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?

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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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Mummuddlingthrough

When Will Dinner be Different?

I seem to cook the same rotation of dinners every week for my kids. I might mix things up a bit by not doing the same dishes on the same night, but I can pretty much confirm that these items will be on the menu every single week:

  • Pasta, tuna and cheese
  • Omelette and beans
  • Spaghetti Bolognese (only if the sauce is blended and contains no “lumps”. The eldest will still pick out the visible bits of tinned tomato that can be found)
  • Jacket potato with cheese and beans
  • Sausage, mash and carrots
  • Pasta with cheese
  • Pizza

dinner-every-night

Yes, don’t judge me. I appreciate that probably 3 at best from this list contain vegetables. I KNOW that 3 meals contain pasta and I GET that most of these dinners are not particularly healthy. But what is the alternative?

The Alternative

Instead I can I spend ages preparing and cooking a delicious homemade meal that will be thrown back in my face. Take last week, I had a brainwave that I’d cook a lasagne. After all, they love spaghetti bolognese right? I’ll blend up EXACTLY the same sauce and put it in with a bit of different shaped pasta. Wrong.

“What’s this?” said Alice in disgust picking at the flat shaped pasta.

I did eventually manage to get her to try it and she eventually conceded that it might be alright but she still wanted to know why she couldn’t have the “normal” spaghetti.

It can take a fair bit of effort to cook a dinner from scratch. I’d be happy to do more, but not when it’s met with such suspicion and disgust. They seem to know what they like and like eating a mere 7 odd dishes on constant rotation.

What Age Does This Change?

In a bid to try and broaden the repertoire of dinners, I do try and encourage my kids to eat a new food fairly frequently. But their seemingly insistence of hatred for vegetables knows no bounds. They have tried and proclaimed to hate sweetcorn, peas, cucumber, tomatoes, green beans, mushrooms, aubergine. It’s baffling. I mean sweetcorn? Really?

So I’d love to know at what age does this suddenly change? You don’t hear of that many 20 or 30 year olds who will only eat pasta, pizza or omelette. Is it a gradual change that I’ll barely notice as my kids might over the years begin to start eating peas and then halleleujah mushrooms? Or is it a sudden switch where perhaps aged 10 they think – “You know what, I really don’t want pasta AGAIN tonight for tea, I really fancy salmon or perhaps a lovely juicy steak with some asparagus”?

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Meal Times Together

All the experts promote eating together as a family. But we tend not to do this. For one thing, I don’t go out very much anymore. My evenings, especially my weekend evenings are dominated by a nice dinner and hopefully a bottle of wine. Is it very selfish of me to say, I don’t want to sit coaxing and bargaining with my children at 5pm at the dinner table on a Saturday night in an effort to get them to eat their food whilst mine goes cold? Must I really eat pasta and cheese at the weekend just so that we’re all eating together? I refuse to get drawn into cooking different dinners for different members of the family.

I long for the time when all of us will sit down at the dinner table and we’ll all eat and enjoy a meal together. Perhaps something really exotic like a roast chicken. Who knows, maybe one day progressing on to fish or dare I say prawns?

Until then, I’ll grit my teeth and continue to spend agonising hours at the dinner table, watching them play with their food and scrutinise what’s on their plate. I know it can’t last forever. I know that in 15 years they will be eating the likes of chicken and broccoli. Until then, I’ll continue to serve up our never ending rotation of basic dishes and wait for the day when sweetcorn might pass their lips.

Spaghetti Bolognese

 

 

 

 

Mummuddlingthrough
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Judgement By Social Media. Where is The Empathy?

Last week there were two major parenting stories to hit the news:

  • Cincinnati, USA

A 4 year old child fell into a zoo’s gorilla enclosure in Cincinnati. A 450lb male gorilla called Harambe dragged the child through water and displayed some aggressive behaviour. The zoo’s bosses made the decision to shoot dead the gorilla in order to save the child.

Harambe The Gorilla

  • Japan

A 7 year old boy was ordered out of his parent’s car on a mountain road after he had been caught throwing stones at cars and people. He was left by a forest infested with bears as punishment. His parents drove off to teach him a lesson and when they went back to get him he had gone, disappearing for 7 days. Yamato Tanooka trekked through the forest for miles and survived after finding a disused military base shelter.

yamato-tanooka

 

Both stories are horrific. I saw the video online  of the first incident at the zoo and felt sick seeing that little boy being dragged through the water. And I remember listening to the updates on the radio about the young boy lost in a forest in Japan, thinking I don’t know how that child will ever be found alive.

Judgment by Social Media

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What is perhaps more sickening, even more than the incidents themselves, is the callous, vindictive and abusive behaviour on social media of these parents.

Within hours of the video footage at the zoo going live, there were petitions and pages being set up to obtain justice for the gorilla. There was utter condemnation of the mother and messages urging her children be taken into care. Others went further demanding that the parents be shot. The abuse was so frantic and awful that the child’s mother had to delete her Twitter and Facebook account and go into hiding.

Yes it’s awful that a rare silverback gorilla had to be shot. But can you imagine the alternative if that little boy had been killed? The zoo employees would not have taken that decision lightly. Can any of us honestly say we would have behaved any differently if it was our child being dragged through the water? Would we not have screamed for something to be done?

This week it was announced that the parents would not be charged with neglect and I absolutely agree. Children can be curious, determined and lightening quick. They can get up to all sorts in the blink of an eye. Who hasn’t experienced that heart-pounding moment when you’ve turned around only to find them gone? Even if it’s for 10 seconds, it is a scary and desperate moment.

So why have so many people expressed such utter outrage and hatred on social media? Where is the empathy and compassion? This mother will most likely be berating herself for the rest of her life over that one fleeting moment that we as parents all experience.

The incident in Japan was harder to understand. Yes, it was stupid and absurd to leave a child alone by a bear infested forest even for a small amount of time. But who hasn’t become exasperated by their child for constantly misbehaving? Who hasn’t tried to find a new way to discipline or treat their child in the vague attempt to change or modify their behaviour?

The parents didn’t mean to lose their child for 7 days, they wanted to teach him a lesson. When Yamato was found, his father said, “Our behaviour as parents went too far, and that’s something I’m extremely regretful about. I thought that what I was doing was for his own good, but, yes, I realise now that I went too far.”

Do these parents also need to experience the constant abuse online from others who seem to serve as self imposed judge and jury? Surely the realisation that their child could have been killed by a decision that they’d made is enough of a punishment to endure.

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Both incidents are terrible, but both stories could have ended in a much more horrific way; with both children being killed.

Surely the torment of reliving those awful days, asking themselves over and over what they should and could have done differently, is punishment enough for these parents.

Surely we need to ask ourselves whether it could well have been us that lost sight of our child for a fleeting moment or whether it could well have been us who lost our temper with our children. If a 60 second snapshot of our lives was uploaded to social media to be judged could we be certain that our behaviour as parents would be perfect or would it most likely be flawed?

Surely we all need to have much more understanding, compassion and empathy for these parents and stop judging each other.

 

 

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Stay at Home Mum. Is It Enough?

I’ve lost count of the amount of times people have asked me “When are you going back to work?”

Sometimes I’m amused by this question. Other times I’m irritated and other times, it depresses the hell out of me.

Being a Full Time Mum

My Old Job

Five years ago I was an Online Marketing Manager for a clothing company in London. I had hoped to go back to work after the birth of my eldest, Alice. When the time came for the inevitable back to work discussions. It all went a bit wrong. I was told there was no scope for flexibility. I couldn’t work from home at all and it wasn’t possible to reduce my hours. At all.

I couldn’t bear the thought of dropping my 1 year old baby off to nursery at 7am and not collecting her until 6pm 5 days a week. The commute into and out of London somehow seemed to be so much longer and fraught with potential for more problems and delays than ever before. And so, with some reluctance, I quit.

I was lucky to find some freelance marketing and copywriting work not long after with 1 major client. And this gradually expanded so that I was working with several different clients.

Freelance Work

When It’s Good…. It’s Very Very Good…..

On the good days, when I’ve got work on the go and I can cope with juggling everything in around the children then freelancing is great. I enjoy the flexibility it gives me. I love the fact that I can work the hours that suit me.

…..But When It’s Bad It is Horrid

The are several downsides of freelancing but the biggest is the unpredictability. I’m often quiet with little or no work on. Which makes money unreliable. I frequently lose heart. I wonder what the hell I’m doing. Whether I’ll ever have work again or do anything more meaningful than referee my kids’ arguments and try and placate the toddler’s list of meltdowns. 

Can Being a Mum Ever Be Enough?

At the school gates, I’m well aware that along with 1 other mum, we are completely in the minority. I don’t work in the conventional sense. I don’t keep the usual office hours.  And when all the other mums ask me what I do, I feel the need to justify myself and talk up my freelance business. Why do I find it so hard to answer “I’m primarily a stay at home mum for now and juggling some writing work when I can.”

It’s strange isn’t it, but when did simply “Being a mum” become such a bad thing? Why is there always so much pressure to do something else?

I appreciate I’m lucky. Many other women don’t have a choice and have to go back to work for their family to survive. We can live on my husband’s wage, but during the slow times, I feel increasingly frustrated and weird about not being financially independent. I get frustrated that despite it being 2016, the “flexible” work options still aren’t really that flexible in most jobs. I’m frustrated that unless they choose to be the primary carer, most men don’t seem to have this issue.

Some of my good friends and my family remind me that actually being a full time mum is a big enough job in itself. The nursery down the road from me charges £55 a day. If I could charge that every day for looking after my two, I’d be happy enough! Plus there’s the issue of being on call non stop 24/7 and covering every role from teacher, supervisor, cook, cleaner, entertainer and referee.

Why Do We Want More?

There’s no doubt about it. Being a mum can be frustrating,monotonous and exasperating. I can understand why many mums choose to go back to work; to use their brain, to enjoy some adult conversation, to retain their financial independence or even just to have a lunch hour in peace.

My freelance work and this blog are my way of trying to gain some sense of balance. The blog is my creative outlet and to keep up my love of writing.  The dream is to increase the freelance work to make it more consistent.  But I need to learn to have some patience and not to get upset about it when things slow down.

And I know that next September when my youngest starts school, I will have suddenly more time on my hands to concentrate on driving this. I don’t want to wish this time away. Our children are small only for a little while and I don’t want to regret missing out on them. I need to keep reminding myself about this whenever I next feel exasperated. I need to remind myself that for now, this is enough.

 

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Things to Love and Hate About The Half Term Holiday

We are in the final stretch of the penultimate term at our first year at “Big School”. Next week is the half term holiday and boy do we all need it. I always notice that the kids  begin to feel worn out in the last week of term and I start looking forward to having some time away from the school and pre-school too. But then I remember that there are some downsides that go with the school holidays.

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Here’s the things I love and hate about half term holidays:

Love – Spending Time with The Kids. Yes, in theory, I have this romantic image in my head about spending some quality time with my children, especially Alice who is now at school all day. Perhaps we will do some baking, arts and crafts or playing outside in the sunshine. The reality doesn’t normally work out like that………

Hate – I usually get to about Wednesday and realise that the kids are either going to kill each other with their arguments or I’m going to end up killing one of them with my patience left in shreds. I never seem to be organised enough to remember to get ALL of the basic ingredients in to make cakes, I’m terrible at arts and crafts and it will probably rain.

Arts and Crafts Eva
Here’s what happened the last time we attempted arts and crafts

Love – Not having to do the school and pre-school run! I am so looking forward to having a break from the dreaded school run. I hate having to negotiate the traffic and the parking on a normal school day and then have to walk littlest one down to the pre-school before I can even sit down and attempt to some work.

Hate – The fact that every other kid in the country will be off at the same time so suddenly everywhere is busy beyond belief full of shouting, screaming kids. No matter where you go whether it be the park, soft play, cafe, shops, zoo or museum you are guaranteed to find another 200 families with 200 kids plus running riot. Pre-school mums take note: Enjoy doing these things in term time for as long as you can. Because school holidays anywhere in public can often be hell.

Playing in the park
Be prepared to share the park / cafe / shops / museum with every other child on half term holiday.

Love – Lazy mornings! I can’t wait to have a bit of time in the morning where I’m not screaming my head off at my kids to “Get your clothes on!” or “Brush your teeth!” or “Get your shoes on!” for the twentieth time. You would think that having done this school routine thing for the past 9 months that they would understand the drill. They should now understand that we need to be out of the door at 8.20am every day. And yet every single morning I swear to God, despite being up about 6am, I end up blowing a gasket as I try and get them ready and out the door. They want to play. They want to do colouring. They don’t want to put their clothes on. They spend ages deciding which socks to wear. They want something else to eat. They dither over how to have their hair. They need a poo. Their shoes don’t “feel right.” They need something to drink. Their socks are “wonky.” The list of reasons for why we never manage to get out the door on time is exhausting. I can’t wait to not have this battle next week and for us all to chill out and to stay in our PJs just a bit longer.

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Looking forward to not having to shout and scream to get everyone dressed on time!

Hate – No childcare. I work as a freelance marketing copywriter. I juggle working around the school and pre-school hours and sometimes in the evenings too. It can be hard work if I’m busy, but I love the flexibility it gives me with the children. The big downside is not having much childcare during the school holidays. It means even more juggling or more late nights.

Ultimately, I’m on the side of the fence where I love school holidays. I am looking forward to relaxing and spending some time together. Whilst they might fight, Alice and Eva generally do tend to get on really well together and it’s lovely to watch them now that they’re both a bit older playing together in their own little imaginary worlds.

We already have most of our days planned with seeing friends or family, but I’m determined that we will be doing it all at a leisurely pace. I don’t want any pressure to be out of the house at a particular time and I want to make sure that we have time to do the things in and around the house that the kids want to do. (Colouring and spending however long they like choosing their socks).

Do you love the school holidays? Have you got lots of things planned or are you dreading it? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

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Oh Sh!t! My Toddler Is Swearing!

My 2 year old has started swearing.

Yes I know, I can practically see the look on your face now as you read this.

But before you judge me, can I just say that it’s really not my fault, I lay that blame firmly at the feet of my husband who uses the phrase “Bloody” or “Bloody Hell,” more than he realises.

So of course the toddler has picked up on it and over the last couple of weeks has been uttering the words “Bloody Hell!” or shouting “Bloody …. (insert appropriate word –  book / toy  / fork etc.)”  in a fit of rage.

Toddler Swearing

Context

When she first said it, I was stunned. “Did she really just come out with what I think she did?” I couldn’t quite believe it. So what did I do? I did absolutely nothing. I didn’t tell her off, I didn’t get cross I just let it go.

Then about a week later she said it again. And despite my husband’s insistencies that he was sure that he’d only muttered it a couple of times in front of the children, she said it again. She said it in exactly the same context as before – when you would expect to use this phrase because she was cross or frustrated about something. And once again, I was a bit shocked and didn’t know what to do exactly, so I let it go. AGAIN.

How to Deal With It?

Last weekend, a couple of friends popped in to borrow some tools (yes, Rock and Roll I know) and whilst we were drinking our tea (told you), the toddler who had been playing nicely with her toy garage, threw a car across the room and furiously shouted “That Bloody Car!”

There was a stunned silence as said friends looked at me and whispered “Did she just say…..?” I quickly confirmed that, yes she had, and proceeded to tell Eva to “Calm down and not to use that word.”

At which point Alice, my 4 year old piped up “Don’t say what word mummy?”

And herein lies the problem. How to deal with stopping the toddler from swearing without:

a)  Drawing attention to it being a real problem or being “naughty.”

b) Making them do it or say it even more.  I don’t really think the trick of using reverse psychology on a toddler will really work in this instance. (I have a bizarre image in my head whereby I’m swearing or encouraging her to swear in an effort to make her stop).

c) Alerting the eldest daughter to this word and starting her off swearing. Having one child that swears is bad enough, but having them both F’ing and Blinding could be a bit embarrassing.

But you see now I’m stuck with a bit of a conundrum:  If I don’t tell the toddler off, I can’t let her carry on with her potty mouth. (This pun would have worked so much better 8 months ago), spouting out swear words everywhere we go because quite frankly WHAT WILL PEOPLE THINK OF ME?!

Toddler Swearing

How Does it Make Me Look?

Fortunately my friends laughed about it, but I’m very aware that it is only a matter of time before the toddler has a melt down in a shop, or in her sister’s classroom or in the street whilst chatting with my elderly neighbour and could easily scream out “Bloody Hell!” at any moment.

And I can just IMAGINE the look that I will be given by the shop assistant, teacher or elderly neighbour when this happens. It will be one of horror. Because let’s face it WHO let’s their 2 year old swear and WHERE could they have learnt it from?

I’ll have to try and placate the shop assistant, teacher or elderly neighbour and persuade them not to phone social services. I’ll have to reason that the toddler doesn’t really come from a bad home full of swearing, drug taking parents, but instead has a photographic memory for using words that she has only heard once or twice, yes really.

 

This Cute Face Hides a Foul Mouth

Nobody really wants their kids to swear right? Especially in a child so young, it looks horrible and …. well… kind of sordid. But even more than that, I think I’m a little bit terrified of being judged by other people. Family and friends I can get away with by blaming the husband, but ordinary members of the public will start to wonder just what sort of mother am I.

So please don’t judge me! I might mutter swear words to myself when the kids are driving me up the wall but I do it behind my hand or in the toilet or with my head in the fridge. I truly am not to blame for why my 2 year old suddenly has a foul mouth. I’m furious with my husband for starting all this off and then jollying off to work on a daily basis leaving me to suffer the rude consequences.

If anyone has any advice, I’d love to hear it, because I really am unsure what to do next. Leave it and hope it goes away? Or risk her saying it more and more often whenever she gets cross about something? And seeing as she is 2 going on 3 I can only see this happening more frequently!

 

 

 

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End of The Pushchair Era!

Last weekend my husband went to the tip. He came home and casually announced that he’d “binned” the pushchair. “Whaat?!” I shrieked. “I didn’t say goodbye to it!”

I know I sound ridiculously un-hinged especially as we had previously talked about how we were going to get rid of the pushchair, but it suddenly felt like an abrupt end to a very long era.

Bugaboo Pushchair 3

5 Years Ago

We inherited the Bugaboo Chameleon when I was pregnant with Alice 5 years ago from my sister when she upgraded to a double buggy. It would have cost hundreds of pounds to buy brand new so we were very grateful to get it for a fraction of the cost.

We needed a degree in engineering to master how it worked. It was one of those pram / car seat / pushchair systems. As you can see from the photos below, I was 8 months pregnant and feeling a bit stressed out that I was never going to work out how to get the thing up and down and switching it from carry cot to car seat. Even my husband had difficulty with it and despite a practice session with my sister and using colour coded stickers to show which bit should go where, we still managed to almost break the thing in the first month of using it.

 

The Early Days

I remember the first week after Alice was born, a friend suggesting we take her out for a walk. I refused because let’s face it week one for any new mum is just plain crazy but also because I wasn’t confident with setting the pram up!

Once I’d finally moved on to leaving the house with the newborn, I remember another occasion where I almost tipped new baby out into the road because I hadn’t yet mastered the art of lifting the pram off of the kerb with the back wheels and instead just tipped it down into the road. God knows what the drivers made of me grappling to retrieve baby and pram out of the road…..

It was a clunky big old thing really compared to some of the super light nifty devices I see about today, but it did us proud to last 5 years. As a toddler, Alice would always take her naps in the buggy. When Eva came along, we used our double buggy for a while. But we hung on to the Bugaboo and went back to it once Alice was out of a pushchair. I even used it fairly recently when Eva very occasionally used to fall asleep on the school run and I managed to precariously transfer her from car to buggy.

 

Eva Asleep in Bugaboo Pushchair

 

3 Reasons I’m Sad to See the End of the Bugaboo:

1. End of an era! My girls are all grown up and officially not babies any more.

2. Despite the initial difficulties, it’s lasted us 5 years and before that, my sister had it for 2 years.

3. Some happy memories of pushing a newborn around that was sound asleep.

 

3 Reasons I’m Glad to See The Back of It:

1. Some unhappy memories of pacing the streets trying to get Alice off to sleep!

2. Saving space – it was quite bulky and took up a lot of space in the house / car.

3. I’m looking forward to the adventures ahead of all of us walking together. And hoping I won’t have to end up carrying the youngest around too much.

I didn’t get to say it before it went to the tip, but thanks for the memories Bugaboo! And for giving me some peace and quiet once the kids were asleep!

 

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Why I Fail as an Arts and Crafts Mum

Bank Holiday Monday. The weather wasn’t great and as The Husband was playing golf I decided to do some arts and crafts with the girls. Alice had been saving up a lot of cardboard boxes and bits and pieces with the idea that we would at some point “make something.”

I always get mixed feelings about starting on arts and crafts that stretches beyond the realms of just colouring. I see the look of utter excitement in my eldest daughter’s eyes and think to myself “Come On! You Can Do This!” Which is mixed with a feeling of dread about “Doing It Right,” and “Not Failing.”

Arts and Crafts
Arts and crafts flowers from egg boxes. So far, so good

I scoured You Tube for some easy to follow ideas for absolute dummies and found one tutorial that looked fairly simple – turning egg boxes into flowers. I cut up the egg boxes, and let the kids paint an individual egg holder cup thing. This all worked out rather well despite Eva getting bored after a few minutes and deciding to paint her arms instead. I should have got a photo of this but I was too busy trying to stop her touching the walls, chairs, tables, cupboards, EVERYTHING!

Making A Castle

Feeling a bit more confident, I agreed to Alice’s request to then go on to make a castle. Again I found another tutorial on YouTube and tried my best to follow it. The thing is, and my husband will absolutely agree with this particular personality trait, is that I get a bit impatient with things like this. I just want to get it done. So instead of measuring out to the exact centimetre the spacing of those little window type spaces on the castle walls (not sure of the exact terminology here, could it be battlements?) I instead just ploughed ahead Gung-Ho and hoped for the best. The obvious result, a wobbly and uneven castle wall.

I set the paints up again for us to start painting the shoe box and tea box that would form the main part of the castle. We were all having a lovely bonding time over this until I looked round and saw this:

Arts and Crafts Eva
This one can’t be left alone for even a few minutes

After clearing up this mess, I realised that despite our best efforts, the paint was never really going to completely cover the branding on the shiny cardboard boxes. So the logos of PG Tips Tea Bags and Puma Trainers were clearly visible on the castle. Is this so bad I thought to myself? My daughter doesn’t seem to mind that there’s a Puma leaping across one part of the castle and a weird looking monkey sitting on the another. And maybe, I could even make this work in my favour, perhaps there might be some brands out there that would want to work with me – I could make this a regular thing to do poor arts and crafts sessions over the boxes of brands I’d like to work with.

Castle Junk Modelling
Sponsored by PG Tips and Puma? No we’re just rubbish at arts and crafts

At about 3pm, I’d just about had enough of arts and crafts. I’d precariously managed to balance some dodgy looking turrets made from painted loo rolls on top of the boxes and crowned them with some poorly rolled up cones of paper. Minutes after this photo was taken two of the towers collapsed. I was keen to bring an end to this art session and move on to reading a story, playing a game of Frozen, watching some TV or anything else.  But Alice was having none of it. “Let’s add a drawbridge,” she said.

We ploughed on with bits and pieces falling off and me trying to stick them back on as we went along and still Alice insisted on adding more “features.”

Finally, when it looked like the end was in sight and I thought that the castle made from recycled rubbish might well end up back in the rubbish bin, Alice decided she wanted to keep it for her dolls to play in. I’m not sure what size doll would ever fit or want to be part of such monstrosity.

Arts and Crafts Fail
Looking pretty pleased with herself!

After almost an entire day of fiddling about with pieces of cardboard, we’d succeeded in making a dodgy looking castle, some passable flowers and a great big mess which took forever to clear up.

Arts and Crafts Fail? In my eyes, pretty much, yes.

But at the ages of 2 and 4, minor details such as obtaining perfection are, luckily for me not really the main concern. It’s more about the actual MAKING. (And in Eva’s case, decorating herself). Long may this continue. I dread the day that will surely come when they turn round and say “Mum that looks rubbish!”

 

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9 Types of Mum I’ve Spotted On The School Run

I can’t believe that my daughter has  been at primary school for almost 8 months! How on Earth has that happened?  It seems like just a blink ago we were first experiencing the joy that is the school run. We’ve thankfully moved on from the hellish autumn months of having to forcibly drag her into the class room and she now does actually seem to love it.

So, seeing as I’m  now so experienced at getting out of the front door every morning and safely getting my child to school (aherm), I thought I’d share with you 9 types of mum that I’ve noticed on the school run:

  1. Gym Mum

Gym Mum

Dressed in the tightest lycra outfits, mostly in flamboyant prints and colours with fluorescent trainers, these mums are always in a hurry to drop off their kids and get on with their run / aerobic session / weight lifting session.  I’m never sure whether to feel in awe of these athletic creatures or intimidated by them.

2.  Mystery Mum

Mystery Mum

High powered business woman who has only been spotted once at the school assembly. Never seen at the school drop off or pick up because she’s busy running a company.

3.  Organised Mum

Organised Mum

This one is super organised. She is always the first one outside the door waiting for it to open. She’s remembered all the homework, PE bag, lunch box, book bag and lunch slip AND she’s had time to do something fancy with her daughter’s hair in the morning. Not only that but she’s organising nights out and play dates with everyone left, right and centre. Hhhmm. Again, not sure whether to feel in awe or slightly irritated in comparison.

4. Forgetful Mum

Primary School Results

Can often be heard saying “Oh is it Welly Wednesday today?” (Err… The clue is in the name?) Or “I’ve forgotten his book bag again.” Unlike Organised Mummy, this one forgets everything including lunch box, homework and drink bottle. Could be a disorganised dreamer or could just be living the life of most parents on the school run.

5. Scary Mum

Scary Mum

You can hear this one bellowing to her child before you’ve even entered the playground. If she’s not screeching, she’s telling everyone about how drunk she was the other night and the fights she got into. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of her. (Or her kid).

6. Tiger Mum

Tiger Mum

Identified by the constant updates on little Johnny’s progress at school in reading, writing and maths as well as all the extra curricular activities including football, gymnastics, swimming, music, etc. etc. Will not listen to what you have to say, but insists on turning the conversation back to her and little Johnny.

7. Late Mum

Late Mum

Barely get to see this mum let alone have a conversation with her because she’s always running late. She’s late in the morning drop off practically dragging her children in through the gates as most other mums have already left, and she’s always the last one to pick up. Can’t work out whether she’s genuinely disorganised or trying to avoid seeing the other parents.

8. Stalker Mum

Stalker Mum

Your new best friend who will hunt you down on the way into the playground and proceed to share her whole life history with you (and expect you to do the same in return). Woe betide you if you dare turn up slightly earlier or later than usual or if you park your car in a different spot.

9. Harassed Mum

Stressed Mum

Normally turns up with one or multiple kids crying, kicking or screaming. Tries drastically to get kids into the classroom with least possible fuss and meltdown before turning to make a quick exit and avoid pitiful looks by just about everyone.

In case you’re wondering, over the past 8 months I seem to be a cross between Forgetful and Late Mum with a lot of Harassed Mum thrown in to the mix too. If I haven’t had to contend with carrying my eldest over the threshold of the classroom, I have been dealing with meltdown and tantrums from the toddler of epic proportions. I hate to think what the other mums are saying about me!

Which mum are you? Any others types of mum on the school run that I’ve missed? Let me know!

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Personality or Position?

It occurred to me the other day just how very different my two girls are. As you can see, they’re physically different with the eldest having thick blonde hair and blue eyes and the youngest inheriting my fine brown hair and dark eyes. But more than that, it’s interesting to see how different their personalities and their behaviour can be too.

Position or Personality

Differences

Alice, my eldest, lacks confidence. She is cautious, especially in new situations and will only really come out of her shell when she starts to feel comfortable in her surroundings. She used to cry when I dropped her off at pre-school and would cling to my leg. She had a terrible time settling into school last year. She’s tactile, emotional and likes lots of cuddles.

In contrast, Eva is extremely confident, talking happily non-stop to people she’s only just met and has no problem going into pre-school. She is completely fearless, throwing herself into the swimming pool and always climbing far higher than I’d like. She is constantly on the go not stopping from the moment she wakes (between 5.30 – 6am) to 7pm when I have to (usually by force) make her get into her bed.

Personality or Position?

I’m not comparing my kids, just noticing their differences. It has made me wonder whether they have inherently different personalities or whether they are affected by their position in the family; that of the oldest or the youngest child.

Is Alice lacking in confidence because she is naturally more cautious, or is it because she has to do everything first? She has to pave the way and be the first to attend pre-school primary school and even swimming lessons! As the eldest of 3 sisters, I can completely relate to this. I was always nervous especially when it came to starting school.

Could Eva be overly confident because she’s already familiar with the surroundings of pre-school and then school which makes it easier for when it’s her turn? Could her complete lack of fear be down to her constantly wanting to keep up with her older sister or is determination going to be a big part of her personality?

IMG_0299

Worry

I find it really interesting and yet I know there’s not a lot you can do about it, someone has to be born first!  But as a mum, I have been watching and noticing these differences and try not to worry.

Try not to worry that Alice’s lack in confidence will somehow hold her back.

Try not to worry that Eva is pushing herself to grow up at a faster rate than Alice did. Despite what she thinks, I’d like her to enjoy being a toddler for a bit longer yet!

Nurture

I guess as parents all we can do is take note of these differences and nurture and support them as best we can.

Do you notice big differences with your children? Do you think it’s down to personality or position in the family?  I’d love to know what you think!

 

 

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