Books I Want to Read This Year

I love reading but in between managing two small children, trying to keep on top of my freelance writing business and keeping up to date with the latest boxset viewing (currently catching up with House of Cards Series 3), there’s precious little time left. I often collapse into bed too tired to read at the end of each night.

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Bah Humbug! 9 Reasons This Season Sends me Crackers

Before you all think I’m a complete Ebenezer, let me start by saying that I adore Christmas. I love spending time with family, seeing the kids faces as they get excited by the tree, the presents, the advent calendars and what not. I love the fact that it’s an excuse for more drinking, eating and partying with friends. BUT there is no doubt about it, this season is, quite frankly stressful! So here’s my list as to why this season sends me slightly crackers:

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Sod’s Law

The last blog post I wrote 2 weeks ago was about changing schools for our daughter. We knew that if we were going to move schools for Alice we would have to it before we applied for a primary school for our youngest daughter Eva in January 2017. So when the chance came up 2 weeks ago to move her to a lovely little village school a couple of miles away, we didn’t hesitate.

We thought that would be the end of it and we’d all be hugely relieved that there would be no more blog posts mentioning any issues with schools again.

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But NO!

Just 8 days after moving Alice into her new school, just 8 days after stressing myself out about the transition to the point where I couldn’t eat or sleep, the unthinkable happened. We got the phone call from our local primary school down the road to say that a place had become available. This was our original first choice of school. The one I’d fought hard for a place for, the one I’d written countless letters and emails to MPs, councillors, school admission team members and even the Department of Education about. The school that all my local neighbours and friends go to. The one we were seemingly excluded from. The one I’d given up ever getting a place at before the all important January deadline.

Primary School Gods

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Holy Crap! You literally couldn’t make this sh!t up. I could not believe my ears. Some primary school God was literally looking down on me from his playground of alcohol and debauchery and pi$$ing himself laughing. At us.

The timing absolutely stank. Just a week earlier I would have moved Alice to this local school like a shot. I would have been jumping for joy and over the moon. But now that we’d already gone through one transition, as a family we came to a fairly difficult decision to not move her again because a) she had settled in so quickly and brilliantly seemingly loving her new school and b) we couldn’t face the upheaval of going through it all again. It just didn’t seem right to unsettle our 5 year old for a second time and risk the fact that this move may not be so good second time round.

I THINK we have made the right decision.I certainly hope we don’t live to regret it like some people have suggested.

Sod’s Law

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Since this phone call last Tuesday I seem to have had Alanis Morrisette’s Ironic’s lyrics going round in my head. You know the one that goes.

“It’s like raaiiin on your wedding day. It’s the free advice you just didn’t take.”

With me adding the line in “It’s the local primary school you’ve always wanted,  get offered just days after you’ve already switched.”

Or something like that.

A few people have since said to me “That’s sod’s law.”

Which got me thinking. What exactly is this term and where does it come from?

Wikipedia defines it as being “If something can go wrong, it will.” And the British culture have added “that it will happen at the worst possible time.”

Well yes, that sounds about right to me. The timing on this couldn’t have been any worse.

I’ve also been pondering what other notable (if less stressful) circumstances of Sod’s Law I have experienced recently? Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1. Spending an afternoon making a lovely home cooked dinner for the kids only for most of it to go nowhere near their lips and a huge proportion end up on the floor.

Spaghetti Bolognese

2.Trying to get the kids to bed early because of having loads of work to do in the evening only to have one or both of them up and down the stairs refusing to sleep.

3. Meeting up in London with some friends who I hardly ever see only for them to get lost and be very late so that we had far less time to catch up.

4. Queuing for a taxi to get home on a night out to find out that our cab driver was going on a break.

5.Thinking your child is potty trained so removing the last pair of spare knickers from the handbag only for her to have an accident that same very day.

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So there you have it. The classic case of Sod’s Law!  Always lurking around threatening to bite you on the bum when you least expect it.

Have you got any tales to add? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

 

 

 

Pink Pear Bear

Mummuddlingthrough

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

How to Beat The Back to School Blues

On Monday the eldest daughter will be back to school and the following week the youngest will be back at pre-school. September signals the end of summer and getting everyone back into some sort of routine.

There’s something that lurches in my stomach at the thought of going back to school and it’s not even me going! As a kid I used to dread the end of the summer holidays and I used to get holiday blues as an adult going back to work so maybe it’s just the thought of the summer being over. Maybe it’s the thought of losing my kids back to school and pre-school when we’ve (mostly) had a great summer together, or maybe it’s the changing of the seasons and I know that the nights are drawing in and autumn is almost upon us.

Back to School Blues

So here’s a list of things that are going to keep me going once the old routine of September kicks in over the next couple of weeks:

1. Crack on With The Day Job. I’ve had a fair amount of copywriting work to do over the summer which has meant a bit of juggling with childcare and more late nights. So with the kids back in their routine, it will give me a chance to follow up some important leads, plough on with getting some work done and growing the freelance business.

Freelance Copywriting

2. Get Back into  Blogging. What with the summer holidays and juggling work, the blog has been a bit neglected. I want to get on with writing more blogs and updating the site too.

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3. House Projects. Now that we’ve made the decision to stay put rather than move house, there’s a lot of projects going on ranging from buying new furniture and decorating to plans for extensions.

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4. Photos.  This one seems to permanently be on my list of things to do. I snap away all the time with my phone and camera, but I never sort them out. I need to get on with the backlog and put some photos into frames and finish my year books.

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5. Clothes Sort Out. The change in seasons call for a clear out of the wardrobe! I need to see what I can salvage and what I need to buy for the coming cooler months.

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6. Get back into Running. December last year, I did something I never thought I’d do: I started running. For various reasons and many excuses, this has totally gone to pot over the summer. I hope to put my trainers on and get running again in September.

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7. Book in Some Treats.  Having something to look forward to always cheers me up! We’re already concocting plans for October half term and have some days out pencilled in the diary for a couple of weekends too.

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Do you mourn the end of summer or are you glad to see the start of a new season? Do you dread that “Back to School” feeling or are you glad to be back in some sort of routine? What are you up to when the kids head back to school? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

 

 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Pink Pear Bear

Mummascribbles

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

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

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
Pink Pear Bear
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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