Monday, 27 February 2012

The loneliness of motherhood


Some women take to motherhood like ducks to water, but I wasn't one of them.  It doesn't matter how much you long for a child, it doesn't mean you won't feel the sense of loss for your old life. At times, it can seem like you are grieving, like your old life has gone and there is no way to get it back again.  I think that these days, with the perpetual childhood so many people in their twenties and thirties seem to enjoy, it has become particularly difficult to adapt to being a parent. 

One of the things a lot of people recommend, is going to these mum and baby groups. Now, I'm not against them per se, I know plenty of people who have met "friends for life" through these groups. Maybe it's because I'm not much of a joiner, but I have come to loathe those groups. I go to a select number very occasionally for the sake of my children. I always choose ones that are drop in, I never ever commit myself to groups that require a waiting list or where you HAVE to attend every week. I used to take my son to dance and music classes, but found the cost prohibitive, especially when I could attend my local children's centre for £1, he preferred going there anyway. The problem with these groups, as you might guess, is the cliquey-ness of them. The "in crowd" you thought you had left behind in school re-emerge as alpha mummies. That loud and brash breed who just take over wherever they go.

A few months ago I attended a post natal group at my local surgery. There were about 12 mums there with new babies. The idea was that we had a discussion about an issue, for example weaning. On this particular day, one alpha mummy completely took over, clearly loving the sound of her own voice. It got tiresome quickly so I started squeaking my son's sophie giraffe toy every time she piped up, made no difference though.  I sometimes strike up conversation with other mums at these groups, however that is the last time I hear my voice....I then get talked at mercilessly for at least 20 minutes before I make my excuses and escape. Is it me?! 

I guess what it comes down to is loneliness. I'm writing about it flippantly but quite clearly these mothers are horribly lonely. Motherhood IS lonely. Although of course you are never actually alone, the very nature of motherhood is very isolating as it is just so damn difficult to leave the house. And the thing is, these "friends for life" you make, you actually have nothing in common with, aside from giving birth at a similar time.

And I guess as well that this is also one of the reasons for the rise of the Mummy blogger.
As mums we are horribly horribly lonely.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Who needs sleep anyway?


Me

Right.That’s it. I’ve had enough.  My son is now OVER  12 months and still insists on a little chat around midnight.  In fact, he also likes a little cuddle at 4am and a dribble at 5. What is it with this child, he must really love me to want to see me so much! Thing is, it’s getting a little old. Not sleeping that is.  Three months I could handle, then it got to six and now it’s twelve…hmm I sense a pattern here. Part of the problem was definitely the fact he would not take a bottle. I have a theory about formula fed and breast fed babies and I have a definite *hunch* that bottle fed babies sleep better. I have no proof of this, maybe it is just a fantasy that it is possible for babies to sleep. 

So far this is what we have tried –
·         More milk in the day.
·         Less milk in the day.
·         Snacks throughout the day.
·         No snacks throughout the day.
·         Naps.
·         No Naps.

You get the idea, we’ve tried everything.  Now this leads me nicely onto the old “leave him to cry” theory. I am against this approach for one reason – it stresses me out and makes me shout at my husband. I don’t like the idea of my child crying for me and me not going to him, it’s unnatural isn’t it? Anyway I’ve  tried it and it didn’t work.  I would like to think that when I am an old lady crying (in my senility) in an old peoples’ home that I won’t be left to cry alone in my room, “leave her, she’ll soon learn!”.  There’s an old mantra I quite like here, treat your children in their infancy how you would like to be treated in your old age. I hope mine don’t plonk me in front of the 2050’s equivalent of Jake and the Neverland Pirates and make me eat raisins.

Anyway, one of the things I definitely recommend is using a baby sleeping bag. We discovered with Son 1 that he would ALWAYS wake up at 4am (cold) if we didn’t use one. It is quite simply,  a must.  It’s also safer as there is no risk of loose covers going over baby’s head. On that note I want to showcase son 2’s most recent lovely gift from Vertbaudet. They were kind enough to send us a lovely sleeping bag as seen here (£33). I really like it and in my head I keep thinking he looks a bit like a Prince in it (have no idea why, it keeps coming into my mind but that could be because I’m obsessed with the Tudors at the moment.)

My Tudor Prince

Anyway, no time to write anymore, I'm just going to rest my eyes....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Birthday Boy

Today my baby is 1 year(s?) old. I'm not nostalgic about it, I've never been one of those women who wants their children to stay dependent on them. To be honest I'm not really a baby person, I much prefer being a mum to a toddler who I can laugh with and talk to honestly.

Anyway, we had a bit of a present opening session this morning. I'm ashamed to say that due to room and money constraints he only got a few presents. However I was lucky enough to have a Brio Classic Wooden Car sent from the online nursery shop  Hello Baby.

He really loves the car and it is perfect for a 12 month old. The design is simplistic and there are no whistles and bells but it means he can use it independently.  It is also very well made as you might expect from Brio.


Son 2 still isn't sleeping through the night which is pretty annoying challenging. I don't think I have ever heard of a 1 year old who wakes up for a milk feed in the night.  Last night he woke up at midnight (hungry) and then again at 6am (hungry) for the day. I can't understand how this can be? I have thought and thought but I just cannot think of a way to get him to sleep through. We've tried giving him cereal before he goes to bed, giving him his tea early/later, giving more milk/less milk in the day. Nothing seems to work. I was hoping it would be something he would eventually grow out of but the big question is, when will he!

Saturday, 25 February 2012

I've gone and done it!



Well, after much deliberation I've finally gone and done it....I've changed the name of my blog and actually bought a domain name (don't worry Hubby it cost $7).  So in about three days time you will be redirected to PRET-A-MUMMY! I've been thinking about a new name for some time, something that encapsulates me and my writing.  I like Pret-A-Mummy for a few reasons: it suggests an interest in fashion, which I definitely have. I'm not really interested in London Fashion Week type stuff, more stuff that as a Mum I can wear, be comfortable in and look vaguely sophisticated (at a baby group). I also like the use of the word "Pret" - meaning ready. As Mums we always have to be ready - ready to mummy!  I do everything at breakneck speed before the screaming begins...so being a ready mummy reduces the stress (and heartburn).

Another thing I'm really interested in is cooking for my family and friends. I will only cook things that take up to ten minutes to prepare as the aforementioned screaming prevents any longer. So part of being Pret-A-Mummy is being ready to cook, such an integral part of motherhood.

So there you have it - fashion, mummy stuff, and cooking! And all three combined.

Please come and support me as I emerge from my cocoon....I need a bit of hand holding!

Friday, 24 February 2012

My blog needs a new name...

When I first started my blog, I really had no understanding of blogging. I was selfish about it, I didn't look at other people's blogs, I didn't get it, I thought it was all about me. Now I know the best part of blogging is other bloggers. I've "met" some great minds, inspirational writers and all round good eggs through the blogosphere who seem to know where I'm coming from and feel the same way about a lot of things.

Now I'm a bit more established, I want to change the name of my blog. I don't like the name, it makes me sound like someone who scrabbles on the floor for 1p pieces, the reality is quite different. In fact, in honesty I'm a bit of a snob  person who has high standards. I like luxury items and 5 star hotels, I can't help it!
I love fashion, cooking and saving money in a sensible way (so I can spend it on myself of course), but I'm not a person who shops in charity shops and pound shops, I can't stand the queues anyway.

So I'm looking for a new blog name, and I'm looking to buy a domain name! Big step for me, but will I lose my (two) readers! Well I suppose I can just tell me mum and friend Emma that I've changed the name.

Any ideas?

Thursday, 23 February 2012

A Mother's Work MeMe!


As promised, a MeMe, but thankfully I've got mother.wife.me holding my hand to help me on my way.

I've been moaning thinking a lot recently about how mothers (and fathers for that matter) are just expected to "get on with it", fork out for extortionate childcare costs and work all hours in inflexible jobs, often with low pay and little or no career prospects.  There is a wasted and untapped resource desperate to make an impact and do a fair days work for a fair days pay. Think of all that lovely tax that the government is missing out on by overlooking mothers and actually creating a reasonable means for us to work AND bring up the next generation (of tax payers.)

A thought: Our society doesn’t value or support mothers as well as it could.

I’ve blogged a couple of times on this issue, as has mother.wife.me. So, we’ve decided we’d like to team up and make a bit more noise in the blogosphere about it.

Step one is to start a meme. So here it is:

A Mother’s Work Meme.

Rules:
Please post the rules
Answer the questions in as much or as little detail as suits you
Leave a comment on mother.wife.me so we can keep track of the meme
Tag 3 people and link to them on your blog
Let them know you tagged them
Tweet loudly about taking part (well ok, that isn’t a rule, but how about if we start a
hashtag - #amothersworkmeme)

Questions:

1. Did you work before becoming a mum?
2. What is your current situation?
3. Freestyle – got your own point you’d like to get across on this issue? Here’s
your chance…

Oh and finally….Little Blue FeetJapanese Mummy UK A Mum and More, A Twenty Something Mum, Multi Layer Mummy you’re tagged!!
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A Mother’s Work Meme Response from Bargain Mummy Buys

Did you work before becoming a mum?
Yes, I decided to build up my career before having children as I was aware it would not be easy afterwards. I got as many promotions as I could and made sure my salary was locked before I went on maternity leave.

What is your current situation?
I now work three days a week in a "professional job". I am constantly subject to derisive comments from others about being "part-time" despite the fact I am always a full time mum. We are lucky in that my parents look after our children three days a week although they are getting older and it is not easy for them.
To get my part time position was very difficult and I really had to jump through hoops, I felt there was nothing to really protect me from a flat refusal apart from my own wit.  I am constantly exhausted from trying to be the best worker and best mum and don't know how long I can sustain it for. I feel I am being pulled apart and every time I leave my children to go to work my heart breaks a little.

Freestylin’
A lot of my friends have had their part time work request refused, so they have been forced to leave their jobs to seek (lower paid) temporary contracts.  A lot of people seem to sneer at the idea of a woman wanting to spend time with her children if she previously had a career, like it's some sort of consolation prize.  The fact is that I physically could not work full time and give 100%. As it stands, being part time has benefited my employer as I never take sick days and am much fresher coming to work for three days.
I don't want to leave work completely as in the current job market I fear I will never find work again.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Calling all Mums! (and Dads)...

A few weeks ago I had a bit of a rant (Guilt of a Working Mummy) about being generally fed up and annoyed with how hard it is to be a working mum in this country. I wasn't the only one, over at mother.wife.me things were heating up and there was a lot of general, "yes why is it so hard?" sort of talk going on.

There are basically two choices: - work no or reduced hours and have no money. OR work all the hours god sends to pay for childcare, and still have no money at the end of it.

Childcare MUST become more affordable, jobs MUST become more flexible and part time positions should be as well paid (pro rata obviously) with the same career prospects as full time positions.

With this in mind, mother.wife.me and I are starting a meme tomorrow about this very issue - our first! So please return tomorrow to join in and let's start a Mummy revolution!

Anyway, I will leave you with a picture of someone I know, a mother of two children, on her usual train home.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Day out with Vertbaudet!

I love a good day out on a cold day, especially if a lovely lunch is involved. I have to admit, with children going out on a cold day is a bit of a mission, it's a hard slog trying to get them to wear, and stay in the warm clothes they need.  The other day we enjoyed a lovely day out at a local beauty spot called Bolton Abbey. It's a lovely place for a walk and there is even a pushchair friendly path. The cafe is a bit pricey but it just makes life easier, and nearby there is a lovely ice cream parlour with fifties style interiors AND a great adventure playground.



On this particular day we were lucky enough to try out some lovely Vertbaudet goodies that were kindly sent to us.  Son 1 was sent a very cosy convertible padded jacket  (£39) that can also be unzipped as a gilet. He was also sent some super cool wellies which actually had an internal sock to ensure they were very cosy and snug on his toes (£11.90).


He was also sent a really lovely roll neck jumper which you can just see peeking above his coat, anyway, a picture from the website is here.

£13.50

Son 2 was sent a reversible all in one (£20.30)which was really warm and cosy. It has detachable booties and mittens so he can wear his shoes (unlike most snowsuits).



He was also sent a beautiful cream outfit that I am actually going to save for a special occasion (£16.10).



All in all it was a lovely day out especially with lovely new clothes, thank you Vertbaudet!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

What I wore today! Oasis polka dot top.

In my younger days I used to spend ALL my money on clothes. Then when I went to Japan for a year in 2002 my mum decided to have a good old clear out in my absence. She threw literally everything away, I was heartbroken. In truth the clothes were probably pretty much worn out and done for, but it was still a cruel blow.   For quite a while after that, I kind of lost interest in clothes and what I wore, in fact while I was pregnant, I didn't see the point in even thinking about trying to look good.

However since entering my 33rd year, I've had a bit of a change of heart. I have made a conscious decision to try and look a bit cooler and make more effort. I will no longer just throw on clothes in the morning like I used to. However being a bargain mummy, I'm going to look closely at the clothes I've already got and try to rejig them to create some new looks. This is what I wore today...

Oasis blouse, H&M skirt and M&S cardy.
I'm not saying I look wonderful, just that I'm trying! Anyway, I am wearing 1 baby aged 12 months, a red polka dot top from Oasis (bought for £10 in the sale).  A M&S grey grandad style cardy £25, a grey cord skirt from H&M £15, grey tights from White Stuff and BARGAIN boots from Sainsburys (bought on special offer at £10 - these are supposedly genuine sheepskin!).

I actually felt really warm and snug plus vaguely "trendy" (a word my dad uses).

Friday, 17 February 2012

My BARGAIN white chocolate and ginger cheesecake...

We had a lovely meal at Wagamamas last week and had the most delicious white chocolate and ginger cheesecake. Anyway, we have guests this weekend so I thought I would make my own, with a money saving twist of course!

Ingredients
2 x large bars of white choc (I bought smart price/saver was 35p)
ginger pieces in syrup
250g half fat creme fraiche
250g mascarpone
smart price/saver cookies (whole pack)
100g butter

1. Crush the whole pack of cookies like so!
 2. Melt 100g of butter in the microwave and stir in. Then put in the fridge to set.













3. Put the mascarpone and creme fraiche in a bowl and whisk until it forms peaks.

Melt the white chocolate in a bain marie (do not do this in the microwave! I did and look what happened!)
Chocolate does NOT like being micowaved!
 
4. Wait until the chocolate cools slightly then whisk it in.

5. Slice up a piece of ginger and place it in the cheese/creme fraiche mixture, then add as much ginger syrup from the jar as there is. Whisk for a few seconds.

6. Slice up some more ginger. Place on the base.












7. Spoon over the mixture, and all done! 


















 Now - if you want toffee sauce over the top!

Ingredients
100 g butter
100g brown sugar
about 100ml of double cream
2 large spoonfuls of golden syrup
 
1. In a pan melt the butter, sugar and syrup together on a low heat.

A little trick I learned in school, heat the spoon before putting in the syrup.DO NOT lick the spoon afterwards, it really hurts!













2. When bubbling, take off the heat, add the cream and stir.

That's it! Easy as pie. AND the ingredients cost me less than £3 altogether (had the ginger and syrup in my store cupboard already.)

Can't wait to try it tonight!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Guest Blog - Origami for toddlers.

A guest blog from a good friend of mine, originally from Japan...

I am very thrilled to be asked to write a guest blog here. I am from Japan and I have a son and a daughter. As a mum, I sometimes struggle to think of things to do, especially on rainy/lazy days. I try to keep my children occupied instead of letting them watch DVDs all day long. They love anything from cooking, baking, drawing, painting, handy-crafts to model making.

One of our favourite activities is making something with Origami - the traditional Japanese paper craft. I have this rather cute little carry case I bought in Japan, clearly saying ‘Origami Case’ in Japanese just in case you didn’t know.  As suggested, I keep my Origami paper in there.  Origami literally means ‘folding paper’.  
Origami carry case.
We decided to make two very easy animals on this occasion. The first one is a cat.
Here are the instructions:
1. Get a piece of Origami paper    
(Just any square paper is fine)     












2. Fold it to make a triangle.

        
 3. Fold the top outwards.


          
4. Fold the bottom two corners upwards.


5. Turn it over and draw a face, Meow!

                     


      

         
        


The next one is a dog.
                                                     
1.Get a piece of Origami paper.    




2. Make a triangle facing downwards.
3. Fold two corners downwards.

4. Turn over and fold two triangles top and bottom
 










5. Turn over again and draw a face.











These are very popular with children and you can make greeting cards, gift tags bookmarks etc
with different colours, sizes and faces of the animals. There are a lot of things you can make with Origami and it is actually quite easy and it keeps those little fingers busy.
 


Here are the finished works with my children proudly holding them. Just give it a go!

NB sorry about the formatting!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

H & M 50% off!

I got an email yesterday from H&M with a selection of 50% off stuff. I have to say, a lot of it looks pretty unflattering and not my cup of tea (though was annoyed to see something on there I have recently bought for full price!). However there are a few items I think are great value and perfect for spring.

Firstly I really like these beige cotton trousers which are now £12.49.  


I recommend sizing up if you are pear shaped.
Though with these I would wear a white to to balance your top half as I have a feeling these may not be to flattering on pear shapes.

Next I really like this dress, and a bargain at only £3.99! There are lot of colours available in this dress, but I think this colour looks the most expensive looking.

Pair with gold sandals and dark blue cardigan.
I also love this checked shirt, I think it might go quite nicely with the dark beige trousers, maybe over a white vest.  It also comes in blue check, but I prefer the pink style - £7.49.


For a lovely layered look, try pairing this shirt with this brightly coloured pink cardy at £7.49.

There is a blue one as well which might look nice with the blue jersery dress, above.
All together this little lot comes to just over £30! What a bargain, and perfect as a weekend away capsule!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Day out at the National Railway Museum - Wizard's Week!

Son 1 is obsessed with trains; all trains, steamies, smelly old diesels (his words) and of course the enormously appealing bullet train. For that reason, he is constantly nagging us to take him to the National Railway Museum in York. We love going as a family, it's free which is one thing definitely in its favour, so when I was asked to go as a blogger with a VIP pack, I was only too glad to accept!




This week is actually Wizard's week, complete with best dressed Wizard contest on facebook. My son, however, refuses to dress up as anything, so I knew I was onto a loser with that one.

The event is on from the 11th - 19th February (basically all half term week) so is perfect for a rainy day, or in fact, any day! There is ample parking outside for £9 or of course you can catch the train to York as the museum is right next to the train station.

Simulator ride - we chose the Time Travel theme!
The first thing we made a beeline for when we got there was the simulator, I've been meaning to go on that for ages.  It costs £3 each (though free for us) and you have a choice of various "scenes" - we chose Time Travel as boringly I thought it would be the most "educational". We really enjoyed it and best of all both boys were able to have a ride.



I could already see the queues at the restaurant building up so after having a long look at the model railway...
Very popular with little boys and girls!
...we were ready for lunch! NRM had thoughtfully included lunch for all of us in the VIP pack, so we headed to the restaurant. There are hot meals as well as sandwiches and salads. I had the sweet potato chilli with rice and the boys all chose sausages and mash (but in a posh way).
Lovely lunch!

A view of the restaurant, on a platform!
After that, we headed for the star of the show - the Hogwarts Express complete with carriages actually used in the film! There was quite a big queue to have a ride but it didn't take long (although I had a bit of an altercation in the queue with a woman and her family trying to push in! My husband turned his back and pretended he didn't know me). £2 but free for us.
LOTS of people eager to board the Howarts Express!
video
Here is a little clip of the train steaming in (you can actually hear me describing the argument with the "pusher".) 

We were lucky enough to be offered a free broomstick riding journey (normally £5) by full frame events complete with fan and background for realistic effect! Here is the finished product!
Slightly worrying was a full grown man getting a picture on his own.
Lastly we went to make a wizard's ID badge (normally £1.50 but free for us) which my son really enjoyed. He coloured in his picture and we wrote his name together. He then got a special pouch to wear it round his neck (again, there were a worrying number of adults wearing the badges! Still, whatever makes you happy!).
Proud badge wearer.
There were lots of other things to do which we didn't have time to do (son 2 was having a meltdown by this point) like go on the miniature railway or get the landtrain into the town centre and back but we will definitely do that next time we visit (there is a small charge for these).  There are also daily events which you don't have to pay for, for example owl displays, Derek the Dragon, The Magic Hatter and All Action Wizard Duels. The times for these are on the programme you are given when you go in and I advise to get to each thing a bit early as they get very crowded which makes it difficult for little ones to see.

There are also the usual things to see like the Royal Carriages and lots and lots of steam trains. In terms of child friendliness it is brilliant; cafes all have plenty of high chairs as well as microwaves to heat (free!) baby food. There are also plenty of baby changing facilities.  The only thing I found slightly annoying was the amount of stairs between The Great Hall and The Station Hall (though there are two lifts) but won't affect you unless you have a pushchair or mobility problems.

All in all we really enjoyed ourselves and I would definitely recommend this as something to do over half term. I would recommend it for children age 3 or over with no upper age limit!

Thank you National Railway Museum we will be back soon!

Friday, 10 February 2012

Lovely versatile H&M Dress only £14.99!!

I have a new favourite blog....it's called Bargainista Fashionista. It's a blog about fashion bargains, and I am TOTALLY addicted. I can't actually afford to buy any of the things (yet!) recommended on this blog, even though some of them are utterly bargainous. The photography is also beautiful and vibrant, I love it.

Anyway, on the recommendation of Bargainista Fashionista I saw the most beautiful jumper in Urban Outfitters (which is a place I never thought I would look at!) for £10 was £48. It is called Cooperative strawberry yoke pullover

Full credit to Bargainista Fashionista - her post is here.
 Alright, I admit it, I bought it! Happy? Yes it's handwash only, yes it contains no wool, but I love it and I don't care.....it feels lovely to the touch. I am going to wear it with skinny jeans, it is absolutely adorable...what more can I say?


 Anyway on this note I wanted to showcase a lovely lovely dress in H&M at the moment at only £14.99. I love it because it looks like the sort of thing you could wear anywhere and look really styling. Plus it looks expensive, when it isn't, sure fire winner in my opinion. Anyway, after all that, here it is

There are other colours but I don't see why you would want a different one...I see myself wearing it over a black polo neck and black tights/boots in the day. In the evening I envisage lots of chunky silver bangles and high heels (this is a fantasy, I never go out in the evening). BEST of all I have a £5 code for H&M which is 1304.

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