Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Pregnancy Patter - 28 and 30 Weeks...The Disney World Edition

Last time I wrote an update was just after Christmas when I was 26 weeks so I've missed 2 whole updates. I'm 31 weeks today so I thought I'd better get back on track ready for the 32 week mark next week.

As you all know we spent from the 4th January to 25th January in Orlando, Florida. To say it was an amazing holiday would be a bit of an understatement if I'm honest. We all loved it. 3 weeks of pure happiness (apart from Mini Cheddar being really poorly for a couple days - and costing us $360) and not one of us wanted to come home. I would urge anyone and everyone to get there at least once in their lifetime, it really is the most magical place ever...and amazing weather to boot. What's not to love?

I have to admit, I was a little bit apprehensive about travelling so far when so heavily pregnant. When I was pregnant with MC I had severe swollen feet and ankles (aka cankles) in the last month or so. Therefore I was terrified of the 9 hour flight. I needn't have worried though, my Boots flight socks did me proud. No swelling at all! It helped that Matt had upgraded us on the flight so we had huge leather seats, bags of leg room, endless drinks (orange and water for me *sob*) and so on. It really was the most comfortable flight to the US I've ever experienced and a great start to the holiday.

The only pregnancy problem I experienced on holiday was when we landed. Those of you who have travelled to the US will know how hard the immigration people can be at the airport. The US is a tough country to get into, not just to live but to visit. Waiting in line I could see the official had already clocked I was pregnant so I was prepared for the worst. The grilling I received was so bad though, at one point I was scared he was going to refuse me entry. I think in the end he saw the look of panic on my face so he went easy on me and said "Don't worry ma'am, I'm just doing my job" and then smiled a little - very rare for someone in US immigration...or it could have been wind! Yeah, probably wind.

I was still able to enjoy the holiday to the max, despite being pregnant. Of course there were rides that I couldn't go on but I did the main Magic Kingdom rides at Disney Land, Paris many moons ago. The only ones I would have loved to go on were Test Track at EPCOT (Matt did ride this alone and loved it), The Tower Of Terror at Hollywood Studios and Kraken at SeaWorld (Matt was too much of a scaredy-cat to ride). Next time though - yes, we already have plans to go back!

I went away with a bumper 72 pack of Rennie. I had been getting heartburn quite bad before I went and I know the food in the US is immense so I was well prepared. I think I used about 8 tablets. I think the US food agrees with my pregnancy more than the food in the UK.

My bump has grown a lot over the time I've been away. I was watching videos from the holiday earlier today and you really can see the difference as the weeks pass. I'm getting really strong movement now, so much so that I can easily freak people out by asking them to watch my belly. This baby moves a lot more than MC did and I thought she moved lots. If I put a hand on my stomach the baby will kick or punch it off - needless to say I almost lost a sandwich the other day after resting my plate on it!

I was due to have a GTT at the hospital the day after we got back but I felt terrible with a cold I picked up just before we left Orlando - add onto that severe jet lag (I got about 10 minutes of sleep on the night flight home, I was a wreck!) so I cancelled it. I need to reschedule it as it was due at 28 weeks! Oops.

I have a routine midwife appointment tomorrow and then my consultant appointment is 21st February which is when I'll find out if it's another section or a VBAC. I can't believe it's only 9 weeks until my due date - exciting times!

So, those of you who have been following my updates will remember I have twice promised a bump picture. Not wanting to disappoint again, here is me (with a couple of my new friends). They actually patted my bump after this picture was taken.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Silent Sunday #47

                                                                         Inspired by...
Silent Sunday

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Out Of The Mouths Of Babes

With any luck, by the time you are reading this post (it's another scheduled one) we will have just landed back home after our holiday.  I'm sure I'll have lots of things to bore you with tell you about and many stories of how Mini Cheddar got on in Disney World but for now I'm leaving you with a few delights from December...

(On entering the National Museum of Scotland)
MC does her best impression of
Penfold from Danger Mouse
Daddy: There are lots of old things in here.
MC: But where is Grandma?

MC: You look tired Mummy. Do you need a coffee?

(in the motorway service toilets)
MC: Mummy, you can do your wee wee on my wee wee if you like?
Me: Why thank you.
MC: It's my pleasure. Father Christmas will be SO happy with your wee wee Mummy.

(in a restaurant)
MC: Where has Daddy gone?
Me: He's gone to the toilet.
MC: Is he doing a wee or a poo?
Me: (trying to quieten her down) I don't know sweetie.
MC: I will ask him
Me: No, it doesn't matter sweetie
(Matt returns to the table)
MC: *shouts* Did you do a nutty poo Daddy?

(Grandma puts lunch in front of MC)
MC: Blimey!

(looking at the TV)
"Mummy, turn this off please. It's really annoying"

MC: Mummy, what are we having for dinner tonight?
Me: Buffalo burgers
MC: Daddy! Daddy! We're having Gruffalo burgers for dinner!

MC: Mummy?
Me: Yes darling?
MC: When we go on holiday will a pirate fly the plane?
Me: I really hope not (trying hard not to fall on the floor laughing)

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Guest Post...Chronicles Of A Reluctant Housedad - Anniversary

Keith is like my male opposite equivalent. Confused? Well, he blogs over at 'Chronicles of a Reluctant Housedad' which is a mix of witty musings (and mean recipes - boy that man can cook!) on his life since he swapped roles with his wife and became a stay-at-home-dad.  

Oh and he gets extra kudos as he mentioned me in a radio interview once ;-)

We've never met but I'd love to meet him because I think he's lovely - maybe one day it will happen.

I give you Keith and his perfectly timed guest post - Anniversary...

It was a year to the day that my wife and I swapped roles. I waved her off to her new job as a magazine editor and I started mine as a very reluctant housedad to our three children, my stepdaughter, now 10, and our sons, aged seven and four.

Why reluctant? Well, I never in a million years imagined for myself the role I now occupy. I – we – was/were forced into this situation by circumstances. I was made redundant from my job as a publishing executive in June 2010. And after six months trying, and failing, to land a position that would pay the mortgage and bills, we came to the conclusion that it wasn't going to happen.

But where's there's a will there's a Successful Other Half, and so when it became painfully clear that doors would continue to be slammed in my face, my wife started looking for work herself.

At one point, it was like a race to the finishing line. We had both reached the top two on the shortlist for positions but ultimately, I failed, and my wife prevailed.

It was a hammer blow to my ego. I hadn't had a day out of work since I became a journalist of my local newspaper 28 years previously. At first I struggled to cope, not just with the attack on my self-worth, but also with coming to terms with the day-to-day effort, drudgery and loneliness of my new life as a housedad: the cleaning, the ironing, the relentlessness of the school runs, the nagging and the perceived notion that I was somehow less of a man because I was no longer bringing home the bacon.

I wore my reluctance like a badge of honour, and created my blog to chronicle the new-to-me experiences of being the primary carer.

I come from a traditional working class background, the oldest of four boys, and we have always worked, a graft ethic etched into our DNA by our hard-working mother and father. None of us have ever been driven by status, but we are all motivated by the desire, the need, to earn. I could no more claim benefits than I could nail my scrotum to a table with a rusty nail. Fortunately, my wife earns a decent slab – enough to pay the bills – so I didn't need to consider that option (the benefits, not the scrotum piercing) but I still needed to make money. I could never, ever countenance being a Kept Man.

But then my wise wife pointed out to me that even if I was in a full-time job, I would have to clear around £30,000 before tax to pay for the childcare necessary to look after our London brood.

Added to that was the knowledge that there are around 200,000 housedads like me, either by choice or circumstance, so who was I to think that running the home and raising the kids was somehow beneath me?

Suddenly, I felt like I was earning, and that my paid job was to raise our children as best I could.

So instead of moping and sulking, I took to my role as a Stay At Home Dad as if it was a new career. I'd become Chief Executive of Kendricks Inc.

I relished spending time with my children, reading to them, helping them with their homework, teaching them about the realities of life by getting them involved with chores.  And they responded. Oh, how they responded. Children are incredibly adaptable and they started to look to me for approval, advice and direction, which took the pressure off my wife to focus on her stressful job and deliver the dough that I would subsequently turn into bread for the table.

But the real breakthrough was when I started my blog, and then began to Tweet. And instead of feeling isolated and trapped in my new role, I felt supported, encouraged and connected. I've never met any of the people who contact me, and perhaps I never will, but these new 'virtual' friendships mean a hell of a lot to me.

It is, in part, because of them – because of their comments on my blog posts, their engagement with my Tweets – that I now, a whole year on, I feel very happy to reveal the five words I thought I would never, ever say.

But most of all, the realisation of what really matters, what fulfilment is all about, what my place on this Earth is – for now at least – comes from the incredible woman I married and the amazing children who are my stepdaughter and sons,.

It's because of the 'gift' my wife gave me to spend so much time with my children and the fact that my children are just really bloody great, actually, that I can truly say:


I spoke these five little words to my Successful Other Half the other night after a particularly hard week at the office. I half-expected her to throw me off our roof terrace because of how hard her working life is compared to my domestic existence. But instead, her eyes pricked with tears.

Y'see, my reluctance has made her feel guilty about any enjoyment she's had being the Family Go-Getter these past weeks and months. So instead of telling me she's had a buzzy old day making decisions and thriving under pressure, she's kept her pleasure to herself lest it provoke a spew of envy from me, her D'OH (that's Domestic Other Half!).

Now, I hope, we can both enjoy each other's triumphs and highs, instead of being worried about downplaying them to spare the other's imagined feelings. It's only been six months, and we've each been on a huge journey of transition, but we appear to have reached a point of acceptance. Long may that continue.

It's been a hell of a six months, and who knows where the next six will take us, but for now, I present to those who I've befriended a gallery (at the top of this post) of highlights of the Chronicles of a Very Happy Though Occasionally Frustrated And Prone To Temper Tantrums Housedad.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Silent Sunday #46

                                                                         Inspired by...
Silent Sunday

Friday, 20 January 2012

Guest Post...Mummy From The Heart - 5 Top Tips To Avoid Social Media Fatigue

Michelle is a true heart and soul blogger and someone I really admire. She is one of the bloggers who immediately spring to mind when I think about blogging and the amazing people I've met. Her blog 'Mummy From The Heart' is exactly that, it's an open and honest account of her life and her thoughts. 

She is so supportive of new bloggers and she is the person who helped me so much when I first stepped into the blogosphere so I'm honoured to have her guest post on my blog. I've met her a couple of times and was fortunate enough to spend a good amount of quality time with her at the MAD Awards in September and she's a wonderful person.

Michelle makes no secret of the fact that she battles with blogging sometimes (as we all do) and she's great at giving advice about how to find a happy balance. Here, in her guest post she shows us her 5 Top Tips to Avoid Social Media Fatigue...

It is so easy to get burnt out in any part of your life.  You find something new, enjoy it, get absorbed in it, make friends, find new avenues, overcommit yourself and before you know it, you feel completely burnt out and what was super fun before no longer is.

Balance is what it is all about; this is what I have discovered.  

Blogging and other forms of social media, such as twitter and facebook are highly addictive and offer many false highs and you can become addicted to those.  The buzz you get when the comments roll in or your visitor stats go up all give you that fleeting thrill but truly that is all it is – momentary. The next day fewer people visit your blog and it is easy to wonder why.  Is my writing not so good today? Am I not as popular as I was?  But of course it is not that, as just one person we are just a very small part of a massively growingblogsphere and loyalty is not something that is at the forefront of many bloggers and readers minds.

Most bloggers are out there seeking new blogs to read, searching for new material, trying to make a name forthemselves in a saturated market, perhaps chasing paid work or aiming to write a book.  Everyone has different reasons for blogging and for a few it is to make solid friendships and those people will come back again and again to your blog but many people will just dip in and out and be acquaintances and this is nothing personal, that is the big thing to remember.

So as someone who has suffered social media fatigue a number of times in the last 3 years or so I thought I would share with you my 5 top tips for staying real –

Accept that you are human and you have real life obligations. There is no point in getting resentful that you have to go to work or that you need to bath the kids, as you would rather be sat there chatting at a laptop.  Yes it is fun to chat on twitter and to blog but if it was not for our real lives and our families what wouldwe have to talk about?  Especially for those of us who are parent bloggers, the kids and our journey into parenthood were our inspiration to start a blog and they should remain at the very heart of it.

The minute you feel you must blog or that blogging feels like hard work, take a break. Nip it in the bud if it seems that you are getting too attached to your blog. Being in the top 20 of any kind of ranking system or having an influence score of 60 or 70 does not define you.  It does not make you a better person.  From personal experience I can say that it may just make you feel sad and inadequate. Know what it is that you blog for and stay true to that.

Don't make an idol of any other blogger.  Some people are destined to do well with their blog, they have that natural talent and their writing is amazing. In every walk of life there are people who have that special je ne sais quoi and chances are if you do not effortlessly have it then you may never. I am not saying you will not be good or even great at what you choose to do but that special intangible quality that some people have just comes without effort.  Imitating another blogger will leave you frustrated as you will never do what they do,quite as well as them. However, when you use your own original voice and are comfortable to reveal you, that iswhen you excel.

Enjoy making friends and reading their blogs. I have been blogging a fair while but it is in the last year that I have developed some serious blogging friendships.  People that I know I would wish to keep in touch with even if I never blogged again.  When I feel down, these people get in contact with me and I love to come and visit their blogs and see what they are up to. You cannot be best friends with everyone, just accept it and work on the relationships that make you happiest.  Hankering after being in the popular crowd is a sure way to feeling depressed.

Set yourself a time limit.  If you know that hanging around twitter for too long gets you down, don't do it. Come on the laptop and do what you need to do first and then visit twitter second (if you feel you must).  If it is making you happy while you are there, stay, have fun.  If not make sure you have given yourself a get-out clause and you know that after ½ hour (or so) you will switch off!

So there you go.  These are the things that I keep in mind nowadays.  When I start to feel unhappy in all things blogging and social media I come back to the reasons why I blog and I remember that I do not want to be the number 1 UK parenting blogger, I want to be someone who shares her faith, makes good friends and gives and receives love and support during tough times.

How about you?  Do you know what you want from your blog? Is it time for a good hard think?

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Guest Post...Looking For Blue Sky - Further Confessions Of A Coffee Junkie

I think I've been following C's blog 'Looking For Blue Sky' since I began blogging myself. She's such a great writer and inspiration and someone who I, despite having never met (I'm longing to), would class as a friend.

Being a single Mum to 3 fabulous children who have such differing needs isn't easy sometimes...a teenager, a smiley girl with cerebral palsy and a boy with Aspergers.  Her love and determination for her family and her beliefs shine through in every post and I love her for it.

Here she shares something a little different, I give you her Guest Post - Further Confessions Of A Coffee Junkie...

All those New Year's Resolutions so quickly discarded.  Plans for healthy living and healthy diets give way to the comfort of coffee and cakes.  Because, let's face it, most of us find that we cannot stick to resolutions that seem to involve giving up everything that we like. But I did successfully give up smoking in 2004 after waking up one morning with a horrible cough and sometimes I wonder about what else  I could give up and what I absolutely couldn't.  And the answer is always the same:  I could give up anything before I give up coffee.

My love affair with the little brown bean began when I was a child.  I can remember looking longingly at the percolator bubbling away in the quiet room where we all ate breakfast - and read at the same time.  Finally,  one day when I was 11 or 12, a cup of milky coffee was passed down to my end of the table.

It was love at first sip.

When I was young I drank coffee with sugar, but I was able to give that up in my mid teens.  Once I hit the exam years, it was coffee that got me through.  And my four mugs of coffee a day still mark the hours as they pass by.  I'm not that fussy either: almost any coffee is better than no coffee.  Well apart from Camp Coffee, but perhaps I'm the only person who remembers that.

So why can't I give it up?

Well coffee...

...wakes me in the morning

...warms me when I'm cold

...breaks up the day

...gets rid of stress headaches

...calms me down

...helps me prepare the dinner

...is shared with friends

...is an excuse to meet up and eat cake

...helps me to concentrate

...is a reward for doing something unpleasant

...helps me to cope with difficult phone calls

And another 100 things too.  What on earth would I do without it?

So is it just me? Is coffee important to you? Or is it tea? 

Monday, 16 January 2012

Guest Post...Doing It All For Aleyna - Eats Shoots And Leaves

Alex is one in a million. She's one of the most warm-hearted (and hilarious) people I know.  I have followed her fab blog 'Doing It All For Aleyna' since I started blogging and her blog posts just have me in stitches plus her posts about her amazing little girl are gorgeous. I was lucky enough to meet her at CyberMummy in June and then amazingly (on my part - still don't know how I made it there!) we were both up for awards at the MAD blog awards in September.  I shared a room with her. Sadly I was a boring old fart being pregnant but Alex looked after me like a true friend and I'll always be grateful for that.

I'm thrilled to have one of her funnies on my blog. Although now I'm completely paranoid about my punctuation. I give you her guest post - Eats Shoots And Leaves...

I was so excited and honoured to have been asked by the beautiful, talented, hilarious and amazing Heather to do a guest post for her whilst she lives it large in Florida.  And then I wasn't.

Whatever am I going to write?  Then it came to me.  I am going to openly confess something over on another blog.  Yes.  Genius.

So here it goes....

I think I might be a grammar bully.

I am not alone.  One of my best friends is also a member of the "word police" and many years ago, I gave her the fabulous book, Eats shoots and leaves for Christmas.  A book for people who love punctuation and get upset about it. 

The author, Lynne Truss, through her passion for punctuation was able to inject some humour into the misuse, or even lack of use, of the comma. (Please let me have put all the commas in their correct places in that last sentence).  

An amphiboly (for that is the correct terminology, don't you know?), describes the ambiguity of a sentence whereby its meaning depends entirely on punctuation

I am always interested and even a little bit delighted to see a new amphiboly.

Here are a couple of my favourite examples.

An English professor wrote these words on the chalkboard and asked his students to punctuate it correctly:

"a woman without her man is nothing"

The males in the class wrote:
"A woman, without her man, is nothing"

The females wrote:
"A woman: without her man, is nothing"

But it wasn't until I came across the following that I felt truly complete....

Stop clubbing, baby seals.

Lynn Truss has also designed a "save the comma" game through which you can test your punctuation skills.  

Having ashamedly got 9 out of 10, I hereby revoke my self-proclaimed title of grammar Nazi.  Oops!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Silent Sunday #45

                                                                         Inspired by...
Silent Sunday

Friday, 13 January 2012

Guest Post...Alyson's Blog - Bring On The Grecian

Alyson, who blogs over at the wonderful 'Alyson's Blog', and I first met in the virtual world (Babycentre forum) when we were both expecting - her with her third child and me with my first. That was well over 3 years ago now and, despite living a good 1.5 hours drive from each other, we still try and meet up as much as humanly possible with our hectic lives. 

I class Alyson as true friend. When I found out I would have to have a c-section when I was pregnant I was a mess, distraught at the thought of my plans for a natural water birth going out of the window. Alyson picked me up and supported me and I owe it to her that I had the most wonderful c-section experience ever.

Alyson's 3 children are a delight and Emma (who is only 1 day older than MC) is gorgeous but, as Alyson explains here, the cuteness comes at a price.  I now hand you over to Alyson and her guest post - Bring On The Grecian...

I should probably introduce myself, I'm Alyson, writer of Alysonsblog, RL friend of Heather here at SAHMLovingit and when she asked me to write a guest post I was thrilled to oblige. I'm a 37 year old married mother of three daughters ranging from 13 - 2 years, and there is NEVER a dull day in my house, we like life to be busy, end to end, almost like an episode of Total Wipeout.. or that's how it feels sometimes. I'm studying for a degree in Counselling and Psychotherapy and absolutely loving it and I blog about my life, my work at uni and my volunteering too. So enough about me, onto my guest post.

As a 37 year old bottle blond, I'm not used to seeing the flash of silver in my hair but see this face.

This face is responsible for knocking actual years off my life and introducing me to the joys of the silver foxy.

I swear after having 2 other children, I thought I knew how this parenting/mothering gig worked, thought I had it down pat.. well I thought wrong.

Remember this face?

Well this face tests me in ways I didn't even know could exist.

In 2011 we have had no less than 3.. yes 3.. life altering moments, heart stopping, stomach in mouth moments with her that I can honestly say I didn't have with my others. Meg was calm, placid, polite, eager to please, Lucy was funny, spirited and a true comedian, but Emma... man alive where to start with Emma.

In the Summer whilst on the boat, we were mooring up in the harbour, both Tim & I busy doing our parts tying up, putting out fenders etc and we both heard a BIG splash, looked at each other in horror and did that thing where you whirl around to see what or who fell in, a very quick assessment showed Lucy sat reading her mag and no Emma, NO EMMA, ... Oh God No NOT EMMA. Tim started running, I started running round the boat, all side,  desperately trying to see into the marina to know where to jump in... 'did she have her life jacket on' 'I don't know' cue Tim & I both crying, running and screaming her name.. an awful awful feeling to anyone who has ever experienced a lost or endangered child.

In that very moment the cupboard door on the boat flew open and out danced Emma shouting 'ta-da' with her arms out stretched, I didn't know where to cry, scream or fall to my knees, I think I did all three. That was when after 3 children and some pretty lax rules for the boat the new 'getting on the boat' charter was launched meaning that the children are not even allowed to step foot in the marina without their life jackets on and MUST wear them all day - 'no life jacket no boat' is the mantra. You may think it shocking that we didn't already have this in place before and looking back it is really, but the children were always so good around the boat until Emma.. we never had a single incident with the other 2 so I suppose stupid assumptions came into play.

Then we had the car incident that I blogged about here.. Emma ran into the middle of the road, a VERY busy road, which finished up with both Emma and I led in the road being 'saved' by a white van man, another moment that took proper years off my life expectancy.

And then the icing on this cake of parenting nightmares came last week in a routine trip to the local Gym/Swimming Pool, we go every week, its one of Emma's favourite things to do, she loves launching herself fearlessly into the water, sinking like a stone and then bobbing up with the aid of her float suit. As I started to get changed last week, I gave Emma the task of taking off her shoes, I bent to pull my swimming costume up, looked and she was gone, literally in a split second gone. My heart stopped, the swimming pool is only say 12 feet away, and I ran, arse hanging out of suit, to the side of the pool and desperately scanned the bottom of the pool, I screamed to Lucy to check the jacuzzi, I ran into the showers, people were understanding that something was very wrong, I was crying, screaming her name, running back and forth to the pool and in the changing room.

Staff and people are coming running, this is bad, very bad. Someone sits me down as everyone continues the search and the shaking starts, uncontrollable shaking as I'm trying to stand and keep looking, about 4 or 5 minutes passed, I could feel my throat tightening, this is going to end badly I just know it
An elderly lady wanders in from the showers amid the commotion and opens a locker and says 'is this what you are looking for?' I whirl around and there she is, Emma half naked and sat in an actual locker with the door closed, like a little elf, grinning wildly and shouting 'BOO'

Its no exaggeration to say that I sobbed, completely sobbed, heaving, shaking and snotting everywhere, Emma laughing and dancing from foot to foot, whilst people gave her a stern look or a waggly finger about 'not frightening her mummy like that'

We didn't end up going swimming, frankly my nerves wouldn't have stood it, we went home and it was her turn to sob then

I'm reaching for new and unchartered depths in my parenting with Emma, proof if it were needed, that children can be and are SO very different and one size most certainly does NOT fit all, way back in my ignorant, blissful, smug, single child state, mother of a perfect daughter I used to believe it was all about the parenting, that when a child was a naughty tornado that must have meant something was missing or wrong in their life or that they weren't getting enough attention at home... yeah and I also used to believe in the tooth fairy as well,  just shows how wrong you can be

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Little Brown Lie

It's official, I'm a bad mother. 

The festive period always sees Matt bringing home tins full of yummy chocolate biscuits and the afternoon ritual of a nice brew and a few biccies.

Over the recent holidays Mini Cheddar picked up on this ritual and delighted in lingering around us like a baby bird with her mouth open or saying in the most high-pitched of voices "Mummy, can I have a biscuit...puuuurrrrllleeease?".

On one of these occasions a couple of days before Christmas she had a biscuit. 

She ate it immediately. 

Yes, she takes after her Daddy.

I, on the other hand, was savouring mine. I placed it carefully beside me whilst I waited for my cuppa to cool off a bit.

I see her clearly from the other side of the room. 

She spies my untouched biscuit.

I watch her make her way over to me in the cutest possible way. Head slightly bent at that adorable angle and those gorgeous eyes of hers full of mischief.

"Mummmmmy?" she smiles.

"Yes darling" I reply, fully expecting what her response will be but she surprises me somewhat.

"What does that say?" she points at the wording on the chocolatey delight.

Then I not only surprise her. I surprise myself.

"It says MUMMY. That means only I can eat it".

Monday, 9 January 2012

Guest Post...Inside The Wendy House - My Sliding Doors

Wendy from 'Inside The Wendy House' is someone who I've been friends with for just over a year (since I started blogging) - we just seemed to click and have spent many an evening in stitches chatting on Twitter. Maybe our joint love of toilet humour joined us together? 

Despite being a relatively 'newbie blogger' herself, when I plunged head first into this cyber world, she was so helpful and knowledgeable. I've met her a number of times now in real life and she's fabulous. Her love for her family overflows with a passion.

Plus she's one very cool mummy!

Here, in her guest post 'My Sliding Doors', she explains how, even though we are both SAHM's, our lives are so different...

Heather, the very lovely lady behind SAHM Loving It is off holidaying (lucky thing!) and has turned over her blog to a bunch of guest bloggers, of which I am honoured to be one.  

I first met Heather and her lovely little girl MC earlier this year, when we organised a day out at Cheshire Ice Cream Farm.  MC is almost the same age as Freddy, my little boy, and they played beautifully together. Me and Heather are similarly aged (OK I'm way older but I'll gloss over that!), both happily married, stay at home mums.  But our lives are very different.   MC is Heather's first born and Freddy is my fifth child.  

I  started out on my path to being a mum when I was just 19.  In my 24 years of motherhood I have had five children now aged 2, 9, 15, 20 and 24.  I have given birth in my teens, twenties, thirties and forties.  This has given me a large family with a big age range and I've never been without a little one.   When my family gets together there is an incredible dynamic.  The older children are fantastic role models to the younger ones and provide a lot of help and support.  I really enjoy my family life but sometimes wonder how different my life could have been if I'd followed Heather's way of doing things.  What if I hadn't become a teen mum?  What if I'd made a life for myself before becoming  a parent?

Being a mother has defined who I am for 24 years.  During this time I have had jobs but never a career.  I was all set to go to university with a string of A grades to my name.  However I didn't take the opportunity and fate saw me become a single mum instead.  I'll never know who that 'me' who graduated with a degree in Sociology and Psychology grew up to be.  I had aspirations to teach or counsel children with emotional difficulties.  Perhaps in an alternate reality, I've made a difference, helped people, made the world a better place?  I'll never know.

There is a whole world out there that I've never explored.  I've never had the wanderlust to backpack across Australia or drive Route 66 in a convertible, but I wonder if this is because I've always had to worry about the fact that I had children to consider.  Holidays became focused on the needs of the kids.  Their comfort, safety and enjoyment, teamed with the convenience and ease I needed to cope with holidaying with little ones, soon put a stop to any dreams I'd harboured about visiting the Mayan temples or exploring the jungles of Borneo.  Centre Parcs and Disneyland Paris became resorts of choice, pushing any urges to travel firmly to the darkest recesses of my mind.

My marriage has never existed without the responsibility of parenting.  My relationship with my husband has never had the carefree element of spontaneity, financial freedom or the joy of selfishly immersing ourselves into each other.  I already had two children when we got together and we had our third child a year before we got married.  There has always been the children to consider, even if we managed to find some time to be alone, the kids have always been at the forefront of our minds, monopolizing the conversation and influencing our decisions.  I wonder how our relationship may have been different had we had some together time, just the two of us.  Would we have become different people if we had spent the first years of our marriage getting to know one another as individuals rather than being parents?  Would I see my husband differently, have different expectations of his role in my life?

Having a child so young and with no partner did not put me in a good position financially.  However, I have always been frugal and shrewd with money and with hard work managed to ease my family's way up the ladder.  I started with nothing but we are now very comfortable in our own detached home.  I wonder if my frugality and ability to stretch my finances would have been as important to me had I never had to worry about money? If I'd had a good salary and found my way onto the property ladder in the 80s and made a few shrewd moves, could I now be in a huge house somewhere with a fancy postcode?  Would I be into designer labels instead of wearing high street and supermarket brands?  Would my values be different?  

Everything I have done as an adult has been done primarily as a parent.  I barely had a chance to get to know myself as an individual, before I became a mother, so I truly do not know who I may have become had my life taken a different path.  Would I have had a great career and earned lots of money, travelled the world and embarked on a romantic love affair with the man who would ultimately father my children?  I simply don't know. And if I'm completely honest, I don't really care!  You see, I have an amazing family who I live for. I have a husband that I adore, who stepped up to the mark when I needed him and has never let me or our children down.  I am never bored with my brood aged between 2 and 24, there is always something going on and their needs are so different it is a non-stop and immensely rewarding job parenting them all.  I find huge comfort knowing that the older kids will always be there to support the younger ones through all the stages of their lives.  I may not have planned this life, but I wouldn't swap it. 

I may not know who I might have become, but I know for a fact that my kids have made me who I am now...and I'm pretty proud to be that woman!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Guest Post...Mari's World - Horrorscopes 2012

You know when you just love someone instantly? That's how I feel about Marianne who writes a brilliant blog over at 'Mari's World'. Her warmth and wit is so endearing.

I've even had the pleasure of her company in real life and I have to say she's everything her blog purveys and more. She is a mother of 4 (including two beautiful twin girls) and believe it or not - a nana to one! I know...I need to know her secret.

So, I now hand you over to Marianne and her guest post - Horrorscopes 2012

I’m writing this as 2011 draws to a cold and tired end. It’s been a trying year on many different levels for people all over the world and as December makes its final stint to the finish line I’m looking back on what has been achieved throughout the year, what hasn’t and I’m wondering which dreams to rollover into 2012 and which to just let go of forever.

You see I am a closet Horoscope lover, I buy The Sun newspaper every day (I know don’t shoot me) but it’s to read Mystic Meg and what she has in store for me and come the end of the month I make sure I buy her monthly scope and read it throughout the month, especially on down days when nothing seems to be going quite as I’d like it to.

I am subscribed to two monthly magazines and I cut out their horoscopes and paste them in my diary to carry around with me and I buy at least another two magazines each month and do the same.
I have at least four different horoscope internet sites bookmarked which I refer to almost daily too.

Are you getting the picture?

Do you do this or I am the only Horror freak in the country?

Anyway, recently I’ve caught myself wondering if all this effort I put into Mystic Meg is worth it. (I know I’m shocked at myself too.)

BUT, at the beginning of last year, oh I’m a Taurus by the way, I was told in very clear and no messing around terms that 2011 was MY YEAR after 12 long years of being in the doldrums. Apparently Jupiter would be dropping by and making me a shed load of money and channelling opportunities right to my door.

Have the courage of your ambitions Marianne’ they urged.

‘Jupiter, planet of growth, will bring you so much help if you think big.’

Yeah? Well I guess Jupiter plain forgot that Britain is in the middle of an on-going recession, I imagine Jupiter might have lost a bit of wind in his sails because of that, cos I ain’t seen nothin’.

2011 has been difficult, our utility bills went up 20% and even though I got the twins out of nappies our shopping bill still increased instead of decreasing.

All the little DIY jobs I wanted completed by the end of 2011 are still on hold as money put aside for them got swallowed up by simple living – have you filled your car up recently? It’s shocking isn’t it? I even started driving slower on motorways to save on fuel.

I must give Jupiter a bit of slack though as apparently he’s been retrograde since August and I know how that feels. I took the girls to preschool by car this morning as we were running late and I forgot the car – I walked home so I do know a little about retrograde trust me.

The forecasters are telling me Jupiter is still hanging around in my back yard for most of 2012 too, I must be patient – well what else can I do but be patient? And everything will all fall into my lap once the year gets underway (and Jupiter remembers which direction he’s going in).

So if you happen to bump into him, spin him clockwise will you please?  I need my planets working at full speed as I have plans and dreams that make the Titanic look like a dinghy.

Wishing you all a very happy New Year – may all your dreams come true!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

A Temporary Goodbye

The house sitter has the keys. I've notified the neighbours someone else will be here. I've cleaned the house from top to bottom. I've packed my beached whale maternity swimming costume. Got my sun glasses.

I'm ready. Ready for tomorrow morning...

3 weeks in Florida here I come!

Despite initial reservations about this holiday I'm now really looking forward to it. I've been ill on and off now for over 6 weeks with this awful cough/cold thing (and over Christmas I was really poorly) so life hasn't been rosy. I'm hoping the sunshine will cheer me up and get rid of all the bugs. Also, it will just be lovely to spend some quality time with Matt and MC before the new baby arrives end of March/beginning of April.

So, what's in store for my blog over the next 3 weeks?

Well, I'm leaving my blog in the very capable hands of some great friends and fellow bloggers to entertain you whilst I'm away. I'm truly honoured that each and every one of these marvellous people has written something amazing for my blog.

They will be appearing as follows:

Mari's World
Inside The Wendy House
Alyson's Blog
Doing It All For Aleyna
Looking For Blue Sky
Mummy From The Heart
Chronicles Of A Reluctant Housedad

But do not fear, dear readers, there are also a couple of pre-written blog posts from my good self - don't want you forgetting who I am now do I?

I should have wireless over in the states so I'll be dipping in and out of your blogs, Twitter and Facebook if I have the time (need to keep an eye on you all!) - depends if Mickey and Minnie Mouse will let me!

Take care of yourselves and enjoy the fabulous posts from my guest posters whilst I'm away.


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