Thursday, 31 January 2013

Random Acts of Kindness

Just after Christmas someone I know on Facebook started a 'Creative Pay it Forward' status chain.  I immediately joined in as I love to buy gifts for people.  It's my way of showing affection I suppose and I think I'm pretty good at it (if I do say so myself!)

At the time I tweeted, wondering out loud how to bring this kind of loveliness into the blogosphere so I was really excited when I saw that Clara had started her own Random Acts of Kindness post.  

I love the idea of paying it forward, of being a blessing to someone entirely unprompted, completely unexpectedly, from the goodness of your own heart.  It just makes me smile.

So, I am posting this as a promise to send a gift - a surprise - to the first 6 people who comment on this post!  I won't tell you when it will arrive, just sometime before the end of 2013.  It might be something handmade, it might be a book, or an could really be anything!

If you'd like to take part please leave me a comment at the end of this post.

The only prerequisite is that if you comment you must blog and promise to send something to as many people as you choose in order to pay the kindness forward.

As Clara has so brilliantly put it in her original post, "This isn’t about money or extravagance, it could be anything from a  handwritten letter to a knitted blanket or a doodle or favourite book…literally anything. The point is to think of others and spread a little unexpected happiness."

I look forward to paying it forward with you!

(If you do want to take part you can email me your address to

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Wot So Funee: Love is Fickle

Wot So Funee?

We try to make it a habit in our house to say "love you" to Meg and Eli as often as possible, especially at bedtime and there's no greater feeling than the first time they say it back to you, especially if it's unprompted.

Meg being the age that she is however, we do often find she's a bit fickle with her affections as she demonstrated quite nicely the other night:

Daddy (putting Meg to bed): "Goodnight Meg, I love you lots and lots."

Meg: "Goodnight Daddy, I love Mummy."

About half an hour later when Daddy was helping Meg use the toilet.

Daddy: "I love you Meg, do you love Daddy?"

Meg: "Yes! *Pause* But not when you smack me on the bottom"

Daddy: "Meg, I've never done that"

Meg: "A long time ago, when I was 2.  Was it last week? *thinks hard* No, yesterday"

Now not only is that a total fabrication as we have never smacked our children (we prefer to use long hard, probably ineffectual, warning stares), but Meg is almost 4 so how on earth she thinks it was last week is beyond me!

Monday, 28 January 2013

Trying To Find A Work-Life Balance...

Last week I had a taste of what it would mean to have my working life back again. 

I went back to work when Eli was 5 months old for 3 hours a morning, 5 days a week.  It's been a struggle but the job was one that had a lot of potential and I didn't want to let the opportunity pass me by.  Now 18 months on a change in circumstances has meant we've had to move my hours around and for the first time in almost 2 years I'm working one day a week 9am-5pm.

It was a major shock to the system!  By about 3pm I was completely worn out and felt like my brain was reaching overload point.  But, I also really really enjoyed it.  I don't know whether I should feel bad about saying that it was nice coming home and not having to pick the kids up as my Other Half was back and able to do that.  Not having to fight to make dinner during whinge hour because the kids had already eaten so I just had to sort two of us out, and we could eat whatever we wanted!  Playing with the kids for an hour or so, bathing them and then putting them to bed and sitting down to relax was way way better than spending an afternoon trying to entice two worn out children to engage in craft activities or walks in the wood.

It made me want to do it a bit more often, is that a bad thing?

Don't get me wrong, I couldn't do it 5 days a week as I think I would miss my time with the kids but it certainly has made me consider what would be the best work-life balance for me going forward.  I have Wednesdays off with the kids now so we have a full day to do whatever we like, instead of a couple of hours in the afternoon and there is the possibility of me taking another day off and working another full day in the week and to be honest I'm a bit torn.

I've always been on the fence over working and not working.  I only just earn enough to make it a viable way of life but I don't think I could be a full-time stay at home mum.  I admire so much the mums who are as I've never been very good at it.  If I've got the time to make a plan of activities then it usually goes a lot smoother but I become easily disheartened if the kids don't want to do the things I've set out.  They often spend a great deal of time moaning for me to put the TV on when we're at home and I'll hold my hands up and say some days it doesn't take a lot to break my resolve and for me to get the Peppa Pig DVD's out.

It's also hard work (in my opinion) trying to balance having my head in work mode for a couple of hours, coming home and engaging for a couple of hours with two energetic toddlers whilst trying to plan food menus, make sure the washing is done and the house remains (semi) clean and tidy.  Last Wednesday was my most productive day yet as I felt I had all the time in the world to achieve what I needed to.

BUT!  It was only my first week.  I think I'm afraid to jump feet first into changing another day as it might just be the rose tinted view of something new.  Then there's the added dilemma of what happens come September when Meg starts school.  If I'm working from 9am-5pm how am I going to be able to pick her up and drop her off?  I don't fancy paying a childminder to do that job for me as it's one I always envisaged doing myself.

Finding a work-life balance is tougher than I thought!  

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Project 365: Week Four

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

The weeks seem to be whizzing by now, I can't believe we're almost at the end of January!  This week I tried not to take too many photos of the kids playing in the snow but it was difficult, it's just so much fun when you're 3 and 1!

20/365: What's the best thing to do when you've just come back from a long, cold (and possibly ill-advised!) sledging trip?  Put your pyjamas on and snuggle up under mummy and daddy's duvet with some hot chocolate of course!

21/365: Playing a game of 'wake the sleeping child'  Hours of fun are had taking it in turns to be the one sleeping!

22/365: "Mummy, Mummy, we're hiding in the woods playing Gruffalos!"  Of course you are Meg...

23/365: Watching Room on the Broom and hiding behind her hands just in case the Dragon should make an early appearance!

24/365: What happens when we leave our toys out on the lounge floor...they get Alfie-d :(

25/365: Our resident big daddy fox (and also the one I think is responsible for the demise of Peppa...)

26/365: The best place to hang out in our entire house...

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Birth Story: Meg

It's funny how other mums always tell you that when you're in labour you'll just "know".  If I'm honest I really didn't believe them and spent the last three months of my pregnancy convinced it was happening every time I had a bout of braxton hicks.  I even went as far as timing some of the episodes when I thought they were coming regularly!

But, as it happened, when it did all kick off I definitely knew about it!

The Saturday before I went into labour I had the worst back pain.  It was so awful I spent the day alternating between being in the bath and lying on our bed crying.  My due date had been the day before so my Other Half even went as far as to call the labour ward to see if they could offer any advice.  We were told it was "probably early labour" and to just wait and see.

Wait we did, for the entire day!  By the time Sunday rolled around everything had settled down and gone back to normal.  No back pains or anything.  I probably should have twigged that this was the calm before the storm.

At the time my Other Half was working in Burnley and couldn't drive so he usually got a train back up on the Sunday afternoon, which took him about 8 hours.  Sometimes though (usually when I begged!) he wouldn't go home on Sunday but would get up incredibly early on a Monday morning and head up then.   

This particular Monday morning I had woken up at around 3am, my Other Half had stayed and was planning to leave at 4am.  I managed to get to the toilet, notice a bit of spotting and get all the way back to bed before I realised something was happening.  Something intense and painful!  

At first I wasn't sure if it was labour, on timing for a few minutes I realised the 'contractions' were coming every 4 minutes apart which isn't what any of the books had said would happen.  I remember dithering next to my Other Half who was still snoring away wondering whether I should bother to wake him up or whether he would think it was all a ploy to get him to stay at home a bit longer!

Eventually I did wake him, we called the labour ward who asked if I felt able to stay at home for a bit longer.  Cue some very angry shouting from me and they said to make our way in.  We called our very lovely friend who came with her 8 week old baby at 5.30am in the morning to drive us the half an hour to the hospital (we will owe her forever!!)

I remember that despite all my careful planning we left home without any of the snacks we'd put aside.  I did remember to take a large bottle of juice out of the fridge but managed to lose it somewhere between arriving at the hospital and getting onto the labour ward.

I was quite pleased when the midwife examined me and said I was 6cms dilated.  At least it explained why everything felt so intense!  I was set up on a ball and given some gas and air.  At this point it all got a bit panicky.  The midwife left the room to go and check on another mum.  My Other Half left the room to go and get himself a drink.  I was sat on the floor with my gas and air when suddenly I felt sick.  I'd completely forgotten the midwife's advice that I had to continue breathing the gas and air through the nausea and eventually it would pass so I attempted to haul myself across the room to the sink to be sick.  When I was halfway there I was hit by another contraction and became trapped between trying to get back to my mouthpiece and continuing on my journey to the sink.  Naturally I did what any woman in labour would and stood in the middle of the room and let out a bloodcurdling scream about WHY I WAS IN LABOUR AND ON MY OWN!

In flew the midwife, in flew my Other Half and I demanded an epidural!

At the time I was upset that I hadn't managed to 'do it on my own' but looking back it was the best decision I could have made to have an epidural.  Everything went from being crazily stressed to being nice and relaxed.  I even managed to have a little sleep whilst we waited for me to reach 10cms.

The thing that really sticks with me about my first labour is the expectations I had.  I listened to a lot of opinions beforehand about what I should do and how it should be and I made some very strong statements on my birth plan such as "I will not have an epidural" which left everyone very confused when I started demanding one.  The second time round I didn't even bother writing a birth plan and I wish someone had told me to just do what felt right for me.

It left me feeling like I'd somehow been robbed by not having the perfect birth.  I suppose I had pictured my labour as going a bit more smoothly (there wasn't any OBEM to watch beforehand to prepare me!) I didn't imagine that I would shout at the anaethestist and accuse him of being a character from Scrubs, I didn't imagine I would terrify the male nurse who came to put my drip in so much so that his hand was shaking.  I didn't expect that my Other Half would almost faint and the midwife would tell him to get out of the way as they didn't have time to deal with him.  I didn't expect that my daughter would present as a compound delivery with her elbow literally dragging it's way down and I didn't expect that I would have severe second degree tearing because of it.

But...when this little chubby cheeked wide eyed baby made her appearance I did fall in love instantly.  And it almost makes all the rest of it worth it (almost!)

And heck, I did it again so it can't have been so bad can it?

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Wot So Funee: Who's in Charge?

Wot So Funee?

These days it's getting quite difficult to understand what Meg is asking us as her range of vocabulary has gone up, but her understanding of when certain words should be used hasn't caught up yet.

There have been several hilarious conversations over the past week or so but they have been so confusing I couldn't even begin to write them down here as I don't think anyone would have a clue what was going on!

So here's a simple but funny story from earlier today:

Me (on asking Meg to do something and being met with a rebuttal): "Ok, Princess Meg"

Meg: "I'm not a princess, I'm a witch!"


Meg: "In fact, I am a princess, I am a princess queen and I'm in charge of the world!"

Daddy (on entering the room and catching the last half of Meg's sentence): "I thought I was in charge?"

Meg: "Nooooo Daddy, only Mummy is in charge.  Don't you know anything?"

Probably less funny and more accurate, don't you think?!?

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Review: Reading Eggs

Over the past few weeks we have been reviewing an online literacy world called Reading Eggs for children aged 3-7.  

Whilst this program was aimed at teaching Meg the essentials of reading I've actually learned a lot too.  Namely, how amazing it is that children can go from not being able to do something to having it cracked after just a couple of hours!  Watching Meg struggle to use our computer mouse and clicking all the wrong buttons was quite frustrating for me but literally by the end of the first lesson she had grasped it.  I was so surprised!

Reading Eggs is an online program which has been developed to support children in their reading journeys.  Each level or stage has interactive games, animations, songs and rewards in the form of golden eggs.

Meg's favourite bit by far was the songs.  She lived to make Sam the ant sing and was so pleased with herself when she achieved it!

You unlock each level after completion of the previous one and there is also a sidebar with different interactive places you can visit which become unlocked as you progress up the lessons.

I thought that Meg would take a while to work her way through it and when we've had a break we have gone back over the previous lessons as she sometimes needs a bit of extra prompting but I am really proud at how quickly she has picked some of it up.

There are 120 learn to read lessons along with 96 spelling lessons so there is a lot there for little people to explore and learn!

I think it's a great way to introduce reading to children and to make it fun as it mixes something children love (playing on the computer) with something practical and educational.

And the best part is that (as you can see from the photo above) Eli is keen to have a turn too.  Even though he is way too young he tries to mimic the sounds and is always keen to cheer her along when she gets it right too :)

The only part I wasn't keen on was the response given when a child gets something wrong.  For example in one part of the lesson Meg had to select the image which contained the word "am" - to do this she was shown a picture of a ram and a spoon.  If she incorrectly selected spoon then the animated ant said "no" and it moved on to the next set of pictures rather than giving her the opportunity to 'try again'.  I don't know if this method has been researched but I found it strange that she wasn't given the chance to have another go.  Perhaps it's to bypass the situation where a child is continually getting the same thing wrong and can't move forward but to me it was unexpected.  Usually with these things they are given the opportunity to try it again thereby learning from the original error (or so I thought!)

Having said that, Meg didn't seem at all bothered and hasn't mentioned it so it's obviously not stuck with her.  Perhaps it's just an example of my expectation overshadowing her otherwise happy experience!

All in all we have really enjoyed using it and I would definitely recommend parents at least signing up for the free 2 week trial and letting your child have a go.  I think you will be surprised at how much they learn, and how much you come to like it!  For parents with older children (7+) there is Reading Eggspress which consists of 200 comprehension lessons and a library of over 1000 e-books.

Meg has continually asked to play it (although we have tried to keep it to one lesson a day) and doesn't seem 'bored' by the experience so it must be ticking all the right boxes for her!

If you are interested in trying it out for yourself, Reading Eggs have kindly offered an extended trial to all my readers so you can now try it out for 5 weeks rather than 2.  Simply enter the code: UKB24MBT after registration...and enjoy!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Meal Planning Monday (21 Jan 2013)

Meal Planning Monday

It's the week before payday (hurray!) which means that this week is a bit of a 'eat whatever is leftover in the freezer week' - I generally have a good idea what we've got in there but sometimes it's a bit of a surprise!

I'm trying a new recipe I read on my friend's blog today which sounds delicious and perfect for this cold weather.  Plus it's made in the slow cooker and I really want to start building up a good collection of tried and tested slow cooker recipes as my working hours will be changing from this week so I'll have less time in the house now.

What's on your menu this week?  For more inspiration pop over to At Home With Mrs M.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Project 365: Week Three

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Whoop I've made it to Week Three!  This week I've found myself forgetting to take photos and having to set myself a little reminder.  Fingers crossed I do better next week!

13/365: All ready for a spot of biscuit making in her gorgeous (self chosen) apron!

14/365: Day one of using her reading eggs.  It didn't take too long for her to get the hang of using the mouse which impressed me!

15/365: Making circles with her homemade playdough.

16/365: A bit more of her reading eggs, this time with a little helper looking on.

17/365: Putting my lavender scented robin to good use (thanks to my sister!)

18/365: Absolutely loved the wonder on Eli's face when we came out of nursery on Friday and he saw the snow for the first time.  Here he's trying to catch a snowflake!

19/365: Ready for a spot of sledging with Grandad.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Single Thought of the Week: Childhood

Last week I attended a session for parents called "Inspire A Generation" all about encouraging and inspiring our children for the future.  

One of the main things I got out of it (although not at all the main purpose of it!) was that more and more our children are losing their right to be 'child-like'.  The guy leading the session often visits and teaches in primary schools and he told stories of some of the children being aware of current news events such as the horrendous rape that took place recently in India.  Now I'm not casting aspersions on what parents may or may not choose to tell their children.  I know it was a big issue for some on whether or not to tell their children about the tragic shooting in America - and I'm not here to comment on that.

What it really made me think was how can we protect our children when they are growing up in a world where they are bombarded with adult agendas?  I know for certain that when I was growing up I never once sat and watched the news and would have been completely unaware of 'current' events unless they involved the boyband 911!

Do our children even get a 'childhood' any more?  I suppose you have to then look at what childhood means.  To me, it means experiencing new things and learning, but also getting into scrapes and mischief because you are simply acting on an instinct.  Having the freedom that comes with not knowing about responsibility.

When Meg is excited she goes wild.  Literally body-shaking, boogie dancing, wild.  She shows her elation physically and with loud whoops and squeals.  Completely without embarrassment.  I wish I could show my excitement that way but I fear I would look like I'd lost my marbles!

That to me is childhood - no inhibitions, no social stigmas, no responsibility.  Just freedom.

I don't want my children growing up in a world where they know fear because they've been introduced to a subject too early and whilst they grasp the basis of it, they don't have the wider capabilities to truly understand.  Their worldviews are so narrow and immature, they can't really fully understand something of that magnitude.  I think if Meg came home and asked me about a current news event in the next couple of years I would, quite frankly, be shocked.  Should I be or is that just the old fashioned part of me showing through?

I grew up in a tiny village where everyone knew everyone.  Quite often we would get home from school, dump our bags and then just run off to wherever we felt like.  I don't know whether my parents knew what we got up to but we didn't have a care in the world.  As long as we were home before curfew then it was fine.  We didn't have mobile phones so my parents couldn't call us to find out where we were, they just had to trust that we'd turn up again!  I'm not that old, but I don't know whether my idea of childhood is now vastly outdated.

Then there is the whole issue of technology.  With  so much computerised equipment around kids can access information like never before.  If they want to find something, they can.  Has that impacted on what childhood looks like?  

I'm all for the use of technology, heck at 20 months Eli can unlock my iphone, select the box which has games and then choose the one he wants.  He can also turn on the camera and flip it so that he can see his face.  At 20 months!  I don't even think Meg was that advanced at his age.  But I do worry about what it will be like for him growing up.  Will he be one of those children who just sits with his face squashed up against a computer or television screen playing games?

I have a very vivid memory of visiting London Zoo before we had children and seeing a little lad in a pushchair with headphones in playing on a Nintendo DS.  At the zoo!!  I vowed there and then to my Other Half that our children would never be like that.

Times have changed even since then and I have to admit that I have softened my view somewhat.  I do think it's important for us to not hide or deny technology from our children.

But at the same time I want my children to be more interested in rolling in the mud (so long as they don't come near me afterwards!) than what the latest computer game is.  I want them to spend their time climbing trees and building dens and getting up to no good.  But the wholesome kind of no good where as they look at the floor and scuff their toe, their cheeks are ruddy from the exertion of running around outside.

That's exactly what my childhood was like but now I'm beginning to wonder whether that's too idyllic.  Will that be the childhood that Meg and Eli experience?

Should I just embrace the natural progression of things and accept that childhoods just aren't the same anymore?

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Review: 360 Anyway Up Cup

Over the past few months we have put the 360 Toddler Anyway Up Cup through a rigorous set of tests.  I was sent the cup back in the summer but was a bit hesitant to post about how we found it then as I was really interested in whether it would stand the test of time.

We seem to go through toddler cups like there's no tomorrow, either the straws snap or they stop connecting properly, or we lose them or they have parts that are difficult to clean and over time they just become, well, disgusting!  So I was interested to see how the Anyway Up Cup would compare.  Particularly as it's not easy to take apart...I wanted to know if the valve section would become un-useable after a period of time.

The answer, in short, is that it has lasted through all of our tests.  It has been dropped and thrown (and it really doesn't spill!), it has been washed every day since we've had it and is still in a pretty good state.  We've had a couple of cups where the insides have started to blacken after a while (gross I know!) but we haven't had that.

I have also had so many compliments on the style.  Just last week I had left Eli in a creche group and one of the ladies there was exclaiming over how she'd never seen a cup like it, wanted to know how it worked and whether Eli had any problems with it.  She was completely fascinated and impressed!

The recommended age for the cup is 2 years+ but I was keen to let Eli try it out as Meg drinks from 'normal' cups now and he is forever tipping hers over in an attempt to be like his big sister.  The reason I like the cup is that it appears to be just like a normal cup but with the addition of the non-spill lid.  To begin with we experienced a bit of frustration as he couldn't work out how to drink from it (having only ever used toddler cups with straws before) but once he'd cracked it he wouldn't even contemplate going back to the other ones.

I tested it out myself to see how difficult it was and you do have to apply a certain amount of pressure before the valve system works, which can be tricky for a toddler to grasp if they've not had to drink that way before but Eli did get it eventually.  I think watching me drink from it convinced him that it could be done and he persisted until he got it right!

I also like the bright colours, it's so easy to spot it in a busy room.  We have misplaced it a few times when we've been out and about but I've always known it on sight.  There aren't too many other cups out there which aren't just the generic blue and green for boys and pink for girls (in my experience!)

The only downside I have found thus far is that for the first two or three uses it did leak.  Now I'm not sure whether we weren't screwing the lid on tight enough as if you use it now you can tip it upside down and nothing spills but we did have a wet changing bag the first few times we took it out.

Also, if your toddler is a tinker and enjoys banging and clattering things, particularly at dinnertime and decides to bring his Anyway Up Cup down onto the table top with force, it will squirt water out and he will get wet.  Which, if he's anything like Eli, he will enjoy profusely and will repeat again and again until said cup is removed from his little grasp.  But I wouldn't expect any cup to be completely foolproof and if your child is quiet and demure and not given to showering himself at any given opportunity then you will probably have no issues at all with this!

All in all I am really pleased with this cup and would recommend it for all toddlers.  The handles make it easy for them to hold onto, it's brilliant that it's non-spill and I think they really do believe they are drinking from a cup just like mummy and daddy and older siblings.  I am hopeful that it will also make the transition to a normal cup easier as it will require the same sipping motion as the 360 Cup.

Disclaimer: We were sent the 360 Toddler Anyway Up Cup for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Project 365: Week Two

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

6/365: Making a butterfly using Hama beads (dressed as sleeping beauty of course!)

7/365: My gorgeous new bedding, love it!

8/365: Best buddies!

9/365: Cheeky boy wearing mummy's hat!

10/365: Baby Annabel Lily travelling in style.

11/365: Sometimes you just need 5 minutes to read your book...

12/365: Family walk in the woods (it doesn't look like it, but there were actual woods just around the corner!)

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Single Thought of the Week: Missing Mojo

Lost: One woman's mojo.

If Found: Please return to the slightly harried looking lady most likely to be found chasing one errant toddler, trying to hold onto another whilst a young black puppy entangles himself and his lead round her legs.  She can usually be heard wondering aloud what day of the week she's made it to.

What is mojo anyway?  Did I ever have it?  How do I know I want it?

According to the dictionary Mojo is:

1. A magic charm, talisman or spell
2. Magic power

Well, I certainly don't remember having any of those things, if I did I would most certainly not be caught rummaging around the cupboards desperately searching out that bar of chocolate that I know I had but I also suspect my Other Half has scoffed on one of his midnight raids.  I'd just magic myself some wouldn't I?!?

I've seen a lot of posts on social media recently about people losing their blogging mojo and I can completely understand.  I appear to not only have misplaced my blogging mojo but also my mojo for life.

At the moment I am literally running on autopilot.  I don't know whether it's the fact that I haven't had a decent night's sleep since sometime in September, whether I've been spoiled with my Other Half being around for 2 weeks over Christmas and not having to lift a finger or something more sinister but it seems to have totally vanished.  

I sit down to blog and my mind goes blank.  I've spent my time reading other people's blogs for inspiration but none is really forthcoming.

I think "right I won't blog, I'll do something practical", head upstairs to sort things out and just can't be bothered.  I've lost it.  That spark I had that meant I spent my time running round always busy, always doing ten jobs at once, keeping everyone in the family ticking along nicely.

Is it because Christmas is well and truly over now?  We've packed away all the sparkly, cosy decorations and my house is back to looking plain and bare.  The fact that all we have left to look forward to is several months of cold, wet weather desperately wishing for Summer to hurry itself along?

I don't know.  But I know I want and need it back.  Need need need!  

Because despite the fact that I don't have it, I miss it.  I feel like I ought to be doing something instead of nothing and I need to get some motivation from somewhere to get back into the swing of things.  Perhaps then I'll have something to write about!

I love that Britmums are currently running some blogging prompts.  I saw one yesterday on my twitter-feed which was "declutter" and I had a small (energy-saving obvs) lightbulb moment.

I need to declutter my brain.  I spend so much time thinking about things that I don't seem to spend any time actually doing them.  In June last year I wrote this post.  Did I take my own advice?  Ha - did I heck!  But I plan to.  Perhaps this lull is the kickstart I need.

There needs to be some balance between living in the present and planning for the future and I seem to have caused my scales to go squiffy.  There are lots of 'potentials' in our lives at the moment and there is cause for us to sit and carefully consider the future.  Things are changing and we do need to have our heads in the game to know that we're making the right and best decisions for us as a family but I can recognise that I'm spending too much time doing that and not enough living in the present.

I may even be losing my grip on reality (just a smidge!), yesterday I started to tell someone I work with about the death of a person we know, and it was only as the words started to leave my mouth that I realised that it was only something I'd dreamt about the previous night and had not actually happened.  If that isn't the ultimate level of distraction then I don't know what is!

So...onwards and upwards!

How do I declutter my brain?

I have no idea!

No, really, for me it's going to be all about planning.  Planning help keeps me grounded.  If I know what is happening and what I need to be doing then I don't feel like everything is in chaos.  

This week is going to be about making charts, lists and getting organised.  Obviously for some people this would be an absolute nightmare but personally I love it!  

I'm on the hunt for some cute printable organisational charts so if you know of any, please point me in the right direction.

In the meantime, I refer you all to one of my favourite quotes from the genius of Edward Monkton:

I'll keep you informed :)

Monday, 7 January 2013

Meal Planning Monday (7 Jan 2013)

After declaring to the world of Twitter that this was "the year I got organised" I have truly crashed and burned with this one.  It's actually Thursday and I'm only just getting around to posting my meal plan.  For those of you with a keen eye, yes I'm marking this as being published on Monday otherwise I'll get confused in weeks to come!

The one good thing is that I wrote this meal plan prior to the start of the week and we have managed to stick to it so far which is great as this is a tight month for us and we're really having to count the pennies.

For more meal plans, make sure you visit At Home With Mrs M and have a look at the other blogs linking up this week.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Project 365: Week One

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

I have decided this year to join in with The Boy and Me's Project 365 challenge - to take a photo every day for a year.

As I'm so terrible at remembering to get things done at the moment (despite numerous lists!) I thought it would be easier to commit to taking the photo each day but doing a weekly posting of them rather than one posting a day.

So here is week one:

1/365: Learning about construction with Daddy

2/365: Rocking their Christmas dressing gowns

3/365: Family photo with 4/5's of the family!

4/365: Eli seems to have misunderstood what scuttlebugs are for!

5/365: New member of my keyring family (thanks Mum!!)

Britmums Live 2013 Sponsor

This April I will have been blogging for a year.  Yikes!  What started as a whimsical notion has turned into so much more than I could ever have imagined.  

I enjoy blogging so much and have made some lovely friends in the online communities that exist.  I have been given the chance to review products and have received some incredible opportunities simply by people noticing my blog! 

Of course, I am still a relative novice when it comes to blogging and so one of my goals for this year is to see my blog grow and develop and to really stretch myself as a writer and as a person.

One way I plan to do this is by attending Britmums Live 2013.  Britmums Live is the largest social media conference and blogger event in the UK.  It has come from Britmums which is the largest UK parent blogger community, made up of more than 4,200 influential bloggers.  The purpose of Britmums Live is to allow bloggers to connect with each other, to build relationships with brands and, most importantly of all perhaps, to learn ways of improving and building on blogging skills.

It is a 2 day conference taking place in London on Friday 21 June and Saturday 22 June 2013.

I am very much looking forward to attending and would love to receive sponsorship for the event from a family friendly company who would be interested in working with me.  I am ideally looking for a sponsor to help towards or cover the cost of my ticket (already purchased at £49.99), my travel (approx £50) and overnight accommodation (already booked for £120).

In exchange for the sponsorship I would help promote your company at the event in the following ways:
  • I will hand out business cards mentioning you clearly as my sponsor for the event.
  • I will place a badge/advert on my blog for the period of 12 months with a direct link to your website.
  • I will write a blog post introducing you as my sponsor for Britmums Live and will include all relevant information about you as a brand.
  • I will be happy to review any of your products (if relevant) on my blog.
  • I will wear branded badges to promote your company throughout the event.
  • I will mention your brand when tweeting about Britmums Live before, during and after the event.
(Please note I am not able to hand out any samples or marketing materials on the premises of Britmums Live.)

If you think you could help and this sounds of interest, please contact me at

Friday, 4 January 2013

Dear Meg: Body Image

I know you are too young to understand this now but I wanted to write this whilst the feelings were still fresh.  You see, mummy recently saw a picture being shared around Facebook which upset her quite a lot.  It was a picture which stated that skinny women were unnatural and that men only like big women.

Now, my secret idealistic dream is that by the time you reach school the world will have given up on its categorisation of female body types.  That we will be inclusive and accepting of everyone, no matter how they look.  That you won't have to experience the taunts and teasings that formed a daily part of my teenage existence simply because of the shape of my body. 

I know lots of women who wish they were thinner.  I know lots of women who wish they had more curves.  I wish I knew a world where we weren't smacked in the face every day by the media telling us how we should look and how we should dress.  I wish I didn't pick up magazines on a regular basis and read articles like "I'm letting my 16 year old daughter have a boob job" because I WISH it didn't matter what we all looked like.  I can't tell you how much I want that world for you.

If you end up looking the way I do Meg then I promise to tell you every day how beautiful you are.  I promise to counteract every insult that might pass your ears with 100 of my own positive uplifting comments.  I promise that you won't have to sit up at night crying alone because you've been pinned against the wall so that the boys in class could check whether you were a boy, or called "ironing board chest" and a hundred other pointless, soul destroying insults and I promise to be the voice shouting loudly against mothers in the supermarket who feel it's acceptable to say to their daughters "that's what will happen to you if you don't eat, look how ugly she is."

There is so much more to life than the way we look.  I won't pretend that my experiences haven't left me insecure.  I have been so lucky to find your daddy.  Someone who loves me and who reminds me on a daily basis how beautiful I am to him.  Unfortunately I do still have moments when I squeeze my eyes tight shut and wish that I could look a different way, be a different way.  In my weaker moments I have even taken to the internet and researched ways to change my body shape but then I remember that the way I look doesn't determine the person I am.

I can't protect you from hearing the words of foolish people.  I can't promise that the world will have changed one iota when it comes to the prejudices and stereotypes of body image, but I can tell you that it doesn't matter.  I want you to grow up and learn not to focus on physical beauty but on what you can offer the world as a whole person.  Because I know you have the potential to be a world changer.

There are some amazing women who have done outstanding things throughout history.  I can't say as to whether they ever had days when they looked in the mirror and thought "what's the point?" but I do know that they didn't let anything deter them from showing the world who they were.  Research these women Meg, learn about them and emulate them.  Don't be held back by the voices of those few blinkered individuals who find it amusing to put you down.  I wish I hadn't taken so many of the comments to heart. 

Love you always, my beautiful precious girl.

Mummy xx

Book Love Update

I'm going to be taking a short break from Book Love Fridays whilst I get to grips with my new role as the Editor of the Duck Egg book club.

If you're interested in reading, please come along and like the Facebook page.  It would be great to get as much support for this as possible.

This month we're reading The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman - feel free to join in!  I'll be posting the review on Duck Egg's blog so will leave a link then.

In the meantime, thank you to everyone who joined in so far.  Hopefully in a month or two I will be able to start it up again, particularly as I'm setting myself the lofty target of reading 50 books this year!