Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Parenting Perfection.

I always wanted to be a perfect parent, I even got paid to tell other parents where they were going wrong for a living so surely it was going to be a doddle.

Things immediately didn't go to plan. After three weeks my breastfeeding plans were over, Tabitha was losing weight rapidly and her temperament made it clear she was starving.

Next there was my terror at attending the health clinics and partaking in Mummy chat in general.

Little Miss Know-It-All then ended up pacing the nursery all night with a screaming child having no idea what was wrong. I had spent two weeks giving half doses of Calpol because I'd read the syringe measurements wrong and wondered why nothing was helping her teething pains.

I'd really wanted to be the vision of parenting perfection but I'm not.

I have friends who have fought on breastfeeding for ages and who are obsessed with their childs salt and sugar intake, who only want their child to go to private or church schools, who would be horrified if someone said 'shit' in front of their child. I don't lose sleep over these issues, school is years away, food is food, plans change.

Seriously though... Are their children any happier than mine? Are their children guaranteed better futures? I doubt it, some of the stupidest most miserable people I've ever met have been vegan privately educated fools.

I'll openly admit I can be a bit of a rubbish mum, we sometimes eat crap and sometimes we say 'crap'. I'm not ever going to start enjoying mothers mornings and music groups or stop going clubbing if I find the energy!

I'm not going to beat myself up about organic food or occasional swearing in front of the kids and if going clubbing means we are encouraging 'dad' dancing, so be it.

Striving for parenting perfection is a bore, being uptight is dull.

Chill out and enjoy your kids I say. Life's too short.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Homemade Traditions.

This year i hosted Christmas at our house for both our families and it was my biggest hosting event to date. It made me start thinking about Christmas traditions that were part of my childhood and my partners, the things that 30 years later we still link with 'our Christmas' experience.

Do traditions just create themselves or do we create them?

I made my first Christmas cake this year and intend to do so every year. I wonder will my Christmas cake feature in Tabithas Christmas memories when she reflect on her childhood, i hope so.

My mums childhood Christmas memories were of her milkman Grandfather never being generous with the cream portions to go with her Christmas pudding and as a result we always have gallons!

My memories of Christmas Eve will always involve having a naughty sherry glass of Baileys before bed. I was always so excited about being allowed alcohol that it was years later i realised it was a tactic to help us go to sleep before 3am!

What are the Christmas traditions in your household?

What ones from your childhood have you carried over into your own childrens?

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Silent Sunday.

Boxing Day entry for Silent Sunday.

Silent Sunday

To see the other entries click the image above.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

The Gallery - Love.

The last gallery theme of the year is Love. 

Me, Laura, Rebecca, Helen, Katrina, and Michelle.

We have all been friends for a long, long time.  

A group of girls from my hometown, a mixture of ages, a mixture of personalities, a cocktail of aims and goals, but importantly all with the same sense of humour.

Through all the trials of life: good times, bad times, births, deaths, marriage, and divorce. 

We have lived together, travelled together and been miles apart.

I love them all, they are my girls.

Click above to see the other entries.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Cbeebies: Snog, Marry, Avoid.

 A little bit of Christmas fun!

We all spend far too much of our lives watching Cbeebies. 
It goes with the job so come on spill, who are your 
Cbeebies: Snog, Marry and Avoid?

*Plenty of choice in every sex so don't be shy!

Andy, Alex, Cerrie and Sid.
Pui and Chris.
Pete and Nat.
Big Cook and Little Cook.
Mr Maker.
Mr Tumble.
Sarah Jayne.
Doodle do Chris.
Sportacus, Stephanie and Robbie Rotten.
The Numbertaker.

I'll start it off with mine.....
SNOG: Sid.
MARRY: Chris - Show me, Show me.
AVOID: The Numbertaker.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010


From a little girl I grew up always thinking that I would be a mother.

I knew I wanted children and it did not occur to me that anything would stand in my way.

In my late twenties I had to face the facts that it had not happened. The fertility treatments had not worked and even though there was no official medical reason I had to think about living my life without children.

Its a deeply crushing and all consuming feeling. People talk about your heart being ripped out, its that, pretty much. 

I had spent years working in childcare homing my maternal skills, watching children develop and grow before my eyes imagining one day doing the same with my own children. 

My brain did what it could to cope, I focused on all the childrens lives I have been a part of, how special that is. How important to be involved in forming a pre school mind and how honoured I was to be a part of their lives. Perhaps I thought I have played enough of a part in bringing up other peoples children, perhaps my role in life is to be, just me.

I tried to focus on my new relationship, having fun, going out, seeing the positives in not having children. I imagined a future life with two incomes, expensive holidays, no childcare fees draining our wages, just enjoying my partner and our time spent together.

As my friends had babies I tried to be happy for them, tried to not be jealous and bitter and let the anger out.

Inside I was proper mad. I was so, very, mad. 

I would have made a good mum, I didn't understand. 

I'd sit at work and rock a child to sleep in my arms knowing I may never have this of my own. I'd sneak off to the toilets and have a little cry, those feelings are not feelings you can let out, there is nowhere good for them to go. 

So instead I'd smile and brag of lazy mornings and all night parties.

I cannot explain the moment I found I was pregnant in a way that does it any justice. 

I heard my breathing suddenly gasp, then stop. I felt my heart pound, then stop. The whole world just stopped, froze, I could see myself sat open mouthed, I had to kick myself back to earth. 

I knew from that moment that everything would be fine, this baby was my gift for waiting for so long, for holding those feelings inside, for not moaning or self pitying and for never giving up hope.

The Gallery - Sparkle.

The theme this week at Sticky Fingers is Sparkle.

This is a close up shot of a rather glitzy dress of mine. 

Disco baby yeah!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Forgetting yourself.

Parties, Nightclubs, Bars, Cocktails, Doormen, Dj's all used to be a part of my world. I worked in a nightclub owned by some friends just some part time shifts at first, working the cloakroom or taking money on the door. I loved it, i loved the atmosphere, the dealing with customers even the drunk ones. 

When my personal situation changed and i needed a full time job i jumped at the chance to become the bar manager and spent a year sleeping all day and working all night. Its a weird life never seeing daylight, only mixing with other people working those shifts. You get well known by taxi drivers, the local police and kebab shop owners but your own neighbours have no idea who you are.

I was single at the time and loved the social life it brought with it. I was always sober until the club closed so it wasn't about the drinking, it was about being part of giving people a good night out, creating an environment. Working a bar is damn hard work, especially when its busy, sticky spirits can get in places you never imagined possible and your ability to sense a fight kicking off is like a superpower after a while, you can smell it in the air.

Why am i telling you all of this? 

Because yesterday while i was soaking the dried fruit for my Christmas cake, i smelt the brandy and suddenly remembered.

The one where I'm in Top Sante!

As my regular readers are aware i have been on a mission to regain my figure. What you may not know is how it all started...

I was recently asked to appear in a feature for Top Sante about how i have improved my fitness and how it all come about and Eeeeek!

It's out this month*!!

The article features several ladies like me who have undertaken a charity event and then turned their fitness around after the training.

When i was a teenager my brother Matthew died, aged 19 he lost his battle with cancer and this year i finally dragged myself off my lazy arse and raised money for cancer research by taking part in The Race For Life. It was this that got me started on my fitness campaign to return to my pre pregnancy weight.

I got to meet the other ladies featured at the photoshoot and have to say i felt very un-worthy compared to their stories of climbing mountains and riding push bikes to Paris. I am now even more inspired to do the 10k next year after reading their stories.

We all however shared the same opinion that we had achieved what we had thought was impossible, i hope other people read the article and feel they too can do something they'd thought wasn't for them.

So if your in Tesco or Asda ( or any leading magazine retailer ) pick up a copy and have a look, its Mumra in the flesh!

*January 2011 issue of Top Sante.

Many thanks to Liz Jarvis for writing a lovely article and giving me the opportunity to be involved.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The Gallery - White.

The Gallery theme this week is White.

This is my far my favourite white photo. 

Bubbles at bathtime with Tabitha-Lo.

Don't forget to have a look at the other entries at Sticky Fingers.

Monday, 6 December 2010

The Birthday Cake.

I have been meaning to do this post since Tabitha's birthday, then I was reminded the other day by a friend asking for the recipe. 

Firstly I have never made a birthday cake before, there has been some success with muffins and little cakes but this was my biggest attempt yet and coupled with the '1st Birthday' pressure I was very nervous.

Twitter has been a fabulous source of information for me with regards to teething, sleep patterns and feeding and it did not let me down with cake baking either. The lovely @cookingkt who blogs at Feeding boys and a firefighter sent me this recipe for vanilla sponge to get me started.

Vanilla Sponge

250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250g caster sugar (golden caster sugar is particularly good)
4 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g plain flour
4 tsps baking powder
3-4 tbsps milk, at room temperature
1.     Preheat the oven to 180’C, 160’C Fan, Gas 4.  Grease or line your cake tin(s)
2.     Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer or with a handheld electric mixer until pale, light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Very gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well between each addition and scraping down the bowl with a spatula from time to time. Stir in the vanilla extract.
3.     Sift together the plain flour and baking powder and add to the cake mixture in 2 batches, mixing until smooth. Add the milk and mix until smooth.
4.     Spoon the mixture into your prepared cake tin(s) and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 35-40 mins until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire cooling rack.

With the help of my gorgeous assistant we followed the recipe. When it was all mixed together we poured the mixture in to the greased 9inch square tin and put in the oven. I am seriously impaitent and totally looked at the cake before I should have, as a result it sunk a little bit in the middle. We hid that by flipping it over once it had cooled so the surface I laid the icing on was perfectly smooth.

Cover the cake once its cooled with a nice thick layer of seedless jam, I used Apricot, then lay the rolled icing out over the cake. 

My tips for the icing are these..... 
  • Buy ready made, or even ready rolled. My local cake shop sells bags of all colours ready to roll.
  • Make sure it is going to cover the whole cake before you lay in it the jam.
  • Don't make it too thin it or it will split as it stretches over the corners.
Leave a draping edge over hanging onto the base, let it settle for 5 minutes, then cut to fit the bottom and tidy.

    Tabitha loves Timmy and he is a nice simple set of shapes so we went for him as the main decor. I'd suggest to go for something similar that is made up of basic core shapes, nothing too fiddly.

    Get them laid out right before you attempt putting on the cake. When your happy stick them on by brushing a watered down jam mixture as glue, brush over with a little water to clean off icing sugar you used for rolling out and you are done!

    I felt really proud to have made her first birthday cake and hopefully if I do one every year they will get better and better.

    Sunday, 5 December 2010

    Wednesday, 1 December 2010

    Muddy Puddles All in One Review.

    Playing in the snow is such a huge part of your childhood. That feeling of woolen gloves so matted with snow from making snowballs, your hands don't hurt until you go inside and warm up, then they sting like hell!

    I was desperate for Tabitha to be able to enjoy the snow should we get any this year, so started looking at outdoor suits a while ago. When i was a Nursery Nurse i used wet weather suits often on my children and found the saying "no such thing as bad weather just bad clothes" very true. As long as the child is dry and warm much fun can be had whatever the weather.

    In my search i was directed to Muddle Puddles at TPToys and after chatting with them about their suits they kindly offered Tabitha an All in One to review.

    When the suit arrived i was gobsmacked by the quality, i had thought it would be an over suit like an anorak fabric or waterplay apron, i was wrong. The suit is fully lined and the waterproof outer layer is soft and malleable, it has little shoe covers that attach for non walkers and popper off to make way for wellies. The issue of sodden gloves is addressed with fold over mitten ends on the arms, so much easier than gloves! Why do normal winter coats not have these for toddlers?

    Tabitha loved playing in the snow, her first real winter experience. She swept the snow off the benches with her mitten covered hands and ploughed through the powder covered grass kicking it up into the air.

    The best part (other than her of course looking totally awesome wrapped up like a giant ladybird) was that when we got in and unzipped and de-wellied her she was bone dry underneath, even her hands.

    I have a feeling we will be using the Muddy Puddles All in One a lot this winter. 

    The Gallery - A Celebration.

    Ok now some people might think i've gone a bit mad, that i have already done  'A Celebration' as a gallery theme entry but its not me, it is Tara at Sticky Fingers. She felt the subject needed re-visiting as there were so many possibilities. *cough* (or she forgot she had done it before!)

    You may have seen this picture already on another post and i have to say its not my work. It is a photo shoot Tabitha had done but i DID grow the child myself so i'm taking full credit.

    If this pose does not say 'Celebration', i don't know what does? 

    Tuesday, 30 November 2010

    Maclaren Universal Cosy Toes Review.

    Since i have been blogging one company has been unbelievably kind to me by suppling products for review and once again they have given me another excellent product to try.

    Tabitha is a nightmare for keeping blankets on her legs when out in the buggy so as the Siberian winter approached i began thinking of getting a cosy toes for her. As I don't drive some days no matter how cold it is i have to go out of the house with Tabitha in the buggy so it is important that she is warm and comfortable. Choosing one I found hard, the ones i mostly see are the fluffy or fleecy ones in bold colours and patterns. They look very snug but are just not to my personal taste i prefer things understated and classic looking. I got myself confused, searching for so many different types and overloading my head with a zillion cosy toes eventually i just didn't like the look of any.

    I was so relieved when Maclaren said they would supply me with one as i was hopeful it would follow suit of their buggy designs and be stylish yet functional. I was not let down. The cosy toes they supplied matches the buggy i reviewed a few months back for them The Maclaren Quest Sport, a classic charcoal grey with a simple brand logo in white stitching across the front, the outer fabric is cotton but the inside is fleece lined and very soft to the touch.

    Getting it in place on the buggy is pretty straight forward. The straps need to be lengthened to accommodate the extra fabric and Tabithas growing tummy, a job i hate doing. Those adjusters are fiddly on every buggy i've ever used. Maclaren we'd love you even more if you found a way to make that a quicker action. Tabitha is quite a tall girl and has long gangly legs so i was a bit concerned that a cosy toes maybe something she would grow out of quickly but she seems to have a fair bit of room for growth in the bottom of it.

    I have two buggies and have found that the cosy toes will fit the 5 point harness on both. However a little adaption to the fixings is needed ( i have sewed two duffle coat toggles onto the back of my Bugaboo to secure the ties in place ) It is obviously designed for a Maclaren but its certainly is not untransferable if necessary.

    I like to find a fault in the products i review but i really am struggling with this one. Tabitha has no objection to being zipped up in it when we go out. No more using cot blankets and having them dragging along the pavement. The seams are well made and strong, the zip smooth and sturdy. Tabitha looks so warm wrapped up like a snug bug in her pushchair, i don't think twice about venturing out on cold weather days.

    A cosy toes is a must have for this time of year and if your looking for something timeless and well made, Maclaren are the people to see.

    Thomas likes it too!

    Sunday, 28 November 2010

    Friday, 26 November 2010

    Out with the old, in with the new....

    Moover Wooden Pram
    Tabitha got some excellent toys for her birthday. Obviously we chose them and hoped she'd like them but i reckon we did pretty well as they seem to have gone down a storm!

    Brio Rocker
    We love wooden toys and were thinking it would be a good idea to try to build up a selection of unisex wooden toys should we have more sproglettes in the future.

    Original Wheelie Bug
    That said we seem to have fallen into a little Ladybird theme somewhere along the way....erm boys like ladybirds too don't they? Oh well......

    Kidorable Wellies
    Knowing the snow is on the way i wanted to get her some wellies for going out in the snow and the only issue i'm faced with now is how to get her to walk while she is touching the ladybirds faces and saying 'Sssssshhoooooes'.

    Little Life Rucksack
    Tabithas resent attitude has made me very aware that the battle of wills is about to kick in. She already strops when i try to get her back in the buggy at the park and it is a matter of time before she wants to walk places. I'm not a fan of reins mostly because they always look a bit cheap so we went for this rucksack which will carry mummies purse and keys nappies/wipes a few toys but also has a wrist strap for me to hold while she toddles off like a big girl.

    Branching Out Wooden Puzzle
    I loved this puzzle when i saw it, under each letter is a picture representing it. Toys like this being around from a  young age will help Tabs learn colours and letters without  too much effort or forced learning. It also looks fabulous on her dresser.

    Baby Born Bathable Doll
    I think my other half thought i'd gone mad when i added this to the list but its a must have for a little girl. I agree a wooden one would have been nice or a Blythe but she is 1 not 8 so we went with this. She goes in the bath and has a outfits you can buy separately. As if to prove my point when Tabs unwrapped this she immediately put the bottle in the babies mouth and patted its head, just like Mummy does. 

    Talking De Li
    The other must have purchase that went a bit against the grain was this... On a recent shopping trip to Tesco i saw this talking De Li and pressed its tummy, Tabitha went bright red and dropped her head in shame, it was a classic 'Muuuuuuum' moment! She was torn between her excitement and her embarrassment at my actions. It was the cutest thing i'd ever seen.

    Of course in true Tabitha style she has played mostly with the number one helium balloon my mum got her, its been dragged from room to room and i'm a bit concerned what will happen when it has its day. 

    What i need to do now is clear out the old toys, the rattles, the teething toys and the battered board books, because we have a big girl on our hands.

    Thursday, 25 November 2010

    Goodbye Pert Breasts - A Guest Post.

    [ I am really pleased to have a guest post by Ben Wakeling author of 'Goodbye, Pert Breasts: The Diary of a Newborn Dad' .....Ben also writes a parenting blog 'Goodbye Pert Breasts' from a Dads perspective and does it with much needed humour and grace. ]

    "If you’d wanted to speak to me a year ago today, you’d have probably found me in Mothercare, lingering suspiciously in the maternity bra section. Allow me to explain, before you go dialling the police. I would not, of course, have been looking at the underwear; instead, I’d most likely be trying to catch sight of my wife as she dashed from stand to stand, filling her basket with babygrows, toys and anything else that she thought might be remotely necessary for the baby she was due to have in April.

    On one such occasion, I moved on from the underwear after attracting strange glances from shoppers and staff, and instead browsed the pregnancy books on a little rotating stand. Leafing through a few, I realised something: every book was aimed at the mum. They spoke of how much weight she would put on, what her hormones would be doing, and what she should be eating. There was nothing for me, the dad, to tell me what I should be doing.
    It was then that the little idea sperm and egg fused in my mind, and I thought about writing a book, all about pregnancy from a father’s point of view. This book would not only provide expectant dads with practical advice on how to get more involved during those sticky nine months, but also answer the really important pregnancy questions going through any man’s mind. Is my partner going to poo during labour? What do I do when she shrieks at me in a hormonal rage? And just exactly how big are her boobs going to get? (By the way, the answers to these three questions are Probably, Run and Very.)

    And so, ‘Goodbye, Pert Breasts: The Diary of a Newborn Dad’ was born. Not in the same way as my son would be, of course; I just mean that I began to write it. Each week, I wrote about what had happened: any anecdotes I had, observations I’d made and how my wife was progressing. I also included information about how our baby was developing in the womb, and gave advice on how dads can be supportive during what could easily be a traumatic time for the mum. At the end of the book, I wrote several chapters to help new parents make big decisions (such as whether to breast or bottle feed), how fatherhood would change a dad’s life (such as not having as much beer money any more), and a few step-by-step articles on how to do various baby-related things (like make a placenta milkshake). All that, along with a few bizarre extras thrown in, formed my book – which, after numerous rejection letters from agents, I decided to publish myself.

    Pregnancy is, of course, a big deal for any mother. But fathers can completely freak out as well, although we often hide it better in order to retain our mega-manly image. We are living in a time when dads want to get more involved; it’s just sometimes, we’re not really sure how, especially when our partner holds us responsible for everything that goes wrong, pregnancy-related or not  - that’s why you’ll often see the father lingering hesitantly in the corner of the delivery suite as his partner wails through another contraction. Seriously, we need all the help we can get: which is why I hope that my book can give dads a point in the right direction, while making them (and their partners) laugh their socks off."