Cooking for Mummies.

You keep yourself and a tribe of other mini and not so mini humans alive, washed, clothed, read to etc, you shop, clean, wash, iron, walk the dog, feed the cat, clean out the guinea pigs, possibly go to work, remove the cardboard toilet roll inners and replace (because no other bugger will ever do it), do homework, mums and tots, keep the family diary up to date, organise birthday parties, make sure you kids go to the parties they are invited to, arrange dance class, swimming class, childcare if you work, juggle fire while standing on one leg and signing the national anthem….ok, only a small minority will do the last one, but you get the picture. Then, just as you have achieved all of the above you hear the dreaded cry “Mummy, what’s for dinner tonight?”

Don’t get me wrong. There is definitely a place for microwave meals and straight into the oven meals. If it weren’t for those, my family would be a lot hungrier than they are. However, I do believe in straightforward home cooked food which is healthy, nutritious and yummy. I work 3 days per week, which has me out of the house from 6.30 am to 6 pm. Therefore, Monday is my cooking day. It’s the day that I try and throw together 3 or 4 homemade dinners for the week. I have 7 people to feed at every meal, so this is no small undertaking. I do achieve it, but that’s because I CHEAT! (Don’t tell anyone!)

It makes me sad when I hear people say that they just don’t have time to cook. If you want to eat ready meals, knock yourself out. However, if you want to cook at home, but feel you don’t have time, stop juggling fire while standing on one leg and singing the national anthem, and try out my series of Cooking for Mummies.

Recipe 1 -Braised Steak/Irish Stew

Serves around 8 people factoring in kids. Freezes. You can easily multiply up and make more.

Any ingredient with a star next to it is a basic cheats staple. You should aim to always have these in, as with them, you can make pretty much anything.

Ingredients

1 bag of ready chopped onions

2 packets of chopped braising steak (for an authentic Irish stew, use lamb)

2 teaspoons of Lazy pre-chopped garlic (comes in a jar)*

1 bag of carrot batons

1 bag of baby potatoes (optional but turns it into an Irish stew)

2 Knor extra rich beef stockpots*

2 beef oxo cubes*

Bistro gravy granules*

A dash of Soy Sauce*

Method

Fry the pre-chopped onions and garlic in a dash of olive oil in a large saucepan for 2 to 3 minutes. 

Add the beef and a kettle full of boiling water and bring to the boil, then lower to a simmer with the lid on. 

Chop the carrot batons in half and add along with the potatoes if you want to make a stew. 

Add the stock pots and oxo cubes, cover and leave simmering for around 3 hours. 

You don’t need to stir it, poke it or prod it (although you can if it makes you feel more Cheffy). Just leave it and get on with all the other billions of parental crap you need to do. After about 3 hours, give it a stir, add a dash of soy sauce, and thicken using the gravy granules. If you are feeling really flash, you can add a tin of chopped tomatoes.

All of the above can be done with a twin clinging to either leg, and a third child on one hip with a fourth demanding Netflix and a cat asking to be fed. The kids absolutely love it, and it’s nice and healthy. 

While it might seem an extravagance buying things like ready chopped onions and carrot batons when onions and carrots are much cheaper, in the end it works out cheaper than microwave meals.

Give it a go, and do let me know how you got on!
 

We are expecting a girl…puppy that is!

It is about 2 1/2 weeks now until we pick up our new fox red Labrador puppy. To overcome the excitement, I have been puppy shopping! So far got cage, some vet bedding and some chew toys! Comes from a line of field trial champions so, you know, no pressure there! Given that my children seem to be entirely feral I am ever so slightly concerned! Still, at least Pippa Mattison has produced a handbook unlike when I had real human babies and the hospital were all ‘off you go then, you are on your own!’. Actually, maybe Pippa could write a baby training handbook…?! #workinglabrador #feralchildren

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Competition time! Win a years subscription to Whizz Pop Bang! The new kids science magazine.

Click here to enter!

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Patch (6) and I have been given the great privilege of reviewing this (nearly) new science magazine for kids. It is aimed at roughly 8 to 12 year olds, but this is just a guide.

So what’s it all about? Practical science. It might seem an odd thing to say, but after noting the really great artwork and layout, one of the first things I noticed was the quality of the paper. 6 year old boys do not turn pages delicately, so the fact that the magazine is printed on really thick paper gives it a fighting chance of lasting until we get to the end, and even beyond.

The magazine starts with an amazing facts section which gives facts about real science news. These are really fun as well as topical. There are facts about scientists developing’non drippy’ ice creams, research showing you lie better when you need a wee, and development of a real life invisibility cloak. I have been sent 6 issues of the magazine, and there really is so much in there, I don’t know where to start! Each magazine contains a lot of information broken into bite size chunks with lovely graphics. Each section of text is short and Patch never got bored. The language is a little challenging for a 6 year old, but then it has meant that he has been learning lots of new words. The content is engaging and often funny. There are lots of well thought out articles on stuff that really appeals to children. There are lots of sections on things like snot, pooh and wee. All scientific of course, but as you can imagine, the fact that mummy was talking about wee and snot caused lots of giggles.

There are also activities which are actually really great. Anyone who has spent time doing the activities in the mainstream supermarket magazine will know that they are all pretty much the same, just with different characters (help Peppa through the maze to the muddy puddle…help FiFi through the garden maze to the yellow flower…help Peter through Mr McGregors garden blah blah blah!). So it was with very great pleasure that Patch and I spent half an hour taking turns to make hexagon shapes yesterday. They formed a honeycomb and represented the freezing structure of water, but also the structure of honeycomb which linked in to an earlier article on bees.

 

The best bit is the experiments. Each magazine has a number of practical experiments which you can do using bog standard household stuff. There is none of the dreaded ‘double sided tape, craft paints, pva glue’ stuff. It’s all jam jars, baking soda, water and string (*breathes a sigh of relief as there is actually a cat in hells chance of me having this stuff in the house*). Seriously, you can make hover crafts, make gas, grow stalactites and stalagmites, make a cloud in a bottle…and so much more.

Patch and I were in the freezer before 6am this morning to see whether our freezing water experiment (to show that water expands when frozen) had worked. We are also growing some stalagmites and stalactites.

The conclusion? I highly recommend this magazine. Frankly, it is a breath of fresh air. Don’t take my word for it though. Let’s see what Patch thought.

“The magazine is good. My favourite part is the experiments. I also really liked the fossils and the sewers bits. Mummy and I read some every day, and I really look forward to it at special time.”

Natural born killers.

I have given a lot of thought to whether to blog about this subject matter. It’s not that I don’t think it’s important, and it’s not that I think it should not be talked about. It’s just that I know that when it comes to controversial matters, there can be a lot of haters. I generally stick to writing funny stuff that’s non consequential and is, at worst, ignored.

There’s a lot of support and camaraderie amongst the online family bloggers and I feel very lucky to have been welcomed with open arms. However, in the wider social media world, there is also a lot of judgment. You will have struggled to miss the recent Facebook post by an unnamed first time mummy of two weeks who expresses her disgust at the laziness of modern parents as she has apparently had no trouble at all with a messy house, having time to shower and dress nicely etc.. Aside from the fact that she has a really nasty shock coming her way when her sleepy newborn actually wakes up and becomes mobile, this type of judgmental drivvle can do terrible damage to other struggling mummies, and can fuel things like post natal depression.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are some totally amazing mummies and daddies out there who despite there own very personal struggles with things like PND and cancer, join the discussion, blog publicly about their struggles, and give strength to more people than they will ever know.

I consider myself to be a middle of the road mummy. I am lucky enough to have a happy healthy family, and my struggles are no more than bog standard average ones. I shop in Sainsburys, work part time, do my best with homework, and go to mums and tots.

I also keep chickens as I like having them around. The children collect the eggs, clean the chickens out and feed them scraps. This helps teach responsibility, develops confidence in handling and caring for animals, and means they know all about eggs. We always thank the chickens when we collect the eggs, and we always eat or gift them.

We also grow vegetables and fruit. We are obviously no where near self sufficient, but again, the kids can identify the plants, know when the produce will be ripe, and collect and eat it.

The thing is, I am also a killer. You see, we have recently gone back to some of our pre-children hobbies including taking part in game shoots and deer stalking. Some of you will say, great, so what? Some others will be horrified, stop reading and immediately unfollow, and some will think it’s a bit grisly, but read on.

The rest of this article is really for the last category (the grisly read on people, thanks for reading on!). When I posted a picture of my family with some pheasant, woodcock and pigeon, it was met with a mixed response. Let’s just be clear. The kids are not at all adversely affected by the dead birds. They have all examined them (in quite some detail!), asked very sensible questions and want to know when we can have a roast pheasant dinner. They look a bit sulky in the photo just because we were making them stand still when really they wanted to continue fighting over who got to hold the pigeon and who got to hold the woodcock. The kids are no more upset about seeing these birds than they would be about seeing a chicken from Sainsburys, about which (just as naturally) they do not get upset at all.

The reason they do not get upset is that we walk in the countryside every weekend, and despite their tender years, they are very well educated about the interplay between the different aspects of the UK countryside and ecosystem. It’s actually really interesting, and it is only through volunteering as a beater for a number of years on family run shoots that I have come to fully understand the delicate balance. Pheasants were introduced into the UK for the sole purpose of providing game for shoots and to provide food. Sadly, pheasants are not very bright birds and are not really natural survivors. They lay their eggs wherever they like (middle of path frequented by small kids on bikes and scooters, next to a foxes den, in a ditch), then they generally walk off and forget about it. Walk through woodland in spring and chances are you will see their broken eggshells.

Shoot pheasants are hand reared from chicks by gamekeepers. Their welfare and achieving the best and healthiest birds is the gamekeepers’ aim. Think of it a bit like a pheasant 5* hotel (Heat lamps, food and water on tap, protected from predators, lovely outside runs). When they are able to fend for themselves, they are released into the beautiful UK countryside. There they are free to roam, fly, and live life to the full. There are feeders all over the place so they never go hungry, often supplemented by hand-feeding by the gamekeeper so that he can monitor their wellbeing every day. Game crops (maize ie. Corn on the cob) are left standing to allow the pheasants cover from predators. A side effect is that this co-incides with when roe deer have growing offspring (almost always twins here in the South), and the corn provides a reliable source of food for them and their babies when wild food supplies are beginning to dry up. Most wildlife on the estate benefits. Birds, deer and squirrels enjoy the pheasant food, owls benefit from well maintained woodland and a healthy supply of mice (who also eat the pheasant’s food). Essentially, nature, including the human, rely on each other.

The pheasants are only shot during a short season. The vast majority are killed instantly (trained dogs collect the small minority that are occasionally injured so that they can be humanely dispatched straight away). Unlike supermarket birds, they have lived a full, complete and natural life and their death is in their home environment, not hanging from a conveyor belt. The pheasants are not kept on the estate by force or fencing. They choose to stay there because they have such a great lifestyle. On even the most efficient shoots, only around 40% of the pheasants ever released are shot, the remainder often living many years and many spreading to land where there are no shoots. Every single bird is respected and valued, being taken home by the guns and beaters to feed their families, or sold to game dealers who sell them on, usually at local farmers markets or to local butchers. Most mainstream supermarkets sell pheasant and partridge. These birds are not farmed. They get to the supermarket through exactly this same process, but normally from larger estates.

I feel proud that my children are privileged enough to share in this process, and to really understand where their food comes from. Yes, I am teaching them that killing animals is ok, but guess what, we are omnivores, natural born killers. What I believe I am teaching my children is an absolute respect for the sanctity of life, and the fact that a life should only be taken where it is to provide food. None of these birds will be wasted. However I cook them, the meat will be eaten, and the carcasses will be used to make stock for soups which the kids will help to make. Unlike the supermarkets, who just bin unsold meat, none of this will go to waste. I guess that I am teaching my children the work and processes that are involved in creating food including eggs, vegetables, jams and meat. I am teaching them what goes on behind the scenes. I have heard a child recently tell her mummy that chicken comes from Sainsburys. I am glad that my kids know better.

PS don’t get me wrong, we also eat lots of sausages, pizza, fish and chips, Haribo, takeaway, wine….

Tomy Tippee cooked at 180 for 5 minutes…

I am not laughing. Ok, I am laughing really hard because this is totally the type of parenting moment that blights me nearly every day. My friend just posted a request on Facebook for advice on how to remove a melted Tomy Tippee cup from the inside of her oven. (I am so sorry for laughing. I hope we are still friends!)

Obviously, being a really useful friend to have, I know that ice removes melted plastic. I suggested she put her oven in her freezer. Luckily, another of our much more practical mummy friends suggested she put an ice bag on it to freeze, then scrape off. 

Total respect to plastic cooking mummy who ordered a takeaway curry and left it for her husband to sort when he got in from work! That is sooooo what I would have done. 
Dear universe, it turns out I am not alone after all!!!
 

The Un-Yummy Mummy

Why the heck would I do a book review…?

I know, I can hear it all now. She has 4 kids, 4 chicken, 2 dwarf Russian Hamsters, a cat, a husband and a job. Does she have no home to go to? Why on earth would she review a book? We always knew she was a bit mad but…etc…etc…!
I will tell you why. The author said to me, would you like a free copy of my book in return for telling anyone who will listen what you genuinely thought of it. I thought about it for 30 seconds or so and concluded the following:
1. I like free stuff (what parent doesn’t, I mean kids don’t come cheap!).

2. I like books.

3. I find it hard to keep my uncensored opinion to myself whether someone wants to hear it or not (hence the bloggy thing)

4. I have kids. I don’t have time to browse WH Smiths thriller section while enjoying a latte and shortbread. Book shopping with kids is pretty tricky. Basically, if someone tells me what a book is about and whether it’s good or not, I find it pretty helpful. It’s about time I re-paid the favour. 

Books

Pre-kids, I would read one to two thriller novels a week. Any spare moment was spent devouring literature. The majority of weight in my holiday suitcases was usually, to the bemusement of many a customs officer, novels for me to spend hours reading wherever we went. Post kids, well, I probably don’t need to expand! Needless to say, where once I would have read pretty much anything on the basis that within a couple of days, I would be on to something new, I am now very selective. My reading is now limited to a short time on the train on my working days, and ten minutes in bed, or possibly on the sofa if I don’t make it as far as bed, before I fall asleep with my book on my face (unless it’s a very good one!). I now only read novels which I expect to really enjoy, as I can expect to be in the company of that novel for at least a month.
The Coal House, by WS Barton

Llandudno, North Wales, and the surrounding countryside, is a beautiful part of the world. It is one in which I am privileged to spend time with my family, as it is the area from which my husband’s family originate.

This part of North Wales is home to breathtaking scenery, and on a summers day, is a beautiful place to spend seaside time with the kids. There is a Victorian pier with traditional and not so traditional activities. Surrounded by high hills, there is a funicular railway as well as a cable car and dry toboggan run. On a winters day, when the pier is closed due to crashing waves and strong winds, it is truly exhilarating for adults and children alike. 
As with any such place, when the weather turns, or the mist rolls in, there can come a sense of haunting isolation despite the presence of others. My family experienced the drastic change when we went up the Great Orme eating ice cream on the ride up, and shivering uncontrollably in thick fog on the way back down in September last year.
It is against this backdrop that the debut novel of WS Barton is set. When I was asked to consider reading and reviewing his debut novel, one of the attractions was that it was set against a familiar backdrop, and one which I knew would undoubtedly give a real sense of atmosphere to any thriller.

This novel opens with some brief detail about the past and present of the two main characters, Finn and Clara. Perhaps it is only my perception, as there is no particular reason for it, but there was a penetrating sense of something approaching loneliness and almost foreboding from the first page. This sense remains throughout the novel, and maybe this is the reason that it is such an intriguing read. 

The descriptions of the landscapes, people and history are all extremely plausible. The illustrative language conjures up a near perfect imagine of the area and its wilderness and enchantment as I know it myself. Don’t get me wrong, this is not an airy fairy novel about landscapes. The fact is that the very success of the authors endeavours to capture the essence of this part of North Wales means that you find yourself transported into the story. I started to find it hard to escape, and it is as if I was right there in Ty Glo with Finn. 

How you feel about this depends on how you feel about finding yourself really afraid! As a seasoned thriller reader, I feel a bit fed up when the plot unravels too quickly leaving the last third of the novel as the kind of ‘mopping up at the end’ bit. That is definitely not the case with The Coal House. In fact, having delivered his chilling tale with fast paced twists and totally unexpected turns, WS Barton almost slaps you in the face with the final chapter. I found myself a bit stunned when the novel abruptly ended. The tale moved so quickly, I didn’t really have the opportunity to concoct my own theories about what may or may not be the final outcome. What I will say is that I never saw THAT coming!

So, as a reader, Would I change anything? I felt that I wanted to know more about the supporting characters, particularly the purveyors of the Percy Arms. I also wanted more time at Ty Glo, particularly with the events which unfold there beyond what happens to Finn directly. It is perhaps a little strong to call these criticisms, and they would perhaps be better described as unanswered curiosities. No doubt, WS Barton chose to leave it as he did. My only other comment would be that I wanted it to be longer. I wanted to know more. I suppose I didn’t want it to end when it did! 

I shall tell you no more. I recommend reading this novel but with the following caveat. I do not recommend reading it when you are in the house alone, and I do not recommend reading it before bed. I will not go up the Great Orme again, and look at the view, without experiencing a tingling feeling in the hairs on my neck!

If I had to sum up this book in one sentence, I suppose it would be this. ‘It scared the b’Jesus out of me, but I still came back for more.’ The choice is yours. 
The Un-Yummy Mummy

Www.4kidsandachicken.com

For more information on The Coal House, please go to http://waynebartonbooks.com

It only gets harder as they get older…

Sound familiar? Of course it does. It’s the little pearl of wisdom which those whose children have grown and flow, ¬†like to impart at the least appropriate times.

Times when you are likely to hear this.

This is simple really. You will hear this priceless advice at the moment you least need to hear it. Just a few examples:

1. One child’s nappy has just exploded creating a God almighty pooh gate style mess all over the shopping trolley (obvs you will have forgotten the changing bag that day for the first time in months). As you were looking at nappy child, another of your children has just swiped a pile of yoghurts onto the floor causing them to explode, and is now screaming in a purple faced rage on the floor because you had the audacity to tell them off. This is the moment a well meaning face will enter your sight line and say something totally unhelpful like ‘Oh dear, looks like someone’s not very happy here. I hate to tell you, but it doesn’t get any easier as they get older!’

2. You are in the supermarket fruit aisle (I know, always a danger zone). Having grabbed a bag of apples you turn to see that one child is bowling oranges at oncoming shoppers, but before you can stop them, you realise that another is taking a bit out of each plum one at a time before replacing it in the plum box. That is the moment that someone will stop you from remedying the plum or orange thing before the staff notice, by cooing at your little darlings then telling you that it doesn’t get any easier as they get older.

3. You made the mistake of thinking you could take the little darlings on a nature walk without a pram. Half a mile from home, one falls cutting hands, knee and nose. Within seconds, of course, another of the little darlings will declare they need a wee, then say something like oh no, I couldn’t wait. This results in at least 2 screaming kids. As you begin the unenviable task of trying to get you pee sodden, blood, mud and snot soaked infants home howling all the way, you can be sure that someone will nod their head knowingly at your predicament before imparting their wise words, informing you that it doesn’t get any easier as they get older.

4. That relative is visiting (you know the one, we all have one, the one who already thinks your kids are little shits and you are a candidate for a failing mother of the year award). The kids will see a large muddy puddle in the park, leap in it regardless of your instructions to the contrary. Someone will have inadvertently pushed someone else and in the resulting scuffle all the kids will land in the middle of the puddle, probably wearing the new jumpers brought to them by that relative. As you are tucking the screaming mud sodden infants under your arm while muttering something about how they have never done anything like this before, your do gooder will appear. They will say something helpful like ‘Oh, it’s you again. At least there’s a bit less blood and mud than last week. I hate to tell you, it doesn’t get any easier as they get older!’

Why I don’t believe it.

I am Irish. Despite what you might think, we are actually exceptionally polite. While we do have admittedly short tempers, we are, generally even more polite than the English. We do not, contrary to popular belief, go round saying feck a lot, tell people exactly what we think, and drink too much. Ok, maybe we drink a bit too much. Ok, we sometimes say feck. Anyway,what I am trying to explain is that all those thoughts that go through your head at the moment you receive the do gooders advice, always remain in my head. I nod and smile politely, moving on as quickly as I can.

I know that the next 18 or so years are likely to be pretty tough, given that my kids are only 6, 3, 2 and 2. What I also know, but have so far managed to avoid saying is:

1. I sincerely doubt that going forwards, my kids will have poogate style episodes in the supermarket. Thank you for your concern.

2. I expect my kids to understand that you don’t go round the supermarket eating whatever fruit you see, or using it for ball games. However, the lessons are still being learnt, twins are particularly difficult to tame, and plums are still being eaten. Donations for my fruit bill gratefully accepted.

3. I am optimistic that in the next few months my kids will fall over with less frequency, and I will not have to carry home muddy piddly snotty twins one under each arm. In the meantime, if you would like to give me a hand instead of laughing at my predicament, that would be much appreciated.

4. I am under no illusion that the kids will continue to fight, but I am hoping that as the days and months go by, they will have less of the whole muddy puddle fascination. Anyway, mud washes off, so what do you care.

5. Your kids are all grown up with their own families now? Well if your kids never got any better than this, and are still shitting themselves in the supermarket, you must have been really feckin bad parents!

I have never said any of the above, only thought them (gold star!). Yes, I know there will be a huge number of challenges ahead, not least the ability to continue to smile politely rather than saying something like…well, you have all been there. I don’t need to say it for you. I know these people mean well, and it is great that they stop to chat. Just remember, when you see someone at the height of a personal struggle, don’t tell them it only gets harder!

#linkylist #parenting

The Toddlers shoe Code of Conduct brought to you by the twins.

Special edition blog, brought to you by the twins (aged 2).

We know that most of you know what we are about to say. That’s because the toddlers of the world are basically united when it comes to the rules surrounding toddlers shoes. It is, in fact, known as the ‘Universal Code of Toddler Shoes’. It goes a bit like this:

The Code
1. Mummies and daddies often start yelling at us about being late when they start flapping about shoes and coats. This is the adults fault. If they sorted out the shoe thing instead of pottering around doing pointless shit like baby wiping mushed banana off our clothes, fussing about the snot, beans and other foods we have applied to our hair, and trying to unweld weetabix from our faces, then they wouldn’t be late.

2. If it is a hot sunny day, we will want to wear our wellies. We will shout, scream and wail until the adult is so late, they give in and let us wear them.

3. Obviously if it is pissing down with rain, we will not want to wear wellies. We will want to wear last years summers sandals which we have just found under our beds. They might not fit, and there may not even be a pair, but a that will be the footwear of choice.

3. Adults insist that we have a 50/50 chance of getting our shoes on the right feet. They are clearly mistaken as 96.5% of the time, we will get our shoes on the wrong feet.

4. The fact that we loved the expensive purple Startright shoes and refused to leave the shop without them yesterday does not commit us to liking them for more than an hour after purchase. Obviously, we will wear them at least once, so mummy can’t take them back. But then we can hate them because they are not pink with Unicorns or fairies or some other shit on them.

5. Wearing someone else’s shoes is ALWAYS better than wearing your own. This is best done by putting them on when the person is not looking, then wildly refusing to take them off. The bigger, the better, obviously. Also, heels are great, particularly when they don’t match, are of different heights, and are both for the left foot.

6. You should never bother giving a second thought to your footwear before jumping in the largest muddiest puddle you see (thanks for that amazing game Peppa Pig!). If it takes 2 days for your normal shoes to dry out, it’s a good opportunity to wear someone else’s shoes instead. Or if it’s sunny, you could wear your wellies.

7. The best time to kick off a shoe, or both, is when you are out, and the adult is doing the whole stress head thing. If you don’t want to go home when they do, just kick off a shoe. It usually takes at least 10 minutes for them to notice, then they have to go back the way they came muttering obscenities under their breath, while trying to find the missing shoe. Obviously for a longer delay, kick them both off at different points.

8. Like everything else in life, shoes can be licked and chewed. The adults sometimes get a bit screamy when you do this.

9. Finally, a really great place to store things you don’t want anyone to find for a while, is in an adults shoe. In our experience, you can fit quite a lot in there. We have successfully hidden half eaten bananas, nano bugs, car keys, mobile phones, weetabix, chewed Haribo, and remote controls in our parents shoes, but really, the possibilities are endless.

Love the twins! X

Blood loss and breakages…

Today as I dragged my tribe kicking and screaming into the supermarket for emergency supplies I saw, out of the corner of my sleep deprived eyes, a lady standing back to let me pass. She was looking at me expectantly with a look that seemed familiar, but which I just could not place. It was then that I saw the baby car seat clasped firmly in her hands, and I was hit with a sudden overwhelming memory about what it’s like when you have your first baby.

Being pregnant for the first time was frankly awful. I spent the whole 9 months vomiting all day every day while working full time when what I actually needed to do was sleep full time. However, being pregnant makes you SPECIAL! Strangers that you pass on the street suddenly stop and ask questions all about you, people give you their seat on trains, and you can eat clotted cream to your hearts content (replaces the calories lost as you aren’t drinking wine every day). 

When I pushed my little bundle into the world (it was not dignified, not dignified at all) I remember actually thinking that no-one in the whole entire universe had ever done anything as clever as I just had. The fact that someone else was screaming at the top of their lungs in the neighbouring room could not damped my belief that I was some kind of miracle, not only clever enough to grow a whole person with arms, legs a head and ‘bits’, but actually able to eject it from my body as well. 

When I began to explore the world with my little bundle (usually to be found screaming in a rage in my chosen mode of transport – we called it purple face as he would get so mad he turned a kind of purple) it was at first very daunting. Once I actually stood and sobbed in the supermarket queue because he wouldn’t stop crying, and at least 10 judgemental sod pants had felt the need to comment on my predicament, but not one of them helped me pack my shopping. As he grew a little, he got better, probably because I stopped being so terrified of invoking his displeasure at any moment day or night. 

In that moment today at the supermarket , I remembered being exactly like the lady I saw today. I knew that she was still enjoying that amazing feeling when you are a new parent to what you are certain is the most precious little being on the planet. As I passed, I saw her check to see if I looked into the car seat and admired her little bundle (which of course I did). As I carried on into the shop, I could almost feel her beaming smile of pride. 

The thing is, you only ever get to live it once, but it’s a totally amazing sleep deprivation, wine drinking induced fuzzy feeling that’s truly a once in a lifetime experience. Having your first real little baby, you know, dressing it and yourself in co-ordinating Arran knits so people will coo, having a car seat that isn’t covered in milk and banana and baby vomit, a blanket that is the right colour for the sex of your current baby rather than your last one.  Once you have four of the little darlings, including two that came together, you really don’t care what anyone thinks. Everything is unisex including pink and blue garments, stains are fashionable, people should coo because you actually made it out of the house alive with the tribe even if you are all covered in spaghetti bolognese and baby pooh, and hair brushing was so last season.  You just want to get the shopping done without blood loss or breakages. So to all the new or expectant mothers out there, enjoy it while it lasts!

(Did anyone else get the fuzzy feeling thing or was it just me  being weird again?!?)

Special Time Slime

When Patch started school last year, we ended up with a lot less together time. In order to compensate, we began a nightly tradition of having half an hour ‘special time’ together each evening before bed, but after the other kids were in bed.

I have never been a paint and playdoh mum. That’s not because I can’t see the value in it, but because I REALLY HATE CLEANING. I did playdoh once about a year ago, and I am still picking bits of multicoloured crap off the carpets. As for paint, having seen what my lot can do with felt tips, we will never be going there. My favourite special time activities with Patch are playing a hidden object game or watching Harry Potter with a glass of vino (obviously Patch does not have vino. He is 6.) As time has gone on, he has got a bit bored of this. We have tried other activities, but generally they have a been a bit crap. We tried growing odd plants like Venus fly traps. We checked the soil every day for about 6 months before reluctantly concluding that even the most stubborn of plants would have broken through in that time. We have painted a wooden plane, made cardboard monsters and generally tried things that only 1 of us enjoyed.

Then I found slime. Real proper slime. It is from the Wild Slime range at Tree Toys. I am sharing this with you because it really is pretty good fun. Basically you follow the steps mixing bits together as you go. You can choose glow in the dark slime and to have clear or green slime. It only takes about 5 minutes to make and best of all, it’s not messy. The kit has gloves, proper goggles and a mask, so Patch took it all very seriously. There is enough to make a few slime batches, and apparently if it dries out, you can just wet it again.

We have made 2 batches so far. I don’t know how they are after a few days as Patch squirrelled them away upstairs. He made one glow in the dark one and one not. When I asked to see them, he told me that he had mixed the two together, and I couldn’t see them yet as they needed time to get to know each other better!IMG_0702-0