Baking

Playing with my children does not always come easy to me.
I enjoy building with them – with blocks or lego, I lay on the floor to draw and colour, do puzzles and games and I love reading them books…
But when it comes to anything roleplay related I start to struggle. I feel self concious and awkward. This can be games like playing house or doctors, playing shops or having tea parties…
I can’t really explain why this is – It’s just the way I feel …
Of course I play these things with them anyway – when I’m alone with them at home – It’s what they love doing and it is a really important type of play –
it builds their confidence, fuells imagination, helps them to make sense of the world around them and to find out who they are… so there I sit on the floor pretending to eat a plastic fairy cake and drinking delicious fake tea feeling rather silly …

I’m also not terribly keen on messy play – at least not in the house …
Now, I dont mind toys, books and other playthings lying about the house – thats easily tidied up at the end of the day.
And I absolutely encourage messy play outside – if they dig in the mud or mess around with chalks and water – that does not bother me at all.
But I really do struggle with all things messy inside the house …
I hate playdough and wet paints and the thought of glue and glitter sends me to a place not that far away from a panik attack … (I am exaggerating here for added effect … or am I ? ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

But there is one activity – a particularly messy one – that I love doing with my children more than any other …
And that is baking …

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Sticky fingers, flour on the floor, worktops covered in icing, clothing “decorated” with chocolate, egg shells in the batter … does not bother me in the slightest …
It’s strange really – but I really do love the mess of it all for some reason …

My mum was a cook and I practically grew up in a Restaurant. My Grandmother used to bake with me and so did my otherwise not very motherly mother …
I have also always had a terrible sweet tooth …
Theres something so homely and warm about baking – the process, the smells, and the result just scream family and comfort and love to me like almost nothing else …
I never lose my calm or get impatient when baking something with my daughter and I love letting her take the lead even if it takes over an hour to make a simple crumble – I love every minute of it …

I can not wait until Sameth is old enough to join in too … because baking is not just a girls thing …

I guess every parent has things they love doing with their children … and that can be anything really … from going out rockpooling to dressing up and doing your nails …
I love it, for example, when Craig teaches the kids anything sport related…
All sorts of things like mini golf, hockey or just throwing and kicking a ball around – his shoulders drop and relax, his voice becomes soft and his eyes light up … he’s right in his element … that’s what he’s good at and what he loves …
And something rings quite true here actually because that is the thing he particularly enjoyed doing with his father when he was young …
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So I guess what I am trying to say is that I don’t think you have to enjoy playing all sorts of things with your children …
As long as you make an effort and you find something your passionate about so that you can share that love and passion with your children then that’s ok … everyone has a thing … my thing is baking …
I’d like to think they will remember this when they grow up and say “Sure I know how to make pastry – I used to bake with my mum all the time …”

Until next time …

Ta da

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A very special Holiday

When I found out some years ago that I was going to have an Autumn baby I was over the moon!
Not only because it is my favourite time of the year but also because it is such a great time to celebrate a birthday.
You can have a bonfire, bbq with marshmallows, Autumn camp out, adventure treasure hunts in the woods, fancy dress or halloween parties, book night sleepovers with cozy blankets … the list goes on …

A few days ago my little baby girl turned 3

First of all – wow … I can not believe how my little miracle baby has grown and developed into such a confident, bright little lady…
But anyway – this year we decided to celebrate her birthday by taking her on holiday to Germany to bond with my side of our ever extending family…

But Autumn is also a time in Germany where all sorts of harvest festivals are being held. You probably heard of the Oktoberfest – which is the largest and most well known example of a German harvest festival.
In the Rhine valley – the prominent wine region of Germany – those harvest festivals heavily feature wine. The Oktoberfest is best known for beer …

Weimar – where I was born and raised celebrated its 361st zwiebelmarkt (onionmarket) this Autumn … where the humble onion is the star of the harvest show…
It’s a huge event in this region and it is usually held on the second weekend of Oktober …this year this happened to fall exactly on Winry’s 3rd birthday.

http://www.weimar.de/en/tourismus/culture-leisure/markets-festivals/onion-market/

https://www.facebook.com/zwiebelmarktweimar.kulturstadt
When I lived in Weimar I experienced this every year of course, but since moving to England I have only managed to come back for the market once in 2007 when my now husband proposed to me… ooooh the memories ๐Ÿ˜‰ …
We had planned to go in 2011 but instead I gave birth to my amazing little Girl …

So for many reasons this was a very special Holiday for us …
It was also the first time my eldest brother Sven got to meet Sameth in the flesh and the first time we met my other brother Steve’s little baby girl Smilla, who was only born a few months ago …

We all had a wonderful time!
Of course it was exhausting and stressfull at times with two very young children not being able to have regular naps and sensible bed times…
Wenever we visit we do struggle to manage our time in such a way as to be able to spend some quality time with everyone, and this is even more of an issue when travelling with children of course … but one week really does go by in the blink of an eye … and when you get to spend so little time with beloved family members, bedtimes and no chocolate for breakfast and all sorts of other rules can be bent or even left at home for one short week …
It certainly was not a holiday to recharge energy levels and get some rest and quiet time – In fact I am so glad that Craig has another few days holiday so we can get some down time together…

But, having said that, I truly could not be more pleased with how amazing this holiday has been … I can not explain how much it means to me to see my nieces and nephews play with their (half)british cousins, to see the sheer love in my brothers eyes when they look at my precious children…

The physical batteries might be empty but the emotional ones are full to the brim …

Saying good bye at the airport is always hard – but this time my heart really broke a little… to see how upset winry got at having to say good bye to all the new friends and family members she had bonded with .in the space of a few days …

It truly was a holiday to remember !!!

I will leave you with the “holiday snaps” now … enjoy …

Tuesday

(unpacking, walk through weimar, buying froggy shoes, catch up with anja)

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Wednesday

(Breakfast with anja, playground, afternoon at Omi’s)

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Thursday

(meet Smilla, BBQ at the Baumgartens’)

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Friday

(spot of birthday shopping, quick walk over onion market, catch up with uncle steve, Girls night out)

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Saturday

(Horseriding with cousin Carlo, Chinese food, Onion market)

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Sunday

(Breakfast with uncle Sven, Ice cream, Onion market)

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Monday

(packing & bye bye)

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Until next time …

Ta da

Make or Break

Sameth is 13 months old now – the age Winry was when he was conceived …
And let me tell you a BIG secret … I am super broody …and I have no control over it …

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But don’t get too excited – there are no current plans to expand our lovely family of 4 any further at the moment …
I even feel guilty for my broodyness sometimes – and here’s why:

We have two beautiful, clever and most importantly healthy children – we even got super lucky and won the gender lottery with having both a girl and a boy…
They each have their own bedrooms, at least one parent’s full attention at bedtime, we can get away with a standard room when planning holidays and own a standard “normal” sized car …
Nanny and Grandad are more than happy to have 2 overnight guests every now and again and frankly it’s not been all that long since we started sleeping through the night again …

More importantly – I didn’t find motherhood terribly easy 2nd time around and had the misfortune to suffer post natal depression which was a wholly unpleasant experience to say the least …
My poor husband had to pick up a huge amount of slack and while he assures me that he didn’t mind in the least – it still makes me feel a pang of guilt and anxiety when I find myself flirting with the idea of being a mum of 3 …

So why put ourselves through it all again ?! … the morning sickness and heartburn, the sore nipples and smell of milky sick, the sleepless nights, post immunisation feevers and 10 teething drool soaked bibs every single day (at least)?
Well what can I say … I always wanted a big family … and denial can be such a sweet thing ๐Ÿ˜‰
Instead of all the chaos and exhaustion I picture the extended dining table at christmas where family members have to sit on coffee tables and upside-down bins because there’s not enough chairs for everyone…
Sunday mornings with 5 people cuddled up in one bed plus books and cuddly toys…
Maybe it’s because both me and my husband come from families with 3 children …

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Maybe it’s because having two children somehow feels “square” for want of a better word … with one child per parentย  …
if there were 3 I guess it would be more “round” …

You probably think I am mad … I probably am to be perfectly honest – but by the time you have had your second child reason has pretty much left the building … thats what it feels like most of the time anyway …
Life with young children feels sort of like a content chaos … You try your best to keep up with all the chores, to provide your children with educational activities and to do everything you are supposed to, but you also realise that ‘something’s gotta give’…
And so my tracksuit bottoms get much more use than my jeans these days … I have taught myself to cut my own hair rather than waste 2 hours in a salon …
I watch out for dvd release dates rather than cinema release dates of interesting looking movies and get very excited about buying Winry a funky new pair of shoes instead of buying the book that’s been on my amazon wish list for months … Who has time to read anyway ๐Ÿ˜‰

There are these memes on social media sites that you may have seen and they look something like this:

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and they ring very true for me ๐Ÿ˜‰ …

Anyway … to cut a long story short – the question on whether we will stick with our two or add another to our family remains a huge question mark for now …

But If we were to have a third child I would have a pretty good idea about what I would and wouldn’t do.
I am not in any way meaning this to be advice for anyone… every baby, parent and family situation is different – so this is simply me sharing my experience.

So here it goes:

1. Birth

I always dreamt about having a Homebirth. I was never really frightened of giving birth – of course I was anxious to some degree but both my mother and grandmother used to say “i’d rather give birth than go to the dentist” and described birth as a very matter of fact/ nothing to worry about kind of thing and so I just assumed it would be alright …
That’s what my body was designed to do after all …
Now, this approach may have been courageous or it may have been very naive but it didn’t matter all that much in the end …
When I proudly declared to my midwive that I planned to give birth at home I was told in no uncertain terms that a homebirth was off the table for me – My BMI was too high, It was my first pregnancy and I lived in a 2nd floor flat…
I think my husband was hugely relieved – the idea of a homebirth quite frankly scared the life out of him … and so I had Winry in Ipswich Hospital.
The Birth was not entirely straight forward but I believe that intervention and policies for certain proceedures and timeframes were at least partly to blame for that.
In the end I had a natural vaginal birth following a perfectly normal 8 1/2 hour labour. I had “only” 2 stitches and managed my pain with gas and air and by crushing my husbands right hand …
Nothing I couldn’t have done at home…
I stayed in Hospital for 2 nights and found the experience nothing short of a nightmare – it was noisy – unbearingly hot and uncomfortably unfamiliar. Although the staff and facilities were excellent I might add!

So when I went for my booking appointment at the beginning of my second pregnancy I bravely broached the subject of homebirth again, thinking that, as I’d had a complication free first birth they would be somewhat more accomodating, but I had no such luck …
I was still too heavy and lived on the second floor … two major risk factors … apparently …
And so Sameth was also born in Ipswich Hospital following a 50 minute labour, no stitches… I was very persistent with the staff and made it very clear that I would not be staying the night…
Since Sameth and me were both well and he was a pro at latching on and feeding right from the word go, they had no objections and so I left the hospital on the same day with a 10 hour old baby…
Much better …

However – should I need to make plans for a 3rd birth following a complication free pregnancy then I will not be so easily deterred!
I am of course still overweight but we no longer live in a flat with a 10 minute drive to the hospital but in a house with a 35 minute drive to hospital – in good traffic.
And with a previous 50 minute labour – I really don’t fancy taking my chances …

2. Boobs, Bottles and Dummies

I am, as you may have gotten to know by now, from Germany. Breast or Bottlefeeding is much less of a cause for argument over there – Mothers breastfeed if they can and want to, and if you do so in public you are very unlikely to offend anyone.
People would generally not be likely to even notice and as a breastfeeding mother you would certainly not be made to cover up or feel uncomfortable … thats what their intended use is after all.
On the other hand Germans are quite the pragmatic folk and if, for whatever reason, you happen to bottlefeed your baby then that’s just the way it is, and no one would think any less of you as a mother or attempt to give you lectures on the benefits of breastmilk.
Having said that, I was absolutely determined to breasfeed when I was pregnant with Winry and once she was here I worried a great deal about everything to do with the conundrum that breastfeeding turned out to be…
It was probably the hardest thing about being a first time mother … Yet I somehow managed to feed her until she was 14 months … She never had a Soother and refused to take a bottle – even if it contained breastmilk…
It was hard work and sometimes I could have kicked myself for not having tried to introduce a bottle while she was younger and more likely to accept it …

So when Sameth came along I combination fed him right from 3 days old – I fed him as much as I could and Craig would give him a top up bottle at night to give me some relief … Sameth was also given a soother when he was a few days old …
I was by then in a no nonsense / anything that makes life easier frame of mind … It worked amazingly well for several weeks until my little monkey cottoned on to the fact that, actually, this bottle feeding business was much easier work than getting milk out of a boob … and so he started to refuse the breast more and more in favour of a quick bottle.
I managed to trick him into latching on a few times every day until he was 4 months old and that was when he decided he’d had enough boob and that marked the end of nursing for us…
And although this has afforded me a lot more sleep, it has also made me very sad on several occasions since nursing is such a lovely bond and connection – even in the worst of days …

So … My plan for a potential 3rd baby would be Breastfeeding and Soother so as to not end up as a human soother like I did with Winry so so often … It seems like the best of both worlds to me … but hey – I might change my tune if it ever actually comes to it … ๐Ÿ˜‰

3. Weaning

This is a short one – Winry had only homemade, pureed fruit, vegetables and carefully planned meals from about 4 1/2 months old and she has been a dinner time nightmare on many occasions…
Sameth has had whatever we were eating put in front of him from about 6 1/2 months and he either ate it or played with it … He now manages extremely well with all sorts of textures and flavours and, although he has a severe sweet tooth, he also eats veg, meat and fruit without any fuss.
He is really good at letting us know when he is hungry and when he is done eating and it has been altogether a much nicer, calmer weaning experience …
Baby led weaning all the way !

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4. Sleeping

This is another short one and also the last point …
Of course moses baskets and cribs and cots all have their merits and are perfectly safe, suited places to put your baby down to sleep…

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Having said that, I have grown more and more attatched to the idea of co – sleeping and think that it could have saved a huge amount of stress, and that it has so many benefits that are rarely ever mentioned because of the huge, very valid fear of SIDS. But co – sleeping can actually be very safe when done correctly …

http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/health-concerns/sleep-problems/sleep-safety/latest-research-co-sleeping-safety
I, myself am not too keen on having a baby in bed with me since I do worry about the obvious risks… However if a 3rd Baby should be expected then one of the things I would invest in would be a co-sleeper bedside cot …

And they look something like this (I got this picture of the internet) :

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At the end of the day – every parenting experience brings with it lessons learnt and mistakes made … things I have come to swear by and things I regret…
I know I made the best decisions at the time, based on the information that was available to me – and that’s the thing that matters … I think You could have 30 children and still think of things you could have done differently …
So that’s my bit of wisdom – to put out there for anyone who wants it …
And all those ‘revelations’ don’t make the decision about a 3rd baby any easier …
The title of this post is “make or break” – It seems a drastic title and of couse every child is a blessing – but I feel that having another baby is not a decision that should be made on a whim – because there are 4 people already here that have to be considered. 4 people who’s lives would be affected – in positive and possibly negative ways too …

So I think We will be stewing over this for some time yet …

Until next time …

Ta da

Apple Sunday

We live in Glemsford – a typical little village in Suffolk, not far from Long Melford and Sudbury, very close to the Essex Border.

We moved here nearly a year ago and it’s a beautiful patch of earth surrounded by green stuff ๐Ÿ˜‰ …

Me and my Husband would have been quite happy living in Victorian times… and if we could then we would like nothing more than having a little farm in the middle of nowhere with a cow and some chickens, growing our own food and living a fairly simple life …
We lived in Ipswich together for 6ย  1/2 years in a 2 bedroom newbuilt flat. It suited our needs perfectly at the time but it was not really how we wanted to raise our family… Craig works in Glemsford so he had to drive at least 2 hours a day to get to and from work, the kitchen was tiny and although there were parks and plenty of green spaces around us – we longed for a little garden for the kids to play in …
And so when Sameth came along last year and cabin fever set in due to severe lack of breathing space we got very lucky and found an ideal little family Bungalow in Glemsford.

As mentioned before we have been living here for nearly a year and now and it was the best thing we could have done. I can not emphasize enough how much I love living in the country side !!!
Of course, like everything else, it has it’s drawbacks – especially for me since I am too chicken to drive the car even though I am perfectly able to … but nevermind that …
There are so many little things, like being able to hang the washing out, having fresh herbs to cook with whenever I want, being able to let the kids blow off steam in the garden and of course the ability to go out the door and walk over a field to take in the view or scramble through a little wood and just take a break …
We have thoroughly enjoyed ourselves while picking daddy up from work, foraging for blackberries and growing things while getting wet and dirty in the garden…

And now Autumn is well and truly on the way and signs of the change of the seasons can be seen everywhere … It’s my most favourite time of the year – going for walks in the beautiful autumn air, all the colours and smells, hot pots and stews and soups, blankets and cozy jumpers, bonfires, baking and fluffy socks …

A few times now we have driven past a patch of apple trees by a turn off on the way from Glemsford to Sudbury… Several trees absolutely covered and heavy with apples…
Well this morning we woke up with no particular plans for the day and decided to go check out if those apples were any good …

Suited and booted in our sunday bests … not … we set of with a big flexi tub … well what can I say … we like to think big ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Winry absolutely loved it – there were several branches low enough so winry could have a go at picking some …

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My husband is brilliantly ambitious and not easily deterred so he didn’t loose much time and made for the taller hanging fruit …

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We were there for about an hour … maybe a little longer and filled the whole tub … the apples were fairly small and quite tart but had lovely flavour … so much so that Sameth munched about 1 1/2 of them while watching the goings on … It’s a hard life being 13 months old you know ๐Ÿ˜‰

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We set off home again, had some lunch and got the kids down for their nap …

Then my fun began …

Let’s just say – myself, the kitchen and several muslins and teatowels smelled of apple before very long …

I ended up making a whole pot of stewed spiced apples with vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, muskovado sugar and lemon juice – enough for 6 delicious something or others …

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We turned one portion into a German style spiced apple bread and butter pudding to have for dinner…

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Another 5 portions were frozen and can be turned into pie or strudel or crumble whenever we fancy it ๐Ÿ™‚
The rest of the apples were turned into apple juice and then simmered and reduced into caramelised thick apple syrup, which was portioned into 6 little cups also to be frozen for later …

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If you have never made this before it’s definitely worth a try and ridiculously simple … just simmer and reduce apple juice and the natural sugars within the juice turn the liquid into a caramel like sauce/syrup … you can drizzle it over ice cream or pancakes or even use it in cocktails…

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(I like to make yorkshire puddings and then serve them with ice cream and this apple caramel sauce to make a fabulous failsafe desert ๐Ÿ™‚ )

Once It was all finished it didn’t look like a lot of “product” considering the amount of apples I started with and the effort involved … But dinner was delicious and this really fun day will provide us with 11 more tasty treats basically for free …

And we all had a lovely, fun, autumnal family Sunday … without a penny spent … and that makes me very happy ๐Ÿ™‚

Until next time …

Ta da

Pink and Blue

Pink and Blue

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Ok, I admit I never really wanted a girly girl.
I would have struggled with a little princess since I despise Barbies, I dont really wear make up, I own neither hair straighteners nor curling tongues. I don’t wear heels – not even on my wedding day.
I find tutus to be highly impractical items of clothing for children, and the notion of the vulnerable but beautiful princess having to be rescued by a knight in shining armour makes me cringe ever so slightly.
I get very angry about “bra’s” and “bikinis” for toddlers and baby girls – in fact I have just bought a boy’s rash guard for winry to go swimming in as I could not find a plain and simple girls swimsuit in winry’s size…

However I do confess that I am a little dissappointed that Winry won’t let me put her hair in bunches or allow me to put the odd hair clip in her beautiful blonde head of hair.
And her drawer full of lovely dresses hardly ever gets opened because all she wants to wear are trousers and t-shirts.

Please don’t get me wrong – I utterly and unconditionally love my little tomboy.
I have every confidence that she will grow into a very strong independent person – she already speaks her mind very decidedly and most certainly knows what she wants…
It makes me happy that when she is allowed to choose a kinder egg at the checkout – she always goes for the boys rather than the girls version.

The thing is – I have a Daughter and a Son, and I do worry about her a whole lot more than I do him…

Feminists have a bad reputation these days and that concerns me as a mother…

I feel very comfortable in my role as a housewife and mother, It is fulfilling and important work – and it is work – make no mistake there …
My Husband works and provides for his Family and this is most certainly a good solution for all involved in this particular family…

But apart from Breastfeeding there is nothing my husband could not have done at least as well if not better than I did. I truly believe that. And the decision for me to take maternity leave instead of him taking paternity leave was simply based on the fact that his salary far outweighed mine at the time.

But alarmingly – even though we live in such an advanced society in a developed country such as the United Kingdom, I still feel as though my Son will have more opportunities, more freedom of choice and a generally safer life, in social terms, than my Daughter. I fear that his voice and opinions will carry more weight and that his feelings and worries might be regarded as weaknesses.
I strongly believe that my daughter should feel able to become an Engineer or mechanic or CEO if she so chooses and get paid the same as her male counterparts.
I would like my son to feel able to become a midwive or nursery school teacher or househusband without worrying if people might think him a peadophile or a wet blanket.

I would like my son to respect women wholly and not to think of a mini skirt and crop top as justification for disrespect or an open invitation and waiver of consent… I want him to feel able to cry without feeling weak.
I would like my daughter to be feel able to have nothing more than soap, toothpaste and deaodorant in her bathroom cabinet, to be able to be interested in science and politics without being called nerd,
or maybe become an athlete without concerns about appearing too butch…

I think you get my point …

So … I get ever so slightly annoyed at gender specific toys such as blue toolboxes and pink make up bags,
and I try to encourage Winrys interest in sports and books and superheroes and digging in dirt just as much as Sameths very obvious interest in baby dolls and toy kitchens.

It outrages me that womens nudity is smeared all over the media in a sexualised way to sell products as part of the “sex sells” ideology but every week I read stories about breastfeeding mothers being asked to cover up or leave public places due to other people being uncomfortable with it.

I am very aware of men in Car advertisements and Women promoting anti-ageing creams.
I do worry very much about the steady stream of photoshopped images of women in the media that both my children will be exposed to during their childhood and young adulthood and what it might do to alter their body image, perception of themselves and attitude towards the sexes …

I am very careful not to let my children overhear remarks like “Urgh I feel so fat” or “does my stomach look fat in this?”… When Winry asks me why she is not allowed anymore sweets my answer will be “because too many sweets are not good for you and will hurt your teeth”.

Incidentally – when she got to choose underwear and picked a pack of boys underpants with funny faces on them I didn’t bat an eyelid.
When Sameth puts a pink necklace over his head or plays with her pink toy hoover it does not concern me in the slightest, and I have no quarrels about putting him in a pink sleeping bag either – these things aren’t cheap after all …
We call their genitalia by their actual names and try to be honest, factual and open with them as much as we can.

I realise I am going on a bit here …
But since having children I have realised more so than ever before that it is still going to be a long time before men and women are truly equals and treated as such.
It is a complex issue with room for many discussions and varying points of views …

But the one thing I as a mother can do to help is to raise my Son and my Daughter as equals, teaching them the same set of values, applying the same set of rules and affording them the same opportunities.

So I try not to show my slight disappointment when winry refuses to let me put bunches in her hair and will in a few years time let sam play dress up with dresses and jewellry if he so chooses…
I make sure that I communicate with them openly and honestly and make sure they understand that they can both come and talk to me about ANYTHING without shame, embarassment or fear of judgement.

“Why do people say ‘grow some balls?’ Balls are weak and sensitive. If you want to be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding.” ~ Betty White

Until next time …

Ta da xx

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Watching them play in the Garden …

Some days as a parent are so so tough – tougher than you had ever imagined possible …
but just now I am stood in the kitchen watching my two fed, clothed, healthy and happy children run around after a ball in the late summer sunshine and nothing makes me happier!!!

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I often feel like this when I watch them play in the garden …

Until we moved to this house I have always lived in flats and never had a garden although we sometimes had access to a communal garden – but it was never “ours”.
A Garden offers such a great space for children to learn and play. They can run around and be noisy, they can grow things and harvest fruits, vegetables and herbs. They can watch birds and insects and see the seasons change right in front of them…

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Most people’s fondest childhood memories are of some kind of outdoor play… and deservedly so! Boxes, sticks, mudd… anything and everything can be turned into anything and everything … no limits to a childs imagination and all of that in the fresh air – what could be better?
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My two have the priviledge of having so much “normality”… So many parents would give their right hand for their children to be able to have this …
Our two little monkeys are offered 3 healthy meals as well as snacks each day – even though much to my frustration they don’t always eat them…
Their clothes are clean and comfortable and kept in good condition – and I am in no way ashamed of telling you that about half of them are either hand me downs or second hand –
you’d never know if I didn’t tell you …
They are vaccinated and have regular check ups and if ever they need healthcare or medicine they have easy access to it…
They have appropriate toys and books and access to free education.
They both have their own large rooms where they are safe with plenty of space to play or retreat.
We have heating and light and hot running water.
They have a mother and father who are far from perfect but love them more than words can express. We’d sooner starve or go naked than see them miss out on anything.
We make mistakes but are never too proud to say sorry. We can’t give them everything they want (in fact even if we could we wouldn’t… ) but will always find a way to give them what they need.
Thinking about how little they have to worry about makes me feel utterly grateful – that is what childhood should be like!
Carefree days spent playing and singing and digging and reading and running and cuddeling …

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I will never forget Christmas 2001.My mother had recently become unemployed and me and we stayed at my brothers flat in candlelight under blankets because we had not been able to pay the bills for electricity or heating in time…
There was no tree or festive meal – let alone presents … I was 13 … That was probably our lowest point …
I never had to go hungry but financial struggles and worrying about money was as much a part of my childhood as doing as many chores as I could to relieve some of my single mums pressures, since she often worked double shifts 6 days a week to make ends meet …
I didn’t have an unhappy childhood as such, we learned to deal with things and adapted – but I had to grow up quick and would have given anything to spend my childhood the way my children do now …
I do not regret or resent anything when I stand here watching them happily play the day away, I just hope I can keep them from growing up too quickly and let them be carefree for as long as possible …

I thank my wonderful Husband for eveything he does for us and for taking every hurdle with my hand firmly in his …
In the end I am very blessed with the set of cards I was dealt in my life – of this I am certain as I stand here … watching them play in the garden …

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Until next time …

ta da

“Must Have” Baby Products

The Baby Industry makes enormous amounts of money every year in selling parents to be and new parents everything under the sun, whether they need it or not …

I have to admit that, while I try to be sensible about things, I too get sucked into the marketing ploy sometimes – with its soft colours and cute items and gadgets supposed to make life with baby somewhat easier …

We spent around ยฃ2000 on Winry up to her first Birthday including everything from cot, travel system, clothes ect… Sameth has just celebrated his 1st Birthday and tallys up around ยฃ800 in spend…
(because we already had most things due to being sensible and choosing neutral colours first time round as often as we could and especially with expensive items)

But Babies actually need suprisingly little …
After all “in the olden days” babies slept in drawers, clothes were handed down through generations, breastfed and still survived …
Yes there was a time when there were no vibrating bouncy chairs, washing machines and i-pads and Families consisted of more children than today … and it was OK …

Nevertheless those things all have their merits in our busy ever changing world and many a Parent find themself with their due date fast approaching, trying to figure out what it is they actually need to keep their tiny human safe and comfy …

I was in Mothercare once with Craig and Winry and at the time about 8 months pregnant with Sameth when a couple in the Cot/Crib/moses basket aisle said “excuse me but would you mind telling us which one we should get – we just don’t know what to do” …

The stuff people find essential is of course going to vary hugely on circumstance and situation but I wanted to share with you my top 3 must haves. Items that I really would not have wanted to do without …

1. The Giant Muslin

These things are super versatile !!! You can use them for pretty much anything: swaddling blankets, sunshades, floormat, burp cloth, breastfeeding cover, towell and the list goes on …
I have a pack of 3 and that’s plenty… they have been a true life saver more than once !!!

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2. The simple wrap sling

I didn’t discover this until winry was about 5 months old but I have loved loved loved it ever since ! They are fairly cheap and so much nicer than the complicated buckle and strap type ones…
I could carry winry around in it for hours on end well into my second pregnancy and they are super handy to have on hand.
Mine is a moby because they are a little bit longer than other brands which is important for me since I’m a larger size and the extra length gives me more flexibility with different wrapping methods.
People often say they look so complicated to tye but that is a big misconception – it takes me about a minute if not less and we’re away …

The wrap has come in especially handy when we were living in our second floor flat and I had to get up and down the stairs with a newborn sameth and winry – sam was safe in the wrap and I had two hands free – one for winry and one for a bag of shopping.
They are also great for colicky babies or grizzly teething babies – neither of mine have ever cried while in a wrap and they love being up and close cuddling with you. Some mothers even manage to breastfeed in them but I never quite mastered that skill …
They are also great for travelling – we flew to Germany with Winry when she was 7 months old and I felt a lot calmer walking around the airport knowing she was strapped to my body and could’t be snatched or go missing in the hubbub ( I may be paranoid but better safe than sorry and all that …)
So definitely a great investement!

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3. Baby rocking chair

I was very reluctant about this when we had Winry and convinced Babies should just get used to sleeping in their beds as soon as possible … But I would not want to be without it now, especially when you have more than one child…
You can take it with you when visiting someone and baby can still nap in their familiar place.
You can strap them in there for a few minutes to keep them safe while taking a shower or similar and most babies love napping in them with the curled up position and gentle motion …
They don’t have to be fancy and expensive but they can be a true sanity saver …

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I have also given myself plenty a pat on the back for resisting the pink when we first had winry … I would advise any new parent who intends to have more than one child to stick to neutral colours especially with equippment and gadgets that may be expensive but only get used for a short time …
I think it was well worth the “oh isn’t he cute” … “She’s a girl actually” conversation and saved us a lot of money in the long run ๐Ÿ˜‰

Feel free to share your baby must buys and favourite items in the comments – i’d love to know if i missed out on an important one ๐Ÿ˜‰

until next time …

ta da

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

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Watch this, laugh at me and then please read on …

Oh dear …

I do love it when things go viral for a good cause and this is the newest one … the ice bucket challenge …
In the last week or so I have seen countless of these videos about and it intrigued me as these things usually serve a purpose …
So I looked into it and found out that it is all about raising awareness of a condition called Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – ALS

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amyotrophic_lateral_sclerosis

This is scary stuff …

I also came across this video – well worth watching! …

The idea of the challenge basically is to dump a bucket full of ice cold water over your head and this then entitles you to nominate someone else to do the same –
the nominee must then dump said bucket filled with ice cold water over their head withing 24h or else they have to donate $100 (originates in the USA) to the ALS Association…
FYI – the UK’s version of the charity is the MND Association (ALS is also known as Motor Neuron Disease).

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This has not only raised a few casual millions to aid the fight against this disease but also helped raise a massive amount of awareness …

So because of all this and also because… well who can resist a good band-wagon opportunity really ๐Ÿ˜‰ I gave it a go …

I nominate anyone who fancies it …

I’d love to see David Walliams, Michael McIntyre and John Bishop do this Challengeย  … but nominating them seems like an awfully long shot ๐Ÿ˜‰

until next time …

ta da

A Great Man, Depression, Masks

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I have not written a blog in the last few weeks as we have struggled with bugs and poorly children but I feel compelled to voice my admiration for a great man who is sadly no longer with us…

On the 12th of August news came out of the passing of the great Robin Williams.
The world of Entertainement lost one of – if not the most brilliant actor and comedian of our time to the dark heavy cloud of depression.
This much beloved man was found in his home after having comitted suicide and the news channels and social media sites have overflown with outpourings of love for this kind and immensely talended man.

Robin Williams was my absolute personal favourite! He was my imaginary dream dinnerguest … you know when someone asks you “if you could have dinner with one person – dead or alive who would it be?”
My most beloved movies would not be the same without him. Dead Poets Society, What Dreams may come, Patch Adams, Good Will Hunting, Bicentennial Man, Mrs Doubtfire …
What a Career…

Both me and my husband were utterly shocked and have not stopped talking about him since yesterday …

It is so difficult to understand how a man who seemed to have it all and was so respected and loved could have felt so low that only one, dark and desperate door seemed to remain open…
He will be sorely missed by so many…

Along with countless moving tributes also came an array of articles and coverage on the topic of depression…

Depression is still often seen as a taboo topic, spoken about in hushed tones and with bowed heads in apologetic language.
When talking about such a delicate topic one can’t help but feel awkward, embarassed, guilty, ashamed and misunderstood…
Relationships break down, people lose their jobs and liveliehoods and all too often their lives…

We need to speak out about this…

People who suffer from this disease struggle to explain how they feel because those feelings are not something that can be explained to a person who can still hold a rational thought …

How do I know this ?
I am currently suffering from it myself for the 4th time at the age of 26 …

I belive depression can be a one off occurence in someones life – something caused by circumstances such as a trauma, loss or a period of extreme stress in ones life…
And I think there are people who are genetically more prone to suffer from it than others. There is some scientific evidence to back me up on this but frankly I dont feel the need to reference this here right now…

I am very very lucky in that I have always been able to come back from that dark place although admittedly at my worst, thoughts of suicide crossed my mind more than once.

I am shaking slightly as I sit here writing this, it is such a personal thing to share and I have no idea who might read this once I put it out there for the world to see …
However I have come to the conclusion that I don’t need to feel ashamed for seemingly having this predisposition… I’m not looking for pity either, I realise that I lead a very privileged life in so many ways.
I am proud of myself for having been able to seek help when I needed it, being brave enough to expose myself in that way, before it was too late…
And that is the most important thing…

For onlookers it is difficult to know what to do. Words and offerings of help they believe to be encouraging and helpful often feel like a slap in the face.
For me depression feels like snow in March after a long cold winter… months upon months of grey, wet and cold and the deep and desperate longing for some sunshine and green leaves…
But day after day waking up to more snow and rain and cold… so cold you can’t feel your toes… so grey you don’t want to open the curtains because you can’t bear the sight of another raindrop…
Tired all the time… Confused and lonely even when surrounded by people who clearly and openly love you…
It feels different for other people of course…

The point is… There is not much that other people can do apart from being there for those that suffer.
Being there so that they may realise that it’s OK and that they can ask for help without judgement.

Robin seemed to have it all, but sometimes the luckier, whealthier and loved a person is – the more they “have”, the less deserving they feel of the life they are living.
And the harder it becomes to bear the burden of keeping up with the Image one has created for oneself.

Because this illness is still perceived as a sign of weakness and failiure, many people suffering from it wear a mask every day to conceal the deamons within.
And there may come a time for some people when the mask no longer seems to fit and imagining a life without such mask is like imagining a life without lungs.

I truly hope that he can rest in peace without pain and worry and suffering…

โ€œYou have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way”.
ย Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Robin Williams, his work and incredible talent will not be forgotten.
My heart goes out to his Family in this unimaginable time.

Monophobia

There are a huge range of mental illnesses and conditions, so much so that a considerable amount of people will suffer from one or another at some point in their lives.
You may have heard of one or more of the following:
Depression, manic depression, post natal depression, post traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, bi-polar disease and a huge array of phobias …
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“Monophobia is an acute fear of being alone and having to cope without a specific person, or perhaps any person, in close proximity. This ‘closeness’ might mean in the same house or flat or even in the same room”

Last week my husband went on a business trip to Belgium for 5 days … This is the longest we have been apart since before we got married …
Now, I am not saying that I suffer from monophobia – frankly I haven’t a clue… but I have a pretty big issue with being on my own …

My brother moved out when he was 17. At that age I was 9 1/2 and my mother worked split shifts in a restaurant so I was very often on my own at home … at night, on weekends, on holidays …
I have benefited from this in many ways – I was a pretty good cook from a young age, I could pretty much run a household consisting of me and my mother by the time I was 12. I am very organised, resourceful, independent
and I can speak up for myself.

I moved out when I was 19 – but although I was often alone I never actually lived by myself because I moved straight in with Craig – who not that much later became my husband.

In February 2008 Craig went away to China as part of a business project for 7 months and we were apart for 4 of those months – in that time I gained 2 stone in weight …

It is difficult to explain … and this is the reason I gave this article the title “monophobia” …
I have absolutely no problem coping by myself as such…
Last week the kids were in bed at the usual time every night, if not earlier. They were fed and bathed, the laundry and dishes were done and nothing in their routine had generally changed…
But what if I told you that for 4 nights I hardly slept, that I felt sick in the day and hardly managed to eat anything…
You might think me rather silly. After all – a week with two young children passes in the blink of an eye …

Let me tell you then that as a matter of fact I did think myself rather silly… Every rational fibre in my body was trying to tell me how stupid I was being…
And still I felt panicked … as though something awful might happen … and I breathed a huge sigh of relief when, come friday evening, Craig walked through the door safe and sound…
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Sometimes mental health issues get dismissed as make believe and the people who suffer from them are perceived as weak …
Maybe the person suffering is not being weak but desperately trying to be stronger than they can manage to be, for too long…

I am a perfectionist and I probably often set the bar far too high for myself …

We were out in the supermarked with a 22 hour old Sameth last year when a woman who had asked me how old my baby was told me off and said I should be at home in bed … She was probably right …

I am a worrier … I worry about anything and everything … all the time …

But my biggest Fear is being alone …

I dont mind having a fairly boring life …
I don’t mind having a very stressfull life …
I love my trinkets and bits and bobs and could spend a lot of money very quickly given half a chance…
I could live a life on a farm in the middle of nowhere without any personal possessions at all and be quite happy and content…
I would say that I could adapt to almost any circumstance I might find myself in … no matter how difficult or strange it might be …

As long as I dont have to be on my own …

Until next time …
ta da