5 Ways Kids Ruin Your Holiday

We’ve just come back from a fabulous week in Devon. The weather was great, we got out and about quite a bit and the kids were mostly good. BUT here’s 5 ways that they (OK that’s mostly the toddler) wrecked the holiday:

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The Toddler looking pensive moments before she threw a huge tantrum about walking up the hill.

1. Waking Up Time. The toddler woke up between 5.30am and 6.30am EVERY SINGLE day on our holiday. I mean come on, it’s a holiday, couldn’t we possibly get a 7am lie in just once? Typically, the first Monday after we got home, she slept in until 7.30am. How do they know how to do that?  Yeah… thanks for that.

2. Wanting to Go Home. How bizarre that despite having a daily countdown for months on end about when we were going on holiday, the toddler after 2 days of finally arriving, asked -“When are we going home?” This line of questioning happened all week. Every day we’d go to a beach or out somewhere and she’d be asking “When are we going back to the holiday house?”

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Having a tantrum & wanting to go home after a complaint about too much sand.

3. Food. Meals out had to be catered for the very limited palettes of the kids. No fancy seafood restaurants for us. No browsing the range of eateries and bistros perhaps taking in a pre-dinner cocktail. Now choice is instead restricted to – Which restaurant is most likely to do sausages or pasta? Which burger joints might be open at 5pm? Which would be fairly child friendly? And which would best tolerate the noise of a tantruming toddler?

4. Going to Bed. Just when we thought we could properly relax with a bottle of wine and enjoy some grown up time alone. The toddler refused to go to bed. Up – down, up – down – I felt like a bloomin yo-yo putting her back in to her bed for hours on end. Eventually we had just enough time to drink a glass of wine before going to bed, exhausted.

5. Not Walking. We have ditched the pushchair a while ago. The toddler has mostly coped well with not wanting the buggy. But on one particular day, decided to throw the most God awful tantrum at the foot of an enormous hill with the car at the top. Husband had already gone on ahead with cool bag and older child leaving me to carry bags, blankets, towels and other gumpf along with the screaming toddler under my arm in full view of the beach up the steepest hill in history.

As you can guess, we’re going through a particularly “difficult” stage with the youngest. But despite her many grumps and grumbles, we still did manage to have a marvellous holiday!

Any other ways that kids spoil your holiday? Let me know.

 

And here’s some of the nicer moments!IMG_1593

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Cuddle Fairy
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Pink Pear Bear

How to Get Started as A Freelance Copywriter

Freelance copywriting is perhaps the best job I’ve ever had. I love being my own boss, choosing my own hours and deciding which projects to work on. Perhaps the biggest advantage for me is that I get to work around my children. During the normal working week  (school holidays are a bit more problematic!) I can work around the school run and pre-school run and I’ve been known to work late into the night to get things done.

How to Start Freelance Copywriting

But freelancing does have it’s downsides too. As recently as a couple of months ago, I was stuck in a rut with no sign of work and I accepted that I’d be a stay at home mum for a bit longer. I also wrote another post about the downsides of freelancing when I had the horrible task of amongst other things, chasing a client down for payment. I’m extremely lucky in that my husband is the main breadwinner in our family and so we can get by if I don’t get any work for months on end.

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41 Things I’ve Learnt in 41 Years

This week I turn 41. It sounds old when you write it down, but I’m still a youngster at heart!  I’m no wise woman, but I thought I’d write a list of the things I’ve learnt or think I’ve learnt so far in my near on 41 years.

41 things I've learnt in 41 years

1) You need to be able to laugh at yourself. My dear old Nan will always be remembered for her many sayings and this is one of them. I completely agree. No one likes a person who can’t laugh at themselves, so it’s better to laugh along with others.

2) You care a lot less about what other people think as you get older.

3) All Mums suffer with guilt. Whether it’s working too much, not working enough, being too strict or not strict enough, I don’t know of a mum that doesn’t suffer with mum guilt. I doubt it will ever change, but we need to be kinder to ourselves.

4) Life is too short to read crap books. I recently got sent a free Kindle book from Amazon. There was a reason it was free. I continued to plough on with it even though it took me an age to finish it. I’ll never get that time back, so won’t be making that mistake again!

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5) Marriage is hard work. Enough said.

6) Be grateful for everything you DO have, and worry less about the stuff you don’t have.

7) Stay away from people who make you feel bad. Toxic, negative people only bring you down.

8) Love yourself. If you don’t like you, how can you expect anyone else to?

9) Stop comparing yourself to others. There will always be someone who has more money, a better job, a nicer house etc. But you need to concentrate on you.

10) Social media lies. OK maybe not lies, but it doesn’t give the entire picture. You only get to hear about the good stuff on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, very rarely do you get to hear about the bad side of people’s lives.

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11) Get outside every single day. Fresh air and a bit of a walk can clear your head and do wonders for your soul. (It also quietens down arguing kids).

12) Smile! Everyone is attracted to someone who is smiles, it makes you look friendly and more approachable. Failing that, it makes them wonder what you’re up to.

13) Let kids be kids. Some structure is good for children, but too many classes, groups and schedules can cause stress. Kids need some down time to just play.

Kids Playing

14) Only you can change your life. You want something? You have to be the one to make it happen.

15) Your husband will always be your other child.

16) Friendships come and go. There’s not enough time to stay in touch properly with everyone. It’s just the way it is that some people will come into your life as others move out. But some true good friends will remain forever.

17) Your initial instincts are normally right.

18) It’s best not to discuss politics or religion with most people unless you want to end up in a fairly heated debate or have a few hours in which to stick around for the ensuing discussion. I’ve found this one out with a few different groups of people recently over Brexit.

19) Never judge another person’s circumstances or lifestyle because you just don’t know what might happen to you in the future. A friend of mine recently told me how another girl was quite judgemental about her situation when her marriage broke down but then went through exactly the same thing a few months later.

20) Do what makes you happy and what you’re passionate about. If something makes you happy it shouldn’t be a chore to do it; you’ll always find time.

21) A lot of problems can be solved over a cup of tea, a biscuit and a chat with a good friend.

I love Tea

22) Failing that, there’s always wine …… or gin.

Red Wine

23) Don’t underestimate the power of sleep. Most things seem a lot better in the morning!

24) Everything in moderation. That goes for booze, exercise, work, rich food, late nights, pretty much everything!

25) Whether it’s work, parenting, social life or dating, most people are WINGING it. The most successful people are those that have an abundance of confidence. They look like they know what they’re doing (but probably don’t).

26) Make time and save for holidays. They’re not only good for re-charging your batteries and spending quality time with those you care about, but holidays are essential memory makers.

27) Your close friends are your saviours, your sounding boards, your secret keepers.

28) Put your phone down occasionally and enjoy what’s in front of you. 

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29) Children, even very young children can hear and understand what’s going on around them, far more than you care to think. I totally underestimated the negative impact last year on my eldest daughter of losing my father-in-law as well as the problem with schools. Watch what you say and when you say it.

30) Try to always see the good in people. If you only see the worst, that is what you’re likely to get.

31) The days are long but the years are short. Whoever wrote that was totally spot on. It’s very cliche, but kids grow up too fast, they might drive you mad on a daily basis, but they’ll be 18 before you know it. Cherish them.

32) A good cry is very cathartic. As is writing things down either in a notebook or blog post!

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33) A new outfit and some make up will always give you confidence to go out and knock ’em dead.

34) Mindfulness has some very good tips. I’ve just had an introductory session in mindfulness and really enjoyed it. The basic premise is that we need to spend more time in the present and less time worrying about the future or the past. Whatever is going to happen will happen anyway and worrying about it will only waste more of our energy.

35) There’s ALWAYS someone worse off than you. Another great saying from my lovely Nan, but it’s so true and often gives me a bit of a wake up call if I’m anxious about something.

36) Some truly painful things never really ever go away. But you can learn to deal with them and cope a bit better with the support of those around you.

37) Be nice to people! As well as being generally a decent thing to do, you never know who might end up being your boss or in your social circles in the future.

38) What’s the worst that can happen?! This is one my mum used to ask me a lot when I was younger and a big worrier.

39) Everyone needs to go out and let their hair down once in a while. Drink, dance and be stupid. It’s a necessity to appreciate life!

40) Don’t feel bad about saying no to people. It’s impossible to do everything. Sometimes you need to say no and to not feel bad about it.

41) Some time spent alone is good for you. If like me, you spend a lot of time with the little people and very rarely get any time for yourself, you know how heavenly half an hour can be just to spend time alone reading, listening to music or just to savour the silence! It not only does you some good, but helps to improve your relationships with others when you’ve had a break!

So there you have it my 41 things in 41 years. That took some thinking, let me tell you!  Is there anything you’d add to this list? I’d love to know.

 

 

 

Pink Pear Bear

Mummascribbles

Cuddle Fairy
Mummuddlingthrough
You Baby Me Mummy
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

International Cousins Day 24th July 2016

Apparently 24th July 2016 is International Cousins Day. Who knew?!

I was lucky to grow up with two sisters. We are close in age so despite the usual fighting and bickering when we were very young, we were good company for each other. Despite our parents having siblings, we only had a total of 2 cousins who were born in Australia. We’ve seen them a few times over the years, but we never really experienced the joy of growing up with cousins that we were close to.

Cousins for Our Children

My children have got a whole new experience of cousins that we never had. They have 6 in total. The 2 on my husband’s side live a fair distance away and so we don’t get to see them that often, but now aged 7 and 4, they are close in age to my two daughters (3 and almost 5) and so they always get on very well whenever we do meet up.

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The other 4 cousins belong to my 2 sisters and they are all very close in age – the eldest, (the only boy bless him) will be 7 in September. Then there’s 2 other girls just turning 5, the same age as Alice. (Yes my sisters and I were weirdly all pregnant together)! The youngest cousin is 2 and a half; 6 months younger than my youngest, Eva.

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Seeing as my sisters and I don’t live excessively long distances apart, we get to meet up fairly regularly and one thing I’ve noticed, especially recently, is just how BRILLIANTLY they all get on. They seem to have reached this magical age where we can now, on the whole just leave them to get on and play and amuse themselves. I’m astonished that there never seems to be any arguments or foul play (at least that I know about).

It’s so interesting to watch them and see who is playing with who, which ones are taking the lead and being bossy, which ones are happy to sit back and be told what to do, who is looking out for who. It’s also really interesting to see all their little personalities and quirks and preferences develop.

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Last Year’s Holiday

Last April, my mum and dad took my sisters and our families away on holiday for a week. What could have been utter carnage and mayhem, fuelled with arguments and fallings outs, was instead a fantastic week away where the kids just LOVED being together. It felt sad to come home and split them up from each other!

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Who knows how they will be when they’re older,  I’m bracing myself for the day when they all start going out drinking and clubbing together, but for now,  I’m so happy that they seem to all be good friends and are there for each other.

Happy International Cousins Day! Another excuse for a get together.

Do you have cousins and if so, do you have a strong relationship with them? I’d love to know.

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Cuddle Fairy
Mummuddlingthrough
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Pink Pear Bear

4 Things That Have Changed in Our First Year at Primary School (And 4 Things That Haven’t)

My eldest has just over 1 week left of our first year at primary school. It’s unbelievable just how quickly time has flown. Pink Pear Bear wrote an amusing post recently about what she’s learnt in her first year at school (as a parent). Which got me thinking about our own first year at school.

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Penultimate last week of school 13th Jul 16

Last September when we were all starting the new routine with some disturbing levels of anxiety and trepidation, I wrote this post about 6 Things You Don’t Expect When Your Child Starts Primary School.

Now, some 10 months later, I can see just how much things have changed and yet in other ways, how some things have remained completely the same.

Changed

1) Alice is happy to go to school! I’m THRILLED to say the main change we have experienced since September is that I no longer have to carry Alice kicking and screaming out of the house and bundling her into the car every day to go to school. Back in the autumn it absolutely broke my heart that she was clearly so upset and bewildered by the change in routine. Back then I wrote about how I needed wine to cope on the school run. I think a lot of it was down to the fact that she’s the youngest in the year (born at the end of August meant she’d only just turned 4 when she started school) and was still emotionally very young. A lot of it was also down to our life at home – losing my father-in-law and not getting a primary school place at an of our chosen schools. 

2) The stuff she can do. It’s unbelievable to think that 10 months ago, Alice couldn’t write her name or read at all. Now she loves writing and will often write out a page of text at a time. She can read really well and has apparently been doing “taking away” and “dividing” too. When you stop to think, how much has changed in terms of their learning, it’s amazing.

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3) Physical change. I don’t know if it’s school that has made her grow up or whether there is just some magical changes that happen between the ages of 4 and 5. But Alice’s confidence for one thing has increased so much that it looks to have immensely changed her in less than a year. Just look at the difference in these photos:

 

4) Organisation. I’m having to be a lot more organised about school stuff. I can not tell you just how many bits of paper, emails and notes on the class room door we have to contend with. Blink and you’ll miss something. Next week, the final week at school there is something happening every single day that I need to remember to do. Heaven help me if I forget to send in money for a certain extra curricular activity or forget it’s some kind of dress up day or forget that certain colour of t.shirt is needed for Sports Day or if I forget that there’s a certain lunch activity going on. This is on top of the usual weekly planning of school dinner choices / packed lunch options and contending with daily notes and invitations to kids parties being discovered in the book bag.

Stayed The Same

1) Sergeant major.  I’m still a complete sergeant major in the mornings. In order to get everyone out the door somewhere near to being on time, I still find that I’m shouting out those bossy instructions like “Teeth”, “Toilet”, “Shoes”, “Car”.

Scary Mum

2) Mystery. I still have absolutely no idea most of the time what Alice gets up to all day. I always ask her on the journey home how her day was and what she got up to and I can guarantee that most of the time she will say “fine” and “not a lot.” I may get told a random couple of facts about something that happened just as she’s about to go to bed, but otherwise, her day and what she gets up to really does remain on the whole a complete mystery to me.

3) Tiredness. OK so she’s not asking to go to bed at 4.30pm anymore like she was in October, but I’ve noticed that when we’re approaching the end of any term or half term, Alice definitely starts to get crotchety and play up (more than usual).

4) Arts and Crafts. I’m still crap at arts and crafts. But where my poor attempts to “make stuff” was once confined to the privacy of our own home, it’s now having to be paraded into school. Not great when you see what some of the other kids are taking in compared to your humble offering.

 

 

 

Who knows what Year 1 will have in store for us in September and whether we’ll notice even more changes, but bring on the summer, I’m ready for a rest!

Have you noticed any major changes after your child’s first year at primary school? I’d love to know!

 

 

Cuddle Fairy
Mummuddlingthrough
You Baby Me Mummy
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Pink Pear Bear

The Ongoing School Debacle

For the past 15 months we’ve been mulling over a problem in our family. A dilemma about what we should do. It’s something that has been gnawing away at us for so long that it’s had a fairly toxic affect on all of us.

Primary School Results

The Initial Saga

15 months ago we were completely shocked and distressed not to get any of our 4 choices of primary school for our eldest daughter. The local school, less than 10 minutes away, which we’d naively assumed we would get into was hugely oversubscribed, to the extent it has never been seen before.  Despite going through an appeal and being on the waiting list, nothing changed. Alice started at our allocated primary school in September. It took her a long time to settle in, but she now seems happy and to be enjoying school for which we are truly grateful.

You might say, well good for you that’s that then. But then came:

The Latest Saga

A few weeks ago, I found out that our local secondary school which is perhaps a 15 minute walk away from our house, has just THIS YEAR decided to change their policy to only admit children from local “feeder”primary schools. Our local primary school counts as a “feeder” school, but our allocated school where Alice now attends is not.

To add insult to injury the secondary school near to where Alice now goes to school confirmed that their policy is to only take children who live in the nearby catchment area (which we are not).

WHAT THE ?!!!  

I mean really?! How is this fair that schools all have a different set of rules?

This leaves us once again falling down the gap not fitting into any one particular set of rules or meeting any particular criteria. It means in 5 years’ time as it stands, we will be shunted to a random secondary school miles away.

Whilst it might sound a bit neurotic to be thinking 5 years ahead, I can’t help feeling upset and cross that after all the trouble we experienced last year, we are potentially going to face all again in 5 years’ time.

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Alice on her first day of school Sept 15

The Options

1) We looked at moving house. Drastic? Yes. But needing to take the control of the situation rather than let fate decide where our kids should be educated, we started exploring other areas. I’m not convinced this is the right thing to do. Why should I have to leave my friends and family and start again? And there’s no guarantees that we can move somewhere and get both our children into a school.

2) Move to another feeder school. I’ve given up phoning the local school down the road to find out where we are on the waiting list. It was literally driving me mental to find out that I had on several occasions moved DOWN the list. By chance, I discovered that one of the lovely little village schools on our original list was expanding their school and could take on an extra 10 places per year group. We applied and found out we’d got a place! Woo-Hoo! We were all set to move Alice until I read the admissions policy and found out that they (unlike most primary schools) do not give priority to siblings.

What The ?!!!! 

I mean really?! How is this fair that schools all have a different set of rules?

And so because we are out of catchment for this village school and the council have confirmed exactly how many children live in catchment for when our youngest daughter starts school next year, it looks like we are going to have to turn the place down.

We have stressed ourselves out over this for 15 months now. I have been upset and depressed about the situation as well as feeling  bitter and resentful about the neighbours and community all being able to go to the local school except for us. It particularly hurt when our next door neighbour managed to get a place for their little boy this year at the local school because the sibling and birth rate this year is much lower than last year. We’ve really felt like upsticks and leaving. But every alternative seemingly has more problems to bear.

I’ve written to the local MP, the local authority and the department of education as well as the schools themselves to complain about the situation and the lack of consistency in the admissions criteria. But no one wants to know. Everyone has passed the buck and I’m utterly exhausted and fed up with thinking about and fighting it.

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Alice with Eva in their matching uniform

Trying to Retain some Positivity

About a week ago, I felt a shift in my mood. I don’t know whether it was because we have been fighting and stressing about it all for so long and the fight has now gone out of me. I’ve grown tired of being negative and bitter about our situation. It’s not had a good affect on any of us and I’m particularly aware that our stress could well have been taking its toll on our children.

Or I don’t know whether my mood has changed because I’m aware of just how happy Alice seems at her current school and even better, excited to be going into Year 1 in September, her confidence seems to have come on in abundance since last year.

Whilst I’m still UPSET about the initial and latest saga. Whilst I still WISH we could walk to our local school. Whilst I’m still willing to EXPLORE other possibilities that come up, and whilst I’m still SCARED about what will happen to us in 5 years’ time – being shunted to a random secondary school, I’ve decided to focus on what is important:

That Alice is in a good school

That she is thriving both in terms of her learning and education as well as her confidence and friendships.

I’m sorry for the huge rant! I realise that this post is quite selfish in that it’s cathartic; I’ve totally offloaded but I do feel strangely better for it.

If anyone has any thought or advice, I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Pink Pear Bear

Mummascribbles

Cuddle Fairy

5 Ways Kids Party Harder Than You

I’m slowly returning to normal life having spent most of last weekend living in a surreal land of Pin The Tail on The Donkey and Pass The Parcel.  Saturday was Eva’s 3rd birthday. Why I thought it was a good idea to have 2 parties and then go to another child’s party on the Sunday I’ll never know. Friday we hosted a very informal get together with pre-school friends. Saturday we hosted a BBQ party for family including 6 kids and 9 adults. Sunday, I staggered down the road to a friend’s party held in a village hall and in my zombie like state, stared in disbelief for 2 hours at the most bizarre children’s entertainer.

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Saturday (Actual) Birthday Party Outfit

3 Birthday Parties, 3 Different Outfits!

 

The Reason for My Tiredness?

  1. Cake – if you’ve read my previous post about the pressure of making a birthday cake, you’ll know that I’m not a natural baker. But yet for some inexplicable reason I seem to torture myself every year by insisting on baking my children a cake. There have been some real horrors over the years. So this year the birthday girl proclaimed she wanted a turtle cake. I’ve no idea why. I spent the usual few days in the run up to the day stressing about this and as her favourite colour is purple, eventually came up with this fairly ugly beast:

I needn’t have stressed out too much as despite it looking fairly ugly, it tasted yummy and most of the kids just bolted it straight down their throat without even looking at it.

2. Food – As well as the cake there’s the usual stress about buying enough food to feed the 5,000 and probably more importantly (or perhaps this is just my family) buying enough booze to water the 5,000.

3. Weather – Despite it being early July we spend every year debating whether to risk holding the party outside in the garden or cramming everyone inside. There’s always a dilemma about what to do about the BBQ if it rains.

4. Entertainment – Games, music and other general ways to entertain children ranging in ages between 2 and 6 always keeps me busy for a while. And again, it always seems to directly correlate to point number 3.

5. Presents – Sourcing the birthday present. This should be fairly easy but The Husband and I always have to have a pow wow about it for days on end before realising we’ve left it almost too late to order anything online.

Yes, this pretty much sums up why I’ve been feeling like a zombie and was ready to go to bed at 7pm on each night of the weekend. Unfortunately my kids did not feel the same way. Like the Duracell Bunny, their energy knows no bounds, they seem to have the capacity to keep on going. I wonder what on earth they can be taking other than a burger and purple cake that keeps them going and can I get some of it please?

Here’s 5 reasons why they party harder than us:

1. They always wake early. There’s no birthday lie in or casual lolling around for breakfast in bed. Instead the morning starts generally at 5.30am with shouts of “It’s my birthday” or from the older sister “Wake Up! It’s Eva’s birthday!”

2.Over excitement about presents. They get into an absolute frenzy tearing paper off here, there and everywhere not really caring what’s inside.

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3. On the go. Once the party starts, there’s no casual sitting around chatting or hanging out in the kitchen, it’s full on craziness from start to finish from running around like a nutter to dancing like loons. They will keep going proclaiming they are not tired and have to be physically put into bed often in an over-(non tired) mess screaming about a “pillow with lumps in it” and having the sheets tucked in. “Tighter” “I said Tighter!”

4. They eat what the hell they like. Forget all that green healthy salad stuff that you’ve been preparing for hours. It’s just plate after plate of crisps, cake and sweets. If you’re lucky, they may eat a sausage or a bit of bread.

5.They will get up and do it all again. Pretty much exactly the same (including the 5.30am start) for the next two days.

Phew! I’m exhausted just reliving it. No wonder I’m still feeling absolutely shattered from the madness of the weekend. It was all fabulous if tiring and Eva had a wonderful time. Just remind me to have only the one party next year.

 

 

 

Cuddle Fairy
Mummuddlingthrough

You Baby Me Mummy

For Eva on Your 3rd Birthday

Dearest Eva

This weekend you were 3 and I can’t quite believe it. 3 years ago, you made a dramatic, impatient and demanding entrance into the world that seems to be completely in keeping with your personality and nature today.

I remember screaming at your dad in the car on the way to the hospital that you were coming but he didn’t quite appreciate how close you were to being born; wanting to practically sort out the money for parking! My waters broke as I stepped over the threshold of the hospital and I barely managed to get my trousers off let alone get to a bed before your birth was announced at 7.40am 2nd July 2013.

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Growing up Too Soon Too Fast?

I can’t believe my baby, my youngest is growing up. It really feels like we are fully out of the baby years now and marching headstrong into being a little girl. Or should I say Big Girl.

If you had it your way, you wouldn’t be 3 at all, you’d be 4 going on 5 keeping up with your big sister Alice. You are so desperate to not be left out, to not be seen as being the “baby” of the family, that I worry. I worry that you’re trying to grow up too fast. You may only be 3 but many people have already commented to me about how you seem to have such an old head on young shoulders.

Likes a Chat

Your speech and vocabulary has always been excellent. From the moment you started talking in your first year, you have shocked and amazed people with the things you come out with! Admittedly some of the more recent conversations have involved swear words which filled me with horror. But other conversations have been shockingly grown up and hilarious. From asking me how Grandpa got to Heaven without wings to announcing last week one morning “I’m sorry mummy but I seem to have grown some more freckles in the night.” You talk A LOT. Your pre-school teachers have often commented on how you “like a chat.” But I completely love this about you. I love that you are inquisitive and curious about the world around you. And although at times it can be incredibly wearing, I love that you want to know everything about everything from where the rubbish men live to why the grass is green and what squirrels have for lunch.

Facial Expresssions

And just as you seem to have a huge vocabulary, we absolutely love your huge range of facial expressions which quite often match your mood!

 

 

This Past Year

We’ve had some momentous moments this past year. Alice started school in September and I really worried about how you would be not having your older sister and best friend around to play with and look up to. If you had your way, you’d be going to school with Alice  and staying there with her all day. Many mornings I’ve had to drag you out of the classroom (whilst in the early days trying to convince Alice to stay!)

I had thought that there would be tears and tantrums, but instead the transition went well and this is mostly because you started your own journey into the world of pre-school. Despite a couple of early day upsets, you soon grew to love the place and even now you run in most mornings without so much as a backward glance to me. You always meet me with a huge shout “Muuuuummmmmyyy!” and come charging towards me chattering at full speed about what you have been up to and most mornings ask “Mum am I going to pre-school today?” I’m  thrilled that you love it so much and I know that you’re going to enjoy spending full days there in September. In fact I’m counting on it wearing you out a bit more so that we no longer have to get up at 5.30am every morning as you have recently started demanding!

We ditched the dummy and dumped the pushchair this year and whilst in theory the lack of pushchair has been good because it means less bulk to carry around, there were times that you struggled, were tired and needed it. There were also times when I really could have done with it to contain you!

Head Strong

Everyone talks about the “Terrible Twos” but I think we may have more trouble ahead of us with the Terrible Threes. It’s only been in the last month that we’ve noticed how much more feisty and headstrong you have become. If you decide you want to do something, there is no talking you out of it or convincing you otherwise. This is often demonstrated in your outfit choices. From demanding to wear wear wellies with everything to the recent insistence on wearing a Halloween costume on the school run, to the even more recent obsession with wearing swimming costumes around the house. You are crazy, determined full of self-confidence. You have absolutely no qualms about what other people think of you and I can only hope that this quality lasts.

 

Some of your determination has been harder to bear. For some reason despite not even being 3, you seem to have taken to not needing much sleep. Your energy knows no bounds. Daytime naps went out the window before you were even 2, but in the last month you have seemed to be on the go all day and then not wanted to go to bed; getting up and down numerous times making us pull our hair out with frustration. And THEN when you finally fell into a deep sleep, you without fail between 5 and 5.30am wake us up in the most uncivilised way of banging us on our heads and demanding milk. If the milk is too cold or too hot, you scream your head off that it’s “not the right temperature.”

Your tantrums can come from nowhere and they are so intense I can feel like I’ve been smacked in the face. At times like these you have been terribly hard work and we have struggled to know how how to handle you. One thing is for sure though, if we rise to the argument we are only guaranteed of full on war followed by absolute misery; you are devastated when you are told off and seek out reassurance and cuddles, kisses and love.

And so despite all your tantrums, feisty and rageful moods, you can in contrast be as equally fierce in your giving and demanding of love, affection and attention. You frequently insist on sitting on our laps, stroking our faces and snuggling up under our cardigans or jumpers.

Knowing that we won’t be having anymore children, it feels hard letting you grow up and spread your wings, but equally, I couldn’t be any prouder.

Happy 3rd Birthday my darling girl. Happy birthday my crazy, quirky, chatty Eva.xxxxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mummuddlingthrough
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Pink Pear Bear

Time for The Hating to Stop

I went to bed fairly early on Thursday night and the predictions for the vote was that the Remain campaign would win. Like many other people, I woke on Friday utterly shocked at hearing the news that we were out of the EU.

I was in a state of disbelief for the rest of the day and along with the country and indeed the world, watched events unfold; David Cameron resigned, the pound plummeted, other countries expressing their regret and shock.

Winnie The Pooh Friendship Quote

 

Worry

On that Friday I could do little else. I was (and still am) worried. I worry about the economy which was fragile enough before Thursday. I worry about the impact on jobs now and for people in the future. I worry about the implications for my husband who works for a German company. I worry about Scotland drifting off on their own away from Great Britain. I worry about prices increasing, interest rates rising and taxes rising. More than anything I worry about how all of this will affect the lives of our children.

Perhaps, if I’m being optimistic then this turmoil will quieten down over the coming days and weeks and things will regain some degree of normality. Perhaps in the long run things will work out for us; perhaps the economy will rally and we will make new trading agreements with other countries both inside and outside the EU…Perhaps.

But for the short term it feels chaotic. The country feels like we are in a mess. Politicians resigning and being fired all over the place and Scotland threatening to leave. I feel like we have become not just the laughing stock of Europe, but the world. So I can only hope that things will turn around.

 

Stand Together and Stop Hating

More than all this, we need to stand together. I recently wrote a blog about the need for more empathy on social media. I wrote how many people in certain situations are too quick to judge others. Perhaps after writing this post, I should not have been shocked that this election result would be no different. Yet as the events of Thursday’s election result continued to unfold, I was disturbed at just how aggressive social media posts were becoming from people on both sides of the argument. Friends on Facebook were resulting to full on slanging matches in full view of everyone else. Yes, this is an emotional matter that will affect us all, but where is the decorum and the dignity. Surely we are better than this? Than resulting to a public cat fight?

As you’ve probably gathered from this post, I voted Remain. But I have friends on and family on both sides of the fence. And yes, whilst I have grave concerns about our country and our future, my overwhelming feeling is of sadness. Sadness that we have become such a divided country. Sadness that there is so much hate and bitterness to each other. Surely this isn’t going to help anyone or anything.

The country is currently in turmoil, but we need to stand together now in order to move forward. Once the shock and despair has subsided a bit, we need to move on. And we need to move forward with love and tolerance of each other.

Love over Hate

Teardrop EU Flag

 

 

 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
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Cuddle Fairy

The Pressure of Making a Birthday Cake

At the weekend, I took both my girls to a birthday party. It was lovely, a unicorn theme, there was a fairly entertaining magician who kept the kids amused for an hour, lots of party food and all the children managed to play outside. Even better, because it was held at my friend’s house, the adults all got to mingle and drink cups of tea too.

Then we sang Happy Birthday and the cake was served up. This is what appeared:

Rosie's 5th Birthday Cake
Unicorn themed cake by my friend Lizzie

Errr…… Wowzers!  Such beautiful, intricate detail and when you cut this bad boy open it had 3, yes 3 levels of rainbow marbled cake AND multi-coloured smarties spilling out. I knew that my friend was a good baker, but this was just awe inspiring. We were all hugely impressed. I can’t vouch for how it tasted as my two bolted down their slices of cake, but I’m guessing it tasted as perfect as it looked.

Star Bakers

There’s a few other star bakers several of whom I’ve seen on the blogging circuit including the lovely Charlie at Mess and Merlot. Charlie has posted several blogs about birthday cakes and they always look fantastic. When I asked her for some images to feature in this post, she sent me lots which are all amazing, but here’s a few of my favourites:

Cakes by the talented Charlie at Mess and Merlot

More beautiful cakes all looking nothing less than perfect. So all of this merely adds to my fear and pressure that I feel about making birthday cakes for my own daughters. You may have read my arts and crafts fail post. Let’s just say that my baking is on a similar level.

Every year at this time, I begin to break out in a sweat as I know that I will once again have to Bake A Cake. Our youngest daughter’s birthday is very early in July and our oldest daughter’s birthday is late August. There is exactly 7 weeks between their birthdays, which means every summer since Alice was 1, I end up spending a lot of my summer worrying about making cakes.

To Make or To Not To Bake?

It’s ridiculous isn’t it? So many people have asked me why I don’t just buy a cake. And I’ve no idea why I don’t, but I just seem to have it in my head that it is a tradition that I will make my children’s birthday cakes.

Let me be honest. I am NOT a baker. Let alone a star baker. If these cakes pictured above score a 10 I’m a possible minus 5. Four years ago when Alice was coming up for 1 I decided that despite having not baked a cake for years, I WOULD bake my daughter a birthday cake for her first birthday. I can still remember starting it the night before and although I followed the most basic recipe to the letter, absolutely stressing that it was all going wrong. Despite my mother-in-law questioning what was on the top (Errr… chocolate button butterflies and ladybirds obviously), it was well received by everyone and tasted good.

33 - Alice + cake
Alice’s 1st Birthday Cake

The Following Years

Every year since then I’ve hunted down easy to follow recipes that all involve butter icing. For some reason the thought of using fondant icing and modelling stuff, as shown in the photos at the top, all seem to terrify me. And until last year, considering that I’ve had two children to now make for, it was all going FAIRLY well:

Alice's 2nd Birthday Cake
Alice’s 2nd Birthday- A basic sandwich cake with more butter icing, chocolate buttons and animals.

 

Eva’s 1st Birthday Cake

Eva’s first birthday – I felt fairly chuffed – I bought a butterfly mould and smothered it in butter icing topped off with sweets. Despite the look on my kids’ faces it went down well even thought they were all bouncing off the walls from the sugar rush!

Alice's 3rd Birthday Cake

Alice’s 3rd Birthday Cake

Running out of steam, I used the same idea 7 weeks later for Alice’s third birthday. OK so she was 3 and really didn’t care that it was practically the same cake as her sister had had the month before.

Last Year

In the usual panic, I thought I’d do a basic purple cake for Eva’s 2nd birthday as she just loves purple. Notice the constant theme of butter icing and chocolate buttons being used throughout. But, so far, so good right? This looks pretty good I think?

P1030016
Eva’s 2nd Birthday Cake

Seven weeks later, I was looking for more easy recipe ideas for Alice’s 4th birthday party. She was having a party at a mini-soft play place complete with 12 kids. I found what I thought was the perfect recipe for a hedgehog.

The day arrived and it was unbelievably hot. I was in a sweaty, stressy mess trying to work out how to salvage a cake which not only looked slightly too small to dish up to 12 kids, but was also covered in butter icing which was slipping and sliding all over the place. This is how it looked when I finally dished it up:

 

Birthday Cake Disaster!
Alice’s 4th Birthday “Cake”

I mean seriously?!  What on earth is this awful looking creature? Because it surely isn’t a hedgehog! Just take a moment to scroll from this monstrosity up to the unicorn cake at the top of the page and you may, just for a fleeting moment, experience a micro second of the utter humiliation and embarrassment that I felt in presenting this cake.

 

Alice's 4th Birthday Cake

Alice’s face, just about says it all: “What the hell is this?” To be fair, at 4, she didn’t really care. It was me who was apologising to the other parents for such an ugly looking cake and giving each child a tiny centimetre square piece of cake to make sure it stretched round.

This Year

I’ve got less than 2 weeks to go before it’s Eva’s 3rd birthday. My stomach drops whenever I think about it. Could I get away with ANOTHER butterfly cake? And then, 7 weeks later, what can I do for Alice? If it’s hot what can I do that isn’t a slippery butter icing mess?

I’m feeling the pressure, not least to try and bake 2 half decent cakes within 7 weeks of each other but also because I’ve started thinking, at what age does your child looks at a cake and says “Mum that’s rubbish.” Or “Mum that’s not as good as the unicorn cake.” Could it be this year when my eldest baby turns 5? Or have I got a couple more years to go? And can I in that time, teach myself or learn some tricks to improve a bit? I’m never going to win the Star Baker award, but it would be nice to present my children with something other than a slop on a plate!

Do you make your children’s birthday cakes or do you buy them in?

Any help, hints or advice on easy to make birthday cakes all gratefully received!

 

 

 

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Cuddle Fairy

Mummuddlingthrough