Monthly Archives: February 2012

Creating a timeline for our children

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the Facebook timeline, it’s occurred to me that my children will grow up to find that their Mum has kept a detailed chronological record of their lives from their birth (my status March 08 reads: Willow Heidi Smith, 1hr 24 min old, she arrived 6th March at 1.55am, she’s amazing) through to other major events (when my Mum passed away in November 2010 I wrote: few people have the privilege of being able to hold their loved ones as they gently pass from this world into the next, we love you Mum and we are all so grateful to have been together today, my heart is aching, such a beautiful and gentle mother, watch over us x x x x)

I’m starting to weigh up the pros and cons of this, on the plus side it means they will have a detailed window into their Mum and Dads lives, where we went (through all the ‘check-in’s) to how they behaved as infants but then I started to worry! If this is going to be there for them to read do I celebrate the positives enough or do I spend too much time moaning about sleepless nights and teething? Do I share things they will be mortified to read as young adults or am I recording memories that would otherwise slip away into the past?

As I mentioned above I lost my own Mum in 2010 and one of the overwhelming feelings I have is that I didn’t know her well enough, I mean I did obviously know her very well but I find myself wondering what she was like as a child, I can only guess at the things she would have ‘liked’ on Facebook, though to be fair she wasn’t much interested in technology so probably would never have used it even if she’d been able to (she had progressive MS for 32 years!).

So when my own children look back on my timeline, either with me or after I’m gone what will they be gaining from it? Will it reveal the real me or will it only show the version of me I choose to portray online? We all do a bit of a PR job on ourselves online… Some write with such melodrama that you’d never recognise their calm exterior on the street, others with charisma that far outperforms their face to face contact, I’ve known friends describe themselves in ways that are completely alien to me, but is this perception or reality?

My children will never know a world without touch screen, social networking, wireless technology, they will be different adults because of this… Make no mistake this is changing all the rules of social interaction! I’m sure some much smarter people are already studying these ideas and writing about them so I won’t claim to be an expert on human nature or psychology but I do know that relationships are built and developed based on trust, knowledge of one another and shared interests… On the one hand social networking has all the potential to accelerate the way humans form bonds and develop friendships, on the other it is so wide open for abuse it’s frightening!

My husband doesn’t do social networking (yet! He didn’t ‘do’ mobile phones until about 2008!) and doesn’t suffer for it, he is still happy to actually talk to people face to face or on the telephone (oh that’s what those little smart boxes are we all carry!) whereas I never have time for that nonsense and arrange what I call my ‘real life’ though a range of tweets, direct messages and status updates. I’m going to make a mental note to revisit this post each year to see how things have developed!

As always I would love to know your thoughts?

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10 on Tuesday 21st February

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1. Seriously? It’s February 21st? Thanks goodness it’s a leap year because this 2012 lark is just flying by and we need all the extra days we can get! I swear they just went back to school after Christmas like yesterday but no, we’ve had half term already!

2. Our new porch is still not finished. The walls and door are up and the roof is getting their but it’s soooo slooooow! Our roofer lives next door, he makes great roofs, he makes them slooooowly! Oh well at least I have a dry dumping ground for the buggy, shoes and coats.

3. We have all been poorly again this week, hubby has the kind of flu symptoms that require play station 3 therapy (!) 3yr old is recovering from a tummy bug, the 1yr old is still teething (will it ever end! There should be a grown up tooth fairy to reward adults when their children get new teeth!) and I still have a sore throat which has never left since I had flu over a month ago!

4. In happier news, we have a holiday booked and I am so excited, if you like holidaying in this country then I cannot recommend south Devon highly enough, we are returning to Ladram Bay, my husband has holidayed their since he was a child and our own kids think its heaven on earth! Having a holiday booked is essential to my state of mind, I cling onto having something to look forward to!

5. The children’s birthday party is coming together, invitations have gone out to preschool friends today, husband has announced the party bag budget and I’ve been Pinteresting cake ideas! If you aren’t on Pinterest yet you must try it it’s sooooo addictive!

6. I need to find time to write a business plan, a proper one, not an overgrown to-do list! My photography business is steadily building up, much to my delight, but I have so many ideas and they will each take planning and preparation, if only I had a spare week to get it all written out properly?

7. Yesterday I ate utter rubbish ALL day! I must be premenstrual or something because I ate more cake, pastry and chocolate than any human reasonable should, I just couldn’t stop, a total carb craving all day! I am proud to say that I have NEVER been on a diet in my life and I am not about to start now but bloody hell do I need to stop and think about the sheer volume of junk I consume followed by days of not having time for breakfast or lunch, it’s just not sustainable!

8. I have felt the warmth of the sun on my back he last few days! Isn’t it amazing how that feeling is like an injection of endorphins or whatever those feel good critters inside us are called! Sunshine makes me happy. I may have to move our little family to warmer lands! Great that the sun stays up longer though, blue skies and sunshine at 5:15pm yesterday so not sure why all the cars felt the need to have their lights on?

9. The 3yr old is getting interested in writing, she loves to copy letters and words and trace dots so I found a dotty font on the computer and have printed a load of sheets with words and sentences for her, it got me thinking though what level they are supposed to be at when they start school? She starts in September and will be 4 and a half by then, hopefully writing her name and some other words confidently… Is that good enough… Is that something they’d rather we didn’t bother teaching them yet? She has a hunger for learning!

10. I need To find a hairstyle that actually suits me and doesn’t require hours of styling, I had planned on a trip to the salon yesterday but time ran away with me again and I didn’t get round to it, which is probably a good thing as I had planned to ask for ‘something shaggy, that looks ok if I just flop out of bed and out the door!’ my standards have slipped way too far… I need to put a little glamour back in my life…. Lip gloss and red knickers just aren’t enough!

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Why does everyone else seem to cope with everything else 100% better than I do?

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I’m hiding in my bedroom as I write this, it follows another dismal mealtime where the kids refused pretty much everything. Having tried the gourmet freshly made with lovely produce approach already this week I thought I’d give Heinz a go at my daughters request… Sausages and spaghetti! I’m sure Italians all over the world cringe at the description and pigs throughout the farming industry laugh at the claim to be a sausage!

I’ve long thought that pretty much all the weaning advice we get these days is ridiculously flawed! Introducing a wide range of new tastes and textures is supposed to make for a great and varied palate as they grow… Well that’s tosh! Mine we anything during weaning but have become fussy little trouble makers since learning the words ‘no’ and ‘more’ and ‘dip dip’.

I’m wondering if as bland a diet as nutrition would allow would not be better until they are at least 2 and then new flavours and textures might be thrill rather than a reminder that they are not having their favourite homemade spaghetti bolognese again tonight because they have already had it 3 times this week!

I have tried involving the children in cooking, telling them they get what they are given, smaller portions, larger portions, different plates, new cutlery, delicious puddings for empty plates, choo choo’s for delivering mouthfuls, songs and stories to keep them motivated, but nothing works, not nagging, moaning, shouting, crying or banging my head on the table.

The other weekend when we had a rare opportunity to all eat a meal together as a family my daughter did something incredibly annoying… “eat up Mummy, the carrots will help you to see in the dark!….. Finish your potatoes Mummy, come on I haven’t got all day!…. Make sure your plate is clear or you won’t get any pudding Mummy!”…. It was the single most annoying thing ever! Having someone watch and scrutinise every mouthful, to be constantly demanding I move onto the next one, to be in my face at what should have been enjoyable family time!

So… I’ve not cracked it yet but I’m trying to remember 3 really important things:
1. They’ll l eat when they’re hungry
2. They’re never going to like everything… I don’t.
3. Being moaned at to eat is really, really, really pointless…. And annoying!

As always tips from the wisest amongst you are welcomed!

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10 on Tuesday 14th February

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1. It’s valentines day, and for the record, my husband and I do NOTHING for valentines day, not even cards! Neither of us is prone to big romantic gestures, we love each other every day and see no reason to waste £50 every February 14th, we are the bah humbug of valentines day. True.

2. Took the kids to a 2nd birthday party today, it’s half term so a midweek party makes sense, I can’t go to parties at the moment without scrutinising the details in preparation for my own kids party next month! It was a lovely affair, key points noted were a) kids don’t eat much at parties so don’t over supply food, b) kids don’t care what’s in the pass-the-parcel as long as they get a turn and c) always have loads of balloons!

3. We now have a new porch but it doesn’t have a roof. The window men did a fab job putting the porch together, our neighbourhood the roofer now needs to put a lid on it… He hasn’t yet, I’ve no idea why not, it’s most peculiar looking the door to a small room with no roof! …. On and the postman has overlooked the no roof thing…. Good job it’s not raining!

4. My husband has gone to Gloucester today or GlowStar as I like to call it, this means one of two things, either he will be home really early and we can all enjoy some family time before I go to work this evening OR he will be home really late and I’ll have to get the kids in the car and exchange the children with him at the office door, I’m hoping it’s the former.

5. My daughter is practicing her writing on an almost daily basis, I write the letters in dots, then she goes over it in pen, she’s getting very good! When on earth are they supposed to be able to write anyway?

6. I have no butter or squash in the house, this means a walk to the shop with the kids later and the inevitable begging from them for something sweet as a treat. We’ve already been to the aforementioned party today so they’ve had their quota of sweetness for today… If I could avoid going I would but the kids could really do with the fresh air and did I mention I need milk too? Without out the world will stop turning at bedtime!

7. Being that it’s half term we will be on a few play dates this week, tomorrow’s is soft play, I will need eyes in the back of my head as both kids spin off in different directions, it will be hot, exhausting and when it’s time to leave one or more of the kids will lay down on the floor and throw the mother of all tantrums. I. Can’t. Wait.

8. Yesterday I cleaned the bathroom, changed the beds, hoovered the house top to bottom, today you would never know I’d done any of that, why can’t I ever achieve that ‘Good Housekeeping’ look, where a collection of clutter looks liked a carefully structured installation of cool stuff?

9. I need a hair cut. I am rubbish at the hairdressers, I resent paying for it, I hate hairdresser small talk and there is absolutely no point in giving me a hair style because that would involve styling, and time, and products, I am the original Wash & Go girl… But more because it is right at the bottom of my list of priorities than because I use a particular brand of shampoo! I imagine I’ll get it snipped next week, just a few inches mind you!

10. I can’t quite believe I have managed my 2nd 10 on Tuesday! I’m often rubbish at doing things on a regular basis, go me!

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Magic at the ballet & cowgirls that dance

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Today I took my daughter to see her first ballet! It wasn’t her first trip to the theatre, we went in December to see a wonderful production of Peter Pan but that was different, less formal, talking and singing and jokes and stuff. This was a proper ballet, the Nutcracker no less, the perfect introduction to ballet!

Now the thing about theatres is that when it’s a proper grown up show like a ballet they put a notice on the tickets in big bold letters NO UNDER 5s WILL BE ADMITTED! My daughter is 3…she turns 4 next month… I cannot begin to explain my fear at us being turned away for being too young (I of course would be flattered to be considered too young for anything) I had nightmares about, visions of my daughter actually MELTING down at doors if they turned us away! As it happens they didn’t… They let us in without batting an eyelid!

The production was beautiful, simple enough for her to understand with minimal explanation, engaging enough to capture her attention for both acts and magical enough for her to be tapping her feet and swirling her hands to sound of Tchaikovsky’s score. I spent as much time looking at her enchanted face as I did the stage itself and when the dancing snowflakes in their sparkling tutus came twirling out we both let out a little gasp!

I’m glad I packed plenty of snacks, a drink, and change for ice cream at the interval. Relieved I dressed us in layers as it got jolly hot in there, and I was delighted that her behaviour met with my expectations, it could have gone so horribly wrong!

We talked at the end… “was is better than Peter Pan?”…. “Well Mummy Peter Pan is my best because we have the DVD and when we saw it here he flew over our heads!”….”Did you like their costumes?”… “Yes Mummy, the snowflakes were my favourite”…. “Do you want to be a Ballerina at your birthday party next month now?”…. “No Mummy, I want to be a dancing Cowgirl!”…. Oh well we had fun, and whether she wants to be a cowgirl, ballerina, rocket scientist or plumber, I’m happy if she’s happy!

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Parties for little ones… Just what is the etiquette these days?

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So we’re planning our first proper kids birthday party at the moment, in march the boy turns two and the girl turns 4! We figured we should just go for it so a hall has been hired, an invite designed and there are lists a plenty on the go!

We’re not dripping with money at the moment, far from it (very far in fact!), however we decided that spending a little bit on a decent party was worthwhile and the kids will grow up fast so it’s worth doing.

She wants princesses, he wants dinosaurs, they both want pirates, fairies, and super heroes! She doesn’t eat cake, he eats it like his life depended on it. He is confident and will mix with anyone, she will be devastated if her best preschool friend can’t make it! She wants lots of surprises, presents and sweets, he won’t notice that the parties even for him… So this is our first challenge, making it about both of them whilst knowing she will appreciate the effort more!

Other challenges have come up along the way…. The first was timing… Sunday seemed preferable over Saturday, less regular commitments to effect attendance and Saturday free to make preparations. Afternoon seemed more sensible than morning, after all who disco dances in the AM unless you’re 19 and under some chemical influence! We’ve gone for 3-5pm, heading off tea time hunger but late enough to allow the little ones an afternoon nap before the party (I hope! Sheesh he will be unbearable if he doesn’t nap before hand!).

Food is still not resolved, I’m thinking melon, grapes, bananas & cucumber, philadelphia, ham and egg sandwiches, sausages, sausage rolls and crisps…. A balance between processed junk and fresh fruit and veg…. Hoping this will please parents… I hate taking my kids to parties where they just get a bag of crisps and penguin bar with a sugary drink! Talking of drinks we are undecided… Something in a carton that can be disposed of easily I think and tea and coffee for the grown ups!

Grown ups! I’ve added a note to the invites to ask them to please STAY! Seriously I have heard such horror stories about parents just abandoning their kids at birthday parties! No way! Not till they’re at least….ummm…..I don’t know….7 or something? What age do you start leaving them?

Entertainment is sorted for an hour but I shall have to cobble together a pass the parcel I think and a playlist that avoids my kids favourite tracks, Lady Gaga and Guns ‘N’ Roses…. Not sure I’d be popular in the playground if I played those to toddlers and preschoolers? It doesn’t all have to be Disney though does it?

Dress code has changed a few times, she wanted to dress in her best Christmas dress for a while but it’s now back to being fancy dress but she can’t decide between a cowgirl or a princess…. We may have to get both to avoid tears!

I still have a month to go, which is good really as the invites haven’t gone out yet but they are ready to print, I’ve designed them myself and everything!

The lady dilemma is the cake. I am not (as mentioned in earlier blogs) blessed with culinary skills but I can rustle up a decent sponge…. Hubby reckons I need to do it myself to save money and prove my artistic skills can translate to the kitchen, I’m thinking pay someone else, do without the stress and be done with it!

Who’d have thought a party for 2 little people could be so complicated! Hints and tips from the more experienced VERY welcome!

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Slow Cooker Slump…and other failings in the kitchen.

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I bought a slow cooker in the January sales and for a fortnight I couldn’t get enough of it but a dreadful dose of flu and some lazy takeaway days and I’m back where I began… A culinary failure!

I want to be great in the kitchen and I want my children to eat good healthy food! I’m lucky that they will guzzle fresh fruit and vegetables without much persuasion and that they enjoy knowing where their food comes from as a result of our allotment but it’s the actual cooking I suck at!

It wasn’t till I met my husband that I really understood that great cooking is actually a skill much like being able to paint, or write or sing or dance. It takes talent and skill and some inbuilt ability that you just can’t magic up from nowhere. So give me some paints or a camera or a song and I’ll do you proud but I do NOT have a talent for cooking!

I CAN cook a roast, make a casserole, bake a cake or spaghetti bolognese but what I lack is that skilful palate to season correctly, choose the write herbs and spices and the quantities of each… My husband on the other hand oozes with these skills. He makes the most delicious meals and try though he might I know he finds my cooking bland, tasteless and a far cry from the enjoyable experience of his own meals!

The trouble is that my husband works full time and I should be preparing the meals, my repertoire is shamefully limited and my dependency on the freezer embarrassing! So I am going to make a promise to myself to try and master a new recipe or meal each month ( yes I know I should be saying each week but let’s be realistic!). I have all the Jamie Oliver, Delia Smith and Mrs Beetons books that anyone could possible need along with several others, so of I go to choose the first challenge…. Any suggestions?

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10 on Tuesday 7th February

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1. I have no real idea what 10 on Tuesday is meant to be but I enjoy some other blogs that do it, so I’m going to give it a go, at the very least it should ensure I post at least once a week!

2. I confess that my attempts to be a culinary queen for my children are failing miserably, they had chocolate spread on toast for their lunch today… I balanced it out with some melon and cheese so that’s ok? Isn’t it?

3. I am wearing yesterday’s clothes today, our washing machine has been broken for a week and isn’t being fixed until tomorrow, I’ve been sending laundry to the mother in law but put the children’s and husbands clothes first but I am now dangerously close to running out of underwear if the man can’t fix it tomorrow!

4. I had to wrestle my son to the ground and get him in a floor tackle to trim his nails today, am I the only one that has to endure this and the 10 minute tantrum that follows? It’s unbearable but then so are his talons so there comes a point when it must be done!

5. I am still I’ll! I finished my antibiotics yesterday following flu, bronchitis and a chest infection and the wisdom tooth related gum infection but I still have a permanent sore throat, cough and aching ribs, I am bored of feeling rubbish, even the Manuka honey seems to have stopped helping!

6. We poisoned the neighbours cat today! It walked across the wet bitumen paint that is forming the damp proof course for our new porch, then it walked into its house, across their beautiful wooden floor and kicked its paws. It’s not a very nice cat, ours is much lovelier but I do hope it’s ok and that they manage to get the paint of their floor!

7. Can somebody please tell the other school mums not to park their cars outside my house to walk their kids to school, I really don’t want to have to wade through a gaggle of mums and unruly 7 year olds in order to take mine to preschool! I would say something myself but they know where I live!

8. My 3 year old now helps my husband to put the 1 year old to bed when I’m at work in the evening, apparently she strokes his head and sings to him whilst daddy feeds him his bottle, then she tucks him in! How cute is that?

9. I think I drink too much tea, 5 cups today, big ones, how much tea is too much? I have no idea but I certainly went to the toilet a lot today!

10. I did it, my first 10 on Tuesday! How did it go?

I wasn’t expecting a Monkey, but a monkey is what I got

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My first child is the most thoughtful, gentle, sweet and magical girl you can imagine and in the blissful ignorance enjoyed by many parents of one child, I expected the 2nd child to continue with the same theme as the first. I was wrong!

My second child, distinctly different in the first instance because he’s a boy, is a MONKEY! No not the zoo dwelling, tree swinging (well maybe a little bit) kind, the mischievous, energetic, cheeky, spontaneous, cute, crafty and cunning kind! I got to thinking about this after flicking through some old image files and came across one of my boy at his most monkeyish! (…yes I know Monkeyish isn’t a real word!). It was further bought to mind after listening to friends talk about their desire for a boy after having 2 little girls. It’s funny how we always want what we haven’t got!

Anyway i’ll keep it brief, all this thinking coincided with Love All Blogs announcing a competition for images of something you LOVE along with Albelli! I love many things and many people, this one takes up a huge part of my heart, along with his Sister and Daddy!

 

 

I just want to be alone!… The selfish cry of the tired Mummy

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The kids are at the grandparents for the night, the husband and I have been for a meal and a movie, my goodness it feels good!

I adore my children, I love that they are tactile and want to be cuddled and tickled and kissed and squeezed, I love that they want to brush my hair, stand on my head and nibble my toes but sometimes, especially this time of year when we are all cooped up in the house because of the wet and cold outside, sometimes I really, really, really want to be left alone!

I have started using the phrase ‘personal space’ with my nearly 4 year old, I cringe whenever I say it but haven’t a clue what else to say! She is still in the stage of believing the world exists to amuse her and we are all merely entertainers. She wants to do everything WITH someone and not alone! This includes going to the toilet, eating and playing. Her brother at just under 2 is still in the stage of being sensitive to the world around him and therefore wanting to be carried around it when it displeases him, he is teething, so at the moment this is often!

When my husband comes home from work tired from spending the day with an office full of people that barely look at one another let alone touch, he would like for me to be tactile with him… I try but to be brutally honest , once the kids are in bed… I just want to be alone for a bit!

Don’t get me wrong, I love my husbands company and the kids too but I have always been one of those people happy with my own company, I don’t get to see much of myself at the moment! Between 2 jobs, 2 children, the chores, the cooking, the cleaning, the committee, the school runs, the visits with family and friends, there really isn’t any time to be alone. I know I’d moan if I was but if I could just be guaranteed 20 minutes of pure alone time each day….well what I could do with that time!

Is it just me or does anyone else just want to be alone sometimes?

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