BEAUTY AND THE BRAINBOX

Despite being brought up by the same people, in the same environment it’s quite common for siblings to develop into very different characters. I mentioned briefly in my post The Quiet Man ,  the difference in my children’s characters and having spoken to other parents I know this is the case in a lot of families. It has come as no big surprise to me then that this is also the case regarding my children’s approach to learning.

Spud (7) is the logical one. Information goes in, is processed and documented accordingly. This is his brain:

Flump (5) however, well let’s just say she was never quite as interested in her ABCs or 123s. I mean what’s interesting about a bunch of letters and numbers right? Jigsaw’s? Pfff. Join the dots? SNOOOORE. Her brain looks like this, but with more glitter:

I have no doubts that she’s gonna get along just fine in life, she knows her mind, she’s independent, tenacious, funny, perceptive, did I mention tenacious? To be honest, I kind of admire her “Why would I want to do that when I can just get someone else to do the boring stuff for me” approach, however I know this is not going to do her any favours in the classroom.

When Spud started school he was more than ready for it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying he’s a child genius, just that he has a natural interest in learning, or more specifically understanding things. How does it work? Why does this happen? He likes symmetry, order and logic. Plus he’s one of the oldest in his year so he has a big advantage over some of his classmates.

Obviously that’s great and entirely a result of  our excellent parenting and encouragement through his early years. Or so we may have thought until Flump arrived. One ‘Baby Einstein’ CD and a few phonics books from Poundland does not a boffin make apparently.  Nope, it seems we can take none of the credit when it comes to our son’s thirst for knowledge.

Now it’s relatively easy to encourage a child to be more creative, Spud likes Lego, Minecraft or K-Nex as they suit his little cuboid shaped mind, although if I sat him down with a bunch of crafty bits and NO INSTRUCTIONS he would definitely be out of his comfort zone. Trying to trick  encourage a creative child to think more logically however is a much more challenging task in my experience! How can I help my daughter approach learning in a way that sparks her interest and will give her the mindset she needs to thrive in the classroom and beyond? (This is a genuine question by the way, if anyone has any experience in this field then I’m all ears!)

It’s possible of course to achieve great things without a Masters in Quantum Physics  – literally change the world in some cases ( Shakespeare, Einstein, Churchill, Jobs all either poorly educated or dropped out of college) but like any parent I don’t want to see my child struggle through their school days any more than they need to.

It came as quite a relief to me then when I discovered a book by Hilary Wilce,”Backbone: How to build the character Your Child Needs To Succeed“. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have all the answers at the back (I checked), but it does describe “The 6 key qualities that children need to live a fulfilled and successful life” (tell me more!) and shows how parents can help their children develop these qualities. I won’t go into too much detail here as you can check out the link above for more info and the authors credentials etc but in a nutshell here’s what we’re looking at:

  1. Love – Feeling loved and connected allows children to comfortably develop links with others. Appreciating themselves as a valuable part of the world with their own unique talents and taking their place in teams, being led and leading. Appreciating the world around them.
  2. Resilience – A resilient child will make friends, ride out setbacks and develop a robust but flexible attitude, giving off an optimistic vibe to which others gravitate.
  3. Honesty – Living authentically builds trust and allows you to have good relationships with others. Being honest with yourself gives you a clear and balanced view of the world and your place in it.
  4. Self-Discipline – Children with better self-regulation do significantly better at reading and maths than those who give in to their impulses. It also helps to manage friendships and resist unhelpful peer pressure.
  5. Kindness – Having a kind, empathetic disposition lifts our mood, improves our health, boosts our image and makes us feel more positive and optimistic. 
  6. Courage – Mental courage (failing then trying again), moral courage (saying no to what is wrong) and steadfastness allow a child to live their life with resolution and direction.

 

The book explains in more detail the importance and relevance of the 6 values and what parents can do to encourage each one. It’s a thought-provoking read and for less than the cost of a glossy it’s certainly (sadly) more relevant to me than “30 cool ways to wear culottes” these days.

An interesting concept and whether or not it works in practice I think these are all values that we would like our kids to practice in life regardless. It’s also a very short book. I like short books. I mean what’s interesting about a bunch of words anyway?

 

 

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40 BEFORE 40

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Last week Stevie from A Cornish Mum set herself a ’40 before Forty’ challenge featuring a list of, you guessed it, 40 things she would like to achieve before her fortieth birthday. This is right up my street, I love a good list so I went to work on putting together my own ’40 things’ and in no particular order here’s what I came up with:

  1. Learn to play Poker (and win a game)
  2. Post more cards/letters/gifts
  3. Craft something functional, that actually looks nice.
  4. Learn to play the drums
  5. Learn a ‘proper’ dance.
  6. Learn to swim (yup!)
  7. Grow something, anything, successfully.
  8. Clear braces
  9. Visit Lake Bled, Slovenia
  10. Make my own jam
  11. Read more Oscar Wilde
  12. Take a hot air balloon ride
  13. Buy a proper grown up camera
  14. Learn how to use it
  15. Weekend away with the girls
  16. NYE fireworks in London
  17. Get a 6 pack
  18. Run the London marathon
  19. Family knees up with my cousins
  20. Learn (a lot) more about blogging
  21. Volunteer
  22. Afternoon tea at The Ritz (and Claridges!)
  23. Botox my 11s (the angry looking bit between the eyebrows)
  24. Learn to speak French
  25. Drive and Aston Martin on a racetrack
  26. Visit a vineyard
  27. Spend a day watching all those old movies I’ve been meaning to see forever
  28. Life drawing class
  29. Buy a piece of art
  30. Prettify the garden
  31. Go to the ballet
  32. Jump off a diving board
  33. Christmas Carols at The Royal Albert Hall
  34. Get a National Trust membership
  35. Drive a campervan around Ireland
  36. Visit a theme park
  37. Take the kids to see a West End show
  38. Go geocaching
  39. Cook every recipe in ‘Leon- Baking & Puddings’
  40. Quit stressing about turning 40

Given that I have a MUCH smaller time frame than Stevie to achieve the above (3 years in June!)  I probably need to start oooh about 6 years ago. I’ll also need to sell a kidney to fund it all but apart from that I’m good to go.

I’ll admit No.15 is a little bit cheaty because I do actually have a girls weekend away coming up but this is something I’ve never done, even before kids, despite wanting to for years so it’s staying.

NYE Fireworks in London I’d like to do just once because actually I secretly like staying in with Himself watching it on telly with a bottle of bubbles. Learning to play the drums is something I’ve wanted to do for so long, it’s only the teeny matter of actually needing to own a drum kit that’s been holding me back. There was a brief moment, student loan safely secured in my account, when I came close. Sadly I had to choose between that and food. Let’s just say I put on quite a bit of weight that term.

Abs?  Pahahahahahahahahahhah! Neevvver gonna happen. Marathon? Again,unlikely given my aversion to anything remotely athletic.

Even still, looks like I’m going to have a busy few years ahead, best crack on I suppose…

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EEK – I’VE GONE PUBLIC!

 

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Hello!

 

When I started my blog 3 months ago I knew I was going to be a secret blogger to begin with. I’m not a ‘proper’ writer. My blog is work in progress and I’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to figuring out the many different aspects of blogging. The thought of anyone I actually know reading my posts makes me feel a little bit sick. So why go ‘public’ I hear you ask?? Well, it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot since I started blogging. While I am not a confident writer, I did say in That Difficult Second Post that “I want you to know I am human”. While I enjoyed the security of anonymity I always felt equally uneasy about it,  as if I wasn’t being 100% honest with the reader. I also know that I personally prefer it when I visit a site and can see who the blogger is either through their About Me page or Twitter profile. Oh, and I have an atrocious memory so an image definitely helps me remember and differentiate between all those brilliant bloggers that I want to follow.

 

A couple of things last week helped me make up my mind to ‘out myself’ properly; although my family and I have actually popped up in images within previous posts and I still haven’t quite advertised it to all and sundry, I have decided to change my Twitter profile to a mug shot and added an ‘About Me’ section to my blog. So still *slightly* wussy but if anyone who knows me stumbles upon my blog it would be quite obvious who was behind it!

So what was it that gave me the final nudge I needed? Firstly while I was on holiday last week I had a message from a friend to say that she had started a beauty blog if I wanted to check it out and having enjoyed a large glass of Merlot (the irony) I decided to ‘fess up, come clean, shout it from the rooftops (to the 3 people included in the message, my oldest, closest uni-mates) that I too had been dabbling in a bit of blogging! So that was that. Actual real people knew. Gulp.

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Image: Pinterest

Of course they have been very lovely and supportive with their comments (and fluffed my ego up no end) but that’s what friends do right? Plus I’d kill them if they said anything to the contrary.

 

Secondly I read a great post by Honest Mum, What Other People Think of You is None of Your Business where she talks about trying not to worry about other peoples opinions of you and having enough self-worth not to be shaped or limited by them. You should check it out if you get a minute, she says it much better than I did! It definitely made me consider how much of what we do (or don’t do) is as a result of the fear of being judged. So I put my big girl pants on and went for it.

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Image: Pinterest

 

I still cringe every time I think about the fact that eventually more and more people I know may read the odd post and I’m not sure yet if this will have any impact on my writing but I know that I feel a little bit proud of doing something even though the thought of it scares the pants off me!

Can any other bloggers relate to this? I would love to know what you think and the reasons why you decided to be a secret blogger or not?

X

 

 

 

 

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MAGICAL RAINBOWS AND UNICORNS PARTY

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This week Flump turned 5 and we celebrated with a little party in the house, just a handful of her classmates and of course big bro, Spud. Himself was back to work after a lovely few days off for Easter but luckily I had lots of Mummies on hand to help out. Flump is big into unicorns at the minute so we went with a ‘Magical Unicorns and Rainbows’ theme which I have to admit I absolutely loved!!

 

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Notelets, Paperchase £3.50 for 8

I wanted to keep the budget fairly small for this one as it’s tempting to get carried away with party planning these days with so many gorgeous ideas and inspiration online (Pinterest I’m looking at you!!) I honestly think a lot of it is wasted on the kids who just want to be made a fuss of and run around with their friends like a bunch of loons. So on a mission to get the balance of fun and finance right, I started looking out for anything that might fit with the theme well in advance, picking up brightly coloured pieces here and there and stashing them away in preparation for the big day. I’ll try to note where everything was from if I can remember but if there is anything in particular you would like more info on just comment below.

The invites went out pretty early as the party was being held during the Easter Holidays so I needed to know if people were going to be away on holiday – luckily everyone was around that day – phew! I saw these notelets in Paperchase and although I know you can buy much cheaper ones these were so cute and perfect for the theme I just couldn’t resist them!

I found some party bags on Ebay and picked up unicorn trinket bracelets (also Ebay), a selection of pens/pencils (B&M)  individually wrapped sweetie necklaces and marshmallow twists (Poundland) as party favours.

Sticking with the theme I decorated the room with a unicorn helium balloon (Amazon) which turned out to be HUGE and some coloured paper decorations and balloons (both ASDA) which I tied together in rainbow colours.

Before the guests arrived I laid out a few crafts on the table (covered in this cute rainbow fabric available by the metre at The Range) to keep them occupied. ‘Make your own unicorn horn’ station with cones made from sparkly card and lots of jewels and stickers for them to decorate with – they loved this! We had colouring sheets, glitter tattoos, nail painting, glow sticks and some good old fashioned party games like pass the parcel and pin the horn on the unicorn (with some painful looking results!!)

I made this Rainbow Unicorn cake inspired by a YouTube video by My Cupcake Addiction although I used a few more colours and made them a bit less bright as I wasn’t so keen on the red buttercream used in the original, I also added a buttercream ‘cloud’ for the unicorn to stand in. The unicorn topper was made by piping white chocolate (using a template underneath some greaseproof paper) and sprinkled with a mixture of sugar and edible gold dust – BLING!! (Apologies for the rubbish shots, it was a bit of a manic day!) The usual triangle sarnies, crudités and cocktail sausages kept the girls happy followed by cookies and giant marshmallows (Tiger) on sticks which I dipped in pink candy melts and then into sprinkles – so easy and mega cool looking.

As you can see she seemed pretty happy as we all sang ‘Happy Birthday’ (accompanied by Spud on keyboard) as she was presented with her birthday cake adorned with FIVE (how is this possible??!) silver candles. Party bags distributed  and lots of kerfuffle with coats and shoes, the guests headed home and the birthday girl settled down to open her gifts – exciting! Mummy put the kettle on and cut an extra large slice of cake. Birthday party, done. Now I could do with a magical unicorn to tidy up this aftermath.

x

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DESIDERATA – A MODERN DAY TAKE

For anyone not familiar with the Desiderata, it is a poem written in the 1920s by American writer Max Ehrmann. As someone who has never had much interest in poetry I hold this particular piece of writing close to my heart. I first came across it at the age of about 6 while mooching around my Aunt’s house one weekend. She had a copy of it, with a colourful floral border (which is probably what really initially caught my eye) and it was sealed inside a hardback plastic cover with a hole at the top for hanging. Even at such a young age I knew there was something special, almost magical about the words, or at least the sentences I could understand! I was a very happy girl when my Aunt let me take it home with me that day.

Over the years it has been stashed at the bottom of drawers, packed away with a car boot load of university-bound belongings and stuck inside the wardrobe door of my London bedsit. And today? It hangs proudly in my downstairs loo (hey, some people keep their Oscar’s in the downstairs loo!). If you’re thinking that’s not a very salubrious spot for something I hold dearly, let me explain. Where else can you go everyday, anytime you like, even if the kids are home for a couple of minutes to yourself? See?

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Like me, a bit older and shabbier than when I first found it over 30 years ago! Pride of place in the downstairs loo.

Onto the poem in question, below you will see the beautifully written words by Ehrmann in bold italics, with my slightly less romantic interpretation below on how I apply it to my own life. If this is the first time you have read it I hope you enjoy and get a lovely warm fuzzy feeling inside (oh, and sorry if my bits spoil the magic, you may want to ignore those for the first read through!!)

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Don’t be a drama queen. Don’t take any nonsense from people. Don’t be a dic  treat others how you’d like to be treated.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Be honest. Be friendly.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

If someone winds you up, or drags you down you don’t need them in your life right now. You’re never going to have Kylie’s bum, get over it and remember there are a lot of people who would give anything to be in your state of health today.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Have something to look forward to but take time to appreciate the special moments in the day. We can’t all be chocolate tasters for a living, but whatever you do, give it your best.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Don’t be no fool. Recognise and appreciate small acts of kindness (and do the odd favour when you can).

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

As the man says, “Be Yourself”. Don’t be fake, you’re not fooling anyone. Love and know that will always be loved.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Ah, this one is particularly testing! Accept that ‘laughter lines’ are not the end of the world. Maybe leave the Jagerbombs to the 20 year olds, (apart from the odd particularly messy night out obviously, after which having been woken up by a small child playing the tambourine at 7am, you’ll wish you HAD done!).  What’s wrong with a nice glass of red on the sofa anyway, eh?

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Believe in yourself, you’re stronger than you think. Don’t over-think things or you’ll drive yourself mad.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

STOP BEING SO HARD ON YOURSELF! We’re all pretty awesome in our own way.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.

Take a walk, look around, watch your little munchkins when they don’t know you’re looking, appreciate the wonder of life. If that’s not always possible, (or you’re not feeling that Zen today), remember: grapes = wine = kind of amazing).

And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Life isn’t always easy, chin up and enjoy the good times.

Max Ehrmann, “Desiderata“.
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Every time I read this a different part resonates, depending on what happens to be going on in my head but one thing is for certain, I always carry on my day feeling just a little bit more chipper as a result.

On a few occasions I have printed a copy and framed as a gift and it has always been genuinely appreciated by the recipient. If you would like to do the same or have a copy for yourself you can find lots online, I like this one in particular, if you click on the link it will direct you to a free printable download.

I hope you enjoyed reading this – what do you think of the Desiderata then? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

x

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WHY AM I BLOGGING, REALLY? 10 GOOD REASONS

At the moment I’m still finding my feet as a blogger, having only posted a handful of blogs since my initial foray into this wonderful world a couple of months ago. If I’m excited about the prospect of starting something new, I tend to have a  ‘just do it now and figure it out as you go’ attitude. And boy have I been busy figuring it out! The realisation that blogging is  actually pretty hard work! (I know, shocker!) came quite early on,  the actual writing part makes up a small percentage of what you actually need to do if you want people to SEE you and interact with you. So as the initial excitement of ACTUALLY STARTING A BLOG! wears off and I continue to get to grips with all the different aspects involved, I found myself asking:  “Why am I blogging, really?”

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Luckily, I managed to think of lots of reasons – yay! So here are my own personal Top 10 Reasons for Blogging :

1.Skills! – I am not a writer. Or a food stylist. Not an ex-editor of ‘insert glossy mag name here’,  or a freelance writer or any such role that has ever required me to ever put words down in the understanding that someone is actually going to read them. Ah. While this would have been MEGA useful right now, I’m seeing it as a positive that at almost 37 (practically a dinosaur in my kids eyes) I’m on a steep learning curve as a result of my decision to start a blog ‘just for fun’. I am extremely lucky to have the time to indulge myself in some reading or writing blogposts while the kids are at school and although I probably spend far too much time doing this I do try to justify it to myself by getting the dark wash on and a bit of exercise in first! It definitely stretches the grey matter more than daytime telly that’s for sure.

2.It’s mine, all mine! MWAHAHAHAHA…. – At the moment my role of Mummy, SAHM, homemaker or whatever you want to call it is made up largely of taking care of my family, which I LOVE and appreciate every day. It was a conscious decision that Himself and I made after Flump, our second, was born and one I have never regretted for one second. However, giving up my job undoubtedly had its downsides too (apart from the obvious lack of cash appearing in my bank account every month). I definitely feel that I have lost my sense of independence, or that I at least have to try harder to be recognised as an individual, rather than someone’s Mummy. Starting a blog is a great way to have a project that is completely my own and although I would definitely consider it a ‘Mummy’ or ‘family’ blog (hence the name), its something that I keep totally separate from time spent with my family. One day my role as  wiper of noses, tables, bottoms or tears, will come to an end and I don’t want to wave my kids off into the world thinking “Wow, that was great but who am I again?”
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3.Comradery – WOW, my experience of the blogging community so far has been nothing but positive. Such a welcoming, entertaining, intelligent, awesome bunch of people to hang out with! I’d say I’m generally pretty happy in my own company, I never really get lonely at home during the day and would much rather go out for the day by myself than with friends (is that really bad? I love my friends, I’m just not someone who needs to see them or be on the phone to them regularly. In fact preferably only when there is wine and no children involved). So in that respect, making new connections online suits me perfectly. I can happily converse with a total stranger on my thoughts on parenting/Topsy and Tim (please go away)/Cumberbatch (please come back), etc etc without ever having to leave my kitchen or tidy the house before you arrive!
4.Enrichment – OK, I’m aware this is now at risk of turning into one massive post so I’ll try to keep it short and sweet from here on in (*must work on waffling less). I’ve found joining in with linkys in particular a surprisingly enriching experience. Aside from the obvious benefit of a few people hopefully reading my blog, I have read and enjoyed articles which I never would have found otherwise. Some may be funny or useful but others have actually made me think about subjects which I would have never normally considered.
5.Confidence –  That’s not to say I am lacking confidence especially but would I want my nearest and dearest to read my ramblings? Probably Absolutely not, because in relation to writing, I am most definitely NOT confident (hence, for now anyway, I’m a relatively secret blogger).  Like most new skills, its a learning process, and the more I blog, the more my confidence grows little by little in my writing. Every tweet, every reply, every little comment from other bloggers or readers means a great deal to me, like a virtual ‘keep up the good work’!
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6.Dear Diary – I couldn’t bring myself to refer to it as Journaling. When did that become a thing anyway? Isn’t that just a term that we stole from our American friends for writing in a diary Adrian Mole style? OK maybe Diarising doesn’t have quite the same ring to it (*waffling again, naughty). Anyway, there are already moments that are woven throughout my blog that I would have without a doubt forgotten had I not written them down. A family event, a special moment or an awesome experience that I will now be able to look back on in the future and remember fondly.
7. I got Style! – Or do I? In relation to the contents of my wardrobe I got ‘jeans and t-shirt’ style but as far as blogging goes, developing a writing style is actually something that never really occurred to me. I naively assumed that writing just consisted of getting the words from your brain onto the page. Nope. The more I read other blogs, the more I realise that there are actually quite a few different writing styles and that I have no idea how I come across to the reader. Another learning curve. For now I’m just writing the same way I would probably say things out loud, but minus the swears and with the help of spellcheck.
8. Contributing something – Despite starting a blog just for kicks, I would like to think that some of what I say might actually be read and enjoyed by other people. I mean, otherwise I may as well just keep it to myself right? I’m not talking changing the world with my views on e.g. the antics of CBeebies finest, but it’s nice to think that as I mooch through a linky, cuppa in hand, someone somewhere might be doing the same, enjoying something I wrote.
9.Wearing your Blogger hat – I feel like there should be some sort of official process whereby you need to sit an exam, or complete a challenge or at least do a meaningless 95% discounted Groupon course in Grade 1 Blogging before you should be allowed to refer to yourself as a Blogger?! But then I suppose I didn’t have to do any of those things to become a mother so…never mind. I now find myself questioning the most random of topics, thoughts or products as possible blogging fodder. Luckily for you, the majority of these ideas fall down the back of my brain never to be seen again but starting a blog definitely makes you think more about all aspects of life, however ordinary and I love that!
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10. Courage of convictions – regardless of subject matter, blogging forces you to think before you type. Once you hit that ‘post’ button your words are out there for good, so you better be prepared to be accountable for them! Questioning what I truly feel on a subject, either on my own blog or when commenting on others has been a new and interesting  experience for me. Honesty is the only way, in my opinion, that you can write with conviction while building your own credible identity online, giving readers a true reflection of yourself at the same time.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post, I did go on a bit didn’t I?! Sorry. I’m sure there are lots more reasons that I love blogging that I’ll remember later. I’d love to know the driving force behind your blog – what made you want to start and more importantly made you want to carry on?
X
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BOX ROOM BABY TO LITTLE LADY

When we moved into our current home just over 2 years ago our then 5yr old boy was lucky enough to get the biggest room, meaning he could have a midi bed in there with plenty of room for storing toys underneath and enough space for the kids to play together- happy days. As usual, at just 2yrs old, the baby of the family drew the short straw when it came to square footage and was assigned the box room. Actually, at the time she was delighted as the room happened to be painted pink, and her toddler bed fitted in there nicely leaving just enough room for her kitchen, dolly’s cot and other Very Important Princessy things.

Fast forward 2 years, the toddler bed had served its purpose and it was time to go ‘big girl’s bed’ shopping. After and evening spent searching online I soon realised that the beautiful, retro iron frames in pretty pastel shades that I had in mind were clearly not made with box room dimensions in mind! Bah! So on this occasion it was a case of functionality over form. I managed to find a slightly shorter than standard bed with drawers and shelving underneath which gave some much needed toy storage and the perfect place to keep Flump’s ever expanding dress-up collection. The princess pink walls were replaced by crisp white, leftover from another project (she still hates me for this).

In an attempt to make the transformation from Box Room Baby to Box Room Little Lady, while still  appealing to the tastes of a very girly 4 yr old, I added a few pops of her “still most favourite colour ever Mummy” pink, while also incorporating her current obsession, unicorns!

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Her much loved pink gingham toddler bedding was replaced with grey and white (mean Mummy!) and I found some cute unicorn fabrics online to knock up a couple of scatter cushions. Obviously even I’m not mean enough to get rid of Bunny who seems pretty happy on his new bed.

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There were literally millimetres at the end of her bed to allow for the door to close so in place of a headboard I hung a floating shelf above the bed, which gives the effect of a headboard with the added bonus of somewhere to hang fairy lights (no need for a bedside light/table!) and display special treasures! (A birthday card from Flump’s Grandad to her Grandma when they first started dating in the Swinging 60s, a Shakespeare quote which is most fitting for a certain person, a hand knitted toy made by her Great Grandma and her first pair of Cons -too cute to ever throw away!)

Storage, storage, storage. Bedtime stories are now all neatly on display at the end of her bed ready for her to choose from. I also attached this cute birdhouse display box to the wall next to the bed so her bedtime drink is within reach. (Mermaids and hairbands model’s own but I like it!!) Oh, and I added a background using a piece of card covered in toadstool print fabric, again bought online for about £4 for a selection of 4 fat quarters.

IMG_3281And finally, making the most of the wall space available behind the door, some hooks – every girl needs somewhere to hang her OOTD right??!

 

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SPRING HAS SPRUNG!

Yay! We can officially wave goodbye to Winter and look forward to longer evenings and finally ditching the thermals!! Although it was a very gloomy morning here in Bedfordshire, the sun is peeping through the clouds as I type so it’s all good.

I’ve been on a quick H&M run for kids joggers, tees etc this morning and decided to celebrate the new season by treating myself to a little something (any excuse eh?!). Nothing fancy as funds are low and I really wasn’t on the look out for anything in particular, just something to brighten my day. With my pale Irish skin and dark hair the gorgeous bright yellow and orange tops that scream Springtime are a big no no for me, what with them making me look like a zombie and all, same goes for scarves or basically anything above the waist. I did however spot this gorgeous bright coral nail varnish from Liz Earle, just the right amount of bright without being brash, and even change some from a tenner – perfect!

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I am definitely a low maintenance girl when it comes to beauty products, partly because I really can’t justify the cost of manicures, tanning, eyebrows, highlights, lashes, waxing, facials, etc etc and partly because I just cannot be bothered with the faff of it all. While I do wear makeup every day, it’s purely because it makes me feel more confident, and so not to frighten any small children on the school run but that’s about as much effort as I’m willing to put in on a daily basis (well apart from showering and a quick whizz with a Bic obviously!)

I have toyed with the idea of investing in a home kit for gel nails as I definitely do feel a bit more ‘done’ with polish on and am fed up with spending ages waiting for undercoats, varnish, top coat layers to dry only for my hard work to be ruined by the end of the kids bathtime. While I decide whether or not to buy a home kit though, its plain old off the shelf, old school nail varnish for now.

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It was my lovely Mum who first introduced me to the Liz Earle brand waaaaaaaay back before it became widely known for its now cult status Cleanse and Polish formula with muslin cloths and when you could only get hold of it via mail order catalogue. Today its available in John Lewis and Boots to name a few which makes shopping for birthdays and Mother’s Day a lot easier for me than it used to be! While the skincare unfortunately didn’t suit my skin, once I tried the nail varnish (in Knockout, a vibrant red) I was really impressed. It went on smoothly, dried quickly leaving a lovely glossy finish and best of all stood up to an impressive amount of abuse before chipping. It’s still the polish I use for a rare night out.

At £8.50 it’s more than I would usually spend on a nail varnish but given that I have already used it and been so impressed  with the results I was happy to pay this. It describes itself a Strengthening Nail Colour (bonus), claiming to last for up to 12 days, which I think is slightly optimistic but I would say in my experience, used without any undercoats or top coat it does last longer than any other mid range varnish I’ve tried.

I’ve applied two coats as per instructed for a lovely even finish –  at least this colour will last longer than the sunshine which already seems to be disappearing behind the clouds just in time for the school run!! x

 

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MOTHERS DAY – TOP SUPERMARKET PICKS UNDER £10

Time is money. So you’ll be glad to hear that this post is all about saving you time AND money. These are my top supermarket picks for Mother’s Day, all under £10 and all of which you can grab next time you pop in for a pint of milk.

 

Spectacles by Sue Perkins, £9, Tesco Who doesn’t love Sue Perkins? I mean if you don’t, then we need to talk. This #1 bestseller is top of my wish list this Mother’s Day (just above wine and chocolate). I’ll be factoring numerous ‘toilet trips’ into my day accordingly.

Spotty China Mug, 75p, Waitrose I’m a mug for a mug, and at 75p this little cutie is such a bargain you’d be a mug not to right? Fill it with smellies, fluffy socks or Mum’s favourite choccy bars for a cute personalised gift.

Lanolips Rose Lip Ointment, £8.16, Waitrose Made with medical grade lanolin and containing Vitamin E and SPF15 this hardworking treat for lips gives a hint of colour-perfect for everyday.

3 x Mini-notebooks, £3, Sainsbury’s These days if I don’t write something down you can guarantee I WILL NOT REMEMBER IT, hence the need for a notebook somewhere on my person at all times. I’m old school when it comes to note making, preferring actual pen and paper to anything remotely technical so these little A6 size notebooks are perfect for stashing in my bag, pocket, car or wherever inspiration might strike!

Champagne, was £24.50 now £10, ASDA This Louvel Fontaine Champagne Brut is currently just £10 at ASDA so it would be rude not to – no indication on how long this offer is running unfortunately until so GO QUICK!!

Large Trinket Box, £8, Sainsbury’s  I love the geometric shape of this bronze and glass trinket box, it would look great in the bathroom for cotton balls or as somewhere to store all the random bits of stuff that accumulate on the bedside table.

Rose Gold Frame - Sainsburys (3)Rose Gold Frame, £8, Sainsbury’s OK, now let me just say I am generally not a fan of most ‘Mummy’ specific tat gifts as I regularly remind my kids/husband. They know by now to keep walking past the gift section and straight ahead to the wine/confectionary aisle thank you very much. However, this frame caught my eye for three reasons. 1. It’s pretty to look at so I would actually consider having it in my home rather than immediately hiding it in the charity shop pile. 2. It allows your little cherubs to list the reasons you so are amazing to them which makes it much more personal and meaningful than anything Tatty Teddy could ever offer. 3. You could definitely use it to display cute prints, photos or future offerings from your budding artists if you’re a really nice mummy! (keeping your original list in the ‘special stuff’ box of course).

So there you have it, no excuses for anyone not giving/getting some well deserved treats this Mother’s Day – I hope you liked my supermarket finds and have a cuddle-filled day of celebrating Motherhood!

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WEEKEND BOX CLUB INDEPENDENT REVIEW *FREE TRIAL BOX*

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The house seems ever so quiet this morning following a week of half-term shenanigans! Trips to the park, playdates, cinema (followed by the obligatory half-term Happy Meal), baking and general  monkeying around made for a lovely week of family time; Himself even had a few days off work to join in the fun! I always factor a few lazy days in between plans for any school holiday as I think the kids do need a rest even though they will NEVER EVER admit to being tired. Their absolute favourite thing to do on our lazy days is craft. Anything involving paper, scissors and lots and lots of mess keeps them happy for literally hours. I recently discovered an online company called  Weekend Box Club who will post a selection of craft activities for you to enjoy containing everything you need to get going all in one little box! With half-term on the horizon I knew it would be perfect so I joined up and placed an order which arrived a couple of days later in time for me to stash it out of sight from little peepers.

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I ordered the Bumper Box which includes 4 activities and costs £7.50 per box but they also offer a Mini Box which includes 2 activities for £4.95. The Mini-Box is delivered fortnightly and the Bumper Box can be delivered fortnightly or monthly. They also offer gift subscriptions which I think is a really lovely idea and way more fun than a bunch more plastic tat for the toy box.

As you can see the packaging is pretty trippy which I love and as soon as the kids saw it they couldn’t wait to get inside and see what it was all about! You’ll be introduced to Hattie, Wooster, Sammy & Oswald and inside you will find your brightly coloured envelopes containing supplies, clear instruction cards for each activity, stickers and a certificate to colour in on completion of your masterpieces!

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Each box has a theme and we received the Native American themed box. Card, string, powdered paint, a paintbrush and even blu-tac were supplied to make a native American headdress modeled here by Flump (customised with insect doodles and stickers).

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Spud decided to make the dreamcatcher which is hanging proudly in his bedroom window and looks great, lots of beads and feathers in bright colours and he loves the idea that his bad dreams are now being captured by his creation! (Also customised with insects for some reason?)

The third activity was making your own totem pole, for which you needed to supply your own loo roll tube. The envelope supplied some sticky backed foam to make your totem pole animals with and crayons to decorate the pole. We found this one a little less exciting but still enjoyed thinking up our animals and the cutting and sticking of course.

Of the four activities one involves baking, on this occasion BBQ Baked Beans. The envelope included a sachet of sugar and one of spice. Unfortunately the kids weren’t impressed with this one and I didn’t have the ingredients required to hand  even if they had wanted to make them. I understand that the baking activity is chosen to fit with the theme and will always require some additional ingredients/equipment, which I would not expect to be provided by post, but I did feel this particular envelope was a bit disappointing given what was provided.

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Overall I would definitely give the Weekend Box Club a big thumbs up. We spent a total of 3 hrs (with a snack break for Little Bird and Big Chief Bear Catcher) happily cutting, sticking and painting and it would have been more if we had done the baking activity so in terms of entertainment this little box packs a big punch! For those on a budget you can easily add to the quite generous supplies provided using your own stash, as I did, to allow for two children to complete each activity; which works out considerably less expensive than most kids activities x2 or even a magazine each! I also think it would be a great treat for Grandparents to have up their sleeve for sleepover weekends, where they may not have quite the amount of crafty bits and bobs to hand as Mummy Maker does.

I will say that this is not something that can be used to keep the kids amused while you get on with the ever growing heap of laundry. Both Spud and Flump needed quite a lot of assistance along the way so make yourself a cuppa and set aside some time to enjoy this as a family activity. Personally speaking, my two just want my time and attention 24/7, which they don’t get because LIFE, but when they do it means a lot to them. In fact the Weekend Box Club sum this up perfectly in their own philosophy, “Enhancing You and Them time, not replacing it”.

If you would like to try the Weekend Box Club for yourself they very kindly offer a FREE first box when you join up using this link and you can cancel really easily through your online account should you wish to.

Let me know if you try it or if you are already a member of the club (my weekend club memberships have changed somewhat since becoming a mother, although this one costs a lot less and comes with a no-hangover guarantee!!)

Have fun!

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