Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Parenting Perfection.

I always wanted to be a perfect parent, I even got paid to tell other parents where they were going wrong for a living so surely it was going to be a doddle.

Things immediately didn't go to plan. After three weeks my breastfeeding plans were over, Tabitha was losing weight rapidly and her temperament made it clear she was starving.

Next there was my terror at attending the health clinics and partaking in Mummy chat in general.

Little Miss Know-It-All then ended up pacing the nursery all night with a screaming child having no idea what was wrong. I had spent two weeks giving half doses of Calpol because I'd read the syringe measurements wrong and wondered why nothing was helping her teething pains.

I'd really wanted to be the vision of parenting perfection but I'm not.

I have friends who have fought on breastfeeding for ages and who are obsessed with their childs salt and sugar intake, who only want their child to go to private or church schools, who would be horrified if someone said 'shit' in front of their child. I don't lose sleep over these issues, school is years away, food is food, plans change.

Seriously though... Are their children any happier than mine? Are their children guaranteed better futures? I doubt it, some of the stupidest most miserable people I've ever met have been vegan privately educated fools.

I'll openly admit I can be a bit of a rubbish mum, we sometimes eat crap and sometimes we say 'crap'. I'm not ever going to start enjoying mothers mornings and music groups or stop going clubbing if I find the energy!

I'm not going to beat myself up about organic food or occasional swearing in front of the kids and if going clubbing means we are encouraging 'dad' dancing, so be it.

Striving for parenting perfection is a bore, being uptight is dull.

Chill out and enjoy your kids I say. Life's too short.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Homemade Traditions.

This year i hosted Christmas at our house for both our families and it was my biggest hosting event to date. It made me start thinking about Christmas traditions that were part of my childhood and my partners, the things that 30 years later we still link with 'our Christmas' experience.

Do traditions just create themselves or do we create them?

I made my first Christmas cake this year and intend to do so every year. I wonder will my Christmas cake feature in Tabithas Christmas memories when she reflect on her childhood, i hope so.

My mums childhood Christmas memories were of her milkman Grandfather never being generous with the cream portions to go with her Christmas pudding and as a result we always have gallons!

My memories of Christmas Eve will always involve having a naughty sherry glass of Baileys before bed. I was always so excited about being allowed alcohol that it was years later i realised it was a tactic to help us go to sleep before 3am!

What are the Christmas traditions in your household?

What ones from your childhood have you carried over into your own childrens?

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Silent Sunday.

Boxing Day entry for Silent Sunday.

Silent Sunday

To see the other entries click the image above.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

The Gallery - Love.

The last gallery theme of the year is Love. 

Me, Laura, Rebecca, Helen, Katrina, and Michelle.

We have all been friends for a long, long time.  

A group of girls from my hometown, a mixture of ages, a mixture of personalities, a cocktail of aims and goals, but importantly all with the same sense of humour.

Through all the trials of life: good times, bad times, births, deaths, marriage, and divorce. 

We have lived together, travelled together and been miles apart.

I love them all, they are my girls.

Click above to see the other entries.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Cbeebies: Snog, Marry, Avoid.

 A little bit of Christmas fun!

We all spend far too much of our lives watching Cbeebies. 
It goes with the job so come on spill, who are your 
Cbeebies: Snog, Marry and Avoid?

*Plenty of choice in every sex so don't be shy!

Andy, Alex, Cerrie and Sid.
Pui and Chris.
Pete and Nat.
Big Cook and Little Cook.
Mr Maker.
Mr Tumble.
Sarah Jayne.
Doodle do Chris.
Sportacus, Stephanie and Robbie Rotten.
The Numbertaker.

I'll start it off with mine.....
SNOG: Sid.
MARRY: Chris - Show me, Show me.
AVOID: The Numbertaker.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010


From a little girl I grew up always thinking that I would be a mother.

I knew I wanted children and it did not occur to me that anything would stand in my way.

In my late twenties I had to face the facts that it had not happened. The fertility treatments had not worked and even though there was no official medical reason I had to think about living my life without children.

Its a deeply crushing and all consuming feeling. People talk about your heart being ripped out, its that, pretty much. 

I had spent years working in childcare homing my maternal skills, watching children develop and grow before my eyes imagining one day doing the same with my own children. 

My brain did what it could to cope, I focused on all the childrens lives I have been a part of, how special that is. How important to be involved in forming a pre school mind and how honoured I was to be a part of their lives. Perhaps I thought I have played enough of a part in bringing up other peoples children, perhaps my role in life is to be, just me.

I tried to focus on my new relationship, having fun, going out, seeing the positives in not having children. I imagined a future life with two incomes, expensive holidays, no childcare fees draining our wages, just enjoying my partner and our time spent together.

As my friends had babies I tried to be happy for them, tried to not be jealous and bitter and let the anger out.

Inside I was proper mad. I was so, very, mad. 

I would have made a good mum, I didn't understand. 

I'd sit at work and rock a child to sleep in my arms knowing I may never have this of my own. I'd sneak off to the toilets and have a little cry, those feelings are not feelings you can let out, there is nowhere good for them to go. 

So instead I'd smile and brag of lazy mornings and all night parties.

I cannot explain the moment I found I was pregnant in a way that does it any justice. 

I heard my breathing suddenly gasp, then stop. I felt my heart pound, then stop. The whole world just stopped, froze, I could see myself sat open mouthed, I had to kick myself back to earth. 

I knew from that moment that everything would be fine, this baby was my gift for waiting for so long, for holding those feelings inside, for not moaning or self pitying and for never giving up hope.

The Gallery - Sparkle.

The theme this week at Sticky Fingers is Sparkle.

This is a close up shot of a rather glitzy dress of mine. 

Disco baby yeah!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Forgetting yourself.

Parties, Nightclubs, Bars, Cocktails, Doormen, Dj's all used to be a part of my world. I worked in a nightclub owned by some friends just some part time shifts at first, working the cloakroom or taking money on the door. I loved it, i loved the atmosphere, the dealing with customers even the drunk ones. 

When my personal situation changed and i needed a full time job i jumped at the chance to become the bar manager and spent a year sleeping all day and working all night. Its a weird life never seeing daylight, only mixing with other people working those shifts. You get well known by taxi drivers, the local police and kebab shop owners but your own neighbours have no idea who you are.

I was single at the time and loved the social life it brought with it. I was always sober until the club closed so it wasn't about the drinking, it was about being part of giving people a good night out, creating an environment. Working a bar is damn hard work, especially when its busy, sticky spirits can get in places you never imagined possible and your ability to sense a fight kicking off is like a superpower after a while, you can smell it in the air.

Why am i telling you all of this? 

Because yesterday while i was soaking the dried fruit for my Christmas cake, i smelt the brandy and suddenly remembered.

The one where I'm in Top Sante!

As my regular readers are aware i have been on a mission to regain my figure. What you may not know is how it all started...

I was recently asked to appear in a feature for Top Sante about how i have improved my fitness and how it all come about and Eeeeek!

It's out this month*!!

The article features several ladies like me who have undertaken a charity event and then turned their fitness around after the training.

When i was a teenager my brother Matthew died, aged 19 he lost his battle with cancer and this year i finally dragged myself off my lazy arse and raised money for cancer research by taking part in The Race For Life. It was this that got me started on my fitness campaign to return to my pre pregnancy weight.

I got to meet the other ladies featured at the photoshoot and have to say i felt very un-worthy compared to their stories of climbing mountains and riding push bikes to Paris. I am now even more inspired to do the 10k next year after reading their stories.

We all however shared the same opinion that we had achieved what we had thought was impossible, i hope other people read the article and feel they too can do something they'd thought wasn't for them.

So if your in Tesco or Asda ( or any leading magazine retailer ) pick up a copy and have a look, its Mumra in the flesh!

*January 2011 issue of Top Sante.

Many thanks to Liz Jarvis for writing a lovely article and giving me the opportunity to be involved.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The Gallery - White.

The Gallery theme this week is White.

This is my far my favourite white photo. 

Bubbles at bathtime with Tabitha-Lo.

Don't forget to have a look at the other entries at Sticky Fingers.

Monday, 6 December 2010

The Birthday Cake.

I have been meaning to do this post since Tabitha's birthday, then I was reminded the other day by a friend asking for the recipe. 

Firstly I have never made a birthday cake before, there has been some success with muffins and little cakes but this was my biggest attempt yet and coupled with the '1st Birthday' pressure I was very nervous.

Twitter has been a fabulous source of information for me with regards to teething, sleep patterns and feeding and it did not let me down with cake baking either. The lovely @cookingkt who blogs at Feeding boys and a firefighter sent me this recipe for vanilla sponge to get me started.

Vanilla Sponge

250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250g caster sugar (golden caster sugar is particularly good)
4 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g plain flour
4 tsps baking powder
3-4 tbsps milk, at room temperature
1.     Preheat the oven to 180’C, 160’C Fan, Gas 4.  Grease or line your cake tin(s)
2.     Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer or with a handheld electric mixer until pale, light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Very gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well between each addition and scraping down the bowl with a spatula from time to time. Stir in the vanilla extract.
3.     Sift together the plain flour and baking powder and add to the cake mixture in 2 batches, mixing until smooth. Add the milk and mix until smooth.
4.     Spoon the mixture into your prepared cake tin(s) and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 35-40 mins until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire cooling rack.

With the help of my gorgeous assistant we followed the recipe. When it was all mixed together we poured the mixture in to the greased 9inch square tin and put in the oven. I am seriously impaitent and totally looked at the cake before I should have, as a result it sunk a little bit in the middle. We hid that by flipping it over once it had cooled so the surface I laid the icing on was perfectly smooth.

Cover the cake once its cooled with a nice thick layer of seedless jam, I used Apricot, then lay the rolled icing out over the cake. 

My tips for the icing are these..... 
  • Buy ready made, or even ready rolled. My local cake shop sells bags of all colours ready to roll.
  • Make sure it is going to cover the whole cake before you lay in it the jam.
  • Don't make it too thin it or it will split as it stretches over the corners.
Leave a draping edge over hanging onto the base, let it settle for 5 minutes, then cut to fit the bottom and tidy.

    Tabitha loves Timmy and he is a nice simple set of shapes so we went for him as the main decor. I'd suggest to go for something similar that is made up of basic core shapes, nothing too fiddly.

    Get them laid out right before you attempt putting on the cake. When your happy stick them on by brushing a watered down jam mixture as glue, brush over with a little water to clean off icing sugar you used for rolling out and you are done!

    I felt really proud to have made her first birthday cake and hopefully if I do one every year they will get better and better.

    Sunday, 5 December 2010

    Wednesday, 1 December 2010

    Muddy Puddles All in One Review.

    Playing in the snow is such a huge part of your childhood. That feeling of woolen gloves so matted with snow from making snowballs, your hands don't hurt until you go inside and warm up, then they sting like hell!

    I was desperate for Tabitha to be able to enjoy the snow should we get any this year, so started looking at outdoor suits a while ago. When i was a Nursery Nurse i used wet weather suits often on my children and found the saying "no such thing as bad weather just bad clothes" very true. As long as the child is dry and warm much fun can be had whatever the weather.

    In my search i was directed to Muddle Puddles at TPToys and after chatting with them about their suits they kindly offered Tabitha an All in One to review.

    When the suit arrived i was gobsmacked by the quality, i had thought it would be an over suit like an anorak fabric or waterplay apron, i was wrong. The suit is fully lined and the waterproof outer layer is soft and malleable, it has little shoe covers that attach for non walkers and popper off to make way for wellies. The issue of sodden gloves is addressed with fold over mitten ends on the arms, so much easier than gloves! Why do normal winter coats not have these for toddlers?

    Tabitha loved playing in the snow, her first real winter experience. She swept the snow off the benches with her mitten covered hands and ploughed through the powder covered grass kicking it up into the air.

    The best part (other than her of course looking totally awesome wrapped up like a giant ladybird) was that when we got in and unzipped and de-wellied her she was bone dry underneath, even her hands.

    I have a feeling we will be using the Muddy Puddles All in One a lot this winter. 

    The Gallery - A Celebration.

    Ok now some people might think i've gone a bit mad, that i have already done  'A Celebration' as a gallery theme entry but its not me, it is Tara at Sticky Fingers. She felt the subject needed re-visiting as there were so many possibilities. *cough* (or she forgot she had done it before!)

    You may have seen this picture already on another post and i have to say its not my work. It is a photo shoot Tabitha had done but i DID grow the child myself so i'm taking full credit.

    If this pose does not say 'Celebration', i don't know what does?