Saturday, 25 June 2016

The Crazy Days

Today has been a terrible day.

Not feeling super today!

I'm shattered. I've been working straight for about a month now, I get little to no time to myself and we have struggled to make ends meet all month. For the last three to six months.

Today was a 'let the kids watch television without remorse' kind of day.

Today was a 'please help yourself to all the snacks' kind of day, and a 'please, I don't actually care what you are doing' kind of day 'as long as you leave me alone to actually ferment in my own shittiness' kind of day.

Sorry kids.

It's also an 'oh god, I feel so guilty day'.

Because I spent all day yesterday knowing I would be in charge, knowing that I had this opportunity to do stuff with my kids, but instead I tapped out.

 I sat down and went 'Nope. Not today, motherfucker.'

I am out of resources, both physically and mentally.

I flinched every time my kids asked for something, groaned mostly every time the baby wanted up and actually had tears in my eyes when after the third time of very nearly almost getting the baby to go to sleep (which he desperately needed) a delivery man knocked on the door, waking him up.

The door of the fridge fell off completely, pretty much nearly killing the baby and/or shearing my oldest son's legs and glass smashed everywhere, and once again there was a ton of washing, a ton of cleaning to do and a lack of appropriate healthy snacks to eat, meaning we were all filling up on guilty stodge (well, i was - the kids didn't blink, obviously).

There was no petrol in the car to drive anywhere more interesting, and it was raining outside and no money in the bank to make life even a tiny little bit easier.

Some days we wake up to text messages that tell us once again we are over the limit on our already-stretched overdrafts and I cannot count on two hand the number of times I have turned to Dave and said, "how are we going to do this?"

But we always manage.


I've done the Tax Credit calculator thing about a bazillion times attempting to work out how in the hell we cannot afford the childcare for next month (summer holidays, so extra childcare needed) and we have scrutinized our holiday leave, our ins and out and our what-we-can-do-withouts intrinsically.

We are tight on time, tight on money, tight on energy.

Like always, I've paid out more than I can afford in all of these things, promising myself I can catch up with them all: and I will.  I just need more time, money and energy. You know?

It's a gradual and slow incline, but we are getting there.

We have faced a lot of obstacles with illness and moving and car smashes and stuff, and it's definitely been no picnic. We have come out okay, intact. Still going.

But sometimes it just feels a lot harder than it is, and I always have to remind myself; we have our kids, we have our bodies, we have our health, we have our home.  We have food to eat (mostly) and we have resources.

Today was a bit of a tap-out situation though.

I've been working extra hours to try and make up the shortfall since changing hours after maternity leave and this, plus all the other stuff; end of term trips and events for the boys, trying to find money/things to sell/keep on top of housework, birthday bits for Owen etc

I've been doing crazy cleaning, trying to get things together for family coming over for Owen's birthday last week (and it still wasn't up to the standard I wanted it to be - another thing that fell by the wayside), running between the kids and trying to find meals that will satisfy the kids from our meagre cupboard store (thank goodness for free school meals!)

Trying to work out how in the heck we would feed/water guests and also make sure our youngest boy got a wee birthday gift (gawd bless xmas club at the toy shop!)

I am tired.


This is parenting without backup.

This is parenting without the available auntie on-hand, the grandparent on pick-up duty, the close buddy play-dates.

This is parenting on the hoof, with a wing and a prayer and being stretched to the edge of your limits.


Without let up.

This is parenting night and day and then night again and then day with work and school and other stuff, day after day and week into month after month.

This is endless.

This is feeling guilty endlessly for various things; the scrimping on meals because of time, the forgotten coats, the shirts that still have stains on after they've been washed, the certain feeling of judgement coming from teachers, other parents, family, friends for not fulfilling x,y,z obligation.

The endless attempts to make sure kids get alone time, craft time, more time, not too much t.v time, not too much screen time, that they are reading, that they get to express themselves, that they eat well and eat enough, that they are getting good experiences, that their shoes fit, that they have clean hair and teeth and everything else.

It's the hours and hours spent facilitating their every need and want and whim from dawn until dusk and in between, making sure we don't raise our voices when we are stressed, making sure that others treat them fairly and that they also treat others with the same regard.

We don't have clubs, or after-school care or babysitters.

There's no overnights or long weekends or few hours off.

There's no 'date nights' or 'couple time' or 'me time'.

There's a lot of midnight frantic tumble-drying.  A lot of crazy fiddling with numbers and dates and time.  A LOT of thinking outside of the box.

Instead we forge out our own time.

We craft our own special family days.

We make sure we separate fun from real life.  And we always take a picnic.

We take minutes to count our blessings and we try to do good where we can.

Life is not easy.

Life is difficult at best.

But there's a heck of a lot of happy.

Every day these boys get older.  And bigger.  And belong a little bit more to the world.

Tom loses yet another tooth.  Ethan comes out with yet another characterful announcement and Owen takes one (or seven) more steps across the room.

One day we will look back and miss this; the crazy days.  The busy days.  The fullness of life and the challenges and the open-mindedness it brings.

The creativeness.

Today was very difficult.

Today was very hard.  Today I needed another adult to pick up the reins.

But the years are short.

And if anything, this family is living proof that things are always changing.

Always for the better.

Slow but sure.

Knowing first-hand what we get through each day, I'm definitely proud of our achievements so far!

The best is yet to come.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Please Use Your Vote

Tomorrow is a huge day.

Maybe it doesn't feel like it to you, but it is.

Tomorrow is one of those days that will shape the rest of your lives.


I know at times it feels utterly useless, especially if you are busy, or can't be bothered because you think that your voice will not make a difference, but trust me, it does.

You have absolutely no right at all to complain about the outcome if you do not vote.

Use your vote.

Make your decision with thought.  Step away from the rhetoric, the political party nit-picking, the xenphobia, the hatred, the crazy 'predictions' about what will happen if we stay or if we go.

Think about your vote.

Think about the maternity leave you enjoyed.  The free movement between countries.  The human rights.  The education.

Think about worker's rights. The future of small independent businesses.

Decide how you feel about giving up environmental rights if we chuck away our European membership which helps protect our land, while the Tories approach fracking with a rub of their fat little hands.

Think about free pre-school education for all children, regardless of background.

Of all the other benefits of being the partner in a union.

Use your voice.

Be counted.

Vote #Remain

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Summer Holidays: Mine and Theirs

6 weeks of summer holidays are bearing down on us all at a rate of noughts.

When I was wee, the summer holidays were amazing; 6 (or sometimes 7) weeks of playing outside with my friends late into the night.

I was lucky - where I lived we were free to roam the streets, as the streets were quiet and there were barely any cars.  The houses were all knitted together and there were endless places to ride your bike or push a scooter or a skateboard or go rollerskating without bothering anyone.

We'd meet at the park - without the aid of text messages or phones and we all had watches on our wrists so that we knew when to come back home for tea.

Sadly, my own kids will never really know the joy of this kind of childhood.  It was pretty free.

We lived our lives in hours of imaginative play.  We made our own microcosm of the world in the small area in which we lived.

There were acorn fights (bad idea), games of football (great idea) and skateboard tours (amazing idea).

On wet days we put on our raincoats and all squeezed into our dens, our hideyholes, mainly in bushes or broken down fencing and pretend we were spies or that we had a huge club of detectives who only met once a month.

We had our best bestest bestesest ever friends and we had our sworn enemies.  We loved and lost.  We fought battles.  We played massive tournaments that went on for weeks.

We used stones to draw on the paving slabs and we used our jumpers for goal posts (inevitably someone always lost their jumper).

We ventured out of our zones too - we went to the beach. We cycled as far as we could.

I doubt our parents could have imagined that we went as far or did as much as we did, but we did it all, and without any adult supervision; you simply came home at the agreed time and then went out again until the next time-slot, often begging for 'just an extra half an hour, pleeeease?'

Times have kind of changed and where we live kind of isn't conducive to sending kids out. They'd have to walk up and down a 60mph country road to get anywhere good.  And when they got there, the chances of meeting any other kids are slim to none, seeing as it seems to be less of a thing to let your kids roam the streets.

When I was wee, my mum didn't go to work, so I never had to go to childcare and anyone who babysat was generally doing it because I was already at their house, eating their food and watching their tv, as they did at ours when they happened to disappear in with me for hours on end.

I never went to Out Of School Club. I never had a childminder.

I was so lucky that I was able to stay at home and play.

As my kids gear up for 6 weeks of chilling and eating and going to different childcare venues (and staying at home with us for sometime I might add - we had to use all of our holidays between us!) and getting all of these 'paid for' experiences, like face painting and cooking and going to play centres, I can't help feeling a bit jealous.

It would be very nice to have a long break and lots of fun things to do.

But I can't help feeling a bit sad too, that they aren't going to be racing their bikes at the park without adult supervision, that they won't be doing stuntman-worthy tricks on the swings or seeing how fast they can go on the roundabout without falling off.

Those were the best days of my life.

Friday, 17 June 2016


Here he is, my golden-haired boy,

So much goodness for us to enjoy,

His little smile, his waving hands,

His wobbly stagger

His pull-up-to-stand

The way he babbles,

The cuddles and cosies,

The clap-a-handies,

the grabbing nose - ies!

Two bottom teeth sticking out,

Bright blue eyes,

An angel pout,

My 'silly bean'

My bundle of fun,

We've so much to do,

Now you are one.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Tea for Me - a review of Adagio Teas

My working week is pretty difficult.

I only work part-time and I have been lucky enough to score hours that fit directly around my boys' school life, but as a result I pretty much never stop.  I'm forever rushing between work and picking up children, food shopping and making sure the dog has been walked.

Between blogging, work, children, dog, degus, baby and all the other bits and pieces, there are some nights where I manage to go to bed without even doing the basics, like feeding myself!

I am knackered!

It's becoming increasingly important to me that I take whatever time I can to look after myself a little bit more  after all, if there's no fuel the fire cannot keep burning.

I was delighted when Adagio Teas asked me to review their artisan tea collection: finally, a reason to give myself 10 minutes and enjoy a little 'me time'.

Usually a cup of tea is a last desperate attempt by myself to gain back some spent energy.

The kettle gets boiled.

The teabag is chucked in the cup unceremoniously.

The cup is filled.

The cup sits.

The filled cup waits.

And waits.

And waits...

The cup gets cold.

M husband comes home and finds several manky old cups of black tea sitting around the house (sometimes I manage to take the teabag out, sometimes I don't).


I love a cup of tea.  When I can get one.

Here's a clever thing though:

Look!  You put gorgeous loose tea into the tea maker.

You wait a bit and watch as the water changes colour and smells amazing.



How cool is that!?

I have to say it is very satisfying.  I certainly won't be forgetting about my tea any time soon.

It's also very easy to clean and completely see-through, so you get to watch as the tea infuses.

Adagio have an amazing collection of gorgeous artisan teas from around the world.

My favourite from the samples I tasted has to be the Earl Grey Moonlight; an odd choice for someone who 'doesn't like Earl Grey'!

The tea itself is so fresh and full of flavour; as soon as you open the re-sealable bag you are hit with the most amazing fragrance.

It definitely forces me to make my tea-time more of an occasion.

If you love tea, give them a little visit at

You wont be disappointed!

Disclaimer: I was sent a sample of Adagio teas to try, along with an IngenuiTEA pot to brew them in.  I was not expected to write anything positive and I have not been paid for this post. All words and thoughts are completely my own and I bloody loved the tea - it was so good!

Monday, 6 June 2016

My Last Firsts (sob!) #petitfilousfirsts

Owen is my third and final baby, so those 'firsts' are a lot more poignant.

I've been careful to try and pay attention to all of them and savour them last time!
First crawl!

First time in the new highchair

First time pulling himself up to stand!

First 'big' climb!

First chocolate cake!

First snow day!

First proper bounce!

First time using the spoon (help!)

First swing

First meal in a restaurant!

First whole banana from the skin

First Santa visit

First Xmas

First teeth

First trip to the zoo

First long lie!

First cosies with brother number one!
Owen might not be a proper baby any more, but he still has a lot of 'firsts' to come, and I am so excited to share them with him.

I think one of my favourite 'firsts' has been weaning.

He's my third child, so I'm a bit more relaxed about what I feed him, but of course keeping an eye on things like sugar and salt, as well as other additives.

One of our favourite go-to snacks is yoghurt and we tried My First Petit Filous recently, a new yoghurt designed for babies and children, which is free from additives and low on sugars.

Owen really enjoyed it and was very happy to have more than one pot in a sitting!

Here's what Petit Filous have to say about their new product:

My First Petits Filous is a low sugar, vanilla-flavour weaning fromage frais, designed to introduce children to fromage frais from 6 months. The main ingredient is milk and all ingredients are 100% naturally sourced, so parents can rest assured there are no artificial colours, flavours, sweeteners or added preservatives. Not only is My First Petits Filous delicious, it has calcium and protein to help children develop strong bones from an early age and the low sugar content reassures parents that their child will maintain a balanced diet during weaning.

Owen loved the taste, and not to be outdone, Ethan was happily snarfling some too - boy loves a milk-based product!

And it's one thing I don't mind my sweet-toothed blethering boys having either!

Even if most of it does end up in his hair!

This post is an entry for BritMums #PetitsFilousFirsts Linky Challenge, sponsored by Petits Filous

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Halfords Camping Guide: Inspiration and Tenting Fun

The sun is shining (for once) and admittedly, on days like these, we basically live in our garden.

Everything is done outside - the kids love it and go to bed at the end of the day filthy, but happy.

(They do shower.  Sometimes.  Under duress.)

As the school term draws to an end, our thoughts turn to summer holidays and time spent together, making new memories and having new experiences. We love trying new things.  My boys are full of adventure and I'm a bit of a ring-leader when it comes to wrangling up the gang and making them do new things.  After all, life's too short to sit on the shore!

Some of our fondest memories have been spent at seaside resorts, like Blackpool, but we have also spent a lot of time exploring the great outdoors and finding out what our country has to offer.

There's tons to do - beit theme parks, city breaks or a country escape, we really are spoilt for choice!

We live in Scotland, so it's not difficult to find some real beauty on your doorstep, or step into the wilderness and get away from it all.

Even camping in your own back garden can be exciting for the kids!

Being centrally located on a small island means we are also never too far from the sea, the hills, the countryside or the city.

A holiday or a getaway needn't be expensive either; Camping out under the stars in your very own tented hideaway can make for the perfect cost-effective and bespoke solution to enjoying the great outdoors - all you have to hope for is good weather!

Check out Halford's new Camping Guide for a huge host of ideas on where to go, what to take and how to keep the kids safe.
They also provide a brilliant tent guide to help you to choose the perfect tent to help make your experience as comfortable and accommodating as possible.
Available in PDF downloadable or paper format, the Ultimate Camping Guide UK 16 is the perfect companion for all of your summer camping needs.  It even has a great guide to Glamping, for those of us who like a bit more glam in our camping!

The boys have tried out camping a couple of times, most memorably last year in our new garden.  Granted, it wasn't far away, but when you are 4 and 6 years old, it's pretty cool; especially when there's a thunderstorm!

Luckily, I got to stay inside with my two month-old baby while the boys weathered the storm (ha ha ha!  Cheating - but I don't care!)

Dave was determined, after all the time and effort he had put into setting up the comfortable 4-man tent that they were going to spend the night in it (as were the boys!)

Dave also took the opportunity to have a few beers with our neighbour.

Needless to say, he awoke, hungover, beside Ethan, who turned to him at about 6am and said, "Dad!  Why do people do this?"

Needless to say, all is forgotten and they are keen to try again this year (tonight actually - as I write, they are filling the tent with all of the duvets and blankets from the house. There's no hiding for me tonight - nooo!)

I'm going to get wrapped up and have some fun (hopefully) while reading my camping guide to get some inspiration on where to go next!

Happy Camping!

Thursday, 2 June 2016

I Let My Boys Raid My Jewellery Box...

And guess what?

They were happy.

End of story.

Jewels are fun.  Mummy's things are interesting - even nicer when Mummy shares and lets them keep some 'treasure' for themselves.

Tom came home today from the school jumble sale wearing two very spangly women's bracelets.

He also happened to bring back a rather cool and gorgeous re patent handbag and a floral purse.

I asked him if they were for me?

No.  They were for him.

What is he going to do with these items?

'Ah, just keep them and use them.  They're really nice to look at.'

I was really proud of my boy.  Very proud that my boy chose things he liked, not based on gender, not based on the fact that they might be 'girl' or 'boy' things, but just that they were things that he happened to like (he has good taste too!)

Ethan was also sporting a rather gorgeous bracelet with a heart on it.

Now, Ethan is a bit more into what other people think of him, so I was surprised when he was also wearing a very shiny and very pretty thing around his wrist.

Hey, Ethan, why did you choose that one?

Oh, he says, he just likes it.  It reminds him of the necklace I wear and he wanted one too.  He doesn't have any jewellery and he would love some more.

I don't even think twice.  Without hesitation I say, hey, I have a ton of crap up there I never wear or even like any more - would you like to have some?

They are both excited, both eager - yes please is the strong reply.

I gather up my jewels, my treasure, and I go through it.  I've been meaning to for ages anyway.  I was going to chuck some stuff away and keep what I loved, after all, it's a waste to have it all just sitting there doing nothing.

I divvied up the spoils.  The boys were chuffed.

Tom was adorned in bracelets, Ethan was wearing five necklaces.

It was really cute.  They were happy, I was happy that they were happy, it was a winning situation all round.

Later on, when we were sitting down to eat, the boys both sitting beside their pile of 'treasure' (read: old junk), Tom sidles up to me.

'People were laughing at me because of the things I bought today.  It made me sad, so I ran inside'

'Do you like the things you bought?'

'Yes, I really do'

'Then that's all that matters. Screw them! As long as you like what you got, what is it to them?'

He smiles and, well, that's kind of the end of it.

He still likes his things. The masses haven't won today.
I guess I'm waiting tentatively for this stuff to matter to him.  He's getting older and it's getting harder to mitigate against the huge tide of 'boy vs girl', especially when it comes from caregivers, school, other kids who have been taught about 'boy things' and 'girl things'.
The boys doing 'boy shit', or actually, what every kid wants to do (me and my sis were there too, dying to have a shot!)

Me and my boy!
But right now, it doesn't.  Right now, it's about him just doing his 'kid' thing for as long as possible.

Right now it's about him doing what makes him happy.

It should always be as simple as that.

And if anyone wants to tell my boy, this guy, raised by me, a woman, that a 'girl' thing is in any way, shape or form weaker or inferior or wrong, let's dance.

Likewise, if one day he comes home and tells me that 'girls suck' or 'girls are stupid'  then I will take him to town too.

It's a nicely balanced deal.

Today, my boys are enjoying their jewels.

They look damn fine in them too.

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