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

 

 

 

 

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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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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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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.

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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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Laissez Faire or Neglect?

let to

An  interesting conversation came up over dinner on holiday in Norfolk last week.

The Good Old Days

My mother-in-law was telling us about her years growing up on a farm in Wales. It sounds idyllic. Lots of fresh air and running around the huge amount of land that the farm owned. She told us how she and her 2 brothers and 2 sisters were often left to their own devices during the summers to roam the land. This tradition continued with my husband, who used to stay at the farm during his school holidays. He and his older cousin would spend all day outside, only venturing into the farmhouse kitchen for food. My husband started to glaze over as he remembered happy times of building dens in the woods, playing in the fields and venturing down to the river.

“Was no one keeping an eye on you?” I wondered aloud.

The answer was a proud “No.”

Apparently the naughtiest thing they got up to involved trying to start a fire by rubbing two sticks together.

What If?

I must admit, it sounds fantastic, having free reign to run around and spend the entire day exactly as you like out in the sunshine. I’m sure it must be brilliant for a child’s imagination and has obviously given both my husband and my mother-in-law some wonderful memories, but I couldn’t help thinking throughout all of this reminiscing “What If.” What if they fell down a ditch and couldn’t get out? What if they fell into the fast flowing river and were carried off downstream? What if someone nasty was lurking in the woods? What if there was an accident?

A Question of Age?

I can remember being allowed to play up and down the street at a fairly young age and I know that my brother-in-law (a Norfolk boy) also went off with his brothers in the morning and wasn’t seen again until tea time.

All this got me thinking. Have things changed that much that we don’t now allow kids to play alone at all?  At 4 and 2, I appreciate that our girls are a lot younger than my husband ever was when he was left alone. I can’t yet even imagine leaving my kids to play out in the garden on their own in case “something” happens. But I don’t know if I would have the courage or conviction to allow my girls when they are older to run wild all day.

Over Protective or Over Scared?

Let’s face it, throughout history there has always been nasty odd people out there that want to hurt children. The fact is that with the likes of social media, mobile phones and instant news bulletin updates we are more aware of what happens now. More aware of what happens in a sensationalist way as the media cotton on to a “good story” and thrash out every little detail before our very eyes. I think this makes us more scared, more terrified of what might happen to our children to the extent that we hide them away and perhaps over protect them. Because of this, I think this type of laissez faire where kids disappear off for the entire day, isn’t seen very much any more.

When Does Laissez Faire Parenting Become Neglect?

I bet 30 odd years ago, none of the parents who left their children out all day (my mother-in-law included) would never have dreamed that they were being neglectful. But just a few years ago, a mother lost custody of her children after a judge heard that her children were left to their own devices for up to 3 hours whilst she did her own thing.

What would happen today I wonder if a couple of kids aged 12 were left to wander the acres of land in a farm and ‘something’ happened to them? Would their parents be charged with neglect? Perhaps laissez faire is only deemed neglectful if kids are left to their own devices in front of TV, iPads and X-Box games?  Perhaps it’s not considered neglect if children are outside playing their own games and using their imagination?

Balance

I think there’s surely got to be a balance. Parents have got to let their kids be children, to explore and grow and run free with their imagination, but there has to be boundaries. Obviously older children, especially in groups will have more freedom than the young, but at this stage, I have no idea when that tipping point should be. For now, I will continue to watch over my kids and worry about that later.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this. Would you consider letting your children run free all day?  Are you parents to older kids and let them do this?

 

laissez faire parenting

 

 

 

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Norfolk Family Holiday for 10

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Last year was terrible, we lost my father-in-law to cancer in July and at the end of the year, my mother-in-law decided that we needed something to look forward to, and so booked and paid for 10 of us including my husband’s two sisters and niece and nephew to go away over Easter.

Barn Accommodation and Pool

We had high hopes about the accommodation – Great Barn Farm in west Norfolk after seeing the pictures on the website, but as soon as we arrived, we knew that it had exceeded expectations;  the place was amazing.  As a working farm, some of the out-buildings had been converted into self catering accommodation. We stayed in The Cattle Sheds which was the biggest. A huge open plan lounge and diner which managed to easily fit all 10 of us and an extra 5 guests on Easter Sunday round the huge dining table.

The decor was very  effective mixing the old barn building with new simple interiors. The bedrooms were spacious and comfortable, but best of all there was an indoor pool, jacuzzi and steam room which we shared with the other guests who we rarely saw meaning most of the time we had the whole place to ourselves. We had trouble keeping the 4 kids out of the pool for the entire week!

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Family Tribute

Knowing that the entire family, complete with my husband’s visiting three aunts would be together over the Easter Sunday, my mother-in-law took the opportunity to scatter my father-in-law’s ashes at a nearby beach. We chose Brancaster beach for its beauty, lovely coast-line and nearby golf club which seemed a fitting tribute. We took my father in-law’s beloved classic car – an MGC to the beach and despite the aftermath of storm Katie, the skies remained sunny and blue. My brother-in-law read a beautiful poem out about the sea. It was a little emotional, but lovely.

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Brancaster Beach

Horse Riding

My husband’s cousin and one of his aunts live in Norfolk and so we took the opportunity to visit them on our break. They own 3 ponies and so much to the excitement of all kids, they were allowed to sit on and walk round the paddock. It was the first time both of our girls had sat on and ridden a pony and they both loved it. I was surprised as Alice, our eldest, is scared of dogs, cats and flies but seemed completely at home with the ponies. We’ll definitely be visiting again this year!

Days Out

After a few days of doing family activities we had a couple of days left to explore. I’m not overly familiar with the north Norfolk coast but from what I saw, it seems beautiful:

Wells-Next-The-Sea

There’s a mini train which takes you from the car park down to the beach which the kids loved even if it was a bit pricey. The beach is beautiful and as the weather was warmer, the kids were in there element building sandcastles, collecting stones and shells and running around letting off steam.

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Wells-Next-The-Sea

Blakeney and Cley

Blakeney is a beautiful little quay with some quaint little shops. You can do trips out to visit seals or spend some time crabbing. If we were visiting without the kids it would have been great to walk the couple of miles round to the next beach (Cley). Instead, we wandered around soaking up the atmosphere and sunshine and then drove over to Cley. It’s a shingle beach but this didn’t matter to the kids who continued to collect stones and dodge the rather turbulent waves. There’s also a stunning windmill nearby which is now a luxury B&B, I quite fancy staying there sometime!

Food, Drink and Family Bonding

As with most holidays, we ate and drank a lot! Red wine, gin and tonics, ice creams and the inevitable Easter eggs all played a heavy part. I need to to focus on being a bit healthier now that we’re home! We had a few late nights up talking and one very funny drunken dancing night where my sister-in-laws and I even managed to get the aunts and mother-in-law up dancing.

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Next Year?

I feel like we’ve all had a good break as well as a fitting tribute to my father-in-law. We’ve had a good mix of family bonding, swimming at the pool and days out, but still feel like there’s a lot more to see of Norfolk. My mother-in-law has already said she wants to book the accommodation again for next year, so here’s hoping.

Have you been to Norfolk? Any tips or recommendations for our next trip?

 

 

Mummascribbles

Super Busy MUm
Cuddle Fairy

Vices – Why We all Need Them

Tea and Wine Vices 2

Back in the mid-1990s my vice of choice was Bacardi and Coke I used to drink a lot of it before going out clubbing with my friends. Then one night I got so sick on it that still to this day, I can’t bear the smell of Bacardi.

I’ve dabbled a bit with the vice of smoking over the years, I’m lucky in that I was never addicted, it was more a casual flirtation with Marlborough Lights which I pursued whenever I had a drink in hand.

After the Bacardi episode, I moved on to drinking white wine but I soon discovered that had its own issues; it used to make me emotional or worse, aggressive so I ditched that and began my love affair with red wine.

It has been my vice of choice ever since. I have been known on particularly stressful days to have a glass or two at the kids’ tea time, sometimes out of a mug if I’m feeling guilty about drinking in front of the children, I mostly manage to hold off until the kids are in bed before cracking open a bottle.

My 2 Main Vices

Red Wine

Tea is my daytime saviour I drink a lot and it helps to power me through especially as our daily wake up time now seems to be inexplicably set at 5.30am. I wish I drank coffee as it sounds so much more glamorous and I’m sure it’s a lot stronger!

So these two vices – red wine and strong tea I look upon as dear friends of mine. Without meaning to sound like an absolute nutter, I treasure them, they absolutely help me in coping on a regular basis to get through the stress and strains of the day. Anything from trying to placate a raging, foot-stamping 2 year old about why she can’t wear a sundress in February, to wrestling the 4 year old into the car to make her go to school, to chasing down a payment from a freelance client.

These 2 vices are so dear to me that I named my blog after them.

Other Mum Vices

I know other mums have vices which include regular massages, manicures, chocolate binges, cinema nights and frequent gorging on cakes.

Along with tea and red wine, my other vices are: writing. I’ve always enjoyed writing whether it’s scribbling the random musings as part of this blog, or writing for clients as part of my freelancing work. I love the creative process of getting things out of my head and on to paper. It can be very cathartic!

My only real other vice is spending a bit too much time on social media which I think everyone does.

Lincoln Vices

Guilt and Vices

Most vices carry a set amount of guilt don’t they?

Whilst I don’t have any problem with my tea drinking, I am aware that my love of red wine is a bit of a bad habit. Don’t get me wrong, it’s in check, but I don’t ever want it to become a complete crutch. I make a conscious effort to have a few nights off a week (which can be tough!)

My writing can at times cause me some level of guilt, mostly because outside of my few childfree hours during the day, I’m trying to snatch bits of time here and there whilst juggling the kids before doing more once they’re in bed. I regularly have guilty moments where I worry that I’ve just plonked the kids in front of the TV for an hour or so whilst I try and get scribbling.

But what I’m realising is that unless you have a hard core drug or drink vice, or a vice that is so out of control that it becomes all consuming, we really need to ease up on the guilt.

It’s OK to have vices. In fact, it’s positively necessary to have our vices in order to get through the day.

We are all doing our best. Whether we’re a stay-at-home mum battling with a feisty toddler, working mums that are juggling the demands of trying to fit everything into the day or a part-time mum like me who is trying to fit my working life in around the children.

I’m realising that letting the kids sit in front of the TV for an hour or so is not going to kill them, they have enough stimulation from me during the rest of the day. And more than that, if I’m happier at having snatched a bit of “me” time, then the kids are happier too.

Most of us seem to have worries or general anxieties about something in our life. Most of us are openly or secretly dealing with some kind of problem, some kind of pain, fear, or self-confidence crisis. Is it really so bad that we get through it by having a little bit of what makes us happy?

I don’t think so.

Unless it’s Bacardi.

Do you have any vices? I’d love to hear what they are and if you have any intention of giving them up!

Vices Bacardi

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What’s The Point? Losing My Mojo

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I’m having a low week. I’ve had a few things that have brought me down a bit and as a result, I know seem to be finding the other things; the things I normally do without question, a bit of an effort. Because I’m feeling low, I can’t be bothered to do anything. I’ve lost my Mo-Jo and I seem to keep asking myself “What’s the Point?” a fair bit this week.

  • Funeral. I knew that my Nan’s funeral on Tuesday would be tough. I was reading a tribute to her and so I was really nervous about it beforehand. I wanted to do a good job for her and for my family. I’d been so focused on getting through doing the speech that it wasn’t until it was all over, later on that day that the sadness of losing and missing my Nan really hit me. I’ve felt a bit weird since then.
  • Freelancing Work. My self-confidence has taken a bit of a knock with my freelancing work these last couple of weeks. I’ve had a few different issues going on that has set me back. I seem to have put in a lot of work and effort for several different prospective clients recently, and it all appears to have been for nothing. I know that this is part of what being a freelancer is all about, and perhaps normally I’d take it all in my stride, but I’ve struggled with it this week and really questioned whether I should bother to keep going with it at all.
  • Blogging. I mostly really enjoy blogging. I like the process of writing and sharing it with others. I enjoy meeting other bloggers and reading other people’s blogs. But sometimes, like this week, I’ve really started to wonder “What’s the Point?” My stats are staying relatively flat, and I’m not really sure where I’m going with it in the long term. Should I even bother to keep going with it all? Blogging takes a lot of time and effort and I’ve found it hard to keep the momentum going this week. I’ve really been questioning whether it’s all worth it this week.
  • Mum. My mum’s got to go through some horrible tests at the hospital at the end of this week and I suppose no matter how much she tells me not to worry, I do!

 

I’m reading this back and realise that I sound like an incredibly miserable, grumpy old cow. I promise, I’m not normally wallowing quite so much in my own issues!

I realise that there are definitely far worse problems out there than these, but I think sometimes when one issue gets you down, any other little problem that you might normally deal with, suddenly seems to magnify so that you think you can’t handle it. All of a sudden, it becomes harder to buck yourself up and keep going.

I seem to have asked myself “What’s The Point?” many times this week.  But I’m not going to do anything drastic, I’m going to have to accept that this week is a bit of write off and I’ll make a huge effort to get back on track next week.

Does anyone else have weeks like this? Any suggestions to help get you through would be gratefully received!

 

 

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A Tribute to My Nan on International Women’s Day

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Last week my lovely Nan died. She would have been 92 this month and whilst we are all sad that she is gone, for the last year she was increasingly frail and had had enough of life. I take some comfort that she is now at peace.

As part of the funeral arrangements for next week, I am collecting a few anecdotes from my dad and aunties to read out which will pay homage to her strong sense of character. I thought it suddenly fitting that I pay tribute to my Nan as part of International Women’s Day which celebrates the many achievements of women throughout the world.

Nan was tough. She was determined, stoical, and sometimes fiery. She was formidable, ambitious, brave and loved to laugh. Her strong personality can be seen in just a few of these anecdotes that have been passed on to me:

  • The Time She Rescued My Grandad From The Sea

My dad can remember the family going to Walton-on-The-Naze for the day. My grandad went swimming in the sea and got cramp. He got into difficulty and couldn’t make it back to the shore. My Nan ran out to rescue him fully clothed. They both thankfully made it back but ended up having a row in full view of the beach because my Nan’s watch had stopped working from where it had got wet!

  • The Time She Rescued my Aunt From The Toilet

When my young aunt got locked in the toilet, rather than call the Fire Brigade, get help from a neighbour or use a ladder to climb in the window from the back garden, she proceeded to launch her own rescue mission by climbing out of an adjacent window, scaling the window ledge and climbing into the toilet window to reach her daughter.

  • Surviving The Blitz

Nan grew up in Bethnal Green, East London and was there throughout the war. She survived the Blitz but only just; she was blown off her feet by a bomb blast in her street which thankfully didn’t hurt her too badly or destroy her home.

 

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Nan had 4 children and somehow managed to balance being a mum with waitressing in silver service restaurants and later as an auxiliary nurse. She had a very strong work ethic and always wanted us all to work hard. I remember her always telling me and my sisters to “get our names down at Tesco.”

She had a wonderful outlook on life. Despite arguing and never reconciling with her mum  living through the War, nursing her husband and losing one of her daughter’s to cancer she always proclaimed to have had a good life. She never complained and always told us how there were always people worse off than her. I’m hoping this is something that I can remember when things don’t always go my way in life.

International Women’s Day is about celebrating those women who have achieved something. Whilst she’s not famous, she did achieve a lot. I’d like to recognise my Nan for her amazing strength in character, for overcoming adversity and family trauma, working hard and still managing to laugh through it all.

We will miss her, but her spirit and personality will never be forgotten through the stories and anecdotes that will be passed down through the generations. She lives on in her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We notice certain qualities and certain traits in all of us.

I hope that I can be as strong as she was for just a short time next week at her funeral and I hope that I can do justice to her character and her memory.

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