Friday, 8 December 2017

Christmas hot or not

Christmas is my absolute favourite time of year. I know that is cliché but it is. The soft fairy lights make me look like I did pre 2 under 2. There is food and alcohol everywhere you go, which is fine because Christmas calories don’t count and clothes become fun, who doesn’t love a good Christmas jumper/tee, I have 4 and counting. Christmas can have down sides too, and I know isn’t enjoyable for everyone. So here is my Christmas hot or not list.

Hot hot hot

1. Christmas take away cups in Costa - I always get a takeaway cup when I go for a Costa even when sitting in. That way if the boys start throwing a post babychino tantrum I can grab my drink and run. No wants to leave half of their morning caffeine hit on the table, especially mamas who are running on an hour’s sleep.
 Now I have the added bonus of a little festive picture on the cup i have even more reason for caffeine.

2. Bargain buys from last year – there is nothing better than the mini win when you go in the attic to get the tree out and find all the wrapping paper, Christmas cards, stocking fillers that you bought in the January sales. I kid you not I have a roll of Christmas paper up there that cost me 2p 12 months ago, now it’s back on sale for £1 a roll.

3. Christmas dinners – they are just everywhere...and I love it. You go in a pub it’s on the specials, you go for a meal deal it’s on a sandwich, you to the markets it’s in a Yorkshire pudding roll! It’s a great and gravy filled time to be alive.

4. Family time – Christmas draws everyone together. There is always time to see friends and family that you may not have made time for all year. There are family activities everywhere from visiting Santa to Christmas walks, Christmas markets to a good ole pantomime.

5. Children  - the best thing of all about Christmas is children. Seeing their eyes sparkle with magic when they see the big guy. Watching them make a mess putting on the tree decorations, I mean making it look .....I can’t lie they just make it look crap but that’s ok because it’s Christmas. Their little chocolate smudged faces in the morning when they open another advent door, that’s as long as they didn’t eat them all on day one. Children are what Christmas is all about and I’m so grateful to have mine, even though they probably will fight over presents, play with the box instead of the expensive toy inside and break 50% of my tree decorations by Christmas eve.

6. Christmas movies. I can quote the Grinch word for word and I could recite elf backwards while stood on my head, bit it never gets old. Christmas film under a blanket with a hot chocolate or mulled wine, depending on how stressful my day has been, is just pure bliss.

Not not not

1. The first thing on not hot list is people who buy the must have toys that our children have asked Santa for, then sell them for double even triple the price. These people leave parents between a rock and a hard place. Do they disappoint their baby because that must have doll is sold out everywhere, or do they pay Meany pants on eBay their life savings to keep the Santa magic alive. I absolutely refuse to buy from these people and I hope you do too.
My son wants a Paddington teddy from marks and spencer’s which have been sold out since that advert, a lady on Facebook offered me one for £30, (they were £12 in store), I told her no and then phoned Santa to put her on the naughty list . Worse case scenario leave this letter under the tree.

2. The fact that Christmas calories do actually count I was lying....sorry. All those mince pies and stuffing balls will hit my waist line whether I want them to or not. At this rate ill spend new year in a baggy tee and my old maternity jeans.

3. Forgetting batteries. There is nothing sadder than a child with a new toy they can’t play with as no one bought the Duracell. As a mother can I ask one thing of all gift buyers. If your gift needs batteries please pop batteries in, or at least pre warn me I need to have some in.

4. Adults having to pay to see Santa. I don’t mind having to pay for both boys to see Santa. It’s magical, they get a small gift and it’s just a must at Christmas time. I do mind having to pay to stand and watch them. Last year I paid £5 to stand and watch them and when I asked Santa for my gift, (I had paid after all), he looked at me like I’d pulled his beard down and shit in his mince pie!

5. SCHOOL. Once we are in the Christmas month, school suddenly have 100 dates to remember. Nativity show – make a costume, non uniform day – donate a bottle for the privilege of tuning your clothes instated of uniform that day, Christmas jumper day – buy a Christmas jumper and donate £1, donate a toy day, school fayre – cost me £20 on the bottle tombola to win a water and a ketchup, Christmas party day - please bring snacks. I could go on!!!

6. Being lonely at Christmas. This is a huge problem for a lot of people. Especially the elderly and homeless people. Every year we make a holiday tradition of donating gift parcels to a homeless charity and this year I am looking into donating some time for the help the aged Christmas campaign, unfortunately there will still be people alone and that really is sad.

So despite all the NOTS, I still bloody love Christmas. I love every bit of it, even the post Brussel sprout farts that hubby throws my way Christmas night. I hope you all have a lovely Christmas. Try not to put too much expectation on yourself though, don’t forget it’s only one day and if it’s not perfect, oh well, there is always Easter.

Good day to you xxx

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Nothing beats a good old book

I have two little men who both love sitting down to listen to a good story. We have different ways of reading a book, usually depending on how hyper they are.

-The conventional sit with mama or daddy and listen to us read the story. This is Mr S favourite and he will settle for no less than a million books. Mr B likes this until page 3, when he gets bored and starts eating the pages.

- Let them tell the story from what they can see, or from memory if it’s one of the favourites. Honestly if they love a story we read it that many times both me and them can repeat it while we sleep. You think I’m kidding......I once sleep talked we’re going on a bear hunt.

- Just talk about the pictures. Who is he? What is she doing? Can you see a .... insert random animal?

- The good old bed time story. Lie down and listen because as soon as I’ve finished this story about a hungry tiger who needs room on a Broom while heading to space to find a friend, I’m drinking alcohol. Thank God for the bedtime story, it’s like the alarm bells for the start of mama bear time.

Because books play such a huge part in our house I thought I would share with you our favourites. As voted for by Mr S and Mr B. If I’m honest some of them are actually quite a good read for mama's too, (maybe I've just spent too much time with the kids).

1. Funny bones - Janet and Allan Ahlberg

This was one of my favourite books as a child and now it’s one of my boys faves. Every time they choose this one off the book shelf, I revert back to child me choosing it from the school library over and over again. A couple of days ago I explained to Mr S that inside his skin is a skeleton like the funny bones, he cried and asked me to take his bones. #mamafail

2. Room on the Broom - Julia Donaldson

Who doesn’t love a Julia Donaldson book. They got a set of her books as a joint present at Christmas. With all her amazing reads to chose from how did we pick this one. Well apparently this one is so good because it has a frog and a dragon, from the mouths of babes.

3. Starting School - Julia and Allan Ahlberg

Another one from this pair made our list. This book is beautifully written, especially if you have a little one gearing up for school. It documents the school year from day one in a simple, easy to digest way.

4. Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s dairy - Lynley Dodd

This is one of those books that Mr S knows the words by heart it’s quite a repetitive story, but in a good way that gets their little memories working. There is a full catalogue of Hairy Maclary stories too, which means we have more adventures to come.

5. The Tiger who came to tea - Judith Kerr

This is one of those timeless books. Everything about it makes you feel warm and happy. The illustrations are timeless and detailed. **Spoiler alert** if a tiger knocks at your door, DO NOT LET IT IN.

6. The first hippo on the moon- David Walliams

This is a new one to our collection and I was hesitant that a comedian had written a children’s book. I didn’t need to be. The story is so well written and made me laugh, as well as the kids. The ending was a little harsh for a toddler, but that hippo had it coming.

7. Five minutes peace - Jill Murphy

This book is like my auto biography except with more trunks. A beautiful story about real life as a mum. Even better it was only 49p in home bargains. We have all the books in this collection as there all so damm good.

8. The Stick man - Julia Donaldson

Another Julia Donaldson sneaked in, but when she writes them so good, how could I resist. Mr S and Mr B love this book, its also hubbys favourite. You can see from the picture how well worn the cover is from constant reading. Another bonus is there is a TV version of the book, which is a great watch alongside the book. I love that her books rhyme so well. This is also a part Christmas story.

9. Press here - Hervè Tullet

This isn’t a story, it is an interactive book which focuses on colour and space. The boys think this book is magic. I picked it up second hand for 2p and it has been worth every penny. It has helped Mr S become more colour aware. I would recommend this for children who struggle to sit and read, it keeps them engaged.

10. Dear zoo - Rod Campbell

This is both of the boys absolute favourite. Our version has flaps too. They know every word and are able to read it to me. We have purchased a puzzle with the story on as well, because they love it that much. They have to have a turn each at pulling open the flaps and making the animal noise and then telling me why they sent him back. Thank you Rod Campbell, you have brought my boys so much happiness.

This was a tough list to make as we have so many books on our shelf, it was hard to whittle them down. If you don’t have these books on your shelf, you need them. We own so many books, because i buy them so cheap. I refuse to buy books brand new. If a book has been looked after then second hand is just as good as brand new. Thank God for amazon, the book depository and wordery, who have almost every children’s book in the world for sometimes pennies.

Seriously though my post man probably thinks I have a problem, there is at least 1 book a week coming through the door at the minute.

I hope you enjoyed our chart and id love to hear your favourites, or places to buy cheap kids books.

Good day to you.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Mama bear on the stage.

I love the theatre. I have since being a child. I remember my dad used to take me to see shows at the royal exchange in Manchester and my love grew from there. When the house lights went down and the stage lights came up my tummy used to flip with excitement. It was so much better than cinema or television because it was real, you were part of what was happening and they are some of the dearest memories I hold.

It didn't matter what kind of show it was, I loved them all. Pantomimes, musicals, plays. They all gave me that same feeling of amazement and wonder. They were an education. They got me intrested in subjects I'd never even heard of.

I became obsessed with not only watching performances but also performing. I joined theatre groups and community theatre projects where I became confident and outgoing. I developed both my imagination and social skills all while having fun. Theatre has played a huge part in shaping the person I am today.

For all of those reasons I want my children to experience theatre from a young age. I learnt so much from watching those people up on the stage, about both the world and myself, I want my boys to have the opportunity to gain that knowledge to.

They have attended two children's performances so far the 'sooty show', which was amazing and held both of their interests from start to finish and 'in the night garden' which did the same.

This year I was so pleased when I discovered the lowry theatre was showing a stage show of two of our favourite books. 'Room on the Broom' and 'The Tiger who came to tea'. I showed the boys the poster and watched them squeal with excitement. So we headed to the theatre to get some more information.

The tickets were priced at £16 for myself and hubby which seemed quite reasonable. As Mr S and Mr B are so young, (1 and 2), I knew they wouldn't really need seats as they would want to sit on our knees. I put this request to the gentlemen in the box office who informed me this was not possible.  From 18 months they would have to have their own seat. I knew they wouldn't use it but it would be fine, it could just sit empty. I asked how much a child's ticket was, I was horrified to find out there is no such thing. The ticket price is the same. £16 each for a 1 and 2 year old is shocking. Surely there should be some sort of price bracket for toddlers. This would mean it would have cost me £64 for our tickets.

The man clearly saw my shock at this price so tried to offer me a 'better option'. A £54 family ticket. I'm sure you can imagine I was still unimpressed.

How are family's supposed to introduce their children to a world of performing arts and culture when these are the standard prices. How can you justify charging this amount for a toddler. You may not agree with me on this one but this just seems to be greed. Surely there should be a pricing structure which takes toddlers into account.

I know things like theatre trips are not a necessity in life but I do think they are important. They play a part in a child's love of books, the arts and reading while getting them away from a screen.

Good day to you.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The happiness list

Being a mama and a wife means everyday brings a mountain of emotions. I’ve found myself sat alone in tears but I have also found myself laughing so hard I peed a little. Times can be tough and when they get too tough I have to think about happiness.

I have heard eatting a troll makes you instantly happy, but if that isn't an option I try remembering what has brought a smile to my face or happy tears to my eyes in the past. It can be a huge mood changer. So here it is, my current happiness list.

1. Mr B was watching Mr S receive praise for using his potty and he wanted some of that action. While I was helping Mr S put a sticker on his potty chart for doing a wee, Mr B whipped off his nappy, sat down and dropped the kids off at the pool. The smile on his face filled me with joy. I’d been trying so hard to get Mr S on the potty I hadn’t even noticed that my littlest big man was growing up and ready too, so he showed me in the smelliest way he could.

2. Recently we went to see The Sooty show. I have always loved the theatre and want my children  to love it too. When the curtain went up and the music started their faces changed and their eyes widened.  I saw the magic of the show fill up their brains and I cried. Happy tears of course. Just seeing their enjoyment at such a simple pleasure made me warm inside.

3. Mr S loves having his hair cut so I really enjoy taking him. For his most recent hair cut I booked him in with my hairdresser for a ‘big boy haircut’. I was at work so my mama took him and sent me this picture. Seeing his little proud face is like a shot of happiness straight to the heart.

4. When I have had my hair done. I never spend money on myself, it all goes on the boys, so my hair appointment is always well overdue. When I finally get it done I walk out feeling great.

5. I can’t express how happy it makes me feel that I can now hold a conversation with Mr S. He has the level of vocabulary now that he can ask questions, answer mine, tell jokes and just like his mama bear, he is even developing his sarcasm skills. I love listening to him explain the way he sees the world, it never fails to make me chuckle.

6. My boys display affection with everyone but rarely to each other. Because these moments of love aren’t frequent they are even more special. When they give each other a clumsy cuddle, kiss to say goodnight or hold hands to help each other I instantly smile from ear to ear.
7. When I see hubby and the boys having a father son moment I feel contented. There always wrestling and chasing each other, but when I catch those quiet moments of a snuggle or reading together, that’s what happiness is made from.  I think most women learnt that in the 80’s though right?

8. This one is immature but it makes me happy so I’m saying it.  The boys have learnt that trumps are funny. Their reaction to each others wind genuinely makes me laugh out loud.

9. The Pixar short, LAVA. If you haven’t already watched it go look. It’s happiness in a bite size chunk.

10. Those quiet moments I have when the kids are asleep, I have a cup of tea And think about my loving/annoying hubby, beautiful/whiney children/stepchild and my cute/pain in the arse dog and realise I have it all.

So there it is my happiness record. There will always be sad/angry/stressed moments, sometimes even days, weeks or months. That’s life. It’s always there to get in the way of your joy. But before those shitty days get in the way again write a happiness list. Future you will thank you.

Good day to you. X

P.s - I had to read mine this morning when within an hour of being awake Mr B had bitten Mr S, the kids ate my toast and the dog pissed on my chair....while I was sat on it.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Mama bears shame - part 2

As in mama bears shame part one, this blog is all about the rant. I’d hoped that after my last session of throwing my anti parent shaming thoughts out there, that it would be the end of it. I’d really hoped that I would never again have to endure judges while I was trying to simply parent.

My hopes, unfortunately were not the case. I still encounter mummy shamers in my day to day life. I’m honestly sick of people with too much time on their hands judging my parenting. It makes me doubt myself as a mama which is a feeling that no parent should have to feel.

So here we go with mama bears shame - part 2

This week i took the boys to an indoor play centre. I never allow them in the under 2’s section as I don’t want them to impose on an area where baby’s can play. They are both too rough and clumsy. This day there were only two other families in there and no one using the baby area. The door to it had been left open so when Mr B ran in I didn’t hurry him out. I went to a table to take my coat off and sort myself out. As I mentioned earlier the play centre was next to empty so I could see my boys quite well from my table.

Next thing a lady came running across the play centre wailing “WHO’S IS THIS LITTLE BOYS MUMMY, WHO IS WITH THIS LITTLE BOY”.
I felt everyone’s eyes burning into me. Sure it was only two parents, two staff, this woman  and someone coming in, but that was enough.  I was mortified.  I sheepishly held my hand up.
 “he’s mine, why is there a problem”.
“yes, this door to the play area can’t be left open”
“O.K. that’s fine just close it”
Then she shamed me, shamed me so hard it left a mark.
“should you not really be in there supervising him”

I was that close I could practically here his farts, I admit I wasn’t inside the actual play pen but I was there getting ready to play with my boys. I was in so much shock and embarrassment I didn’t even argue back. It took me a minute to digest what she had said and realise she was in the wrong. He was being supervised, the gate had only been open because it was already open and my child was the only one in there.

As if that wasn’t bad enough there has been more shaming.

Hubby and I took the boys to a trampolining place. It was so much fun, (except that I peed a little, note to self, look after your pelvic floor mama bear.) The boys were getting hungry and thirsty so we took them off the trampolines to go refuel.  Mr S was fine with this but wanted to be carried , which was fine as Mr B or Mr independent as he is also known likes walking. Hubby went to the lockers leaving me with them both. At that moment Mr B decided to be, for want of a better word, a dick! He ran as fast as his chunky little legs would carry him towards some stairs. Struggling with Mr S in one arm I attempted to grab Mr B, who promptly threw himself to floor and began screaming blue murder.

Now I understand that people might turn heads and look, I mean if you hear screaming you instinctively need to see where it’s coming from and I’m ok with those people.  I am not ok with the woman who continued to stare at me struggling to hold a 2 year old while prying a pissed off 1 year old off the floor/step. I’m even more not ok that the same woman then  shook her head at me and made an over the top tut.
Managing two young children is tough. Managing two children while one of them is in full melt down is really tough, also embarrassing, so why would any other human being feel the need to judge someone who is doing their best in a tough situation.

My final mama bear shame felt a lot more personal than the others. It did more than shame me it hurt me. I was engaging in conversation with another mama who I hadn’t met before. She had a 6 year old with her and was pregnant. The conversation got onto my boys and their ages.
I told my fellow mum that my children were one and two and her reaction shocked me.
“sorry did you say 1 and 2”
“ yes, they have 13 months between them”
“oh how awful for them. They are never going to have time to grow alone and discover who they are”

I was so shocked and hurt by her response that I just nodded and ended the conversation.  I look back now and think why didn’t I stand up for myself? I should have told that silly woman that my boys are perfectly aware of who they are. I should have stood up for myself, but I didn’t because that’s what mummy shaming does. It makes mamas feel like they are doing something wrong, makes them doubt themselves, makes them believe they are failing in the most important job they will ever do in their life.

I really hope there won’t be a mama bears shame part 3 but I seriously doubt that. There are far too many small minded people out there with far too much time on their hands. If you have the unfortunate luck of meeting one of these people, just remember mamas and papas,

You are doing a dam good job, there is no right or wrong way to parent, just do it your way and make it work. Enjoy your children, you got this.

Good day to you x

Monday, 6 March 2017

All hail the nappy

This week Mr S did something for the first time. He told me he needed to poo, he then got to the potty and did the poo in time. He normally falls short and has already done it in his pull ups by the time he has told me and we’ve got his pants down. But not this day, this day he made it. My gosh was he proud of himself and I was proud of him.  He stood up cheering and dancing and I was cheering and dancing along with him.

Then came Mr S favourite part of potty training. Taking it to the toilet, tipping the number ones and number twos in and then flushing. I don’t know why he loves this so much, I imagine because he sees grown ups use a toilet so it makes him feel like a big boy. Once we had finished the dancing we turned to get the potty and do the toilet run.

What happened next happened in slow motion.  THE DOG ATE IT! Yes you read that correctly. George my cheeky ‘overweight’ Jack Russell ate the shit. He didn’t even chew. He clearly knew what he was doing was wrong and that if he got caught he would be told not to eat it, so as quickly as he could he practically inhaled a toddlers turd.

I spent the next hour reliving the traumatic experience and dry heaving. I also spent the next hour listening to Mr S throw a tantrum because ‘Gorge’, which is what he calls George the dog, had eaten his poo and he didn’t get to flush it.

Potty training is so bloody stressful.

If the poo eating incident wasn’t bad enough there was more

1. Chasing after a toddler, waving a potty like a mad woman because he has a log hanging out of his cheeks and in his words doesn’t want it out.
2. Having your little boy sat at the side of the toilet, sobbing, because you flushed his wee in the toilet and he wanted to keep it.
3. Your younger child celebrating his older brothers use of the potty by picking up the potty and drinking piss.
4. Your toddler carrying a piece of poo too you because it came out on the floor.

It’s ridiculous.  When you have a baby and you change that first overly gross mustard nappy with only teeny wool balls and warm water , you  think to yourself this is it. This is the worst it can be. It can’t get any worse than  this, and it doesn’t, it actually does get better. The poops start to solidify a bit, you even get the odd cheeky one wipe. Then it happens the health visitor/grandma/friend mentions potty training. You get a bit cocky, I can do this you think, how hard can it be you think. You buy a potty, storybooks about a little boy who craps in all the right places, you Google tips on potty training. You got this mama bear.

Then you start trying, you get pissed on in the first hour and there’s a poo in your shoe. throw away the books, delete your Internet history, it’s all garbage. The only tip when it comes to potty training, persevere, buy a couple of mop heads and start finding poo funny.

Good day to you.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Mama bear, I love you

Pre warning: this blog talks about cancer and may be upsetting for some people.

I am 28 years old. In those 28 years I have experienced a lot. Unfortunately not all good experiences, but hey who can say their life has been perfect. This week I went through an experience that reminded how those bad experiences have shaped who I am today. I know this sounds very cliché but it is true.

This week my mama bear was called in for a hospital appointment. After having cancer 3 times my mama is always in hospital for one appointment or another so I didn’t really think anything of it, nor did she. That was until at 9pm the night before she actually read the appointment letter properly. The appointment was for a breast tomosynthesis. She wasn’t sure why she had been sent for this, after some googling by me we discovered it was similar to a mammogram.  It was like the super duper  advanced version  of a mammogram that created a 3d image. I assured my mama the invite must of been extended to her as she has had breast cancer in the past, so their just being extra safe. I didn’t think that really, I lay awake most of the night thinking there must of been something wrong on her last check up. It turned out , despite my reassurances earlier in the evening, she stayed awake thinking much the same thing.

She went in for the procedure alone, the first thing she did was ask, “why have I been invited for this”.

They told her quite matter of factly  there was a suspicious area on her mammogram which was being investigated as a cause for concern. Imagine being told that with no warning. Now imagine being told that with no warning less than a year since you got the all clear from your third fight against cancer.

When she came back into the waiting room my heart sank. Her eyes were glassy and unfocused. She had gone quiet, uttering a couple of words every so often about how she was’ fine’. I grabbed her hand and squeezed it, it lay limp and clammy in my palm.

At this point all I could think was I’m 28, I have had to manage the thought of losing my mum 3 times maybe about to be 4 and I’m only 28.  I know this sounds horribly selfish, I know some people lose their mamas even younger, but that’s just how I felt. I was angry that she was having to sit in a waiting room, feeling this dread again. Suddenly I noticed everything screamed cancer.

A lady walked in wearing a headscarf, clearly having chemo, there was a huge Macmillan display, there was a lady saying how frightened she was about her diagnosis. My mum was staring at the window oblivious to anything around her, but I still felt like I needed to shield her from these glaring reminders of the big C.
A nurse came out and called her name. She jumped up and practically ran after her, I  turned to watch her go and I will never forget her eyes.  They were filled with fear and the scars of what her body had already had to fight. I smiled at her every second until the door shut, then I cried. I sat in a waiting room with other people with tears rolling down my cheeks. I didn’t care if anyone saw.

 I realised I wasn’t upset that she might be sick, I was upset that such a beautiful person was getting kicked by the universe again. I was angry that we had to see her go through this again.

The 5 minutes she was in there felt like forever. Each time I heard footsteps I looked for her. All the memories of the first time she had cancer came flooding back. I remembered being 11 years old just home from school. I knew my mum had been at hospital but I didn’t know why. When she came in I could see she had been crying. Her and my dad went straight into the garden without saying anything, I ran upstairs and ease dropped from the bedroom window. My mum was sobbing and I heard the words breast cancer. My world had crashed down then and I was terrified it was going to do the same now.

Finally her door opened. She was smiling, crying, but smiling.
The universe wasn’t kicking her for the 4th time. I didn’t have to face losing my mum for the 4th time. We didn’t have to see her go through this for the 4th time. The suspicious area was scar tissue from past surgery.

I can’t explain the feelings we experienced from then. We were elated. It was as if she had just been given the all clear from something she hadn’t actually had. We got in the car, put the radio on, held hands and cried with relief.

My mama has shown me to fight. All 3 times she has fought cancer she has took the diagnosis and stood strong. I don’t know how she does it, but she does. Even when her treatment has worn her down she always held it together in front of me. Always told me she is going to beat this fucking disease.
Mama bear, I love you. Xx

Sidenote - I can never thank the NHS enough. They made a mistake by not telling her beforehand why she was there, but they more than made up for it with their handling of the situation afterwards.