Monday, 31 March 2014

#MeAndMine - A Family Portrait (March 2014)

March is probably the busiest month of the year for our family.

Both children were born in the month.

MC on the 11th (she was 5) and TC on the 28th (he was 2).

Throw in Mother's Day, a themed Minnie Mouse party and a few other prior engagements and I'm ending the month feeling pretty exhausted... but full of love and happiness.

I have been taking a lot more photographs of the children with the 'big camera' this year but it's very rare that I'm in the photos. Setting up the timer can be a bit hit and miss and the kids get easily distracted but asking other people to take photographs is probably worse - especially when it's my mother-in-law. She's good at a lot of things but sadly she's no photographer (not that I am but you know what I mean).

The day before Mother's Day we met up with my in-laws at Trentham Gardens. It was a lovely warm but slightly breezy day. Lots of scooting, fun, laughter, bickering (Matt and his mum - not the kids!) and ending with drinks and ice cream. I only have one half decent photo of the 4 of us that my MIL took that I'm including this month but I have lots of quite nice photos that I took of the kids enjoying themselves.

This month has been all about them so I wanted to share them with you (even if MC had fallen over 2 days earlier and is sporting a huge graze/bruise on her forehead!).

*Sports the voice of a newscaster about to mention that funny bit at the end of a broadcast*

And finally…

After MC's Minnie Mouse theme party earlier in the month we did have this photo taken - I wanted to share it because even though I'm exhausted on it, I couldn't stop laughing at Matt and TC sporting exactly the same expression. Priceless!

dear beautiful

Friday, 28 March 2014

Happy 2nd Birthday Little Man

He's 2 today.

I can't believe it.

Doesn't seem right calling him Tiny Ched anymore. He's really growing into a proper little boy.

He loves cars, trucks, diggers, trains, helicopters and aeroplanes. He also has a fondness for One Direction!

He adores his Micro Scooter and has done for the past year. Everyone who sees him whizz past always comments on how he looks too little to be able to scoot so well.

I'm hoping he has the same passion for the first bike we've bought him for today.

His speech is coming on in leaps and bounds and despite being a strong-minded little boy he is the cutest, funniest and most loving little boy we could ask for.

Here's to the coming year. I just hope it goes slow as I don't want to give up my baby boy just yet.

Happy Birthday TC. Mummy and Daddy love you so so much xx

28th March 2012
28th March 2013
28th March 2014

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Mini Cheddar's Minnie Mouse Themed Party!

I've never thrown a big party for the kids at home. Although we had family (and a couple of close friends) over when she turned 1 she didn't have her first proper party until last March when she turned 4.

This year, what with the school issue, I wanted her to have a special party. I asked her if she would like a huge soft play party for all her school friends and some others like she had last year but she said she wanted family and some friends at home. Now we've moved house we have a lot more room and our kitchen is large and great for social gatherings so I figured why not?

"What sort of party would you like?" I asked her only a couple of weeks before her birthday (Last Minute Lucas!).

"Minnie Mouse!" she grinned.

I repeat….I've not thrown a big party for the kids at home… never mind a themed party!

I could do this I said to myself. After all, I'd been to two great themed parties at Susanne's house over the past few months.

I Googled some ideas and created some of my own too and within a couple of hours I had a plan of attack.

The Minnie Mouse themed party was on!

I simply invited family and friends in person, via text or Facebook rather than send invites out so that saved me a job straight away *wipes brow*

Next I decided that I wanted to make the cake. Not only had I not thrown a party for the kids before but I hadn't baked them a cake myself before. I know! I know! Mummy failure but, in my defence, I hadn't had the right tools. Matt bought me a KitchenAid mixer for my birthday last year and I adore it - and baking.

I set off Googling recipes and decided on adapting a recipe from Sweetapolita (if you haven't discovered Rosie before then go check out her amazing delicious recipes) which I liked the sound of. I did consider trying to construct some sort of Minnie Mouse decoration for the cake myself but having never worked with fondant icing or anything like that I was reluctant to let MC's birthday be the guinea pig. So, I admit it, I bought a bow and ears already made from eBay. BUT the cake itself was all homemade by my own fair hand and my awesome Sister as my sous-chef for the day.

The cake was delicious. Everyone commented on how lovely it was. It wasn't the best looking cake. I've never piped icing before and I have never frosted either - I actually had to borrow a cake palette knife from my neighbour - but I was impressed with our awesome work for beginners. I have since learnt that trying to frost a cake with your neighbours large old palette knife is seriously hard work. You'll be pleased to know I've now invested in a new small one and it will be having it's first outing on Thursday in readiness for TC's 2nd Birthday on this Friday.

The food for the party was easy. The Internet was awash with ideas and some I made up myself.

I'd bought some rice paper cupcake decorations that were personalised with MC's name and age but instead of using these on the cupcakes I baked, I cut them out and stuck them to some pink card I made into little tents. They were perfect for writing the food descriptions on and everyone thought they were fantastic. The food I prepared (with help from my sister again on the morning of the party) was really simple to do. A lot of it was just pre-bought things and the rest were simple things to make but the food cards made it all so much more special.

So here's the 'Minnie Mouse' theme menu (the ones I can remember!):

  • Hot Diggity Dogs - mini frankfurters in finger rolls (cut in half)
  • Donald's Cheese & Quackers - selection of BabyBel, Cheese Sticks etc, with cheese biscuits
  • Minnie's Bow Pasta - farfalle tricolore pasta
  • Mickey's Sandwiches - a selection of filled sandwiches cut with a Mickey cookie cutter
  • Pete's Popcorn - Butterkist popcorn and salted popcorn
  • Minnie's Mallows - heart-shaped pink and white marshmallows
  • Clarabelle's Cheese Puffs - bowl of cheese puff crisps
  • Daisy's Garden Veggie's - cut carrot, cucumber and mini breadsticks
  • Chip's n Dale's Dips - Pringles with some dips
  • Boo Boo Chicken Nuggets - breaded chicken nuggets

There were more adults than kids at the party so I also prepared an absolute huge pot of chilli con carne and rice and also made some barbecue pulled pork and hot rolls. These were wolfed down by everyone.  

In fact, all the food went down a treat! I'd got a small kiddies picnic table and set it up in the kitchen for the really small ones to eat at and it was perfect.

Better than the food and the cake was the 'Decorate Your Own Cookie Station'.

It wasn't much to look at but it was a high hit!

The kids all loved it. 

I made 12 large Mickey shaped cookies the day before the party with the largest Mickey cookie cutter I had. I wish I'd made more as I got asked later in the party if there were any more cookies. How bad did I feel?

I had put a small table in the corner of the dining room and bought some different decorations and put them in bowls along with icing writing tubes in different colours. The kids could then go and decorate a cookie (and make a big mess). It was brilliant and they all loved it.  

I'd highly recommend this for ANY kids party. If it's not themed you could just make simple round shaped cookies and do the same. It's a good alternative to your usual party game and keeps the kids very entertained.

I did organise one party game though... 

'Pin The Bow On Minnie'.

I had got some large black card and some pink card and made a Minnie silhouette. I used a large pizza tray to draw around for the head and a plate to draw around for two ears in black. I then cut out lots of bow shapes in the pink card and wrote all the kids names on them. The bows had a blob of Blu-Tack on them, the kids were blindfolded and turned then asked to 'pin the bow on Minnie'. The closest named bow won. Simple! The kids seemed to enjoy it. 

In addition to the usual balloons and banners which were shop bought, I also made up some simple Minnie decorations which I hung from the ceiling in the lounge and the dining room. I bought a couple of the round pink VISIONAR decorations from Ikea (I have since seen them cheaper in supermarkets) and cut out some smaller black circles from card and simply stuck them in. The result was perfect for a Minnie Mouse party!

So, that was it in a nutshell.

Would I host another themed party at the house?

You betcha! I loved it.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

MC Is 5 Today - Happy Birthday Beautiful Girl

I can't believe my daughter is 5 years old today.

What an amazing 5 years it's been.

From korma poop pub embarrassments, hilarious baguette stealing incidents, the cutest voice ever, ultimate tantrums and difficult times of late (to name but a few) she never ceases to amaze me and amuse me.

Everyone she meets is taken with her infectious personality.

She is the most loving big sister ever. She's the most incredibly bright, independent and loving daughter Matt and I could ask for.

We're watching her grow into such a wonderful young girl. It only seems like yesterday she was just a babe in arms.

Every year, month, week, day, hour, minute and second we realise just how lucky we are.

11th March 2009

11th March 2010

11th March 2011

11th March 2012

11th March 2013

11th March 2014

Happy Birthday Mini Cheddar. 
Daddy and I love you 
'to the moon and back'

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Today My Kids Broke Me

I know friends are going through heartbreaking or tough times and I hate myself for moaning but today my kids broke me.

Those of you who read my blog a couple of weeks ago will know we have been struggling with MC not wanting to go to school.

Well, despite her being ill all over the half-term she went back to school fine on Monday. I was expecting tears but none came as she happily kissed me goodbye at the gate. I was worried about Tuesday as I had to take TC on the school run with us but again she surprised me by happily skipping into school (encouraged by the fact she knew she was 'Helpwr Heddiw' - that means she was going to be the 'Helper Today' for those don't speak Welsh).

She was leading me into a false sense of security.

Today she had her biggest 'I don't want to go to school' meltdown so far. Even bigger than the last time.

It wasn't helped by the fact I'm not feeling well at the moment.

But what makes it worse is that it was in public.

Outside the school in fact.

We were already late. It didn't help.

We had to park far away from the school. I could've just pulled it up on the pavement or at a junction near the school like a lot of the inconsiderate people who are too lazy/busy to walk a bit other parents but I didn't.

TC wasn't for walking fast. I was constantly asking him to hurry up and stop staring longingly at trucks and buses as they passed. I felt like a horrible mother.

We crossed over the road to the school and that's when it all started.

"I don't want to go to school, Mummy!" my daughter cried.

"You have to, sweetheart".

"But I don't want to! I want to stay home with you and my brother!".

That's when the tears started.

"We are going to be late and you'll go into the late book" I said. It was probably the wrong thing to say but I was conscious it was 8.37am. Exactly 3 more minutes and the doors to her class would shut and we'd have to make the walk of shame to reception to sign in late.

That's when the screaming started.


Wave after wave of sobbing followed by various other remarks about her lack of love for school.

All whilst trying to fight my way through the vast tide of parents walking towards us after already dropping their little darlings off.

By this time I was practically dragging both children towards the gate.

I really felt like the worst mother ever.

Other parents wondering what on earth was wrong with my child that she hated school so much she was sobbing uncontrollably.

TC had decided he wanted to chase a truck he'd seen, I had to drag him through the school gate and eventually he opted for a sit down crying protest in the school playground.

I tried to walk MC towards the door of school.

She was still sobbing.

One of the teachers saw me struggling and came out and helped.

Some gentle persuasion and distraction and MC was quickly taken inside without a kiss or hug from me. I was left standing alone in the playground staring at TC who was still sitting crying.

I scooped him up and slowly made my way back to the car (after a quick diversion to go and look at a digger across the road).

Then I cried.

I pulled myself together eventually and rang my Sister and then rang Matt. Matt went away on Monday and won't be back until tomorrow night. I hate him being away so much.

Part of me wanted to go home and open a bottle of wine have a cup of tea but I drove over to Ikea in Warrington. TC and I ate a late breakfast and then I had some stuff to collect.

It was all going well and I was starting to feel better when some bright spark at Ikea thought it was a good idea to display a train track on a play table.

Could I get TC away from it?

I don't think I need to answer that.

The boy is obsessed with trains, cars, buses, helicopters - any transport in fact - and there was no moving him. I left him to play for a while until I decided it was time to go.

He wouldn't budge.

I tried reasoning with him (not easy with a 23 month old).

I even tried distracting him with a football (his other love).

Nothing was working.

There was nothing left to do but go get him.

That was when the whole of Ikea heard him!

The meltdown was epic.

It wasn't just an average tantrum though. He swiped my face. He grabbed my hair and wouldn't let go. A guy from the warehouse came to my aid as I was wrestling him and trying to retain some dignity (not an easy task). The guy tried to distract him but to no avail. Eventually the two of us got TC in the trolley and I thanked him and quickly moved away from the hoards of people I thought must be judging me.

A middle-aged woman touched my arm and smiled at me "We've all been there dear" she said.

That's when I felt myself going.

I smiled back, mumbled something nice to her and I went into a corner behind some boxes.

Then I cried.


I pulled myself together (again) and continued my shopping hell experience through Ikea, heart pounding.

At the checkouts a few people where staring at me. I thought they must have seen me and the 'toddler battle' earlier.

Once I'd bent TC into the car seat - when I say 'bent' I mean got him to bend as he likes to scream and turn himself into a plank as he hates getting in the car - he went straight to sleep before I'd even started the car.

I glanced at myself in the mirror.

TC had drawn blood where he'd swiped me and I had walked around Ikea with a huge blob of dried blood on my face.

So THAT'S what the people at the checkout were looking at me for.

I drove home in a daze. Feeling like the worst mum ever (again).

Thoughts of MC and her school protest weighing heavily on my mind.

At 3.10pm I picked her up. TC had wanted to take his Micro Scooter and so I took MC's too. After school we went to the park. We went on the swings and we also ran around pretending to be monsters. Happy times.

It was lovely to just have simple fun with them both.

I started to feel the badness of the day dispel a little.

Because TC had an early sleep today he was really tired this evening. Getting him ready for bed was an awful battle. He didn't want me to change his nappy and started kicking me wildly.

I tried to distract him with toys in his room but he wouldn't have any of it.

He started kicking harder.

"Stop kicking Mummy" I said calmly over and over again.

I was close to tears through sheer exhaustion when MC came into the room with a small bell she had found.

"Look TC! Look at this! You can have it and jangle it" she said passing it to him.

He took it happily and the kicking stopped.

Then she turned to me and said "I didn't want TC to upset you Mummy so thought I'd come and save you".

After I'd changed TC he stood up and kissed me.

Yes my kids broke me today.

But they also fixed me too.

Butter wouldn't melt

Saturday, 1 March 2014

When A Friend Loses A Baby #MMRemembers

Almost a year ago today Susanne and I were relative strangers, having met once at an event. Almost a year ago today we travelled together to Kent to the funeral of another relative stranger, Jennie, who'd lost her baby girl to SIDS.

A year.

A whole year.

It only seems like yesterday now.

7th March 2013.

We stood together in that church shaking, crying and holding hands and we spoke. Spoke about Matilda's legacy and the blogging community.

A lot has happened in that year.

Sadness. So much sadness.

But one thing I am so glad of. One thing I'll always be glad of.

We have all become good friends.

Today, as this post goes live, Susanne and I will be back at that little church in Kent to speak together again at Matilda Mae Remembers - a service to remember all the babies in the sky.

I wanted to share our words with you today…

One year ago we stood here in tears
as we tried so hard to explain
how Matilda had touched so many lives
how many were feeling the pain.

We're not sure we realised how hard it would be
to see a friend suffer like that
to see a friend say goodbye -
nothing can prepare you for that.

But we know that this is not our grief
we do not have the right
to cry and to feel sad and wish so hard
that things were different that night.

All we can tell you is all that we know
that seeing a friend suffer is hard.
Watching her move through the days as she does
with achingly empty arms.


When a friend loses a baby your world starts to rock - 
It's all so surreal and you're left feeling shocked.
You read the words over and it doesn't sink in,
You know not what to do, nor where to begin.

When a friend loses a baby you weep for her loss,
You mourn, you feel low, but you also get cross.
How could this baby be taken away?
On what was to us just a normal day?

When a friend loses a baby you know not what to say,
It's at time like this that you wish you could pray.
But you know that nothing will bring the comfort she needs,
You sit and watch as her broken heart bleeds.

When a friend loses a baby you stumble and fall,
You cuddle your little ones tight in a ball.
Sleep doesn't come easy; you are always aware,
Checking on breathing and stroking their hair.

When a friend loses a baby you feel helpless and scared,
Her baby's been taken and yours was spared.
And then the guilt hits - you know what you've got,
You have your baby and your friend does not.

When a friend loses a baby you know that she hides,
The things she is feeling deep down inside.
Her smile is a mask since that night with the cot,
People tell her she's strong, but really she's not.

When a friend loses a baby there is not much to do,
Except to hope it's enough to be you.
When a friend loses a baby I guess she just needs,
Some time and some space to just simply grieve.


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