Friday, 31 August 2012

A letter to you.


Dear You,

              If you are reading this, I have probably died, if I'm not dead then you lot have shuffled me off to a nursing home. Bastard.

 I love you. That is what I want to say first, I really do. No matter what has happened, even if we no longer speak at this point I will always love you.

Eldest you might not remember this, but when you were under 2 we had a house, with a 4th hand couch and 2 beds. We borrowed a telly so you could watch some Cbeebies. You loved that. You weren't hungry I promise, but you had no treats either. We got through. What did I learn? I learnt that I was strong enough to do it. I was strong enough because your tiny little spirit was brighter than mine has ever been. At the end of a day, with not much in it, you always had a little smile and something to say, it never made sense obviously, you barely make sense at any age. You saved us. Really.

Somehow between 2-4 we got our shit together. We moved country (again), moved back in with my Mother. I'm sorry for that, you barely slept, that couch was always a piece of shit. The floor wasn't much better. We got another house. The one I am typing this in. It smelt a bit like wee when we moved in, I hope you don't remember that obviously, but it's true.

Look at it now, its clean safe and warm. We did it kid. Not alone, but you have been with me since the start of everything going wrong and the struggles, it was you who no matter what, held my hand. 

No matter what, I'll hold yours.

I know that I was never the best mum, but I was never the worst either. I want you to know that I really tried my best, even when I never knew what 'best' was.

If you have children by now, I want them to give you the mental torture you gave me. I really do. I hope so much that they do not listen. I hope they are naughty, funny and smart. Everything good and bad from you. All of it. You'll also know first hand that even when you think you're out of love and hope there is always more to be found as a parent, you always have something worth fighting till your very last breath for.
I want you to know that you will be fine. It might seem like one long dark tunnel at times, but you have amazing people around you. I promise you, if you ever get lost one of us will be there to find you. No matter how far down you fall, look up, someone will be there for you.

                                                       
Love Always,


Mum xx

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Purple Carrots.


You know when something in life surprises you? Wonderfully.

For a few minutes you are as amazed at something tiny, the same way you'd be amazed when looking at billions of stars through a telescope.

Well, I get like that with simple things. I think it's nice to get so excited and blown away by things people mind find ordinary or boring.

So, today I am sharing what made me go 'ooooooooo'

Yes indeed purple carrots.

Taking a peek inside the carrots.

I had never heard of purple carrots.

I have now and it is one more thing to tick of my list of cool things in the world.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

I think she does it, to piss me off.



Sometimes, just sometimes there is a point where my blood just boils and I am closer than ever to really losing my temper. I can feel it, it is so close the surface I have to physically shake it off.

Me - 'Eldest, can you pick up that towel please?'

Eldest - Blank stare

Me 'Can you pick up that towel. Please'

Eldest - Chews lip a bit, stares at me.

Me 'Can you pick up that towel. Please'  I point.

Eldest - 'I, errrr, wa, ummm'

Me - 'It is right next to you, you just put it down. Pick up the towel. Please.'

Eldest - Spins round, starts to look confused, treads on towel. (This is the point where I start to feel all my zen, calm, happy place shit leaving me.)

Me - 'You've trod on it twice. Pick it up.'

Here is where it would have been easier to pick it up myself, but there is more than that at stake now, it's the principle of listening to a simple direction, carrying it out and reaping the rewards of not being dim. I need to know that my kid isn't a farking twit. Ya know? I need evidence.

Eldest - Blanks stare, lip quivers 'What tools are you talking about?'

Me - 'What? What? I said towel. Towel. Weren't you listening? Never mind, pick up the towel please, thanks'

Eldest - Blank stare

I walk over, pick up the towel.

Me - 'This towel, the one you were basically standing on, it was right next to you, right there (points at ground), don't worry I've got it.'

Eldest - 'Ohhhhhhh, you meant that one? I thought you meant a different one.'

I walk off into the kitchen, bite my lip, think of happy things I can literally feel myself stiff and tense from head to toe.


She isn't stupid (probably), she just doesn't listen.



The Gallery: The Fighter



My Eldest has been Kickboxing for a few weeks now, I know they tell you to be careful what you choose to take your children too.I have found that since she has been going, she listens more, she has a little more confidence and she loves it.

  So here is my little Fighter.


If you want to see more sensational Movie inspired photos click The Gallery badge below!


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Does the 'Unfollow' matter?


It started with Bebo and Myspace, then spread through to Facebook and Twitter.

The unfriend, the unfollow, the ever so quiet 'I don't like you' button, the 'you're boring' button. In reality- we are incredibly connected to so many more people than we might have been in our normal everyday lives. Instead of a group of 10 close friends, we can share everything with hundreds of people, only now we, have to option to remove them, slyly.

Digitally. It matters now. It matters to Mavis that woman you met on holiday 4 years ago, you both promised to keep in touch, now she finds herself unceremoniously thrown out of the 'Friends' and into the 'People you may know'. It hurts the person behind the avatar, the one posting things that they find interesting. We have been programmed to share everything, the little things, the big things. People have put wedding invites, birth announcements and birthday party invites on Facebook. Not even the joy of a nicely printed or handwritten card appearing on your doorstep. You have probably shared something that not everyone liked too.

Gone are the days where if you no longer wanted to be friends it was a 'in person' thing, you told that person or at least made it obvious. Now, now we have the sly digital age of ignorance; I will unfollow, because it won't matter, I will unfriend, because they won't notice.

On the internet, as is in life, people notice. Their time and effort are invested into building that page, blog, Twitter, Facebook, Myspace page, Bebo and LinkedIn.

It hurts equally if a person says you are ugly to your face as it would behind a screen.

When did it happen that we cared so little for people, that we can cast them out as quickly as we invited them in with that little 'follow' button?

Thoughts as always are more than welcome here :)

Competition time!



Guys and Gals, I have a small list of current competitions, alls you have to do is click the links fill in the little form and you're done!


Competitions 


·         The Grass Wood Company – this is one for the mums and dads,  Bamboo iPad cover - Here



 
·         The Vintage Charm Company – Click here for the chance to win a Footprint or Handprint worth £75   @VintageCharmCo



·         Minene - Click here to win a   Gorgeous newborn gift set. @mineneuk


May vary from this example.


·         Gummee Glove - Click here to  Win one of 3 Teething Mittens @GummeeGlove  



  Kimber Kids - Click here to win a  Kimber Kids toy set They have a facebook if you fancy going and giving them a 'like' you can do so here > Facebook


As always I do not run these competitions I am just bringing them to you, I have no sway over who wins.

Good luck to all those that enter!!

Home Education & Montessori


I would love to be able to send Eldest to a Montessori establishment. I looked into a lot before eventually coming to the decision to pull her out of school. I loved the whole philosophy and method using all five senses to enrich the learning process. As it goes, for this kind of education you might have to move and/or get a much better paid job. Both are probably worth doing, however I'm in no position to do it! So we have to make the most of the space we have and what is available to us.

We have already been using phonics, we cook together and clean up together after. I have always had an affinity with wooden toys, I just loved them, both girls have always had plenty. Rather than buy a lot of expensive electronic toys we opted for stacking cups and wooden blocks. Already without knowing we were swaying heavily into Montessori education. It made sense for me to do more reading, to see if it really would be suitable for Home Ed. More so would it really fit us?

I'm going to make the hazardous jump into yes. Yes it does.


An idea of how low the shelves are


There is a bookshelf off to the left. (Thats an indoor greenhouse on the right)

 I decided to stick with a clean white rug with a blue set of lines. The floor is too hard for small bums so rather than hard carpet, I rugged. It works with the corner and seperates that half of the room.

Mojo testing out the Texture bags. Sid testing out the rug.


So that is what it looked like before the items arrived. I haven't gone crazy buying things, I've bought some things that came highly recommended. If you follow me on Pintrest there is links to everything apart from the units and rug.

Tidlo Musical Instrument set by John Crane (review here). 

Our version of the 'Pink Tower' I opted for a natural one. It's quite stunning.
Close up of one of the Tower blocks.


Colour boards on the left, Multicultural Music set on the right.


Close up of the Rainstick detail.



Tangram. This has been a sensation.


 After reading all these reviews about the 'Pink Tower' being able to self correct children and that they got joy out of completion I recorded Eldests first attempt just in case these happened to be faux.

video

Sorry for my awful camera work, I was lying on the floor with a very itchy nose.


 So that is the start of our journey. I am learning so much about learning that I can't quite compute it all yet. My children have amazed me already with a few simple items a whole new world appears to be opened up to them.

 Our practical skills tend to take place they normally would within the home, cooking and washing in the kitchen, bathing and so on in the bathroom so we will stick to learning those things that way.



Tidlo Musical Instruments


I have decided to add some more dimensions to my Home Ed & we will be adding some Montessori exercises, I am in no position to be able to send Eldest to a Montessori establishment, as such I've put a lot of time and effort into researching the whole philosophy and I will be implementing it at home.

I will be reviewing a lot of the products we have purchased, simply because there is a lot of interest in the whole Montessori thing, a side from that the items I have bought can be used without sticking to the principals I'll be using them for.

So first up I ordered the Tidlo Musical Instruments by John Crane. It arrived, the children went scatty. Eldest recognised the 'John Crane' logo from the Rainbow Recorder she tested for them not so long ago.

I picked up this set for £19.99 which is a reasonable price considering what is included.

Box Contains



  • 1 x Drum/ Tambourine
  • 2 x Maracas
  • 2 x Drum Sticks
  • 1 x Metal Triangle
  • 1 x Metal Triangle Tapper
  • 2 x Castanets
  • 2 x Hand Bells
  • 2 x Clackers
  • 1 x Rakatak 

  • The Clackers are missing as they were picked up before I managed to take a snap...



    The items are all great quality, the sound of the instruments are fantastic. The thing I was dreading was having an overly loud and harsh sounding set of instruments, because I know these will be played with a lot. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they aren't harsh at all, they have a really mellow sound to them. They are smooth, easy to handle and light.

    Testing the Clacker and the Maraca out.

    Obviously this needs to be super tested by Eldest.

    There are a lot of fantastic points to these, not only did the children get to experiment together with different sounds, good quality items, but it has it's own box. Now, maybe you don't mind about things coming in their own box. But I really love this. IT HAS IT'S OWN BOX.

    All 14 items can be tidied away into it's own storage and put away until next time. Another point, is - there is a strap. Tiny hands are able to safely carry everything. Just is in case you, like me, like a good box, with some straps. Here is the proof.



    As it states on the box it's 3+ in age, some of the items like the Triangle, Triangle Tapper and the Handbells can be a bit risky in very tiny hands, hands which like to put everything in their mouth. That being said the other items are pretty secure.

    The item's I received did vary than those in the picture, however in honesty I am happier with the ones I received. My Handbells didn't have the red rope design or the smooth handle and the Triangle Tapper wasn't soft tipped. That minor observation done, the girls really enjoyed playing music together, I enjoyed hearing it. These are high quality sounds that no one will get bored of any time soon and are sure to last a while.



    I never receieved anything for this review, we just enjoy the product!

    Sunday, 26 August 2012

    Silent Sunday

    Thursday, 23 August 2012

    (Fugly) Teddy Bear

    It's not cute, it's not fluffy, it's even called a fugly! However, this is a keyring teddy that Eldest picked for me. It's super cute, obviously, even if she gave me a twig it would be the best twig I'd ever had. So this is my Snap Happy today, a Fugly teddy.

    Wednesday, 22 August 2012

    The Gallery: Sky



    Breath in. Have you ever had a moment in time, you could be sitting on a beach or grass, in a car or even lying in bed. For that heartbeat, that single breath you are content. It washes throught you, your whole body reacts, it is almost as if you've been waiting years for it; that second. You shift slightly, it's gone. You can still feel it's left a little sparkle where it's been. Breath out.

    That is how I was feeling the minute I took this photo. It was that tiny moment when everything aligns and you feel glorious.







    This is the first time I'm joining in with the Gallery over at Sticky Fingers. Thanks! 

    Sunday, 19 August 2012

    Thursday, 16 August 2012

    Baby numbers.

    Can you have too many tiny toes in your life?

    How do you know what your number is? That number of children you want. Is it a selfish choice? Probably. But what is it that makes you think, 'I'm done' or on the other hand 'One more makes 12'.

     I've been thinking about this kind of thing a lot, I can see myself with more than 4, I can see myself with 8. Does that mean I should have 8 babies? I don't know. Is this even an issue?

    How do you decide? I feel selfish even typing this, the country is already heaving. Should I be adding to that? I think big families are fantastic. I love them. The noise, the dynamics. I adore it. Probably because I am jealous. I will admit it. I'm not in a position to provide comfortably for more than 3 children right now (only have 2, so they are a bit spoilt). Yes I can love them, hug them and keep them clothed, but more than that I would struggle. Is that fair on them? I grew up with not a lot. I don't remember the bad times, I remember tea and toast every night before bed, I remember going on super cheap holidays to visit family and spending it all on the beach. I don't remember going without. I am however sure, now with a parents perspective, that my mother and father probably fretted nightly about bills and things and there is only 3 of us. I'm lucky, I know that I don't have to worry about these things at the moment. However winds change quickly and that could all be gone tomorrow. I could be sitting on the floor eating beans I can scarce afford with bailiffs banging my door. That could happen. What if by that time I do have more children?

    Big families and the people with the ability to have them, I applaud you on you being so brave to have them, I am jealous right to my bones. I don't understand how you manage, I want to understand because I want that.

    I can't seem to clear the lines between what is selfish, what is wonderful and what is right. How do you know when enough, is enough for you?

    Why did nobody tell me? A review.



    I love reading, so when Bloomsbury asked me if I fancied reviewing 'Why did nobody tell me?' I thought 'Hey, cool. Sure.' I don't mind reading sardonic humour, because I knew what to expect.

    The blurb -

    'WHY DID NOBODY TELL ME...that the gurus don't always know best ...that you don't have to 'get your figure back' six weeks after birth ...that you don't need to worry about the other parents at the school gates ...that it's okay to let them eat dirt ...that you don't have to have a naughty step And most importantly ...that you should never buy a guinea pig? Drawn from the message boards of mumsnet.com and based on the assumption that if thousands of parents have found a piece of advice to be helpful then you can be pretty sure it's worth knowing, this book shapes that collective wisdom into dozens of dos and dont's that will lead you through the minefield that is twenty-first-century parenting'

    Okay so that is that bit out the way. You can pretty much decide from that if you will enjoy this book or not. Can't you? I'm not so sure. There are some things in the book I out and out disapprove of, because I'm a judgey parent and it is my right to disagree with stuff in the world. There are also some things that make me laugh.

      There are some gems of advice in here, and, being as it is all lifted off Mumsnet's very own forums  it's from real parents. It is not one of these parenting books in which you are shit unless you follow the book exactly, word for word.You are not left feeling that you have failed as a parent, instead you can feel safe in the knowledge that we have all failed somewhere along the lines.

    The book is trying in a pseudo light hearted/ cut to the chase/ jaunty way to tell you that it's okay to fuck up. It's okay to make mistakes. Other parents make mistake and are more than happy to share them and the solutions they found or how they dealt with it.

    The problem for me lay simply in some of the comments which had been included. Unfortunately I am a 'Birth Bore' I love talking about my birth. ALL DAY LONG. I do think I am an earth mother for carrying my baby in a carefully chosen sling. To me it really is more than a 'fucking sling', it was a parenting choice. BUT I really do get the humour in the book. I understand it. It just doesn't fit me in some of the chapters. I know for sure there will be many people who will cackle whole-heartedly at these bits. There is something for most parents in here. I was slightly hurt by the 'School Gates' chapter, there didn't seem to be anything really probing the home education option. Though this seems reasonable due to the majority of readers needing the advice given in the book to help them find their best school, I still think it could have been given a touch more consideration.

    All in all, the book is funny & packed with advice (but they state themselves don't take it, take it, it's up to you). Perhaps it isn't for everyone, but I'm yet to read a parenting book that is.   





    P.S I received the book free of charge for this review.

    Here is the link if you fancy your own copy - Why did nobody tell me?

    Sunday, 12 August 2012

    Thursday, 9 August 2012

    Simple old shoebox craftery



    I have just bought some cheapy trainers for the gym, I remember when I was in school everyone making these shoe boxes to send off to children in other countries. I also remember not having a shoe box and taking in a tin of mixed fruit. Bad day when you're 8. Anyway I thought it would be fun to make our boring old shoe box into something a bit more fun.




    Tiny hands starting to put the glue mix ( 1 part water 2/3 parts glue ) and the ripped up tissue paper (poundland) on the box. It was a little messy, but she has an apron so all is good.




    All the ripped up colours.




    All the bubbles and some damp glue soaked paper.



    Mish-mash of colours. It's really simple, just layer on glue mix and different colours. Eldest really enjoyed making a mess with permission.








    The dry product has some lovely colours and a fab texture.


    The finish product, complete with glitter, sticks, sequins and furry pompom.


    It was a really cheap and fun thing to do, made a personalised gift for 'Granda' (my grandad) and she loved it. I would recommend putting an old table cloth down first, simply because of glue dribbles. Use as much or as little stuff as you like.

    We used -

    5 pieces od tissues paper vary colours, ripped
    Glue mix PVA 1 part mixed with 2 or 3 parts - roughly
    Old shoe box
    1 pack sequins
    Other stuff from our craft boxes.

    Wednesday, 8 August 2012

    As a mother I have learnt..




    • I do not need to go to the bathroom alone. I always need a running commentary. I wouldn't know what to do without one.
    • I do not need to drink a warm drink between the hours of 6am and 8pm, tepid is in fact the best temperature for me. 
    • I can have poo on my hand and on my face but still be more concerned about removing the poo from the arse of my child.
    • I must have an answer for everything. 
    • I do need to eat the mushy carrot from the palm of my 9 month old.
    • If I laugh, I must explain why it was funny. Only to be told, it really wasn't funny at all. 
    • Going shopping only includes buying toys and sweets, beyond that there is no point to it.
    • Sitting down is not an option.
    • Whatever is on my plate is free to be stolen and distributed to various other sources in the house. Whatever is on their plate is not.
    • The programmes I like to watch are in fact crappy. All of them.
    • Sex is not a spur of the moment thing, it must be booked in 3 days before, and still has a 50% chance of failure due to the following reasons: Teething, nightmares, good film on, book I can't put down, cats need to sleep in middle of bed, children who need to sleep in the middle of the bed.
    • 1ps, 2ps, 5ps, 10ps can all be put in their piggy banks rather than my purse or my bank.
    • Bath time is talking time. The sound of the taps means that all children must go straight to the bathroom and ready a conversation and become clingy for me right at that moment.
    • My bladder is free to do as it pleases. I do not really want to hold in small squirts of pee when I laugh, sneeze or cough.
    • Everything I say and do can be repeated to outside sources, including Doctors, Dentists, elderly on the tram, friends, people behind the counter & inanimate objects.
    • Every day you are free to feel guilty for something you did or didn't do during the day. Every day.
    • If I open a chocolate wrapper the noise can be heard from miles around and they will know what I am trying to do.  
    • That I like gin.
    My weapon of choice.

    What have you learnt? 

    Some things I do with Veggies.


    Firstly I want to say you can do pretty much anything with tasty vegetables, here are some things I do to break up the steamed/boiled monotony.

    Speed Peeler the Courgette, if grilled they go crunchy. Yum


    I do this because if I happen to have extra time I want to make it a feast for the eyes as much as the hungry bellies. It's satisfying. I then throw them randomly on foods, because they are so thin they don't hold as much taste as a cube or slice would, so if you have fussy eaters you can probably hide these in things or make little pictures with them.




    Fennel with Sheep & Goat cheese.


    I quater the fennel bulb, then peel a few bits off and scatter them about, grate over sheeps cheese & crumble over the goats cheese. Then because obviously I fancy myself as a bit of a Jamie Oliver I scatter some of the soft herb like fronds from the stems of the fennel over the whole thing.
    Why I like it? The fennel has an aniseed flavour but it still sweet and tastey, the sheeps and goat cheese adds a creamy texture and the saltyness of the goats cheese makes my tongue happy.


    Asparagus with Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Peppers and Leak topped with Pecorino
    This one is crunchy and sweet. You can pretty much make something like this to go with a meat or bulk it up to be a delish dish all on its own. 
    Here is what I do - Chop up all veggies I am using, throw them in a oven dish, drizzle with oil (a good one or flavoured) top with a few herbs, I tell Eldest to go and pick anything that doesn't smell like mint. You can take out the leak if you don't really want that zingy veg through it. It cuts the sweetness of the tomatoes but you could just as easily do a squeezy of lemon. I top it with Pecorino cheese, simply because it has a nutty flavour that goes fab with the asparagus.
    Why I like it? It's a pretty substantial meal, and incredibly simple. Also because you can dip bread in all the juice in the bottom of the dish. YUM.

    Monday, 6 August 2012

    Pulled Pork



    Okay this one takes a little longer to do but has amazingly juicy results. Nommy. Straight up I'm gunna tell ya, the pork needs to soak for up to 8 hours in the brine solution for best results. (I hate finding that out after all the prep.) And you'll need a probe thermometer.

    I used a pork shoulder without the bone, but I've been it told it has more flavour with one. Never the less, I went boneless, I'm brave like that. Here are the things you need.


    Pork shoulder although you can test this out on different cuts, I think the shoulder works best.

    For the Dry Rub

    Combine each of the following into this yummy dry rub mix into a container with a lid.

    1 tbsp of each of the following - Garlic powder, Onion powder, Chili powder, Cayenne pepper, Salt, Pepper, Paprika.
    1/2 a cup of brown sugar

    Brine Solution

    1/2 cup salt
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    2 bay leaves
    3 tbsp of the dry rub mix 
    1.14 liters of cold water

    Add the salt to the cold water and give it a good stir, making sure as much as possible is dissolved. Then add the brown sugar, 3 tbsp dry rub mix and bay leaves. Stir.
     
    Prep & Instructions
     
     Wash the pork shoulder and place in a large container, pour over the brine solution. Make sure the shoulder is as covered as possible in the solution. Cover with cling film/lid and put in the fridge for at least 8 hours. Really here is the more the merrier the flavours are working their magic the whole time.

    Pre-heat oven to 225 degrees.

    Once it has finished it's soak. Take the pork out of the solution and pat him dry. 

    Pop him into a roasting tin bigger than him and around three inches in depth, with the fat facing up.

    Get the dry rub out, massage it into the pork, all over. Get it in all the creases and holes. Once again make sure the fat is facing up. Remember not to touch your face there is Chili on your hands.
      
    Place the tray into the middle rack in the over. Insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the meat. If you have chose to have a boned joint, don't let the thermometer touch the bone. 

    Now sit and wait. It may take a few hours for the middle of the joint to reach 200 degrees. Once this has happened, it's time to use some residual heat. 

    Turn off the oven. Leave the pork in there.  If you think the bottom of the pan is too dry, then cover the tray with foil. 

    You are looking for a temperature of 170 before you even think about removing it from the oven. 

    Once it has cooled, if you used foil - remove it. Place on chopping board/ serving thing.

     Peel the layer of crunchy fat off (my disgusting lot ate it, seasoned crackling) .

    Pull apart the pork and serve. 

    Enjoy!!  


    P.S the smell varies between the spices, the fat crisping up and a smokey smell. Don't worry.  


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