Mumaleary's Blog

Cheaper than therapy

Sellers guide to an NCT Nearly New Sale

Watcha Dudes.

Hope you’ve had a good day whatever you’ve been up to. I’ve had my first NCT experience today and I’m not going to lie, I was pleasantly surprised.
The odds were stacked against it to be honest as I was hungover to hell, wanted to be in bed or chomping on a sausage and egg mcmuffin meal (large) and I needed to use my brain as I was a designated cashier. Uh oh.
Now, I haven’t had any direct experience of the NCT having opted for the hippy dippy Hypnobirthing approach first time round (excellent teacher in Surrey) but, what I had heard of the NCT wasn’t very positive.
It was all about the breast-feeding mafia and
antenatal classes where the prospect of an elective c section was considered a sin.
So, I approached with caution and here is what I learnt…

Read the rest of this entry »

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A life less ordinary

My last blog post, inspired by a linky from another blogger Katie at Mummy, Daddy, Me. has really got me thinking back to my old job.

I was a Personal Advisor to Care Leavers, many of whom were parents themselves. All of whom were aged 16-24.
I can not shake the feeling that an ‘ordinary moment’ for me would be something that many of them could hardly dream of, let alone achieve and that makes me feel a whole myriad of emotions.
  • Sadness that anyone of the young people I worked with as well as countless others I didn’t, face such a struggle.
  • Gratitude that my little family and I are so lucky.
  • Concern over why the system that cares for and supports children, young people and families really isn’t doing a good enough job and
  • Uncertainty about what I can do to help now I am no longer a part of that system.
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Ordinary Moments

So, from my blogging hobby I have found out about and have started reading lots of other blogs which is no doubt at least partly to blame for my unhoovered floors and undusted surfaces.

Yesterday I read a really beautiful blog called Potty Mouthed Mummy. Brilliant title and clearly a woman after my own heart. Please check her out if you have a minute.
through her blog I was introduced me to the idea of ‘The Ordinary Moments’. This is a linky created by Katie at Mummy, Daddy, Me. who won the MAD blog award for Best Pregnancy Blog at this years event. Very well deserved, Well Done. 😉

I feel like finding these posts came at the ideal time for me as I have had a couple of quite stressy days of late and they served as a good reminder to appreciate things a little more and not sweat the small stuff as much.
I say small, what I actually mean is me drowning in a mountain of housework and hardening arteries due to my dreadful diet.

Anywho- here goes, my take on Ordinary Moments…

I spent this weekend away from both of my babies. I went away for the night with my mum and my sister to meet up with our cousins.
It was only one night and we had a brilliant time, lovely food, wine and conversation.
It was novel to amble around the shops without a double buggy and to stop at the champagne bar rather than the baby change.
Mr L took the girls to see his family which of course they loved but meant that they didn’t arrive home until around 10pm on Sunday night (slap bang in the middle of Downton. Thank goodness for Sky Plus hey!)

As I lifted them out of the car I sniffed their hair and held them close, felt the weight of them in my arms and relished feeling their arms curl around my neck.
No mistaking that this love stuff is intense.

It’s easy as pie to love them when they are sleeping!

First thing Monday morning however, the toddler had a hissy fit when I told her off for licking the bottom of her shoes.
Proper throw yourself on the floor, kicking, screaming, foaming at the mouth tantrum.
I honestly have no clue where she gets it from. (I probably do if I’m honest and will come to admire her grit and determination in years to come!)
Her poor baby sister was utterly bemused by the whole thing.

Yup, she is certainly finding her voice! Monday was a long old day….

Today however was a totally different kettle of fish. From start to finish we have had an ordinary day chockablock full of wonderful.

We haven’t done anything special, nothing out of the ordinary at all but everything just fitted together nicely and it has been a simply lovely day.

We had a chilled out breakfast and everyone was more than happy to get dressed whilst having a little sing and dance to the radio.
NB Chris Evans; if you are reading this I noticed you singing along to some of the tunes today- that is all a little Steve Wright for my liking. Could you please refrain in future.

The toddler found a boyfriend at mother and baby group. A very handsome little boy (surely you’d expect nothing less) who is a little bit older and the son of a ‘new mummy friend’.
They walked in together holding hands, sat next to each other at toast time and even did ‘row row row the boat’ in a couple. It was too cute for words.
Incidentally this is a union I wholly approve of and will be at pains to nurture in the coming months and years. 😉
I have snaps but there are other children in the background and so I can’t really post which is a shame.

We came home, had a read, had a cuddle, played out in the garden, had some friends over and that was it really.
Genuinely nothing special.
But, as the three of us snuggled up on the bed drinking warm milk and watching The bloke in the Blue Onesie get wound up about excess noise from his neighbours (Iggle Piggle annoyed with the Pontipines doorbell and Upsy Daisy’s singing for the record) I couldn’t think of anything in the world I would rather be doing.
I was made for this and on days like today especially, I really, truly love it.

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That’s it really.
I’m having an early night as I’m off on the first of my Women’s Organisation courses tomorrow. It’s been a while since I’ve been in a learning/working sort of environment…hope it goes ok.

Night all.

Muma.
XxxxX

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A day in the life.

I have relabelled yesterday as an epic freaking fail.
In fact, this has been coming for most of the week I’m sure.

Teething, toddlerhood and tantrums do not make for a happy home. Who knew!

Anywho, because I am a very special breed of inflexible idiot, I ploughed on with my plans for today which included…

A Plum baby food party, a session of baby hip hop. Nope, no need to re-read that last bit, you read it right. Baby hip hop, and then packing for two separate weekends away (me to Birmingham and my babies to the grandparents with Mr L)

The plan for the day went something like this…

6am- alarm goes off and following an uninterrupted night of blissful sleep which had been preceded by a warm and relaxing bath I hop out of bed and pad quietly downstairs to prepare for my party.

7am- I rouse the girls and they, refreshed and ready for the day join me at the table for a delightful breakfast listening to Chris Evans interview Ussain Bolt.

8am- Pop back upstairs, get everyone dressed (in the pre-selected outfits) and fun, free (but ultimately educational) play ensues until baby nap time around 9:15.

9:30- Welcome other mums and babes into my clean, tidy, inviting home and in a fun yet structured and organised way, allow them to sample some Plum baby food.
Offer round tea, coffee and cakes to support Macmillan Worlds Biggest Coffee Morning Appeal. Cakes are obviously homemade.
Everyone eats, enjoys and chats.
I display incredible hostess skills and am able to answer all baby related queries like an expert that isn’t a smug nanny without kids.

12:00- Reluctantly say a fond farewell to the remainder of our guests and settle baby for lunchtime sleep.

Spend some good quality quiet time with toddler. Most likely reading, giggling and enjoying each others company.

13:00- Wake baby and walk up to Baby hip hop in glorious sunshine commenting on the wildlife and other points of interest. Toddler chats contentedly as baby babbles in reply.

13:30- Baby Hip-Hop class is taken by visiting teacher; Beyonce and daughter Blue.
Toddler takes to it like a duck to water and is so good at getting down with her bad self that Beyonce invites us out to visit in the good ol’ U S of A.

14:30- Amble home for biscuit, juice and story time. (Probably with NBF Beyonce)

Afternoon passes in a whirl of tea parties and ball pool fun, mostly independent of me.

17:00- Dinner time! Naturally a home cooked meal which I’d rustled up whilst listening to Richard Bacon.
Eat and chat about the days events.

18:00- Having cleared the table and tidied the kitchen we all trot happily upstairs for bath time. This is half an hour of singing, splashing and unadulterated cuteness.
Milk, stories and sleep.

19:01- Pour glass of wine and cook healthy, balanced meal for husband and have a two way, intelligent conversation over dinner.

22:00- Time for bed. Look so utterly ravishing that husband can not stop complimenting me and we have the sort of sex that is usually reserved for films. Though I develop a healthy sheen through a good level of enjoyable exertion, I neither sweat or knock husband out with swinging breast. (It can happen. I saw it on This Morning).

Here is the painful re run of what actually occurred it ain’t pretty.

5am- Teething baby awakes and can not be soothed with cuddles, calpol or crack (baby teething granules) so we head downstairs.
Am unable to put her down without serious crying so my efforts to blow up balloons for the Plum party are somewhat futile.
Dreams of putting out various taster bowls with ‘guess the ingredients’ games ala Masterchef taste test slide into the abyss.

7am- Toddler wakes and requests a nana (this is a banana, not her grandmother) for breakfast. Recall that I promised her one yesterday and did not deliver.
Make emergency call to sister for back up.
Can not fulfil toddler demands for cuggles and maintain a happy baby so do half a job on each and top up with Thomas the Tank.

8am- nana arrives courtesy of Uncle Pete. Toddler totally non-plussed by it.
Stress levels rising.
Balloons still wait…

8:47- Wrestle toddler into clothes and chase crawling baby to dress. Put baby down for nap.
Throw on some clothes selected from the wardrobe that is the bedroom floor. Scratch off something that looks like yesterday’s dinner.

9:00- Resist temptation to pour a gin and have baroca instead.
Attempt to get kitchen into some kind of order in time for party.
Fail due to toddlers requests for attention and the feeling that she will be scarred if I ignore or refuse. Oh good, baby wakes- crying.
Receive 3 cancellation messages which leads me to believe the big man thinks I’ve bitten off more than I can chew…

9:30-Welcome other mums and babes into my clean, tidy, inviting home and haphazardly offer drinks, food etc. Very probably forget to deliver on these offers.
Begin talking about Plum but need to raise voice to Brian Blessed levels to be heard so give out a selection of pouches which are very well received.
Revel in a couple of minutes of relative calm.

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Begin talking about Plum but have to abandon due to toddlers banging together the magnet boxes and playing keyboard.
Ah ha- noisy gifts, only ever purchased by family members and friends that want to age you faster than an apple in an airing cupboard.
This madness continues unabated until noon when I put baby down for nap.
Other mothers look made up, gorgeous and in control. I manage to not hate them only because they are mothers of one child, under one. Ah- how fondly I remember those times….

13:00- Baby wakes, crying and I remember Hip Hop. Bundle guests out of house in rush and bundle girls into buggy.
Turn to survey the pit that is the kitchen and inwardly weep.

13:30- meet mummy friends at local dance studio and get led down windy corridor into windowless studio full of mirrors. Hoorah, this will do wonders for my self esteem and body image.
Complete warm up exercises to a Venga Boys track (We like to Party for fans, the choice of song just rubs salt in the wounds of my morning!)
And then spend next 40 minutes dancing and marching to various nursery rhymes. Hip hop it ain’t.
Catch sight of myself in the mirror during one song and me and the reflection have a moment of clarity.
This is fucking madness. Money for old rope.
The dance teacher must, MUST have seen us coming.
£8 for 45 minutes of haphazard marching and chucking a Pom Pom around.
Not again Mrs, not on my watch.
The kids did seem to enjoy it but no more than kids enjoy looking at themselves in the mirror and copying anyone singing and shaking their ass.
Feel bad for criticising class.

Head home.
Baby falls asleep in pushchair so get toddler out and suggest going to playroom. She responds with a lion type noise. Baby wakes and the three of us can be found crying in the garage!

This continues off and on until 5:45 when I give up the ghost and declare an early bath.
I am a shell of a woman.
Toddler has crying fit and refuses to come upstairs. I take up baby and then have the mind game of which one to leave to get the other one. It is like the puzzle of how to get the fox, chicken and grain over the river.
Put baby in cot.
Run downstairs and get toddler.
Run back up.

Bath.
All of my pent up frustration dissipates the moment they get in the bath and begin chattering and splashing.
‘Kick kick Nana’ (this means Hannah, not banana or Grandma) says toddler gently taking the baby’s feet and showing her what to do.

Bed. All climb into bed for ITNG. Two worn out girls in bed for 7pm. At least that part of the plan worked out. 😉

No word from husband. Put on PJ’s and begin clear up and packing.
Husband arrives home, asks how my day has been and is treated to hormonal tidal wave and tears.
Welcome home darling.
He responds by saying;

Baby Hip Hop. This is The Wirral, not The Bronx.

Too true Mr L. Too true.

Trudge upstairs both so knackered that conversation is monosyllabic.
Set alarm for 5am so we can get going on two separate weekends away. 😦

Bloody hell, that was a tough one.

XxxxX

 

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Dudes- do you know about Dylon?!

So, now that I am well and truly into the statutory pay part of my maternity leave I am utterly embracing the idea of the ‘alternative income’. Essentially, the freebie. 🙂
I have never been short of an opinion and now it seems that people will send you stuff if you are willing to tell them what you think of it.

I say people, I clearly mean brands and marketing companies.
I do not mean that Nigel from over the road dropped off an egg custard following last weeks Great British Bake Off and asked for my views.
Incidentally Nigel- if you are thinking of dropping round a tuck box of sorts, I don’t like nuts.
I will however accept most types of cake, biscuit and muffin. Please don’t be offended if I tell you that you’ve got a soggy bottom. I am nothing if not honest!

I have joined the Tesco Home Survey Panel, I am a signed up secret shopper…or am I…I go out in a wig and dark glasses to purchase a wispa duo and give feedback about whether Carol from Co-Op was friendly. In short, I am an utter geek!! I LOVE IT.

Looking back I’ve always loved a freebie though Mr L almost divorced me when I brought a chest of drawers back from the tip.
He’s from Surrey. I think he thinks he’s above nicking from the tip…
More fool you Mr L, there’s many a treasure to be found in a skip or tip. I painted it and replaced the handles and it has housed the girls clothes for the last two years so who’s smug now. [for clarity, the answer’s me].

How fortuitous then that I should have had such a colicky, refluxy, sicky little bambino, just a few months prior to a big DYLON campaign. Hoorah.
The serious number of times that I have been puked all over has left my clothing in a very sad state and happily, thanks to my merge maternity pay I am far too skint to justify a new pair so I so I was more than happy to sign up to the Discover Dylon campaign.

As I write, my absolutely favourite, favourite jeans are in the machine with my free Dylon ‘Wash and Dye’, in velvet black.
They are as old as the hills, Topshop skinnys and are basically my uniform so I hope this works.
My ma is very sceptical so I am massively looking forward to showing her my good as new jeans in approximately 59minutes…
It is a really simple process, two wash cycles and you’re done. BOOM.

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Clearly, you could be more interesting than me; tie dye some babygrows or, if you want to create a stir at the school gates you could pimp up your poncho with ‘Tropical Green’ and ‘Goldfish Orange’, (this should ensure you aren’t pestered to join the PTA) but I am sticking with the renew your faded old jeans.

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BEFORE…lets be honest, they’ve seen better days.

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AFTER…I think we can call this a success don’t you?!

I’d had a bad experience with a yellow three piece suite from FreeCycle some years ago where I tried to dye the cushion covers red. They were textured, I was in a rush and just shoved them all in the machine so we basically lived with a dirty yellow sofa base and a mottled pink and yellow seat for the best part of 5 years. Not my finest moment. Bearing that in mind, I am really chuffed with the results of this Dylon challenge and still have a spare sachet so give me a shout if you want me to send it your way.
If not, you can get hold of Dylon in any of its 24 colours from good old John Lewis and Hobbycraft amongst others and, at under £7 it’s pretty reasonable.

Anywho, I found out about this campaign via BzzAgent.co.uk check them out, they are what’s called a ‘social marketing agency which relies on creating a…buzz around products new and old. (Do you see what they’ve done there?!)
The more campaigns you take part in, the better your BzzAgent score, the better your score, the more campaigns you may be eligible to try.
You can also earn Tesco clubcard points through their schemes (Christmas is coming peeps, every little helps) shit, think I’m addicted to this marketing speak!

This is the first time I have taken part in a Bzz campaign so I will keep you posted on how it goes but the early indicators are not too shabby.

Muma Leary.
XxxX

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It’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to.

Today it is my birthday.
I am 33 years young.
How the hell did that happen?! Seems like only yesterday I was finishing uni, skipping off travelling, drinking and dancing til dawn and wondering when on earth I’d ever become a grown up.

It is 8pm, I am writing this blog alone in bed with The Great British Bake Off on in the background. I might as well be 100.
To add insult to injury I am wearing slipper socks.
How times change.

Now having had 32 birthdays previously I know the drill, they ought to be chockablock full of fun, fizz and frolics.
My day today has involved 2 tantrums, numerous nappy changes, an aborted celebration lunch, a jean/poo treat oh, and a finger up my ass to check for tears.
Yup, still got one. Hooray!
Happily this was with the hand kiss doctor.
Not awkward at all. I think that requesting a transfer is high on his to do list.
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Today is further proof, if any were needed, that being a parent means that you totally and utterly do not come first any more. Not even on your birthday!
The terrible twos are well and truly underway in this household and for much of today I have sported a red wine headache and the complexion of a corpse.

Happily, I have had lots and lots of brilliant birthdays and presents to look back on and, with 2 lovely girlies, a handsome hubby and a loving family I am not totally wallowing in self pity as I eat my own body weight in dairy milk this evening.
Here are some of the best presents I’ve ever had.
I think that the take home message is…
It’s the thought that counts.

1) A meal in The Witchery, Edinburgh.
The OH bought this for me for my 30th birthday. Total and utter surprise. He gave me a card on the morning of my birthday asking me to go for dinner with him- in Edinburgh. We flew up, stayed over and had a ball.
Most romantic gift ever because it showed that he had listened to my bleatings about places I’d like to eat before I die.
Point to note husband- you can allow yourself a smug smile re this but you can not live off this forever! 😉

2) A Gold Bangle.
My mum has acquired lots of bits of jewellery over time. Some of it broken, some of it not her thing and so brilliantly, for Christmas 1999 she had it all melted down and made into 3 bangles. One for me, one for my sister and one for her.
What an amazing idea. (She is a sharp cookie) we now have a little piece of history, something individual that links us all and no ugly jewellery to argue over in her will. (Which I hope we will not be reading for a very, very long time).
Genius.
Sadly, I was 19 that Christmas and was a hideous, horrid drunk child. I am sure my mum must have thought I did not deserve the brilliant present and I sincerely regret not being more grateful for the effort she had gone to at the time. 😦

3) A painting of our family home.
My two longest serving friends bought my husband and I (mainly me if I’m honest!) a painting that they had commissioned of my Grandparents farm as a wedding gift.
It was a picture of my childhood. The place we spent all of our holidays and, where we had all played together as children.
They gave it to me on the eve of our wedding and I bawled my eyes out.
So, so, so, so thoughtful.
It felt like all of the most important parts of my life until that point were tied up in that picture and I absolutely adore it.

4) A Wall Hanging
My beautiful Twinny (happy birthday Jones) is an incredible arty type and is so talented I am put to shame.
When I was pregnant with the toddler I mentioned that I had seen a sort of ‘shabby chic’ wall hanging of the quote;

All you need is love.
Love is all you need.

She gave it to me at my (surprise) baby shower.

She had made it herself and, guess what…I bawled my eyes out.

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She must have found a picture of what I was talking about and went to a massive amount of effort to recreate it.
I am so touched that she felt that I deserved that amount of time and care. Amazing.

5) A hand-made Necklace.
My ever so arty Auntie made me a freshwater pearl necklace to wear on my wedding day.
She didn’t know what I was wearing, she didn’t ask what sort of thing I would like, she made no mention of making it for me until she gave it to me (in a hand made box) a couple of weeks prior to our big day.
She said that if I didn’t like it she would understand and that there was no pressure for me to wear it at all.
I love it.

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It was absolutely perfect and all the more so because she made it for me with zero expectation.
Obviously it would have been tres awkward if it had been hideous but it wasn’t, isn’t and is so precious to me.

I have had so, so many more lovely gifts in my time and am really grateful for all of them but I think today that sometimes people confuse money and stuff with ‘good’.
I don’t think you can ever underestimate how touched someone is when they are given a gift that has so clearly taken a lot of thought, time and effort. Even if it cost pence.
I will be reminding friends and family of this fact when I hand over photo frames made of macaroni and hampers of home made jams when Christmas rolls around this year!!
Maternity pay is looooong gone.

Ps- don’t be feeling sorry for me re today. I was taken out for a fab meal with friends last night. Thanks sis.
Embarrassed with a cake, candles and a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ at the table.
Again, Thanks sis!
Showered with cards, flowers and wine this morning and showered with s^%# this evening!!!

Swings and roundabouts dudes.
Swings and roundabouts.

PS- to all my fellow blogger geeks, Mr L bought me a ticket to blogfest. Woo hoo. See you there.
PPS- if you can’t spot one of your presents in this list that doesn’t mean I didn’t love it. I just couldn’t list them all.
Of course- it might also mean you have only ever given me crap gifts. If this is the case- don’t give up, I am happy to provide a written list with web addresses if needs be!!

XxxxX

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My very first #BlogSummit. Yup- I’m a serious blogger type!

Evening all,

Well, here I am blogging on the sofa following an amazing day at the Tots100 BlogSummit.
My tiny and understretched mind barely understood a word of the techy bits and pieces that Geek Mummy shared but have resolved to read both her blog on the subject and the Tots100 Back to School tutorials on their site.
I am not an idiot, I am just new to this so I will read and learn and I will figure this out.
If over the next few weeks you hear a pained scream in the wee small hours it is very likely me frustrated with a plugin or widget or something- keep your ears peeled and tweet me to check on my well being any time you like.
Yes, at the moment, I am an egg but that is also on my list of things to fix. 😉

I have put faces to many of the bloggers that I follow or subscribe to and have met many more that I will be checking out as soon as I get home (I started writing this post on the train home such is my keenness to up my Klout!)
Well, not as soon as I get home, as soon as I get home is bath time with my girlies. (Check. Lots of splashing, minimal crying. Result!)
Then lasagne with the husband (Check) and then an evening of mulling over how to conquer the Tots100 index. The bloggers equivalent of the Top 40 pre all of that nasty Jimmy Saville business. Stage one, get the badge on my page obv!

Having been on maternity leave now for 9 months I have completely forgotten how to dress professionally, behave professionally and how to interact with other adults without a minimum of one child hugging my leg, offering me a pretend cup of tea or crying into my ear hole.
It is a pleasant surprise that I have got through the day unscathed and, dare I say it, even a little bit enlightened and educated?! I have not done any character voices all day. Weird.

The day kicked off with Ben of Goodbye Pert Breasts fame talking about how and why he blogs, why it is ok to be controversial and even offensive.
I totally agree with the premise that ‘the only thing worse than being talked about is, not being talked about’. So will be including more of my forthright opinions and views from now on.
If anyone has a problem with that I will direct them to Ben. 😉

I was also particularly interested in his forthcoming book as a couple of my friends and friends of friends have lost babies either through miscarriage, stillbirth or SIDS.
The book is called How I Came to Hold You. and is available to purchase here.

Sarah McIntyre was a whole lot of Awesome in a beautiful hat and I was swept along in her enthusiasm for cartoons and characters and general crazy imaginings despite my utter inability to draw even a stick.
Not a stick man, not a stick family, a stick. I can not draw. Sad times.

I can however, appreciate that fun pictures and activities enables everyone to get involved in your posts and gives a brilliant reason to return time after time to your page and engage with you on a really personal level.
I love this.
I need more sea creature wigs in my life. Who doesn’t quite frankly?

The food was delicious but I’ve got to confess I am so pleased that I am not a serious foodie blogger. That sounds like some proper, proper hard work.
Hats off totally to Emily at A Mummy too and Helen at Fuss Free Flavours, I will certainly be trying out your recipes and will continue to share my own occasional culinary triumphs and, more usual disasters to the page, but as for being a proper foodie blogger with the pics and the props and the possible pitfalls…nooooo way.
If I add two types of cheese to my beans on toast I feel like Marco Pierre White so anything much more challenging than that and I expect to receive a letter from The Queen herself in the post. It is yet to happen.

Thank you very much to Sally for the arranging and all the info on the holy grail of the Tots100 index and to all of you fellow bloggers who made this newbie feel very welcome (even if I still have a huge amount to learn!) I am about to tweet you a link to this and request a retweet. I hear you love that kind of thing.

Night All!

Muma Leary.

PS- do not think for one cotton pickin second that I didn’t take on board all the advice about the pictures. Adding images to blogs and all that jazz.
Small issue in that my IPad ran out of juice. #schoolgirl.
And now, because I listened über carefully to all of the scary legal stuff on swiping I am too afraid to look for any others!
PPS- I didn’t go down the road of naming everyone I spoke to on here because it would be just awful if I forgot someone so, if I spoke to you (and you spoke back), it was lovely to meet you.
If you didn’t speak back, I know where I stand!

19 Comments »

Harry Carrey

Hi guys,

you might have guessed from the title that todays post is slightly less light hearted than most of the others.

This week in National Suicide Prevention week and today is National Suicide Prevention day.
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How sad and how apt that this year it falls on the second anniversary of the death of one of the most loved people in mine, and my families life. I will just call him G.

Two years ago today I was sitting on the floor of our little home in Surrey, marvelling at the fact that I had become a mum. We had actually become parents. We did it. Yey us!!!

I was utterly wrapped up in warm cosy loveliness of cards and gifts and balloons and love.
I was actually writing ‘Thank you’ notes, much as i have done this evening, whilst our tiny baby slept next to me in her moses basket.
And then the phone rang and it was all shattered.
Completely.

Now, that bit isn’t the really important bit. The fact that my birthday will now always mean that it is X years since the day we drove down to our family home for the funeral.
It is now X years since G missed out on meeting our baby by 5 short days.
It is now X years that we have been missing him and wishing he was here.

What matters really, is the fact that people feel so sad and low and utterly desperate and confused that they see no other future for them aside from ending their lives.
It means that they literally can not bear the thought of trudging through life for one more minute and they jump under a train or slash their wrists or take a handful of pills or… Or, or, or.
It might also mean that they were crying for help in the only way they could think of and help did not come in time.
The harsh reality of a ‘successful’ suicide bid, is that you can rarely know for sure which is which.

Suicide is dreadful for the loved ones left behind. Wondering why they weren’t enough to make them want to stay, wondering if they could have done or said or behaved differently. Sadly, sometimes the pain of mental illness feels so suffocating, so all consuming, so bleak and never ending that no one else quite comes into the final equation.

The words depression, mental health, bi-polar and self harm are often bandied around and, thankfully, they appear to be becoming less taboo which is brilliant. But, there is still such a lot to learn and open up about.

It is tricky because you can’t see depression.
It doesn’t look like a broken leg, it isn’t treated like cancer or diabetes or any other life altering illness and people can be unsympathetic or unbelieving. Many, many more people can be kind and supportive and empathic but it is scary putting that information out there. Alistair Campbell puts this all far more succinctly than I do in his article here.

Hi, I have depression is not an easy thing to say…obviously people are unlikely to come out with it like that, even I recognise that it sounds weird when said in such a way!
But, that fact probably means that you ain’t feeling too full of ego so the following questions are likely to swill around your brain in the early hours when you can’t sleep…

Will people think I am a weirdo
Am I a weirdo
Will people think I am weak
Am I weak
Will people think I should pull my bloody socks up and think about people with real problems
I should do that. God, I am so pathetic/stupid/worthless etc etc (delete as applicable until the witching hour is over and you have lived through another night possibly day dreaming about self harm).

Doesn’t sound like a walk in the park does it?
Better than chemo, worse than chemo. It is pointless to compare. They are different illnesses but they are still both illnesses and need to be treated as seriously as one another. Campaigns like Time to Change are working hard to improve our levels of understanding.

We now know that many ‘privileged’ people have suffered, and are suffering with depression. It does not discriminate.
In fact, approx 4,400 people commit suicide each year in Britain but over 10 times that number attempt it.
Stephen Fry has spoken openly and honestly about his attempt at suicide, his bi-polar and how he is now trying to manage it. Have a read of his blog post here.

So, what can we do?
Well- it depends, if you are feeling low and I don’t mean in a sort of

Oh god, the baby has been sick in my hair again

kind of way, I mean in a sort of unshakable low mood where nothing can hold your interest, your appetite alters (either increased or diminished) you either can’t sleep or always want to sleep and you feel sort of detached, like nothing properly matters to you, please speak to someone.
A friend, a doctor, a helpline, anyone.
Please do not suffer in silence.
You are special and unique.
You are precious and important and feelings like this can pass and be worked on.
Suffering from an episode of depression doesn’t mean you will always be depressed.
There is help and there is hope.

If you are worried about someone you know, there is lots of information and literature available so you can be clued up on how you can help.
I think that MIND is particularly good.
As is The Mental Health Foundation. You can find a variety of informative podcasts on their website which are useful.
Try to be around for them.
This can be very tricky. You don’t want to be OTT, you very likely have your own stuff going on keeping you busy- ah ha, there’s the old baby sick in the hair again. They may be avoiding social situations, calls etc but, if you can, let it be known that you are there for them, to listen, if ever they need you.
Don’t tell them to cheer up for pity’s sake. That is a total no no.
Listen and love them and, make sure you take time to offload to someone too.

As a wise woman I once used to go and speak too (cause I was a mentalist too once) told me..

You can not pour from an empty jug.

So don’t knacker yourself out trying to help and then become poorly yourself. Not helpful.

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Lots and lots of love.

XxxxX

5 Comments »

Now you are 2!

To my darling daughter.

I am sure you don’t quite get the significance of the fact that today is your birthday.
Yup, you have been here, with us for a whole 2 years, or 24 months, or 104 weeks or 730 days, I could go on but I don’t have a calculator so my maths could embarrass me.

So, what can I tell you about life since you arrived?

Plenty actually, we have been to two weddings, had a holiday in Centre Parcs, given you a baby sister and endured two horrible stays in hospital.
Going through the last two years would be a slog to be honest so I thought I’d try and get the creative juices flowing and write you a little verse to say Happy Birthday.
Ready?

Well…

Since you arrived in Slough that September,
You’ve given us all lots of times to remember.
(Obviously there have been times to forget too but they don’t work too well with a slushy, sentimental poem. I’m talking specifically about the poo in the bath phase)

I’ll start again, sorry.

Since you arrived on that warm September day,
You have changed my life in every possible way.
(Yup, I used to be able to have a shower, a wee and apply my make up in blissful silence)

Bloody hell, I’ve done it again. Sorry.

Third time lucky hey…

*clears throat*

To my beautiful baby girl.

Before you arrived I was so worried that I wouldn’t be like all the other mums.
I was worried that I wouldn’t be that bothered about bring a mummy and I wouldn’t love you with every fibre of my being.
I worried that it wouldn’t come naturally to me and people would be able to tell from a mile off that I was a fraud.
I worried that I would do an horrendous job and you would prefer to be with anyone other than me.

But, happily, two years on from a very long weekend in Wexham Park, I can tell you this.

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You have given me crows feet and eye bags and stretch marks.
and a heart that aches if ever you are unhappy.

You have made me look at your daddy in a whole different way and love him even more than I did before you arrived.

You have made me into an utter soft touch. Someone that now cries at the drop of a hat.

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You have made me stronger than I thought possible and more vulnerable than I would ever choose to be.

You have made me proud and frustrated and knackered and humble.

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You make my heart melt whenever I see you babbling to your baby sister.

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You make me weak at the knees when you hug me so seriously around my neck when I wake you up in the mornings.

You make me laugh when I see your little legs going a little bit too fast for your body.
You make me crazy when you cry without any tears because I am picking up your sister first.
You make me worry about politics and feminism, E numbers and organic farming in a way I rarely did before your arrival.

You have changed me almost completely both inside and out and I wouldn’t change any most of it for a second.

Happy Birthday my gorgeous, gorgeous little baby.

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I hope you have a wonderful day.

All my love,

Mummy.

NB- the final photograph was taken by the brilliant Rosalind Grace, my friend. I absolutely love it.
If you are Surrey based and need some snaps doing, she is your gal. Fab. 🙂
XxxxX

9 Comments »

Weaning Woes

Today I have a floor you could eat your dinner off.
Not in the sense of it being so clean.
In the sense that there is so much freaking food on it you could feed a family for a week on your findings.
Lovely.
Just about to pull some of my spare time out of my back pocket and clean it.
Oh no I’m not, I’m going to sit on my ass and blog about it whilst filling my face with buttons!
Here goes…
Well, here we are again. Weaning time and I am reminded, yet again, how different it is to be a mum of two under twos as opposed to a mother of a single child.

First time around weaning was an absolute dream.
My baby was so utterly lazy relaxed, that I was able to swan around my kitchen; I say swan around, it was the size of a postage stamp and I could touch both walls with my arms outstretched but, never the less, I was able to cook her meals from scratch whilst she watched on from her highchair, sucking on a spatula, all the while I was talking her through what I was doing as though I was a guest chef on James Martins Saturday kitchen. It was a sight to behold I am sure!
The only ingredient lacking was Olly Smiths wine recommendations to go with each offering. I bloody loved it.
Dishes included lamb cous cous, fish pie, a vast array of steamed and puréed vegetables and lovely risottos and pasta dishes. Mainly thanks to Annabel Karmel. 20130904-000845.jpg

This time round things are somewhat different.
The baby is crawling about all over the place and despite having a playroom in which she could crawl, roll, dribble and play to her hearts content, she does not want to be in there unless I am too.
Her big sister wants to throw tea parties every two minutes and if she’s not doing that she want me to read this or this or stomp around in the garden or sweep the kitchen or do 101 other things that require my undivided attention.
All in all there is little time for affectionately steaming some organically grown butternut squash and poaching a hand reared chicken’s breast to serve on a bed of scented arborio rice. So, I admit, I have been slow in kicking off the weaning this time around.
(There have been other things going on too, I’m not a totally dreadful mother!!)

A happy side effect of both of the girls being so poorly over the last few weeks has been the baby’s reduced appetite. The spots on her tongue have meant that milk has been the best thing for her. Hooray!! Every cloud and all that.
However, we are no longer a poorly household with an Ox blood X daubed on the door. The pox has passed and now weaning must begin in earnest.
So far I have excelled at toast, rusks and Plum.
Yup. I’m a convenience mum. For some reason in this sentence I want to say Mom- I don’t know why!
Last week a big box of Plum baby food was delivered thanks to a chance meeting at a hen do…you know that time I went to the hen do and met the naked waiter- I do. Lets have another snap, just for kicks.
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I met the lovely Kate. To be honest with you I met her ass first. It is immense- immense in an amazing way (she was wearing some gorgeous, wet look trousers), not a size way, and I considered seriously not being friends with her because of it. But, I powered through it and spoke to her. Yey me. I know it sounds like I have a girl crush on her. This is because I do.
Anywho…
Turns out that she works for Plum-baby and, despite my weird introduction, they have allowed me to become a Plumbassador woo hoo! They have sent me two bags of their gorgeous baby pouches, toddler meals as well as tee shirts and bibs.
So, despite my earlier protestations that we have held our last party for some years, I will now be playing host to a group of yummy mummy’s and their various ankle biters to introduce them to the wonders of Plum Baby. Contact me if you fancy coming over. Make a mess in someone else’s house for a change. Bring wine.

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To be honest I was sold when I saw that a lazy mother could squeeze the pouch contents directly into their child’s mouth and hey presto, a balanced diet without having to dirty a spoon let alone a saucepan. But, for those that have maintained some level of standards, they might be interested to know that the company is incredibly ethical business started by a mother who was sick of seeing jars of grey mush on the supermarket shelves.
Plum can now be found in most big name supermarkets and, if you are so inclined, you can order from the website. Excellent.

So far, the baby baby has particularly loved the Apple and Blackcurrant Purée. It smells like actual food and although it is great on its own, can be swirled into baby rice and porridge for a bit of variation.
The toddler really loves the minted peas with lamb meal.
To be honest, she is way too old for this now but, when she was poorly it was one of the only things that she ate so that has got to be a big positive. I have tried it. I know that sounds minging but I have. It tastes…of pea and mint! It is nice- obviously it is mush but it is tasty.
In Hollywood there is a craze called the baby food diet. It is rumoured that it is how Jennifer Anniston maintains her amazing figure. She is in her 40’s for crying out loud. Rediculous.

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Surprisingly, I am not regularly stopped in the street and asked how I maintain my mum tum. The answer my friends, can be found at the bottom of a sharing bag of Cadbury buttons washed down with a gin in a tin. Tonight’s dinner, I kid you not.
However, with the new school term I have, for the umpteenth time this year, decided to give the old health and fitness kick and other crack, having now tried a variety of the Plum range, I would be only too happy to give this craze a go. The veggie biryani is genuinely something I’d eat as an adult (and have). The toddler preferred it once it had been mixed with a few spoons of bean juice to make it a bit wetter.

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So, there you have it, my early views on weaning for the second time, and on the Plum range.
I will fill you in again once I’ve held the Plum Party and can share the views of some other mums and babies.

If you do have the luxury of time, it is brilliant to be able to make your own purées, pies and anything else that you can find on the old tinter web but if you are busy playing or working or cleaning or sleeping or living or any of the other things that an average parent has to do in the average day, put a plum pouch or two in your pocket and crack on.

NB- The pouches ain’t magic. Your baby will still get food all over the place so don’t leave the house without a bib and wipes. You will look like a novice.
Also, if your child is heavy into blowing raspberries whilst eating, you may want to put a spare top for yourself into your changing bag. Otherwise you might rock up at Baby Ballet looking like a mad woman with purée matted hair and a left boob apparently leaking mango juice. (Happened to a friend, I would never be so school girl!)

Love
Muma Leary.

I make the mistakes so you don’t have to!!

XxxX

Point to note- for clarity, Plum Baby provided me with a selection of foods from their weaning and tots ranges.
Despite this, all views are unbiased and genuine.
Second point to note- Plum baby don’t endorse the baby food diet (as far as I know) unless of course it is for genuine babies. Then they are all over it!

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