offer me sound medical advice.  Nor would I want to disclose my personal life to him.  He looks like something from the dark ages.

Further to this, they say that:

"The health professional must always encourage a young person to talk to their parents or another trusted adult about their sexual health."

Erm, if that was likely to happen then surely they would already have spoken to a trusted adult...who would have advised them to go and see their GP in order to get the pill?

I honestly don't see this as the answer.  To me it's like we're saying "yeah, sex is nothing, go ahead and best of all, you don't even have to tell anyone."  Young girls need to be educated, to be taught that sex is a HUGE deal, not something to be taken light heartedly. 

And more than that, we need to keep communication lines open.  Maybe I'm just looking at this situation through the blinkered eyes of a parent...I truly hope that when it gets to that stage of her life Meg feels that she can come and talk to me.  It would break my heart to think that she was sneaking off to get the pill without me even knowing about it. 

Rant over...

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Decrepit Hamster Syndrome

We're getting the kids two rabbits for their birthdays this year.  Well, my lovely parents in law have bought them a rabbit hutch and we just have to provide the rabbits!  It's brought to mind the previous pets we've had and my ability to, as my Other Half has so lovingly said, pick the infirm ones.

Our first pet was a hamster called Hamlet (or Hammy for short), he was this scraggly looking hamster being crushed by another much larger hamster at the pet shop.  We'd only gone in to have a look at the animals but I felt so sorry for him we had to take him home. 

Despite what my Other Half said, he became quite attached to Hammy and was the one who really rehabilitated him and stopped him from being a biter.  Unfortunately Hammy passed away not even a year after we'd had him.

After Hammy came our second hamster Oscar.  We got Oscar after I'd chosen a different hamster, the pet shop lady lifted our choice up and then again I noticed Oscar being squished underneath.  Apparently he'd been there quite a while so he was the obvious choice to take home.

A year after we'd got Oscar I decided I wanted a kitten for Christmas so off we went to a random village in Lincoln (not a short drive!) to pick from a litter.  We spent a while sitting with the kittens.  There were the obvious hyperactive ones climbing up our legs and being very rough and tumble but there was one who just hid under the chair and didn't really come out to play.  He was very cuddly though and so, he was the one I chose.  We realised shortly after we brought him home that he was in fact totally deaf and that was probably why he hadn't joined in with the other kittens.

And so, 'decrepit hamster syndrome' was born.

It doesn't just apply to my choice in animals though.  On Monday we were out on a social and talking to a first year university student about freshers week and nights out.  He said he felt "nervous" in large social situations and my heart just melted.  I caught my Other Half's eye and he just winked as we both knew exactly what I was thinking..."oh I want to put him in my handbag and take him home!"

Or there was the time one of my Other's Half's colleagues was being a bit of a wally towards my husband and putting him down.  After relaying one such story to me he took one look at my face and said "I'm turning into your decrepit hamster aren't I"...It's not true of course ;o)

Anyway, back to the rabbits.  Just last night I found a rabbit that had been born with deformed ears due to a difficult birth.  The owner was giving him away for free as he didn't think anybody would pay for a deformed rabbit.  It was so heart wrenching to not be able to bring him home.  Not only do we not have the hutch but it's not really my choice to make!

In this case, decrepit hamster syndrome may not even feature as we've told Meg that she can choose her own rabbit.  Although technically, Eli isn't old enough to choose his own just yet. 

Watch this space!!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012


Conversation in the car on the way home from nursery today -

Meg: "mummy, today Rafe was spiderman"

Me: "Was he?"

Meg: "yes, he's a superhero"

Me: "wow, that's good.  What kind of superhero are you?"

Meg: "I'm a tree"

Hmmm, not being sure that Meg has quite understood the concept of a superhero (although for those of you who know my stories of Meg, she has for quite a while been completing her 'superhero exercises'), I decided that at almost three she should know a bit more about them so when we got home I thought I'd explain what superheros do.   She looked at me with her usual "yeah alright mummy" face but about 15 minutes later I heard her clattering around so I went to see what she was up to.

"I'm being a superhero" she announced proudly.

"I looked around and noticed she'd fetched her patchwork blanket and had it draped around her shoulders, clearly meant to be a cape.  Great, I thought, she's really grasped it.

"What's your special power?" I asked.

She stood and thought for a minute and then ran off and returned with her umbrella.

"Come on Megs" I said, "If you're a superhero then what's your special power?"

She gave me a huge grin, opened up her umbrella sat down in it and said "being a tree."

*sigh* I guess I've got some more explaining to do!

Let's Play: Colour Boxes

This is not so much crafty as just a fun activity but we enjoyed it so much I wanted to include it.  I got the idea from this lovely blog. 

What you need:

- Suitable plastic container to hold all your items

What you need to do:
- Ask your toddler to pick a colour.

- Allow them to go in search of the said colour and collect all the items they can find.

- Return to central place and explore all the different objects and textures of the things your toddler has found.

- Return items to original home!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Meal Planning Monday 23 Apr 2012

Last week we almost stayed on course until the end of the week when I couldn't be bothered didn't get chance to go to the supermarket so the crispy crumb chicken (which I was really looking forward to) has been pushed back to this week.  It's worked out well though as it's my Other Half's birthday on Wednesday so we can have it then as *fingers crossed* it will turn out quite nice.

So on with the show:

Monday: Pasta Bolognaise (lovely baby friendly recipe)

Tuesday: Bangers & Mash

Wednesday: Homemade fish pie for the kids and for us Tomato & Crispy Crumb Chicken

Thursday: Soup & Garlic Bread

Friday: Pork & Apple Casserole

Saturday: Wraps for lunch and Beef Stroganoff for dinner

Sunday: Crumpets for lunch and Chicken Pasta Bake for dinner.

For other fab #mealplanningmonday ideas visit Mrs M who hosts the linky.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Let's Play: Handprint Hearts

We decided to make these handprint hearts for my Other Half's birthday.

What you need:
- Coloured card
- Paint

What you need to do:
- Paint your toddlers hand in two complementing colours and get them to stamp their handprint.  The handprints need to be touching each other roughly in the shape of a heart (as you can see below)

- Draw the outline of a heart around the handprints when dry.  I then wrote a message along the line and cut it out although I never managed to take a photo of this!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Weaning: Why you should avoid spicy food...

This is going to be a short post as I really ought to be packing for our visit to the PIL's this weekend...must. get. on. with. it.

On Tuesday my Other Half made a chicken stir fry which was incredibly spicy.  Both me and M refused to eat it as I really don't 'do' spicy food.  E on the other hand loved it.  He ate his own portion and then cried so loudly when he'd finished that my Other Half gave him the rest of M's.  My Other Half was ecstatic, raving about how proud he was that E could handle spicy food. 

Yeah, great.  Because since that day E has turned into a poop machine.  Every hour he fills his nappy and it's just HORRID.  Not to mention that it must be giving him tummy ache and he's been a right grouch.  I'm totally over changing dirty nappies.  My Other Half most definitely owes me!

I reckon every parent has a poop story.  My ultimate favourite is when M was a tiny baby, she couldn't have been more than a week old as I was still unable to get out of bed much and my Other Half was on nappy changing duty.  We were still in the learning phase of being new parents, my Other Half especially as despite the vast number of books I'd brought into the house, he hadn't read a single thing about looking after a newborn baby.

On this one occasion, as my Other Half was changing M's nappy he made that classic new parent mistake of removing the old nappy and began disposing of that without first putting the new nappy on.  Of course M decided that was the perfect time to do an exploding poo.  My Other Half realising what was happening thought it best to 'catch' the poo with the first thing that came to mind.  His hand!  Oh how I laughed for weeks afterwards.  Truly it was the worst thing I'd ever seen, there was just poop everywhere...all up the wall, all over the door and all my Other Half.

Obviously I don't have a photo of the said poop incident (lucky for you!) so I'll just use this cute photo of M as a tiddler. 

I suppose, when I think about that event, it puts my own poop changing situation into perspective as I would much rather change a poopy nappy than be covered in it.  Oh it's brightened my day just thinking about it!!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Let's Play: Muddy Puddles

Ok, I know this isn't a craft but really who doesn't like to splash in muddy puddles!?!

What you need:
- Waterproofs!
- Puddles (obvs!)
- A willing toddler

What you need to do:
- Find a small puddle to start off with, it's best to build up your endurance to these things.

- Splash splash splash!

- When your toddler is feeling a bit more confident, walk around and see if you can find A REALLY BIG PUDDLE and jump in.  This is much more fun if the puddle is deeper than you imagined and you get wet right up to your middle (or at least, it's more funny for mummy and daddy to watch!)

Wednesday, 18 April 2012


I recently read a list published by the National Trust called "50 things to do before you are 11 3/4."

It's part of a new campaign by the National Trust to get our 'cotton wool kids' to spend time outdoors.

I am definitely a parent who sits closer to the cotton wool side than the "it's all about discovery" side of things. Don't get me wrong, I want to let my children explore and learn but there's some part of me that stands with my heart in my mouth the entire time. 

Sometimes I can laugh at my own silly nervousness, but then another more serious part of me thinks "yeah and it's only going to get worse the older they get."  I believe my kids have got a fantastic journey ahead of them, and I don't for one second truly believe that something awful is going to happen to them but sometimes, just for a few minutes, I allow myself that moment of panic.

Especially if it involves some hairbrained scheme my Other Half has cooked up..."of course M will be alright to climb that sheer rock face by herself, I'll stand at the bottom, she'll be fine..." (before you report us, that is an exaggeration although "she'll be fine" is a phrase often quoted by my Other Half before he embarks upon something I'm bound to worry over!

Last November we took M to the local fair.   She LOVED it and was asking to go on every single ride we passed.   A total adrenaline junkie, the faster the better.   After saying no to almost every ride we finally settled on one that my Other Half thought was fun enough and I thought was safe enough and honestly I thought I was going to be sick watching it go up and down.   Of course M had no idea and asked to go on it again three more times whilst I was turning greyer by the second.

M (on the right) on the fairground ride

And this year when it snowed and we all went sledging M was absolutely fearless and even ended up going down by herself.

I think it's a tough line to walk - learning to trust that your kids will be ok and that they need the space to discover and explore whilst at the same time making sure they are safe.

I don't think I'm doing too badly.  However I may feel inwardly, of the 50 things listed by the National Trust, in her almost three years M has so far done 8.  So I think we're making good progress.  Although I can't say that I'm too keen on the "track wild animals" or "set up a snail race" suggestions!!  

For more information on the National Trust's list see here

CWP = Cotton Wool Parent. 

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Food faux pas..

On Saturday night my Other Half made the dinner (that means he defrosted something I had previously made)  What he had failed to tell me is that when our washing machine broke a few months ago, he used one of the plastic food containers to store washing powder in when he took it round to a friends house.  The container I used to freeze the leftovers. 

It was only as I took a mouthful of the (previously) delicious beef & vegetable stew and remarked "why does this taste funny?" that he decided to let me know what he'd done.  Long story short, it DID taste like soap and yes, it was disgusting.  Said container has now been relegated to the bin.

I'd like to say it was our first food faux pas but the more I think about it, we've actually made some pretty big doozy's, these are just the top five:
  1. Our first christmas as a married couple we bought a pre-cooked chicken.  After said chicken had been cooking in the oven for four hours we scrapped the potatoes and veg and started again.  A further hour of cooking and the chicken was still totally raw.  We had a potato and vegetable christmas dinner.
  2. The time I misread a recipe and used chilli powder instead of curry powder in our tikka masala.
  3. The time I misread a recipe (there's a bit of a theme developing here...) and used a tablespoon of hot chilli powder instead of a teaspoon.  I almost blew M's head off.
  4. The time we were making a 'Jamie's 30 minute meal' and couldn't be bothered to deskin the sausages before blending them. Surprisingly minced sausages taste like minced sausages.  I don't think I need to explain what the floating bits of sausage skin looked like.
  5. The time my Other Half served beef gravy with a chicken dinner.  It's just plain wrong. 

Let's Play: Tissue Paper Flowers

We have spent the last few days making these lovely tissue paper flowers as thank you gifts for Meg's Grammy and Nana for the Easter Gifts they bought for her and Eli.

What you need to make the flowers:
- Toilet roll
- Pipe cleaner (green is best) - long enough to reach well into the toilet roll.  You might want to measure beforehand.
- Tissue paper in different colours
- Wrapping papers
- Stickers to decorate 'vase'

What you need to do:
- You need two different sized 'flower' shapes for this.  I drew two templates freehand to make sure that each flower would be the same size.

- Pick two contrasting colours for each flowers (or a lighter and darker shade of a colour, we did blue as below).  You will need several pieces of tissue paper in each size for the full effect.

- When you feel you have enough, poke a hole in the centre of each and slide them onto your pipe cleaner.

- To hold them in place fold the pipe cleaner back on itself.  This will create a little bump in the centre but will stop the paper falling off.

- To make a vase, wrap your toilet roll in pretty paper (we used birthday wrapping paper)

- Meg also wanted to decorate hers with stickers although nice wrapping paper would be enough

- When done, use sticky tape to secure the pipe cleaners into the vase.

What you need to make the chick card:
- Yellow paint
- Plain white card
- Pink glitter

What you need to do:
- This is made using a handprint but just the palm.  So paint the palm of your toddler's hand with the yellow paint and get them to 'stamp' their hand on the card.

- Sprinkle with glitter.

- When dry, add eyes, a beak and feet using a pen (probably better for mummy or daddy to do this depending on the age of your child)

Monday, 16 April 2012

I've been doing meal plans for a while now semi-successfully but this will be the first time I've joined in with #mealplanningmonday.

As it's the week before payday we're not having anything exciting, just using up whatever we've got left in our freezer, fridge and cupboard although my Other Half did go to the market on Saturday to stock up on veg as things were pretty dire. 

We try to always use up our food stock before buying anything else in otherwise we end up with a load of food rejected and squashed at the bottom of the freezer and just eat what we fancy - which usually means buying more stuff in and is not very healthy for the bank balance!

So, on with the show:

Monday - Lasagne
Tuesday - Chicken stir fry (Other Half's "special" recipe)
Wednesday - Speedy pan-fry pork
Thursday - Chicken with lemon and courgette couscous
Friday - Tomato & crispy crumb chicken
Saturday & Sunday - Away at the in-laws.

If you want to check out other mealplanningmonday ideas, visit Mrs M who hosts the linky.

He crawls! Almost...

E can crawl.  Of this fact I am (almost) totally convinced.  I've just never actually seen him do it.  He has all the necessary skills; he can roll from his back to his tummy and then sit up.  He can go from sitting to all fours to down on his tummy and onto his back.  He can turn himself 360 degrees using one arm. 

 And yet, if I am in the room he will stay in one spot and turn himself around to get to whatever is within his reach, and no further.  He might accidently shuffle along the carpet as he turns but there appears to be no intentional movement whatsoever.

However, if I leave the room and return several minutes later, he will be on the other side.  Getting into some kind of bother.  Eating a wire (do all babies have wire detectors or is just mine?)  Or generally doing something he shouldn't be.

The photo above is from when I ran upstairs for all of a minute last week to fetch M a cardigan.  He was on the other side of the lounge and the unit doors were closed.  Not only did he get across the room to the media unit, but he worked out how to open the doors to get the stuff out.

How on earth did he move so quickly if he can't crawl?

Possible answers I've come up with:
  1. He can crawl
  2. He can walk
  3. M has super human strength and is actually carrying him.
The only one that makes sense for an 11 month old baby who has previously shown no signs of movement is the first one right?

I've tried to catch him in the act - I've pretended to leave the room but have actually stood outside and watched him.  He just watches the doorway I've gone through and doesn't move.

I've pretended to be going upstairs by calling "just popping upstairs for a minute".  He just watches the doorway I've gone through and doesn't move.

I've made noises on the stairs as though I have actually gone up them.  He just watches the doorway I've gone through and doesn't move.

I'm being outsmarted by my this space - I WILL find out how he's doing it!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

Let's Play: Planting Seeds

What you need:
- Suitable pot for planting
- Seeds (cress is a good starter)
- Soil

What you need to do:
- Put soil into pot
- Add seeds
- Water!
- Wait (this part may be difficult for most toddlers although Meg enjoyed coming down each morning and checking whether her plants had grown)

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Your words are your world...

At our Easter Sunday Church Meeting I heard M shout at one of the teenage girls who trying to play with her “I don’t want to; just get out of my face!”  I was standing on the stage at the time and I could just feel my face burning as people looked from M to me.  Talk about cringe-ville. 
Not many people in the room would have known that one of my most uttered phrases when I’m irritated or annoyed is “get out of my face” but it doesn’t take a genius to work out where M learnt it from.  In my defence, it is rarely shouted aggressively but a toddler wouldn’t bother to make that distinction.  At least, certainly not mine. 

I’ve always been really proud of M’s talking and language skills.  We made the decision based on our own personal dislikes for ‘baby language’ that we would always talk properly to M.  A classic example being that a banana has never been a “na-na”, even when that was all M could manage of the word we still called it a banana when we addressed her.  She said her first word at 4 months and has always been much further ahead in her language development stages.  She currently speaks at the level of a 4-5 year old. 

Before you think I’m just using this as an opportunity to wax lyrical about M there is a context to everything.  She didn’t crawl until she was 11 months old.  We had some friends whose little girl is around the same age as M and she was walking before M was even attempting to crawl.  I remember attending a first birthday party when M was 10 months old and watching these babies toddle around whilst mine sat and cried because she couldn’t reach the toy she wanted. 

Despite her ability to grasp language and to use it correctly, her understanding of the world around her is still extremely limited and this has led to a lot of frustration and therefore a lot of tantrums.  I joked to a friend the other day that we started the terrible two’s when M was 9 months old but it really wasn’t far off that. 

A good example of this limited understanding is often seen when M gets dressed.  She gets that clothes should “match” but her grasp of what that means is that things have to be the same, so in the case of clothes, the same colour.  We must have the same discussion every morning that she doesn’t own a denim coloured t-shirt so she can’t possibly match the jeans that she has chosen. 

Another downside of her ability is that we felt justified in talking to her like she was older.  This was a conscious decision but it means that we’ve never altered the way we spoke, to each other or to M.  Don’t get me wrong, we’ve always tried not to argue in front of her and we don’t curse but we talk as adults.  And this seems to have been to the benefit of both our children as E is also at the stage where he has a good level of words for his age.  

M and Daddy having a serious chat. 

 Hearing M scream “get out of my face” set a number of alarms bells ringing in my head.  It used to be cute when she spoke like us, it made us feel proud to register the surprise on a strangers face when she responded to the questions they asked us about her but there is something uncomfortable about a toddler using phrases like that.  And how can we tell her it’s wrong because we talk like that. 

We regularly get “it’s not fair”, “don’t talk to me like that” and “go to timeout”.  Today alone after the fifth time of telling M she couldn’t have any more of her Easter chocolate she screeched at me “you always say no, I don’t want to be your friend anymore”  *sigh*    

When she shouted at the group of older ladies in the garden centre cafĂ© a few weeks ago “stop talking so loud-e-ly, I’m trying to drink” I got less smiles of happy surprise and more frowns that said “what are you teaching your toddler?” 

Somewhere along the line my little linguist became a toddler tyrant. 

I guess its swings and roundabouts.  We go through stages of tantrums and shouting usually when M’s language has gone up a notch but her understanding hasn’t quite caught on (in simple terms at least).  We’ve been here before and by next week all should have settled down. 

Ultimately the benefits far outweigh the negatives.  It’s fantastic now we are able to hold conversations with her and there’s nothing better than watching her go up to E, give him a cuddle and say “I will love you always because I am your big sister.”  I can cope with my toddler tyrant if every now and then she rolls a sentence like that out. 

Nothing beats a cuddle from your big sister.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Thrive...add your voice!

I was a failure to thrive baby.

At just a few months old I had colic, croup and projectile vomiting.  Doctors set a benchmark for me of 10lbs which for a long time I was unable to reach.  I dropped below the 0.4 centile line on the growth charts used at the time.  My mum was sent a young girl training in childcare to help with my feeding.  She was left hysterical the first time she saw me vomit clear across a room.  We had a constant stream of appointments and home visits from Health Visitors, Doctors and other Health Professionals.  I struggled to grow my entire childhood.  When I was a toddler my parents were offered hormone growth injections and told I'd only grow to be 4ft 10inches.  If you ask my mum about it all now she rolls her eyes and says "what did they know, look at you now."

(FYI, my parents did in fact refuse the injections and although when I started secondary school I was still wearing 7-8yrs clothes I am now a happy 5ft 4inches!)

I remember when M was a baby and she started sliding down the growth chart; having started life on the 25th centile line, by 12 weeks she had dropped to the 2nd.  She was breast-fed and fed every 3 hours on the dot for 20 minutes and no longer.  I often expressed in between feeds and so I knew my body was producing enough milk.  This didn't satisfy my Health Visitor however and we were put on fortnightly weigh-ins.  My medical history came up during a conversation with my GP and after that we were put on weekly visits.  I can recall complaining to some mummy friends that my baby was in no way 'at risk'.  Yes, she cried A LOT but she was otherwise alert, curious and a mini version of the michelin man, why was my Health Visitor so desperate to intervene?

When I talk about my experience with M now I tend to adopt the same look as my mum "health visitors eh..." but recently I've had a change of heart.  I am so so SO grateful that we live in a country where we have free access to medical care and that there are professionals to BE bothered about whether our babies are putting on weight and getting enough sustenance, that when the time came for M to move onto formula I was able to just walk down to my local supermarket and buy some...not everyone gets that chance.

I recently read a blog post by Mummy from the Heart about a new campaign by ONE called Thrive: Food. Farming. Future.

7.6 million children die each year before they reach their fifth birthday, the majority of them from the world's poorest countries.

The key aims of the Thrive campaign are that by 2015 they will see:
  • 15 million fewer children chronically malnourished; and
  • 50 million people lifted out of extreme poverty.

It's hard to even get my head around such vast numbers of people...even more difficult to think how I could make a difference.

I don't know how many people read my blog but if even one person reads this post and adds their support to the campaign then that will be an amazing achievement.

It's more than likely that I wouldn't be here if it hadn't been for access to medical truly breaks my heart to think that there are millions of babies who don't get that chance at life.

I'll be adding my voice to ONE's campaign.  Find out here how you can do the same.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Let's Play: Tent Building

What you need:
- Good sized sheets
- Chairs
- If you have cushions (perhaps from a brush with being a bit hippyish *ahem*) then these make a great floor covering.  If not, you could utilise a blanket.

What you need to do:
- Place the chairs opposite each other with a space in the middle, this will form your tent space

- Drape the sheets over the chairs.  It's useful to have enough sheet remaining to secure them as overexcited toddlers will jump up and knock the top of the sheet.

- Fill your tent with cushions and enjoy!

Favourite Childhood Toys

Pink Teddy
Meet Pink Teddy...he's my ultimate childhood toy.  I have owned him for exactly 24 years, 10 months and 25 days - as long as I am old in fact!  He cost 99p and was bought by my Grandma at the market on her way to the hospital to see my mum when she realised she probably ought to bring a gift with her.

I never owned a doll when I was small preferring to carry PT round as my baby instead.  I slept with him in my bed every night until my wedding night, now he lives on a shelf with other teddies that have been relegated from the marital sleeping space.  But I do sneak a cuddle every now and then!

When I was around 7 years old he went through a bit of a 'stage' changing his name to "Blossom" and becoming a girl, as all my friends told me it was weird to have a pink teddy bear that was a boy.  But in my heart of hearts I knew it wasn't a right fit and he reverted back to being Pink Teddy just a few years later.

Pink Teddy has been there through the highs and lows, he's absorbed sad tears, happy tears and hysterical tears.  He's been thrown across rooms in temper and he's been snuggled into when peace has returned.  He is a very robust little thing to still be in one piece, although I do dread washing him these days in case his eyes fall out or his nose falls off.

I got him down to show M today and she has been carrying him round with her "carefully" ever since.

M rocking Pink Teddy to sleep
M and E don't have attachments to any toys like I have to Pink Teddy and that makes me more than a little sad. We used muslin cloths to settle them both to sleep when they were babies and so they haven't formed attachments with anything more than grotty rags.

Maybe when they're a little bit older...or maybe I just need to start offering them the same teddies at night!
My favourite childhood toy

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Let's Bake: Easter Shortbread Biscuits

I have yet to meet a toddler who doesn't love to make biscuits!  If you make the mixture beforehand this is a fairly fail safe activity as it really only requires them to roll out the dough and cut out the shapes.

I have a really simple recipe for making biscuits that hasn't failed yet!

125g butter
175g plain flour
50g caster sugar
1 tablespoon of milk

Rub the butter, caster sugar and flour together in a big bowl until it looks like breadcrumbs.  Add a tablespoon of milk and knead for a couple of minutes until you have formed a smooth ball of dough.  Put in the fridge for half an hour.  Place on a floured surface and roll out the dough.  Cut out biscuit shapes using a biscuit cutter.  Place the biscuits on a baking tray and prick with a fork.  Bake at 180 degrees for 15 minutes.

NB: You may find you need more flour once you've added the milk as it can sometimes go too sticky.  

Easy peasy!  And here are our some biscuits we made for Easter:

The Great Experiment

Somewhere along the way I got lazy in my parenting…I don’t want to make excuses but I know that since I went back to work I just can’t be bothered to take two tired toddlers out in the afternoons, especially on rainy days, or slightly grey days or even sunny days when we could just sit out in the garden.   It doesn’t help either that E sleeps for two hours in the afternoon.  We arrive home at 1.30pm and by 2.15pm most days he’s in bed until 4.30pm when I wake him up.  So I barely see him.  And since M has always been an independent being she’s quite happy to play by herself so I just become a bit of a nominal overseer.

But that’s going to change.  Over the Easter weekend it was so nice to spend time with M just playing and having fun, not having to worry about the work I had waiting for me at the office or thinking about the mess we were making and how I’d be too exhausted to clear it up and then my Other Half would moan at me when he got home.  We painted, we baked, we danced, we played the “buzzy bee game” which she almost always cheats at (who knew toddlers could cheat!?!) and generally did all the things you’re supposed to do with your children. 

On Monday evening before the return to normal my Other Half and I were relaxing with a glass of vino and he pointed out how well M had behaved over the weekend.  In fact, she’d only had one tantrum over the whole four days.  That is pretty much a miracle…on a bad day we can have four tantrums in half a day…four tantrums in an hour if she’s woken up on the evil side of bed.

It really got me thinking and wondering, so I’m going to conduct my own little experiment and in the process really push myself to be creative and enjoy my children.  I don’t want to get to the stage where they’re both at school and think “well, that was a great time spent saying don’t touch that and stop making that mess”.  Although I don’t think I’ll ever be as care-free as some mummies…I’m only human ;o)

(For example, this was the ‘tidying’ that my Other Half and M did last night…I thought my head was about to explode when I saw it)

So whilst there might be a limit to the actual mess we make, every day for the next year we are going to attempt to do something different and interesting.  I figure having to write about it (and produce photographic evidence) will force me to do it, we all have tired days and days when we don’t feel like doing things but hopefully with a bit of forward planning, even if I’ve had a crappy morning at work I’ll still be able to get stuck in with the kids.

She says….hopefully J 

Tuesday, 10 April 2012


I love Easter – time off work, eating chocolate, giving gifts, Easter Egg hunts…I love the way it feels like we’re saying goodbye to winter and hello to summer.  Which would of course be true if we hadn’t had snow in Britain this week! 

This year however, was slightly different.  It was my first experience of ‘The Easter Bonnet’.  Having spoken to various friends with children a similar age to my own, I appear to be something of an anomaly, having made it almost three years before being called upon to produce ‘The Easter Bonnet’.  For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about an Easter Bonnet was traditionally a hat worn by ladies and girls at Easter.  Somewhere along the line the concept of a ‘parade’ was born, where young children design and make a hat themselves and prizes are handed out for the most creative/elaborate/easter-ish etc

So there you have it - I received my letter with all the other parents letting us know that there would be a parade the following week and that the local paper would be getting involved.  As I have about as much creative insight as a scotch egg you can imagine my horror at the thought that not only would I *ahem, sorry* not only would M have to produce something worthy to be seen by her fellow play mates but also something fit to feature in a newspaper.

I’m not going to pretend I didn’t spend the following three days pacing our lounge floor berating my Other Half over how stupid an idea it was to ask toddlers to make hats (when really I was thinking…my almost three year old could probably do a better job than me and soon everyone will know that!) before taking to the internet to research my options.  Armed with ideas I visited our local bargain store, loaded up my trolley and even managed to engage in conversation with two dear old ladies and pick their brains over what a good Easter Bonnet should look like.

The day before the parade it was my turn to get up with the children, so come 5.30am I was sitting on my lounge floor with Meg surrounded by tissue paper, fluffy chicks, a feather boa and various other ‘creative’ contraptions trying to stop Eli from eating everything in sight and wishing 9am would hurry up and come around so I could wake my Other Half and force him to make the hat instead.  Three cups of tea and an hour and a half later…Eli had retired to bed for his first nap of the day, Meg had yellow tissue paper stuck to her forehead and the hat was still as bare as the day it was born.  I had made, remade and thrown away ten different floral options, text my sister five times to ask her to come round and make the hat instead, tried to entice Meg to do something other than tear tissue paper into tiny pieces only for her to tread on and squish four of the little chicks I’d just arranged on the hat and still inspiration was a distant dream.

The thing is, I had lots of ideas.  And I had lots of ways to make those ideas a reality…but possibly my biggest flaw is my need for perfection.  I am the mama who was once shown a picture her (then) 10 month old daughter had drawn at nursery and who’s response was “she’s hasn’t coloured inside the lines very well has she”…what can I say, I’m on a learning journey!! 

Eventually 9am rolled around and I sent Meg to wake up her daddy.  Then I looked around the lounge and realised it looked as though Mister Maker’s van had crashed through our front door and exploded all over the place, and I had nothing to show for it.  So within the space of 15 minutes I stuck, twisted, arranged, cut out and basically made ‘The Easter Bonnet’ a reality.  And I don’t think it looked half bad. 

What did I learn from all of this?  Well, my daughter insisted on wearing the hat to nursery this morning.  As she is a child capable of falling over thin air, it lost two of its flowers (luckily I’d made spares!) before we’d even left the house, the butterfly fell off when she collided with another child’s daddy at the gate and best of all, they didn’t even have the parade today!  On top of all that, I saw one child with a monstrosity of a hat, so big he could barely hold his head up when he had it on, with flashing eggs and a giant rabbit sticking out of the top…so I doubt we’d have won anyway!!

Lesson learned: Next year daddy can make the bonnet!

Monday, 9 April 2012

Is this seat taken?

My first blog post! How exciting...

I've been thinking about starting a blog for a while but was 'put off' by the advice that you need to have something interesting and worthwhile to talk about. No one likes to think they aren't interesting but having read around a bit, I think I've got as much to say as the next person!

As yet I don't have a particular theme or concept for what this blog will be. I've called it 'catch a single thought' because it could go anywhere, take any shape, become anything. I'll write about what I'm thinking of in that week/in that day/as I sit down to type and as a mummy to two beautiful toddlers, a wife, a washerwoman, a cook, a part timer, a youth worker and all the other little things that make me tick it really could go in any direction!

So for now, forgive my day they could actually form something meaningful ;o)