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!

 

 

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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

 

 

 

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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.

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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!

 

 

 

Mummascribbles

Cuddle Fairy

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

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

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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11 Reasons To Love Tea and Why I’m an Addict

In case you hadn’t noticed, I love tea. It helps me get through the day and I must admit, I rely on it to such an extent that I am probably addicted. I drink between 6 and 10 cups of tea a day. It forms such a big part of my daily routine that I named my blog after it.

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This recent article in the Huff Post talks about how for every cup of tea we drink outside of the home, we Brits now drink two and a half cups of coffee. I wish I drank coffee. It sounds so sophisticated and there are so many variations. My heart firmly belongs to tea and here’s why:

  1. It helps me to wake up. I can’t function until I’ve had my morning cuppa. I am a bit of a nerd in that I like my tea to be a certain strength and colour (strong and dark!) and I like to drink it preferably in certain mugs (fairly large). My usual mug is the one on the left but on certain mornings like if I’ve had little sleep or am feeling a bit jaded or just can’t wake up, I’ll go for the one on the right. For some reason my kids call this my “Monday Morning Mug” and they are pretty much right, it means I need more tea!

2. Tea powers me through the day. Whether I’m negotiating the dreaded school run, doing some freelance copywriting for a client or dealing with a feisty toddler, tea helps me to power on through. It gives me strength and calms me down if I’m feeling stressed. It also helps me to think.

3. It can help to solve problems or at least calm in a crisis. I’m not sure why this is, but if there’s an issue or a problem, we always put the kettle on. There’s something so calming about having a chat over a brew. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling and I pretty much always say yes when someone asks if I would like a cup of tea.

Tea and Wine Vices 2

4. It’s sociable. We drink tea when we’re catching up with friends or if we vent and want to put the world to rights.

5. Caffeine. There’s less caffeine in tea than in coffee. So we can drink more of it!

6. It could help you live longer. A study in 2015 found that women in their 70s and 80s lived longer if they had on average 2 cups of tea a day. Imagine how old I could be if I continue to drink 6 a day!

7. Tea goes better with biscuits…. and cake. Who ever has heard of a coffee party or afternoon coffee for goodness sake? Coffee and biscuits doesn’t quite have the same ring does it? Tea works better with cake and you can dunk your biscuits better in tea.

Tea and Cake

8. Health Benefits. Tea contains plenty of antixoidants which can keep you young and healthy as well as boosting your immune system. It also contains no calories so you can drink more.

9. You know where you are with a cup of tea. Whilst coffee sounds pretty sophisticated it’s also befuddling with the wide range of equipment to use in making a cup of coffee such as a grinder, perculator, capsule machine, beans, granules etc. There’s a multitude of coffees types to chose from too. But you know where you stand with a cup of tea. Put a teabag in a cup or a teapot, pour on boiling water, add a splash of milk and Voila! Done!

10. It warms you up. Nothing beats a cup of hot tea on a cold day. It warms you up physically and warms you emotionally too.

11. Kids. You can’t give coffee to your children? Jeez! They’re wired enough already. Can you imagine the carnage kids would cause on that caffeine hit? But you can give kids tea. I drank it as a toddler and my toddler sometimes will drink it too.

Eva Interview

What do you think? Do you agree with me that tea is the more superior drink or are you a firm coffee drinker? Do these reasons tempt you to make the switch back?

 

 

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Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

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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In Honour Of National Sibling Day

Today (Sunday) is National Sibling Day, so I’m writing this in tribute to my 2 lovely sisters and for my two sibling daughters.

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3 sisters
3 Sisters

I’m the eldest of 3 sisters and I can’t imagine being without them. There’s only 18 months between me and my middle sister and then 2 years between her and the youngest. Of course like all other children, we squabbled and fought when we were growing up. But from our teenage years, we got on a lot better, went out to pubs and clubs together and now remain incredibly close.

From August 2008 we were all married within 14 months of each other and then suddenly we were all pregnant together in 2011. My youngest sister and I were pregnant with our first babies and my middle sister with her second. We all gave birth to 3 girls within 4 months of each other! It was seen as such an unusual story that Gurgle Magazine interviewed and photographed us.

Copy of Gurgle pic 4
Interview with Gurgle Magazine 2 newborns and 1 baby still due!
I was so lucky to have my sisters in those crazy early days with a newborn baby. I remember texting my youngest sister a lot whose baby was just 6 weeks older than mine to compare notes on sleep, feeds, moods and anything else that was bothering us. It was so lovely to have such a support system with whom I could talk, ask questions and and share experiences, I really felt it created an even stronger bond. We were all on maternity leave at the same time and so we met up every week to talk and compare notes. We still meet up fairly regularly now and I think the cousins will be close too.

Sibling
3 sisters with 3 daughters
Sibling Daughters

With 22 months between my two daughters, I really hope that they will grow up to be friends and to look out for each other just as I did with my sisters. Alice is 4 and Eva is 2 so they are at an age where I can see them being really loving towards each other. Alice will especially look out for Eva if they are in a new place or situation, like a children’s party. They have moments where they are fighting and squabbling, but I especially love that they are now old enough to amuse themselves for good chunks of time on their own.

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My two girls who love each other really!
They share a room and have bunk beds which is lovely as I think this has brought them together. I love hearing them chatting to each other at night!

Disappearing Siblings?

Siblings
My Nan with her 4 children including my dad
My great grandmother had 9 children. My Nan pictured above had 4 children (my dad and 3 sisters). My parents had 3 daughters and I’ve gone on to have 2 children. Are siblings in decline? I know of a lot of people with 2 kids, but I now seem to know of a lot more people who have one child and hardly any that have 3 children or more. This made me think about why siblings might be disappearing:

  • Women having children later. More women than ever are having children later in life and I guess this affects the amount of children that parents now have. I was 36 when I had my eldest. I quite possibly would have had more children if I had started earlier.
  • Work commitments. Most women are now going back to work after having a child and to ensure they don’t lose their position at work are often taking time to have their second child, if at all. This is unlike previous generations where the woman’s place was in the home and so she continued to churn out 6 or 7 kids at a time.
  • Practicalities. There are more issues to think about when you have more than 2 children. I’m thinking primarily about car seats and the size of the car. Possibly also families will consider needing a bigger house. It didn’t seem to be too much of a problem when I was a child, we were all piled into the back of a car and squashed on to the floor!
  • Money. Whilst generations ago people like my Nan and Great Nan would have ‘made do’, there’s probably too much pressure now for people to have a very comfortable life with nice house, cars and holidays. Some parents I guess think they’d rather have fewer children and give them more.
  • Don’t want them.  Whether they’re put off by horrific births first time round or worn out from crazy toddler days, some mums and dads have simply had enough after the first one. I also know of several couples where the wife would like another one but the husband does not.
  • Can’t have them. I also know of several couples who would love a second child or more but it simply hasn’t happened for them.

I know everyone and every family is different. We can’t chose whether we have siblings or even if we get on with them, I’m so grateful to have had mine growing up and grateful that I still count them as my best friends.

 

Pregnant Siblings
Pregnant Sisters!

 

 

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