Monday, February 27, 2012

The things they say and do: The caring edition

It is a theme that I seem to be returning a lot lately; the idea that days spent with small children is made up of hundreds of tiny moments, stitched together. It occurred to me again this week as I found myself amidst two crying children, one of which had a very smelly nappy. Only a few moments earlier I had been thinking how harmonious everything was, both my boys playing happily, on their own while I pottered about in the kitchen. It was fleeting, but it happened.

Doing their own thing


Mini Mck is a boisterous bull of a child and this is often taken out on his younger, almost infinitely patient brother. He pushes and squashes and grabs. Some days all I seem to do is tell him to get off or leave Nano alone. Once again though, stitched into this are moments of caring and gentleness that make my heart flip and I wanted to remember some from last week.

Doing our shopping in the 'new improved' Morrisons, which translates as smaller aisles, more rubbish on the shelves that I don't need and less of the stuff I do need. I am exasperated.


Me: Ack, grrrr

Mini: What's up Mummy, are you alright?

Me: I'm fine poppet, I just don't like new Morrisons

Mini: I yove new Morrisons. You yove new Morrisons too, Mummy. Mummy, you got to be happy. Be happy Mummy

Me: I am happy *melts*

On waking from his nap Nano is grizzling. Mini Mck insists on accompanying me to get him.


Mini: Let me see him Mummy, let me see him. It's OK Nano, it's alright, we're here. We're here to look after you. *kisses him, cuddles him and strokes his arm*

It's Friday afternoon and I am strapping Mini Mck into his car seat after being at Mini Monkey Gym


Mini: Mum, I yove you so much.

He puts his arms up and gives me a kiss on the cheek. I melt again.


I am linking this post up to the delightful 'Things they say and do' over at Thinly Spread. Click to read more heart-warming and funny stories about the little people.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Must we really have these people on our screens?

I read a blog this week which bought to my attention the video below. It's a discussion on Loose Women about breastfeeding pictures not being allowed on Facebook and they generally discuss whether breastfeeding should be done in public at all. It's awful and totally one-sided.



I know it's tabloid television and by it's nature it is designed to push my buttons and so I should just leave well alone. There are plenty of other great blog posts pointing how awful these women are, but, BUT every time I think of it I just cannot get the nervous breastfeeding mother, who already feels uncomfortable feeding in public, or even the potential mother who is weighing up how to feed her baby and may have been watching this, out of my mind. This is certainly not going to help them feel more able or more confident and for that they should be ashamed, as should ITV.

The opinions they express consider boobs to be purely sexual things. Lisa Maxwell compares showing anything while breastfeeding to a man flashing his genitals and feels that a woman's husband my be offended by her putting pictures of breastfeeding onto Facebook. Whatever else breasts can be used for, they are for FEEDING INFANTS. We are mammals, the clue is in the name.

She also suggests as a breastfeeding mother herself that we should all follow her example and feed in the car or worse in the toilet. Good grief! Where do I begin? Well, for starters I would like Lisa Maxwell to not be allowed to eat or drink in public and instead be banished to the toilet, as I find her rather offensive.

People should feel comfortable feeding their children in public, no matter how they choose to do it. I did not see her suggesting that those who choose to bottle feed should be shut away and of course they shouldn't. We need to normalise breastfeeding and until we get used to seeing people doing it and seeing images of it, this will not happen. We see enough images of women's breasts in our mainstream media that no-one bats an eye at and yet as a society we do not seem able to get away from schoolboy sniggering and nudging when it comes to a perfectly natural thing.

Some women have real, actual problems when breastfeeding. Sore nipples, difficulty with latching their baby on, problems with milk supply, mastitis, blocked milk ducts to name just a few. These are the things that we should be concentrating on helping them with and debating how best to do this. Worries about where they are feeding or if they are offending people should not even come into their minds.

Unfortunately with people like this in the mainstream media being allowed to spout their offensive views many women will feel uncomfortable and to those I say this. I have fed my children in coffee shops, restaurants, on trains, in pubs and libraries and I have never received a negative comment or even a look that made me feel uncomfortable. Most people ignore it completely and those that don't have only ever given me a smile. It is just a shame that Loose Women chooses not to have those type of people on their show.

So, finally I leave you with this. A picture of me feeding my baby, when we were still in the delivery suite, because I am not ashamed and it's is a more pleasant image to leave you with than those over-made up harridans in the video.


For a much more positive and sensible discussion about Facebook's new rules please read this article from the Guardian, which first bought my attention to the issue. 


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pink

I love my kitchen. It was a horror when we moved in, but after being here two years we finally got around to gutting in and replacing everything. Mckdaddy did much of the work with my Dad and as with many projects in our house there were bits to finish off, including building something to hide the electric box and wires.

My Dad house and cat sat for us in the summer and as a birthday present for us he built a lovely cupboard to cover the mess, so not only did it look neat but we had even more storage. He worried that we would think his surprise was interfering and dull, but we both loved it and it spurred us to put up some more shelves and finish off some other bits. It also prompted us to redecorate and on a whim I decided that one of the walls should be pink.

Since then I've been collecting things to go up on the wall and making sure that anything on these particular shelves are not only functional but look good too and I've not done too badly. I thought I'd show you what I've found.



The fairy lights went up for Christmas, but I decided I liked them and as snowflakes they aren't completely Christmas only things, I left them up. I'm thinking of finding some that are more suitable for Spring and Summer.



 I had the idea of a 'cupcake gallery' of cakes I'd made ages ago and so with that in mind I've been taking pictures of the most pretty ones for a couple of years. I just hadn't got around to doing anything with them.


 These are my most recent and possibly favourite aquisition. My mum happened to give me some old recipes that had belonged to my Nana, in her handwriting and amongst them were some magazine cutting and these beauties. They are Ministry of Food leaflets from 1949 about preserving and pickling. Aren't they just fabulous?


The clock is a recent purchase from IKEA and the scales and tala measuring tin, on the top shelf are inherited from Mckdaddy's Grandmother. I really must invest in some metric weights as Mini Mck finds using these scales fascinating. The only fly in the ointment are the tins on the bottom right. I've had them for a couple of years and use them for tea, coffee and sugar, but I no longer think they fit. I have plans though, so watch this space.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Big Reveal - Bits and bobs

I vowed this year that I would blog any creative projects as I finished them and have decided to even show you the ones that haven't turned out quite so well. There are plenty of beautiful craft blogs and I am sure that those bloggers only produce perfect works, unfortunately I am not one of them and so to prove that even an experienced knitter can have projects that fall a little flat, I'm including everything.

I have been finishing off lots off little projects just recently, things that have been hanging around for a while and I wanted to get completed before I started anything else. They are all finally done and apart from the 'cable knit cushion that never ends,' I have everything finished.

I am terrible at finishing things off. I am not good at sewing things together and projects can hang around simply waiting to be blocked for weeks. I get to a certain point and then stop, so it's been satisfying to get these things done.

First up is a cardigan that I made for Nano Mck. I really wanted him to have a navy cardigan as am not keen on the baby pastel colours that he has. Unfortunately, my head got turned by my first crochet project, added to which this piece has come up very small anyway, despite me knitting a swatch. Something very strange happened with the button holes as well, there should be three, but the third one is far too close to the the neck and so I have just not put a button there. Goodness knows what I did wrong.



Needless to say Nano has already grown too big for this and so I shall have to pack it away and hope that we have another small person one day to wear it. However, I do love this yarn and the other piece I used it for turned out really well. You will have to wait for a peek of that though, as I want to show it off with it's very cute owner.

Next up was a really easy project for a friend who has just started knitting and has taken on the task of knitting a blanket of squares. However, she has chosen teeny tiny yarn that is knitted on teeny tiny needles and it is going to take her years. She has now farmed a few squares out to friends and I love the idea that in her finished project she will have some parts knitted by others. A kind of friendship blanket. For that reason it was a real pleasure to complete this for her and it needed very little finishing off. I do still need to post it though.



So, that's all my little bits and bobs finished off, meaning that today I was able to start on my very exciting new project, more of which in another post. There's nothing more lovely than a cup of tea and a new crafty endeavour.





Friday, February 17, 2012

Bedtime stories & the transformation of 'The Black Hole'

Reading Mini Mck his bedtime story is one of my favourite things to do. Mckdaddy and I are both happy to do it, always choosing that over finishing any end of day tasks like loading the dishwasher. I love to cuddle up on Mini's bed and have him snuggle up to me while I read one of our favourites. However, childrens beds can get a little cramped so we decided it was time to upgrade him to a full size single bed.

I didn't quite appreciate how big a proper bed was, or because Mini Mck had always had childrens bedroom furniture, I hadn't realised how little his room was. Suddenly the nightly bedtime story wasn't such a pleasant experience. The room seemed full of bed, furniture and mess. It just seemed dark, dingy and disorganised. We felt penned in.

Eventually I would love him to have a cabin bed as it will give him so much more space, but as he isn't even 3 yet and has only just recovered from a broken arm I think that perhaps he's a little young. So, for the third time in as many years we decorated the room. We'd planned to ship the children to my Dad's for the day, but snow and a poorly toddler put a stop to that. Instead we did as much as we could with the help of Cbeebies, it's amazing how much you can achieve when you have to get the room back to some kind of order in time for bedtime.

We started by painting the walls white to lighten the room and make it seem bigger, we finally got around to sorting the storage and clothes in the room, meaning that a large chest of drawers could be taken out completely. We moved shelves so that the bed could be moved as well and finally hung new lighter, brighter curtains.





The difference is amazing. I really want his bedroom to be somewhere that he enjoys spending time, a space for him to play, grow and learn and now it is. There is room to move some toys upstairs and we can again snuggle up for the bedtime story in comfort. You may find me laying down with him for a quick cuddle and a chat after the story has finished or even offering just one more book.

This post has sponsored links included, but the content has been written by me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sod the stats and blog for happiness....or do both.

I only have one rule when it comes to blogging and that is, that I do not blog about blogging, but seeing as this is my space I can break my own rules if I really want to and there has been something that I haven't been able to get out of my head for a few days and I think it deserves a different viewpoint, to be put out there.

I had an e-mail pop into my inbox earlier this week providing information about a session being offered at one of this year's blogging conferences. The headline was "Sod the stats and blog for happiness". This suggests to me that these two things are mutually exclusive and I want to set the record straight. You can care about your stats AND blog for happiness.

It drives me mad that bloggers seem to be pushed into two camps. Those who don't care who is reading, or in growing their audience and simply blog for the pure pleasure of writing and those who cynically want to promote themselves and climb league tables. I certainly don't think I fall into either of these camps and most people I know don't either.

Whenever I listen to the 'I only do it for the love and stats are so grubby and unseemly' brigade, it always seems unrealistic to me that most bloggers don't care whether they are being read or not. Surely one of the things that sets blogging apart from simply writing a private journal, is that we want a conversation, some feedback. We want people to read what we have written and there is nothing wrong with that.

Of course I am not suggesting that we care too much about stats. You must write what you want to write and in your own style, in order for people to enjoy reading you and for them to keep coming back. If you become too hung up on how many hits you have had in a day or if your comments are increasing or decreasing then you may find that the enjoyment that you felt when you first started has gone, but that doesn't mean you have to ignore them either.

I love blogging. It has given me lots of happiness, caused me to meet some really fantastic people who are now among my dearest friends and through reading other blogs I have laughed, cried, thought differently about things and learned so much stuff I cannot begin to list it all. If someone asked me I would say that I definitely blog for happiness and yet in addition to this I also check and care about my stats.

I don't check them every day and I don't get overly upset if they go down. By caring, the appropriate amount, I have been able to make a little pin money and review the odd product, but generally I keep an eye on them because I like to know people are reading.

Caring about how your blog is doing doesn't have to mean you are miserable and writing purely to increase your audience. I know lots of fabulous bloggers who write gorgeous words and take amazing pictures and have used their blogs as springboards to make some money, either by taking advertising, writing elsewhere or even using it to expand or start businesses and surely they would have had to have some kind of idea of the size of their audience to do this. Although, of course the number of visitors and comments is not the only measure of how you engage with your audience either, but I guess what I am saying is that it is possible to pay some attention to this side of things and still blog for joy.

So, you don't have to "Sod the stats and blog for happiness", I am here to tell you that you can do both and that it is OK to do both. It does not have to be one thing or another. As with most things it is about balance.

What do you think? Do you find it easy to balance these things or do you have a different view to me?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Listography - Mugs, yes really.



As soon as I saw this week's Listography over at Kate Takes 5 I knew it was inevitable that I would want to join in, but stopped myself, because, let's face it, it is about mugs and I was concerned you may all think that I'm a little weird. The final push came when Mckdaddy made me a coffee this morning, in a ugly mug. *gasp* I felt it was important to spread the word that it does matter what you drink from.

So, here are is my Listography of Mug and Cups, each of which is beverage/time of day specific.


My first cuppa of the day mug, but I am happy to use it at any time of day as well and with either tea or coffee. I love this as I painted it myself, but sadly it already has a little chip.


I will drink tea or coffee from this gorgeous Cath Kidston set of cups, but not the first of the day. If you have already seen Mostly Yummy's listography you will have seen this already. If we lived next door to each other we would drink lattes made in my swanky espresso machine out of these and eat paninis made in her fabulous toasting machine. It would be wonderful.


Real coffee out of this one only and usually when a whole pot has been made as it is a little small and two cups are definitely required.


I love this set of cups and saucers. They belonged to Mckdaddy's Grandmother and he was given them when she passed away. They are bone china, my favourite thing to drink tea from and just feel so delicate when you hold them. I use them for a cup of refreshing Lady Grey tea with NO milk.


Finally my 'Emily' mug which I have had since I was a child, perhaps that is why I only use it for hot chocolate or warm milk, while tucked up in bed with a book.

So, there you have it. My name is Emily and I have a mug/cup addiction. What about you? Will you join me in admitting you have a similar affliction.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Joy vs drudgery

It seems in the last few weeks life has been a little too much walking through syrup and not enough drizzling it on pancakes. We have gone from having a toddler with a broken arm to a house full of colds, followed by me having a badly sprained ankle and back to the colds, this time accompanied by a lovely dose of fever.


Keeping my head above water has been as much as I can do. Feeling tired as become normal and each week I have got to Friday, with lots of reasons that we have done very little and a hope that the next will be better. It occurred to me this week that the drudgery of life has been overtaking the joy of like and I desperately need this to change......


....but this week is half term and it is going to be about getting the balance back between joy and drudgery, about making sure that the former wins over the latter. Yesterday involved a walk in the sun, a trip to the theatre and an ice cream on one of the coldest days of the year just because.


I think that, perhaps, joy may be winning already.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The things they say and do: The road rage edition

Last week I warmed your hearts with stories of cute trains and reminded myself to grasp those precious moments that sneak up on us throughout the long toddler days. This week my tale of things Mini Mck has said or done is a little less heart-warming, but it still made me smile, even though I had to stifle my sniggers for the sake of good parenting.

Tuesday, in a small queue of traffic waiting to leave a car park.


Mini Mck: Look! It's lots of byoomin' (bloomin') people in their byoomin', cars.

Me: Mini, we don't say that word it's not nice, they are not byoomin' people.

Mini Mck: Yes they are......

Me: *sigh*

Wednesday, while putting the shopping in the boot of the car


Mini Mck: There's a byoomin' yady (lady)

Me: No, she's a lovely lady

Mini Mck:  Yes, a byoomin' lovely yady.

Me: *sigh*



I think that perhaps I need to modify my car speak. I'm not proud, but on the other hand it could be much, much worse.

I am including this post to Thinly Spread's link up, which celebrates those things children say and do that shouldn't be forgotton. Pop over to share in some lovely stories, that probably don't involve road rage.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Over wintered

If you follow my photos on Instagram or my Project 366 on Posterous, you will have seen that I recently sprained my ankle quite badly.



When I looked back at them, the horrendous swelling and bruising wasn't the most shocking thing in the photos. It was this:



Look at that messy, chipped and worn nail varnish. Yuk! My toenails would never look like that in the summer and then today I noticed that my eyebrows are starting to look a little straggly* and I don't know if it's just because I have a horrible cold, but my skin looks awful. Can a cold make your wrinkles look deeper?

My body is completely and utterly in winter mode and I don't like it. I am tired and have been telling myself that I'm mainly at home at the moment or wrapped up in hats and scarves so don't need to pay attention to these trivial matters, but it's not about what others can see and of course these things are trivial and I don't need to do them, but I want to.

The worthy, earnest 'me' would tell you that it is what is on the inside that matters and that I am being shallow and vain, but the realistic 'me' knows that how you feel when you glance in a mirror or a shop window does matter and providing you are not over-fixating on it, there is nothing wrong with caring.

I am on limited funds though, so a splurge at a salon is out of the question, plus, if I'm honest there are lots of other things I'd rather do with an hour or so of child free time. So, what tips do you have for me? How do you pamper yourself when funds and time are limited? I think I shall start with those awful nails, even though my toe nails won't be on show for at least another four months.

*Do NOT suggest threading. Nothing is worth that pain, not even the chance of groomed eyebrows

Friday, February 3, 2012

The strangeness of time and trains

Someone once told me that life with small children can be summed up by saying that the days are long and the years are short. I often think of this, as I look at my nearly three year old I gasp at how big he seems and and for Nano, I am permanently in shock that he is now eight months old, always asking, how did that happen?

I read the most brilliant piece on motherhood this week, if you have five minutes please give it a read. I promise it will lift your day and will stay with you long after the laptop has been shut down. The upshot of it was, that there are two kinds of time when you are parenting. Chronos time, which is real, often laborious, seemingly never-ending child wrangling time and the other is Kairos time. This is those moments that are outside of normal time, that stand out and are fleeting, but precious. It resonated with me and I have begun to notice those Kairos moments ever since, but they are easily forgotten again and at the end of the day I am more likely to survey the chaos or relay to Mckdaddy tales of tantrums and shouting.

That's sad, don't you think?

I am going to try harder to remember those moments, the things that make me stop and smile. The things about my children that are so in the now, they will be lost as they grow and change and I have the perfect place to record these moments. So, here is one from this week.

I am in the dining room, doing something with Nano. I can't remember what it is, even though it was only days ago, but it involved kneeling on the floor. Mini Mck is bumbling about around us.

Suddenly I hear "Look, Mummy! Look, Nano! I made a train with yots (lots) of cad-geez (carriages)"

Yes, my darling boy, you certainly did.



A train of flotsom & jetsom
I am linking this post to Chris's 'Things they say' feature. An opportunity to cherish those little things. Click the link for some more joyful moments.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Blognonymous - CLIC Sargent Writing Prompts: Week 1


This post was submitted to Blognonymous to be posted anonymously. We would love your comments and feedback. For more information about Blognonymous see the page here


What your children mean to you. How have they changed your life?

I expected to love. I expected to be sleepless. I expected the poo. And the wee. And the sick.

What I didn’t expect was the overwhelming urge to slip into their rooms in the middle of the night just to stare at their sleeping faces. What I didn’t expect was to want to confront anyone who ever hurt them. What I didn’t expect was to be challenged on a daily basis with questions including where do we go when we die, why aren’t you and daddy married yet, why do we poo, what is religion and why are people mean to me.

I expected to clean scraped knees. I expected nightmares and the midnight hugs needed to send them away. I expected the tantrums. And the constant reply of noooooo mummy. And the quivering bottom lip.

What I didn’t expect was the joy, the pure unadulterated joy of watching your child playing, laughing or blowing bubbles in the bath. What I didn’t expect was that children have a sense of humour and a well developed one at that. What I didn’t expect is that I would share common interests with my children, books, music (Justin Beiber aside) and films even from a young age. What I didn’t expect is that I would spend most of my income kitting out children who mysteriously grow out of clothes and shoes overnight.

I expected to wipe noses. And eyes brimming with tears. I expected they would need me.

What I didn’t expect is that they would become the centre of my world. What I didn’t expect is that my children would teach me things, mostly that the stuff adults worry about is actually unimportant. What I didn’t expect is that my children would make me want to be a better person, both for myself and for them. What I didn’t expect is that having children would create a much stronger bond with my own mum. And make my heart ache for my dad who died many years ago.

This post is written in support of CLIC Sargent’s Yummy Mummy Week – www.yummymummy.org.uk. Visit the website for more information and sign up for a pack to organise your own fundraising event. You can join in with the writing prompts here.

About CLIC Sargent
CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people. It provides clinical, practical and emotional support for young cancer patients and their families, from diagnosis onwards. For more information visit www.clicsargent.org.uk
About childhood cancer
Every day 10 children and young people are told they have cancer, and diagnosis usually comes as a shock. Treatment normally starts straightaway and can last up to three years. Although survival rates are over 80%, cancer remains the single largest cause of death from disease in children in the UK.