19 Dec 2013

Activity challenge #4 Indoor sandcastles

Last week, Miss F and I went to visit her cousin in London.  Not far from my Sister's house is a park with a sand pit base. Yes, I know it's the middle of winter but we went nonetheless armed with buckets and spades. The children had a great time. Whats not to love about sliding into a giant sandcastle?!

After returning home Miss F constantly talked about the sandpit. In fact it was all she spoke about for days. Now, we are garden-less and the nearest sandpit to us is in, well, London.  So, I recreated the experience for her inside instead.  I will admit it got a little messy but Miss F absolutely loved it. 

So, what did I do? I filled a large tray with a few bags of economy cheap flour and some seashells that I'd bought some time ago. We set about filling little buckets (I used stacking cups) to make little sandcastles, finishing them off with little straws for flags. Miss F had a blast so it was completely worth the mess!

10 Jun 2013

Activity challenge # 3 - A Colour hunt

The sun is shining this week, (I wrote this post when this was true) a rare occurrence for an English summer so we're taking took advantage by finding lots of outdoor activities.
A colour treasure hunt.

Lady F is learning more colour based words. She is a little obsessed with yellow so on a sunny Monday morning we took a bag and stroll around the village to find as many instances of yellow as possible.
We found lots of yellow shapes on all sorts of objects. It really is amazing what you spot when you're looking. 

It was a good opportunity to discuss shapes and the purpose of each item. A good vocabulary booster for tots developing their speech too.!

We also found the colour yellow in nature and even collected some to take home. This was Lady F's favourite part. 'Der you go' she'd say as she popped them into her container.

When we got home we lay our spoils out on the table. We talked (I talked) about the different shades of yellow and even lined the flowers and leaves up according to size. We then topped off our  yellow morning with a delicious yellow (mango) smoothie. Yum

5 Feb 2013

Exhibit A: The Stay at home mum (SAHM)

If life were a zoo, then the SAHM would be the number one endangered animal, a black rhino.  Kept separated from the other animals, it is a topic of bewilderment and discussion.

I regularly feel like the black rhino. At first it was fine. All mum's take maternity leave and you don't feel quite so odd that you're the only one not going back to work. Then slowly, each mum takes their self out of the enclosure, one by one, into another enclosure; the office.

During feeding time, aka the coffee morning. You start to be the only one that is bringing a toddler along. Your baby rhino is no longer a baby and dwarfs all the others. You wonder how much longer you can say to the other maternity leave mums, "she's just big for her age".

At play time, aka the play group, you look around and see you're the only one not over 65 years of age, has obviously not had children (the nanny), or frantically checking their emails on their phone.

The other mums are regularly incredulous that I'm a SAHM and I frequently encounter some amusing questions or hear some equally interesting conversations. Here are some of the most regular questions I encounter from the other animals:

The tiger says (puts children into nursery from 3 months and goes back to work full time) on hearing i'm a SAHM and refusing to believe that I choose to work in the home: I guess times are hard and jobs are few and far between.

The tiger means: You clearly are the sort that isn't qualified for anything. You probably live on benefits and would only be able to contribute, 'wipes noses and bottoms' to your CV.

The monkey asks (works part time but only because family are available to babysit): Don't you get bored at home?

The monkey means: You must be stupid and a bit dull that you don't require the social interaction and mental challenge of working on something other than a play date schedule.

The peacock whispers, worried about being overheard: If we could afford it i'd love to be a SAHM. I'm so jealous of you.

The peacock means: I don't know how you can live like you do. You must live in a cesspit and only buy new clothes once a year, especially since i've heard you own a sewing machine!

The chameleon asks: When do you plan on going back to work?

The chameleon means: You're still not working?!!!  

The sheep states: I don't want my child to miss out on opportunities of social interaction.

The sheep means: Your child is going to end up a recluse unless she is interacting with other children at nursery from day one.

In response: Pre SAHM life I had spent 7 years studying for the high flying career that I was enjoying, along with the perks of being a higher rate taxpayer payer. In all honesty, sometimes I get bored stupid at home, picking up toys all day long is not my idea of being mentally challenged, I also miss the social interaction of the workplace. However, I got bored at work too. There are pros and cons to every situation.

I love that I am the one to shape the learning and development of my rhino cub every single day. I love that I am the one to teach her everything that she needs to know to as she grows.

My home isn't as big as it could be and my clothes aren't as new as they could be but to me that is not what is important in life. I don't want to miss a moment of my child.

That's my choice and these are my priorities. It doesn't mean those of the non SAHM category are wrong and mine are right, they are just different. I respect everyone's individual life decisions. I have chosen not to miss a moment of my child's years growing up. Just because i've chosen this, doesn't mean I think you're a terrible mother for going back to work. It's your choice. Please respect mine.

That's what I would have said, if I had:
a) thought of it at the time,
b) have the inclination to repeat it twice a day, and
c) wanted to make enemies with the already depleting pool of potential friendships.

10 Oct 2012

Just call me Mum.

Have you ever had one of those conversations, with other mums, where all you talk about is your child? I seem to always have those conversations.

It's great to share ideas. We have some great recipe ideas from friends and other mums.

It's great to share advice. "Yes, your child will stop teething one day, I promise!"

It's even great just to know that you're not in it alone. "Oh wow I thought I was the only one, yes, my daughter is making weird laughing growls too. It's so embarrassing when we are out and she starts laughing like Darth Vader with a sore throat at the granny in the supermarket." Or even "no my child doesn't nap or sleep well either. Consistent nap time, what's that?"

These are all great conversations I've had, and appreciated, recently. However, I digress. The point I want to make is it's not ALL we have to talk about.

This week I was searching amongst the dust and mothballs under my bed and was excited to uncover an old diary that I had written, aged 19 and whilst backpacking around Europe with my two best friends. Wow, what a read! It reminded me of who I was. I had forgotten. I was fun. I was carefree. My favourite extract read "when I'm old (maybe 26) and have a family and job (yeah right, haha) and life is monotonous I will look back on this time as one of the best of my life." I was also wise.

Fast forward to yesterday when we went for coffee with some other mums after a local toddler class. "Yes! Adult conversation" I thought. We sat, bouncing children on knees and drinks in hand. We questioned one anther about who they were and what they did. One of us was a paediatrician. I lived with Doctors at uni and know how are they like to play. Another was from California with a semi famous husband. The other had lived in London and held some pretty exciting jobs. I have had some great travelling experiences and a pretty interesting career.

There were a lot of interesting topics we coud have discussed.

We didn't.

The conversations above are snippets of what we talked about. Our children are great and it's nice to discuss them and 'share the load' but we are interesting people that used to be able to hold a non-baby related conversation. Does baby brain also include the loss of this ability?

So, I'm declaring war. Let's remember what fantastic and interesting people we all are! Let's talk about us. Let's remind ourselves. Let's be ourselves. I think our children will respect us more for it.

Failing that, there's always the weather.

Photo credit: http://screenpicks.com/2012/05/cartoon-moms-deserve-real-love-on-mothers-day/

10 Sept 2012

Is a blogging break a good idea?

Can you keep a secret? You see, I have a confession to make. I need to tell you something. Get it off my chest.

Deep breath in.

I lost my blogging mojo.

There I said it. Exhale.

It all started with a holiday. I took a week off, had a lovely little staycation. David Cameron would have been proud. Then came another little holiday two weeks later. Another break from reality.

Two weeks have passed since then and I still haven't blogged. Today I resolved to change that. Here I am. iPad in hand, index finger tapping away furiously, arm aching with the obvious lack of blogging exercise.

The truth is, I was fed up of how much time and effort it takes up to drum up a small number of readers. I lost the fun of writing in the boring work of advertising myself.

However, after  month of being away I soon realised a few other truths. I missed you, readers. I missed you, other bloggers. I missed not feeling like i'm the only other crazy mum in the world. I missed being able to laugh at your day, to relate to your experiences, to look at your pictures, to get great activity ideas. I missed being able to share my thoughts and experiences.

I missed blogging.

So I'm back and ready to re-rock. Watch this space!

7 Aug 2012

Have you ever encountered One of Those Days?

I should have known it would happen. I should have seen it coming. After all, he only preys on the sleep deprived. He knew Lady F had been up all night, teething, so we were both tired and grumpy. I should have realised. If I'd have known, I would have stayed safe and sound at home. But I didn't see it coming, I didn't stay at home and I fell victim to 'One Of Those Days'.

I should have realised in the morning when Lady F woke up after 20 minutes into her nap and refused to go back to sleep. I didn't. One Of Those Days saw it though.

It should have hit me during our morning trip to the shops when Lady F tipped her new 'non spill' cup all over herself, soaking herself and the car seat simultaneously. It didn't and I made the foolish decision to carry on my journey.

'One of Those Days' was laughing at me as it thought up its big revealing moment. In the Tescos car park. We had been to pick up a carpet cleaner from the Dry Cleaners. It was a heavy, bulky contraption which looked fit to launch us into space. Then came the loading into the car boot. At that precise moment Lady F decided to have a screaming fit about going into her car seat. I couldn't physically get her wriggly, writhing body into the seat. And boy did she scream. Embarrassed and annoyed I stood, Lady F in one arm and the heavy cleaner in a trolley in another. I was clueless as to how I would get it into the boot. Luckily a nice lady came riding in to avenge 'One of Those Days' and helped me load it into my boot.

'One of Those Days' just gleefully rubbed it hands together as it realised that I thought I had won the fight.

My confidence was growing with the boot loaded so, I used the usual tactic of food bribery to get Lady F to sit in her car seat. We went back to the shops and I bought some watermelon cubes. Back at the car and she eagerly sat in her car seat munching on the watermelon. I on the other hand was eagerly searching for my debit card that I had just used to pay for the watermelon.

That sinking feeling hit as I realised I'd left it in Tescos and I had to get Lady F back out of her car seat. Off we went, back to Tescos. The card wasn't there though.. 

Back at the car and 'One of Those Days' was revelling in its triumphs.

Then, as I put the empty watermelon tray on the roof of the car and leant down to negotiate a resisting Lady F back into her car seat I spotted my bank card on the floor. The relieving moment was short lived though as 'One of Those Days' revealed itself in all its glory by blowing the watermelon tray off the car roof so the juice trickled down my back.

Next time, 'One of Those Days', I'll be ready for you. I'll look out for the signs and i'll lock my door, draw my blinds and keep you out.

Have you ever had one of those days?

1 Aug 2012

Dear Mothers,

I didn't want to be the one to do this, but you see, it has to be said. We have to be told. It's becoming quite the problem and mothers all over the world are suffering unnecessarily. So, here goes.

We need to take a stand against burnt toast.

Why is it that when you have two pieces of toast, one is burnt, the other is perfect, your child is offered the perfect one and you resign yourself to the burnt piece? It's not a mutually exclusive relationship. Do yourself a favour and make yourself another piece. Go on, you deserve it. Don't resign yourself to the scraped burnt toast.

Now, onto another matter. Shopping.

When you go shopping, you eye that beautiful and reasonably priced dress in the window. Heck, you even imagine yourself in it. Consider how you might even feel beautiful. To top it off you can afford this little splurge. Why is it that you keep on walking, into the kids aisle and come home with a bag full of purchases for your already well clobbered child? Do yourself a favour and this once, buy yourself the dress. Go on, you deserve it. Don't resign yourself to thinking the kids need it more.

Now I'm on a roll. Chocolate.

Don't feel guilty about eating that extra piece of chocolate. I know you said you'd stop at one, maybe two pieces and you've already had five but don't worry about it. Give yourself a break. Consider that if you've got to bedtime and the children have been fed, watered and entertained all day long then you've worked hard enough for it. Do yourself a favour and eat that last piece. Savour it in your mouth and enjoy it, guilt free. Go on, you deserve it. Don't resign yourself to unnecessary guilt.

So go on, take my advice and enjoy yourself a little more.

Go on, you're a mother. You deserve it.

Yours Sincerely,

One mother to another

31 Jul 2012

Five lessons learnt at my Mother's

Last week the Sun came back from his holiday from behind the clouds so I took my turn and spent a week at my Mother's house.

Here are five things that I learnt last week.

1. I missed the doing the housework

If you're a regular reader you'll be familiar with my loathing of housework. Conversations in our house often go a little like this:

Me: "We should definitely get a cleaner."
Boy: "You're home all day, why can't you do it."

Me: "I could spend more quality time with Lady F. That's what I became a SAHM for, not to do the meaningless housework that anyone could do."
Boy: "It would cost too much."

Me: "It's quite cheap and our place is small enough for it not to take too long." 
Boy: Exasperated look.
Me (desperately): "Besides, we would be giving someone a job that would need it. Think of the boost to the local economy!"

Boy: "It can't take that long for you to do!"
Me (grasping at straws): "I didn't spend 7 years studying to be a cleaner!"

So, it came as a shock to me that whilst I didn't have to do any of the cleaning at my mum's I found myself loading the dishwasher amongst other tasks. It felt strange not to be doing so. It's clearly become a part of my routine now, like the old men that still wear ties, 25 years after retirement.

Don't tell the Boy! I'm trying my best to let the dust pile up so he doesn't find out my 'clean' little secret.

2. Am I the only one that becomes a teenager again when they visit their parents?

I kept feeling as though my mother should be the one looking after Lady F. I have a child? She's my daughter? I'm not old enough, surely? I thought I got over this pinching oneself stage when Lady F was a couple of weeks old.

I'm convinced that had I stayed any longer than a week I'd have found myself listening to Take That, asking my mum for a lift to the phone box.

3. Super expensive mattresses are a waste of money

Lady F is a terrible sleeper. Always has been, to the point where I spent a ridiculous amount of money on a super comfortable mattress, hoping this would fix the problem. It didn't..

Miraculously, she slept the best that she's slept in a long time. In her terribly uncomfortable travel cot.

4. A taste of the future

As we were waving goodbye to my mum I suddenly had a vision of the future. One day Lady F will be waving goodbye to me. 

Then, I felt terribly guilty about not calling my mum enough and consequently spent the rest of the weekend on the phone. I think she was fed up of me by Sunday.

5. I'm turning into my Mother

The inevitable has happened. The thing we all swear would never happen, as moody teenagers, but it has. I'm my Mother. 

You know what though, it's not all that bad. She's a pretty fantastic mother and grandmother.

How do you enjoy your time at your parents? Do you come back relaxed or needing another holiday?

Photo credit: www.travelprize.com

19 Jul 2012

The facebook generation

"You must have this if you want to appear cool. If you don't no one will like you. They will think you're weird."

You have just been listening to the voice of Peer Pressure.

The idea that I have to bring up a daughter in today's world is a scary prospect but is it really so different from when we were kids? 

 Peer pressure is a fact of life, whether young or old. Just consider Sophie the Giraffe, which has been around for decades. A celebrity is spotted with one and suddenly a child's teething toy defines the social acceptability of a mother.

I was an 80/90s kid. Then it was mostly about 'fashion'. We wore shell suits, Addidas stripes and Nike Air Max to fit in.

However, has Peer Pressure become dangerous for our children today, in its technological form?

Even more worryingly, it seems to be starting at a younger age. On my morning stroll around the neighbourhood with Lady F I overheard two girls, who couldn't have been older than 8 years old, trading an IPhone for a Blackberry. Is this so different from trading football stickers?

Then there's my 10 year old niece. In her desperation to join Facebook, like all her other school friends, she did so secretly. Obviously a 10 year old can't hide this from her mother for too long and she was subsequently grounded. Her mother refused, concerned about predators but is this really so different from the weirdo that used to hang out at our school gates?

Next, my niece again wanting to be like her friends was caught in a chat room, designed for kids, with a lot of swearing youths in it. She was again banned. Is this so different to what we heard in the school yard or out in the street on our bikes?

I'd say yes. It is different and the difference is the lack of control that we now have over who is behind the screen and what they are saying or suggesting. The exposure is greater than ever before. Or maybe, I've just become one of those pesky "in my day" people.

What do you think? Is bringing up a child now very different than our day? 

Photo credit: www.jeffbullas.com

Reasons to be cheerful

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart
This is my second week joining in on this blog hope. Here are my tenious H reasons to be cheerful:

1. Hello Mr Sun. Ok, I know it's a weak H link but who isn't happy that the sun has been out all day. Not only that, it's forecast to stay. Yippee. 

2. Hippos, hungry ones at that. That was my favourite birthday present, ever, as a child. Now I have my own Child (I do sometimes still pinch myself) and she's about to get a stash of her very own presents for her FIRST birthday. I made it one whole year without doing anything too wrong. Woo hoo. 

 3. Heroes. The chocolate ones. My daughter is dairy intolerant and as I'm still breast feeding I've also been on a dairy free diet for a year. The are supposed to grow out of it by a year so we are slowly testing her. That means I got to eat my first piece of chocolate in a year today. Yes, before you ask, I did miss it. 

So, there you have it. Reasons to be cheerful, 1, 2 & 3.

18 Jul 2012

Activity Challenge #2 A sensory walk

See the activity challenge page for more information about this post

What this activity is good for:
  • Getting out into the fresh air has its benefits alone. It's supposed to help the little one sleep better and for mummy, walking is such a nice and gentle but invigorating form of exercise. 
  • The world outside is so exciting for our little ones. Ever notice how we walk with a destination in mind and rarely get sidetracked. I'm lucky if Lady F even toddles in the right direction. A child will usually stop to see something that we would never have even noticed.
  • The outside world is such a rich learning environment. Learn about the colours of the passing cars, flowers, trees and anything else you might see. Explore why there are puddles on the ground, why the tes rustle in the wind or if it's sunny, you could have fun with shadows. 
  • Explore all of the senses. There's the sound of a car, the louder rumble of a lorry, maybe even a deafening digger. There are flowers to be smelt. Grass and pebbles to be touched. Let's leave taste out of this one! 

  • The great outdoors. It doesn't matter if you live on the main road in a city or in a country manner, there will be lots to explore. If your little one is a bit older you could even get dressed up and pretend you're going on a safari. 

How it worked out for us:
This came about because the great British summer has been just that, British. It has pretty much rained every day recently until the sun made a rare brief appearance. I didn't need to think twice. We were outside before you could say 'take an umbrella just in case'. 

We had a great time exploring all of the above ideas. We smelt flowers, felt grass, kicked stones, pointed at cats and dogs, listened to cars, watched the leaves rustle in the wind. The list is endless. The best part was Lady F napped really well afterwards and I renewed my appreciation for this beautiful world that we live in. 

So I pass the baton over to you. Go and enjoy the great outdoors. 

 Photo credit: www.oragontravelcentre.com

16 Jul 2012

Don't you just love it when...

1. You change a poo filled nappy. Minutes later it's poo filled again. Oh, and you're just about to go out.

2. In the middle of changing the aforementioned poo filled nappy the little monkey decides to flip over as you are reaching for the wipes.

 3. After struggling with the little monkey to get her in a nappy changing position again, you smear on the Sudocrem, only for the little monkey to flip again and get cream all over your trousers.

4. You turn up for an appointment, smugly thinking you're early to find you're a week too early.

5. You head outside into the sunshine thinking there's no way it will rain. I won't bother with carrying the extra coats around. A few minutes later it pours.

6. You head outside in the rain, duffle coated up. Hat on the wee one. You're thinking there's no way it will warm up. A few minutes later you're sweating and having to carry extra coats and hats.

7. You offer someone a lift home, only you've forgotten your car is a dump from the earlier bribe of "sit in your carseat and i'll give you every toy you own and lots of food".

8. You slide into your comfy bed with a weary body and tired eyes ready to slip off into the land of nod. Then your little one wakes up needing a special mummy cuddle.

9. You sneak into the little one's room to watch them sleeping only to fall over an offending toy and let out a little yelp of pain, waking them in the process.

10. The wee one just goes down for a nap, you sink into the sofa with a drink, slice of toast and your laptop, ready to indulge in a bit of you time and the phone rings / door buzzer goes.

Then your monkey gives you one of their cheeky grins and a special little cuddle and everything else doesn't matter.

Photo credit: http://www.legaljuice.com/

13 Jul 2012

The smell of pregnancy

Have you ever time travelled? 

I'm not talking about Doctor Who or Back to the Future. No. I'm referring to the time travel that your senses take you on.

The kind where you hear a song on the radio or in a store that immediately transports you to another time in your life. A time you thought you had forgotten until that song plays and the memory is so vivid. The world around you disappears and you're 18 again rocking out to a band in a park. Or maybe you're with a first love or a good friend. 

You either want to turn the music off immediately or find the nearest laptop so you can replay it over and over again, full volume, on youtube. This time without the muffled calls of "turn it down".

The problem with a smell is you cannot turn it off.

I was incredibly sick during my pregnancy. Morning, noon and night. The toilet bowl and I became great pals. Smell was the biggest evil.

At the time I was living in a large block of flats, which was a melting pot of aromas. They would seep into our flat through the open windows and air vents. The windows stayed tightly closed. I even stuffed tissue into the vents.

The worst offender was the lady in the opposite flat. She would make a smelly curry based dish every night. The smell would slowly seep through. It made me so sick. My tactic was to spray as much of a can of Febreeze that I could, into the corridor, whilst holding my nose before legging it back into my flat to gasp for air.

Last week I time travelled.

I came home to the Boy, cleaning. He had found a can of Febreeze. One sniff and I was pregnant again, standing in my old corridor and ready to vomit. Despite wanting to gag I was also filled with a rush of happy contentment at the memory of the little life growing inside of me. Aside from the sickness, which eventually passed, I LOVED being pregnant.

What a great reminder.

How was your pregnancy? 

Photo credit: www.stockphoto.com

11 Jul 2012

Blogging plagiarism and the Olympic Torch

I thought plagiarism was the domain of spotty teenagers that can't be bothered to do their homework. However, it seems the mummy blogging world is armed with the same sword. My blog has fallen, a victim of the word warrior.

I recently started following a mummy blogger who posts a lot. I'm talking a couple of times a day. At first I was envious of her ability to come up with so many new ideas AND have the time to write them with a wee one running around her house. Whilst casually browsing her blog one day I received my answer. I happened to notice that she had submitted a post that was almost word for word the same as a post of mine.

Now, I'm a new blogger, so maybe very naive. Perhaps it's quite common to 'borrow' an idea?  

I could name the blogger and doom her to virtual shame (not likely though, i'm not that popular). Or, mainly because i'm a coward but also because I actually really enjoy reading her blog, I could chose not to and be flattered instead. I'm chosing option two. What would you do?

The reason? Well, Lady F copies everything I do at the moment. She wants to eat with my spoon, brush her teeth with my toothbrush and her hair with my hairbrush. It easily follows therefore that how we respond to certain situations, as parents, affects the way our children will learn how to respond. OK, I know she doesn't have a clue about the blogging world but I have to start as I mean to go on.

Later on in the day I wasn't that shining example, though

We went to see the Olympic Torch pass through my local town. It was a fantastic atmosphere and the sun was shining. We were happily stood a few people away from the barrier when a very tall man asked me if I would like to come through to his place because he could see over my shortness very easily. We shuffled forwards, thanking the tall man. Then, we encountered a grumpy man. He had a child on his shoulders and proceeded to state loudly to his son "we've been here for two hours haven't we, only for annoying people to think it's ok to push in".

This is how the conversation proceeded:

Me (trying to stay calm and be a good example to Lady F): "The man behind let us through."

Grumpy man: "Snort"

Me: "Would you like this spot?"

Grumpy man: Ignored me

Me (losing my cool and stomping away): "You have completely ruined our day, you grumpy man!"

I then overheard him getting a good old telling off from his wife as I was wishing I'd no lost my cool and been a better example to Lady F.

Then we eventually made it back to the train station where there was a group of mums standing in a huddle enjoying a good ol' giggle. Good for them, I thought. Every mum needs that. Unfortunately, it was at the expense of their children. The kids saw this and took the opportunity to practice their best monkey impressions, swinging from the station signs dangerously close to the tracks.

A train station manager eventually came and reprimanded them and explained the dangers of carrying on. Ok, so she said it with a patronising tone but to my utter amazement the mothers started arguing with her. Telling her to mind her own business when she only had the safety of their children in mind. The monkeys children stood on watching and laughing.

That is how they have learnt to respond.

So, thieving mummy from that great mummy blog that I like to read. You can thank the grumpy man and angry parents that I encountered today. For the sake of being a good example to Lady F, you're off the hook. 

Photo credit: sodahead.com

9 Jul 2012

Activity challenge #1 finger painting

See the activity challenge page for more information about this post.

What this activity is great for

  • It provides a fantastic opportunity for your little one to work on their hand-eye co-ordination and understanding of cause and effect. I can imagine their thought process going a little something like this "Hmm Mummy, I need to put my hand in that colourful gooey mess. Ooo, what does it do? If I move my hand onto this clean piece of paper I wonder what will happen? How about if I rub instead of pat?" In fact I imagine the thought process behind most of Baby F's movements are "how can I make this clean thing dirty?".
  • Paint is such a fun texture. It's thicker than yoghurt, thinner than puree and smoother than mashed banana so, it's likely to be a completely new feeling experience for your little one. Imagine feeling it for the first time again, especially imagine the squelchy, slippy nature of it running between your fingers. Euwww!
  • It's also a fabulous learning opportunity. What a great way to learn about the vibrant colours. If you're little one is a little older than mine then they'll enjoy creating new shapes, patterns or maybe even pictures of the non-modern variety. Monet, eat your heart out!


  • a big splash mat
  • a paint pallet of some sort, I used a plastic plate
  • some washable children's paints, mine are Crayola
  • some paper
  • a bowl of water
  • little fingers (and big ones too)
  • in my case a frame to put the finished masterpiece in
  • lots of creativity.

How it worked out for us

It was a rainy day and I figured, screw being clean and tidy.  I started off trying to put her pudgy little paws onto the plate of paint and then imprinting it onto the paper. She wasn't really interested in me moving her hands for her and didn't understand why I wanted her to pat everything. All she wanted to do was rub and pat the plate of paint. So, I left her to play her paint drum for a while, until the paint had transferred completely from the plate to the entirety of her sleep suit, hair and face. 

I was desperate for a picture of some sort to show Daddy so I then popped some little dabs of paint directly onto the paper and she quickly moved onto rubbing the paint on the paper, watching what happened and then doing it again and again. It was then I noticed that she noticed that she was creating the patterns on the paper, which was quite exciting to discover together. 

This activity did require quite a bit of patience with the mess, although we did manage to keep it all contained on the splash mat and her washable body. Also, I had to realise that although I wanted her to understand the activity straight away she wanted to be given the opportunity to fully explore these new surroundings before moving onto the actual 'painting'. As soon as I started to follow her cues she started to follow mine.

Enjoy painting and let me know how it worked out for you.

7 Jul 2012

An ode to the Bath

We never really got on that well, did we Bath? I mean we weren't enemies or anything but we didn't really spend that much time together. We didn't have the opportunity to find out if we had anything in common. Let's be honest with eachother though. I thought you were boring. I know you were hurt because I didn't appreciate you.

Sorry Bath. I was wrong, but I was different back then, before I was a mother. I was selfish and I didn't even realise it. I thought I was always busy, that I didn't have time for you. Now you don't have time for me. You're too busy with toys and bubbles to have time for aromatherapy oils, magazines and candles. It's true what they say, that you 'don't realise what you've lost until it's gone'.

Bath, I now know what you mean to me. I want to let you know just how much I need you. I love that when I sink into you, you encourage me to let out a little sigh of contentment. How you manage to massage every single one of my muscles simultaneously. I love hearing the slow fizzle of the bubbles around my ears. I appreciate that you drown out all calls of my name when I sink below the surface.

Bath, I'm hoping we can be friends again. Maybe we could start with a Saturday morning when the other half  is home to babysit?

A dutiful mother.

6 Jul 2012

Dear unannounced visitor

Dear unannounced visitor,

You turned up today without so much as a courtesy call. It didn't need to be far in advance. Five minutes would have been fine to give me enough time to throw everything in the bedroom and close the door.

In my fluster and embarrassment at the mess of my home I didn't get chance to share with you my excuses reasons why my house isn't tidy. So, here they are. Feel free to pick the one you believe the most and if you ever need to please do use one or two yourself.

1. Lady F spends a lot of time cruising around the furniture / crawling on the floor. I left the socks / bits of food / shoes / toys etc there to make life more interesting for her / practise her squats / in case she gets hungry.

2. We've been up all night with teething so we got up late today and my cleaning is behind schedule.

3. I'm still breastfeeding. Cleaning in my book counts as exercise and therefore might diminish my milk supply.

4. I don't want to disturb the spiders. They were here first, we just built our homes on their natural habitat.

5. It's a social experiment to see how long it takes for the boy to get the vacuum cleaner out.

6. I can't be bothered. Only use this one if you don't particularly want a relationship with the visitor and hence don't care what they think i.e. a door to door knocker.

7. It's none of your business. Only use this one if you don't particularly like the person and want to get rid of them as quickly as possible.

8. We're having a spring clean. This one also works as a car boot sale / clear out of the attic / garden sale.

9. Lady F is on a sensory tour of the house, learning and making memories.

10. I don't want Lady F to feel neglected. Children come before the housework. Every good mum knows that, right?

11. The cleaner has quit. Do you have the number of a good cleaner?

12. It is usually tidy. You just caught me on a bad day. Don't elaborate that every day is a 'bad' day.

13. I'm redecorating.

Otherwise, I enjoyed your company. Please do come again but next time do call first.

Kind regards,

An untidy mother

This is my first blog posting as a list and it was inspired by http://www.truthfulmothering.com/

Photo credit: http://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/m/messy_houses.asp

5 Jul 2012

An ancient Chinese proverb and a smear test

I love getting mail. I'm not talking about the E kind. No, I love to get mail in my letterbox. There is something really satisfying about sliding a finger under an envelope flap and hearing the rip. So, imagine my delight this morning when the postman delivered a letter addressed to me AND it wasn't junk. I know, it doesn't take much to please me. However, in my defence it has been raining every single day recently. Lady F tried to grab the letters from me so I passed her one addressed to the boy to buy me some time.

My finger eagerly slides under the envelope flap. There's the sound. Rip, rip, ripppp. My excitement is terribly misplaced. I clearly missed the NHS logo on the envelope. It was a reminder for the dreaded cervical smear test. I could happily give up opening mail for a year just to avoid that letter. Don't get me wrong. I think it's an essential service but it doesn't make it any more of a pleasant experience. Although, I do have to wonder if it will be less uncomfortable now i've given birth? Just a thought.

Surely, this letter must be wrong. It wasn't too long ago that I had my last one and I know they are only offered once every three years. Then it hits me. Three whole years has passed since my last smear test.

Slow down Time. I'm not ready yet.

Is this what happens after you have a child? Time thinks you've had your fair share of slow time. It deems giving birth as the qualifier for your upgrade to the fast version of time. Is time like the internet? With varying download speeds?

When you're younger and you think back over the last three years you can remember that a lot has happened in your life. Now, it all seems to feel like yesterday. I was looking at Lady F and thinking, how on earth did you  get to be so big so fast?

Wait, didn't our parents always say something like this to us when we were kids?

Our parents weren't mad. It's actually true. My theory is this. We're told the best thing we can do for our children is to get them into a routine. With a routine comes repetitive days. Breakfast, play, nap, lunch, nap, play  / visits, dinner, bed. As our routines are repeated over and over it becomes difficult to remember how this week differed from the last. Time falls into the routine black hole.

Is this how it is it going to be from now on? Can we make a deal Time?

A few people have already tried to make a deal with time but have failed miserably so I don't like my chances. Firstly there was the inventor of Botox. As far as i'm concerned Time did not keep it's end of the deal. You can always tell that the difference between a younger woman and an older woman with botox. I'm not fooled.

Then there was the creator of the Per Una range at M&S. They kicked out all of their older 'fashion' range and brought in a younger style of clothing aimed at the older woman. They even brought Twiggy back from non-existence. Time dropped it's end of the bargain again. The younger generation failed to shop there and it became obvious that all of the mums in the school yard were wrongly wearing Jeggings.

Why can't we be more like the Chinese?

As a society we tend to focus on the negative effects of getting older. Have you ever noticed that most ancient proverbs are Chinese? That the wise person in Kung Fu Panda is old? Then there's the Karate Kid. That's because they are respectful of their older generation. Seeing them as wise people to learn from.

I'm hoping that we become more like the Chinese in our household as my daughter gets older. As I say, "in my day" she will hopefully reply "that sounds like an interesting story, Mother, do tell me all about your experience so I can learn from it."

Now, about that smear test.

Photo credit http://lukelimblog.com/how-to-manage-time-wisely-as-an-internet-marketer/

4 Jul 2012

It's not called labour for nothing

The first birthday wheel has started to spin amongst my friends. Today marked the day of our first.

The party was for my friends third baby so it was fairly low key. No bunting, no banners just some leftover cake and an 'I'm One Today' helium balloon. Toys R Us threw up on the living room floor for the babies while a comfy sofa invited the mums in for some adult conversation, which of course rotated around our babies.

The babies ripped toys from one another's chubby hands and grabbed one another's faces. We tried to be dutiful mothers at first. "No, Mr L don't grab Miss F's hair." "That's an eye Miss E and it's not there for you to poke." At least we pretended. However, as the chat picked up pace the babies were increasingly ignored as they proceeded to use eachother as their personal climbing frames.

The conversation topic eventually stopped at childbirth. Of course, we all love to share our birthing stories. Mostly, I've realized it's because we love to show off. It's funny how as women we are so competitive about our birthing experiences. Maybe it's our way of making an experience, so special to us, but such a common one, unique. After all it's not called labour for nothing and we should be proud of ourselves.

This is how the battle commenced:

Round One - Baby weight.
Mum 1: boasts "my baby was a hefty 8lbs".
No one asks Mum 2 who can beat that so she cuts in patronisingly "Big baby but mine was 8lb7oz."
Mum 3: smugly "I've always had big babies, this  one was a 10lber."
Mum 4: Silence.

Why is baby weight such a boastful topic? Well done, you ate a lot. In honesty, don't we all went healthy but not too big babies because the logic is that they will be easier to push out. We're aiming for a small melon not a large one but if a watermelon is on the menu then every mum wants to let everyone know what a hard time she had. Mum 1 thought she had won this round hence why she volunteered the information Mum 2 cut in, thinking she could win it but was trumped by Mum 3, silently laughing.

Round Two - Painkillers.
Mum 3: "I managed to get through it without anything but gas and air."
Mum 2 & 3: "The birthing pool did wonders for us."
Mum 1: "I would never have the epidural again because it didn't work for me."

Mum 3 wanted everyone to know how hard worked so hard on her breathing technique. Even though no one actually asked. She probably left out the part where she screamed blue murder for an epidural when it was too late (was that just me?!). Mum 1 obviously thinks she's losing the boasting session so had to throw in that fact. The non-epidural mums were silently thinking, "whatever."

Round Three - Husbands.
Mum 1: "My husband is such a wimp he actually had to leave the room a few times."
Mum 4: "Can you believe mine fainted? And that was just when they were taking my blood, har har."
Mum 2: "Yeah, mine was all like, 'just keeping pushing you'll be fine'. Like i'm trying to open a sauce lid rather than PUSH A BABY OUT!"
Mum 3: "Poor you, my husband was amazing. Couldn't have got through it without him."

Mum 3 obviuosly didn't get the gist of this one. The wimpier the husband the more opportunity there is to show off about what a champion you are.

Tie Breaker - Would you do it again?
We all then proceeded to state how much we enjoyed the experience and actually it wasn't that bad. The obligatory, it was worth it in the end' was thrown in to compensate. I even heard every NCT teachers favourite, 'it was a positive pain'.

That night I relayed our conversation to the boy and ended on how it wasn't that bad, really. His response?

"You have forgotten!"

Photo credit: http://peachysmile.tumblr.com/

3 Jul 2012

All grown up

When I grow up
I want to be
Ma-ny diffe-rent
People you see

Doctor or nurse
Who wipes a brow
So upside down
I'll turn a frown

Hairdresser too
I'll brush your hair
To make you look
Really so fair

Ra-cing dri-ver
I'll zoom around
Winning the race
Won't touch the ground

A sil-ly clown
Who likes to try
To make you laugh
So hard you'll cry

Maybe a maid
To turn a bed
And make a mess
Tidy instead

A fei-sty chef
With a tall hat
Whip up a meal
Won't make you fat

A school tea-cher
A, B and C
I'll help you win
The spell-ing Bee

My mum tells me
"Well that's nice dear
But you can only
Pick one, I fear"

Oh no, I say
It's so fun-ny
I can be all
When I'm mummy!

You kiss my knee
When I fall down
You brush my hair
And drive me round

You make me laugh
And keep me clean
Make sure I'm full
With more than beans

You teach me lots
I want to do
Just the same thing
And be like you

Photo credit: http://destinationhwood.blogspot.co.uk/

2 Jul 2012

There's an end to the week?

In my previous world, every day started and ended pretty much the same way. Crammed in a tube. No, it wasn't a "honey, i shrunk the kids" situation. i'm referring to the London underground. The bit in the middle was what we call work. Okay, so my working days were fairly varied. Some days in x part of the country in x company meeting mr x. Other days doing the same, but with a y. However, it was still work. I still sat in front of a laptop all day, manipulating numbers. The weekends were there to mix it up and have fun. Oh, and get to the bank, post office and any other essential service that closes before the general working population finishes their working day. If you were lucky you'd make it during lunch hour, eating your sandwich on the go. Trying not to get the filling all over your trousers. Usually umsuccessfully,

These days my weekly schedule looks more like a holiday at Butlins. Each and every day is my own, well sort of, and I love it. Don't get me wrong, looking after Lady F is a full time job. But I get to create where and how the work is done.

What a great job.

I get to meet up with friends for a chat any time of day, well almost. I get to meet new people and not have our conversation dictated by an agenda to talk about this accounting standard or that issue. Even if now it's mostly this is how they sleep or that milestone has been reached.

I get to go swimming in the middle of the day. I get to sit in a circle of mums and babies singing silly songs.

I get to eat a lunch not from a packet or canteen serving yesterdays roast chicken as today's chicken curry, without having to make small talk with important people.

I get to laugh in the middle of the day, make silly faces and voices and not have my colleauges look at me like a crazy person.

I'm so grateful for my new job. The best part, it didn't require an interview.

The weekend?! What's a weekend?!

Photo credit: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/feb/13/work-life-balance-week-thinktank

28 Jun 2012

If I had a superpower

What would yours be? Something cool, no doubt. Like being able to fly or super strength.

The pre-mummy me probably would have chosen being able to fly. What an adrenaline rush and a great way to beat the traffic. Who needs to be more patient now, suckers. That would be my retort as I revved up my cape.

The post-mummy me would choose something a little more practical. Something to make the day go a little more smoothly and a lot easier.

My super power would be super speed, where the world stood still as I went at my own pace.

Just imagine this.

I'd start with a looong warm shower. The kind where your finger tips turn wrinkly even though you're not even in the bath. The kind where you're not in and out within 30 seconds, with soap suds still sticking to you and shouting "I'll just be a minute".

Then I'd enjoy my weetabix before the milk turns them into soggy mush. I'd savour the semi crunchy texture in my mouth.

Next, I'd make it out of the house with hair that isn't wet and not thrown back. Maybe I'd even indulge in more than concealer for the bags under my eyes and blusher so I look half alive. Heck, I might even have time to pluck my eyebrows and other places that hair seems to grow on my face.

Then I'd curl up on the sofa with my favourite book right before the mayhem that is dinner, bath and bed time.

To top off my super day, I'd get a couple of hours of shut eye before the night waking begins but without having to go to bed early.

Then at the end of my super day I'd probably miss all of the mayhem and wish my super power was to be super normal!.

Photo credit: http://www.leukemiasurvivor.co/2012/04/do-not-like-new-test-results-if-i-had.html

26 Jun 2012

My friend, the whirlwind.

I have a friend
Who you can't see
She's invisible
But not to me

She stands up tall
And spins around
Her arms and legs
Don't touch the ground.

Her name? Whirlwind
She follows me
All around my
House so you see

In the kitchen
We open drawers
Pull out knives, spoons
And all the forks

Pile up pots, pans
Plates and saucers
And splash around
In the water.

Washing machine
It isn't free
From the clothes we
Pile up with glee.

Moving onto
The bathroom too
Paint with toothpaste
Don't flush the loo.

The bedroom looks
A little scared
When it sees us
Approaching there.

Hide and seek we
Play with the clothes
Until they pile up
All over our toes.

The living room
Says bring it on
And the carpet
Joins in the fun.

Crumbs from cookies
We've eaten there
And all our toys
That we did share.

When my mummy
Sees all this mess
I feel I should
And do confess.

It was not me
Mum, that did it
It was the whirl-
Wind that did hit.

And so completes
Another round
Another climb
The housework mound.

Photo credit: http://blog.charitynavigator.org/2011_08_01_archive.html

25 Jun 2012

The daily workout

As I encounter the plethora of buggy fit adverts and advocates, i'm left feeling lazy about my lack of exercise.

An incentive came in the form of a wardrobe clear out. I discovered some lovely pre-pregnancy clothes that I wish I could fit into again, without the risk of ripping them at the seams. Then there was Lady F's hint. She discovered my belly button. When she tried to pincer grasp it, it wobbled. She laughed hysterically. Thank you for your support!

Don't get me wrong, i'm not afraid of exercise, i used to be quite fit in my pre-pregnancy days. I sometimes wish I had the inclination to join all of these, as I imagine them to be, Claudia Schiffer style mothers, star jumping in a muddy field. In fact, when people ask me what sports i'm involved in, running feels like a fair answer. "Yes, i've run competitively a few times" is my response. Even though it was s 5k 2 years ago and it was the last time my feet and running trainers met, but I don't need to elaborate.

Exercising on top of the complete lack of sleep, breastfeeding and being an all round professional stay at home mother, is too much of a disincentive.

One evening the boy and I had a 'let's see how fit we are challenge'. We took it in turns to pant like 80 year old women, red faced and sweaty through star jumps, sit ups and stomach crunches. The next day (and week) the boy complained about how sore his muscles were. I, on the other hand, had forgotten all about our workout session. Then it hit me. I already have a daily personal fitness plan. My instructor is Lady F and my gym is our home. This is how if looks:

Weight lifting: 10 times an hour, for varying durations, from 6:30am until 6:30pm. Weights range from minimal (toys) to 19lbs ( my instructor, who is experiencing separation anxiety). This exercise can be increased in intensity by weightlifting multiple weights or adding other activities such as cooking, brushing teeth, dancing, getting dressed, getting in and out of the car etc, etc at the same time, respectively.

Treadmill: Pacing to light jog whilst carrying 19lbs at various speeds for approx 15 minute intervals at 9am and 1pm i.e nap times. Personal sound track includes tired whinging noises. Increase the intensity by performing it ad hoc in the middle of the night.

Rowing (arms only): As necessary. Wiping work surfaces, hoovering, brushing up, dishes, dusting, making beds etc etc. Increase the intensity by inviting friends and family round.

Zumba: As and when required to keep the entertainment level high for the little one. Increase the intensity by performing it in different positions and levels in different voices whilst pulling faces.

Squats: 10 times an hour, hourly from 6:30am until 10pm. Increase the intensity by picking things up on your way down i.e socks, cups, bits of food, toys etc etc.

So, there's no need to feel bad about not attending a scheduled exercise class. My daily work out is still happening. I just didn't realize it until now.

Photo credit: http://chrisga262.blogspot.co.uk/2011/03/in-defense-of-exercise.html