Thursday, 6 August 2015

Another baby? How do you decide?

Another baby or not? 

One minute I'm making my husband watch OBEM, the next I'm eyeing up which one of the thousands of baby toys I have accumulated in 7 years, can swiftly be put on freecycle, you know, to make room for that lovely new vase with long twigs and sparkly lights protruding out of it from John Lewis. I haven't had room for it until now.

Do we ever get to a point as parents, that we know enough is enough? Do we ever feel at peace with knowing that our DNA will never again combine and produce one of these tiny miracles? 

At the hub of all social, intellectual and thought provoking conversation, better known as 'the school playground' I have posed this question many times. 
I've been met with, I wanted more but we left it too late, I'm too old now, and those that said after their last addition they just knew it was time for a circumcision. I won't try and dress that last one up. 

As a mother to 4, I am in total limbo about the whole baby or no baby dilemma. 
I read a quote from a lady in America who said
"You can regret the child you never had but you will never regret the child you did" 
And it has stuck to me like a cheerio to a toddlers face.
 
What do you do when you can't quite decide? Should you keep going until you get the 'moment' when your uterus packs up and goes on permanent leave due to stress. Or do you stop when the desire to reproduce becomes a wish wash of maybes and what ifs? 

For now, my uterus is on vacation, not with indefinite leave to remain, but just a visa to have a holiday. It has had a battering in the last few years. 

Until I decide, I will just feed my slight pee on a stick addiction (poas to those of us on every baby forum know to man) and spend £10 on two tests every few months just to, you know, feel in the loop still and maybe test my reaction...

If you knew you were done, when and how did it happen? Was it a light bulb moment or did you always have a plan of how many mouths you would feed? 

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

The Blogger Interview

So here you can delve a little into my history with blogging, what I'm hoping for and what my opinions are on a couple of areas!

I have been nominated by the lovely Jemma over at the rather fabulous Living Life Nottingham to answer the questions below. Here I go:

How did you get into blogging?

It was about 4 months ago, it feels like a lot longer though! It just happened that one day I was reading an article on Mother Pukka and for some reason I decided to send in one of the many pieces I had stored in the 'notes' section of my iPhone. I would just write them for fun when the moment took me. And so I sent it and the lovely Anna said she would like to publish it! I was completely shocked and couldn't even give links to a blog etc, so the next night I went and set one up! And that was that and hear I am now!

What advice would you give to a blogger just starting out?

Get on Twitter! I had never been a member but thought it was the best place to get to know some other like minded people and read other blogs. It's been great. Try and get yourself involved in conversations, but don't cross the line of being pushy! Read other people's work and take time to tell them if you enjoyed it, it's always nice to hear! Don't stress too much about the 'pretties' I suppose it depends on what your going for, but with me, I'm so busy with my 4 children that I don't have time to worry about lots of pictures and my font. I just write whatever comes into my mind, that I think others will enjoy, and post it. I don't want to resent sitting down to work on my blog so I have to prioritise and to me content is they key. Although I do get jealous seeing some peoples beautiful sites! Also try and get involved with bloggers asking for articles from guests. It's great to link up and open new doors.

How has your blog changed since you started writing it? 

Hmmm I'm not sure on this one as it's still so new! I think it's become more 'article' based rather than an account of day to day life, which is how I wanted it but I didn't think I would do it! I'm getting my flow to the way I write as well.

What would be your dream campaign? 

I'm all ears to any campaign, but I need to like and enjoy the concept or the product and think it would be helpful for people to see a review on it. I would love to work alongside a charity (which I'm starting to do with Domestic Violence UK) to use my platform for things I feel need pushing out into the public eye. Of course like many bloggers, working with any well known company would be amazing and a great opportunity, and something that I hope I could give a lot to. We will wait and see!

What advice would you give to PR's wanting to approach you for a campaign?

Just send a friendly email! I'm really open to ideas so as long as I think it's a good fit.

Do you have a plan for your blog?

Not really! I'm just seeing where this blogging journey will take me and will go with the flow of it. I have already got involved with some other great bloggers, some who have become like old friends and some that have just been so helpful. Also I hope to pop up on some other great websites and publications one day. I have just recently been on the front page of Mumsnet Bloggers Network which was just amazing and I'm in talks (well emails!) with another great site so we will just see how it goes!
I hope to have some more variety in what I write about, to enter different topics outside parenting, but there is so much to write about I'm not sure I will ever exhaust it!

What do you think about rankings?

I have no idea as I have never checked! I don't know if I would like to know this early on as it may effect my mojo ;) unless I'm top. Then I totally want to know about it!

So now I'll nominate....

Emma at www.emmapullar.com
Natalie at Tales Of Tali
Emma at The Joy Of Five

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Large families. Are you judged?

When I had two children, the lady in the cue didn't bat an eye lid. 

When I had two children people walked past me, I blended in nicely to what they deemed as socially acceptable. 

I didn't cause a stir. 

When I was pregnant with my third daughter, my youngest was only just perfecting her ability to put one foot in front of the other. 
The looks started, the comments of 'how would I cope' followed, and the very endearing 'I just couldn't do it, I'd go insane' 

Aaahh, cute, thank you for that helpful insight into your family planning.

I just wanted to give those people a great big kiss, go sit and have a Costa with them, and hear all the concerns they have for me and my family.  

And then after take my Tomme Tipee bottle warmer out of my hold-all sized change bag and smack them round the head with it. 

Little darlings. 

Hey, I'm a chatter, I'm a people person, I'll talk to you about my kids, hell I'm even one of those that will let you touch my planet sized baby bump. 
I get all my kids to say 'byeeee' to every shop assistant. 
I'm a lover not a hater. 

But, if one more person looks at me as though I have no self control around men, and stored under my pushchair is an eight pack of Heineken and my drug dealers phone number, 

I will show you how I have no self control. 

I will call your bluff. I will stop in my tracks. I will ask you how many children you have (God forbid you tell me three, I mean come on..you have ONE less than me!) 
I will ask if you think I'm a bad parent and to explain yourself. 
I will ask how many siblings you have and rip into you and your mother, if you dare say above two. 

I will cry uncontrollably. I will sob in the trolley park of Tesco's, as I'm unloading my children from every available hole that could be used as a seat (they don't cater for three under three) to make everyone stare at how you've made a lady cry.

I'll tell you how judged I feel, how you have added to the list of people that make a preconception of my clan every time I leave my house, how I question what I wear so as to appear more of a 'nice' mum, to make sure I don't project the image of the drop out parent you view me as. 
I'll tell you how I now shop in M&S and wear chinos, when really I want to be in jogging bottoms and a GAP hoody. 

*and breathe* 

By the time we were awaiting the imminent arrival of daughter number four, I didn't want to leave the house. 

I told my husband of all the looks, the comments. 
How it was embarrassing, it was embarrassing being pregnant with our child. 

I stuck to the safety of play groups and play dates, feeling accepted and cloaked from the world by those who knew me, who knew I wasn't trying to up my up my benefit amount by popping out a child every year. 
People that knew our fourth daughter was the biggest shock of our lives, who knew how hard my husband worked to give us a good life, and how I actually loved and took care of my children. 

Now, after my fourth daughter was born, the lady in the cue, always stares. 

She tuts as one of them starts to cry, I obviously can't handle the situation I've created. 

I would turn a pale shade of red, praying in my head for my girls to just be quiet, to stand nicely, to not be dribbling that chocolate bar I bought them each as bribery, down their chins onto their already stained t-shirts from breakfast. 

Please, please help me look like I've totally got this down girls, like I run the van traps and I'm about to go home and bake apple pie. 

Let's look like they want us to. 

Then it all changed. 

Something snapped. 
A man I had never met before, changed my whole view, my worries, my self awareness and my confidence that had been knocked, piece by piece, chipped away by strangers. 
This man asked me on the school run 'have you figured out how that happens yet love, do you need a lesson?' 

First of all the 'love' just made it ten times worse.
I kept walking. Saying nothing. 

My 7 year old daughter turned her head, looked up and asked what he had said, had I yawned as my eyes were red?

I got angry, my daughter was now an age she could fully comprehend a sly comment. She could hear and understand things that were said. 

I stopped. I turned back to the man and said with an overly annoying amount of shaking in my voice..

'Yes I do, and you know I just feel happy I have four healthy children, some people aren't so lucky' 

Yes I know. 
Not quite the comeback you were hoping for right? 
Me neither. I was completely gutted as it literally fell out of my mouth. But it was the best I could do on the spot. 

He just shrugged and nodded. 

I walked away, my heart hurtling out my chest with every beat, tears swelling ten fold. 

My daughter skipped ahead merrily unaware and had forgotten her question as she was pretending to be a ballet teacher to her sisters. 

From that small moment, I refused to be embarrassed again. I refused to let people talk to me however they deemed fit, because I had 4 young children. 

I told my self if I want to wear yoga pants to soft play by damn I'll wear them. I'll even wear my trainers. 
If my child cries, I won't leave the shop in MI5 style, ducking and diving trying to avoid as much eye contact as possible, I'll crack out the mobile phone and put Peppa pig on. 
Like all good parents should. And I'll do my shopping.
I won't feel ashamed for having these four beautiful, bouncing mini me's all wanting to hold my hand. 
I'll tell you how utterly blessed my husband and I are. 
How much I'm looking forward to over crowded Christmases and 16 grandchildren, to the 4 birthday parties we will have every year and that we have a higher chance than most of one of them becoming a millionaire.
I know how my beautiful girls are loved. I know how I devote every hour and every fibre I have to them. 
I know how much fun and laughter our large family brings.

So go ahead now and look, lady in the cue. 

I'll pose for a picture ifyou like. I may even pull out my baseball cap. 

Just let me hide the bottle of wine in my basket first. 


Saturday, 25 July 2015

From the daughter of a violent man.

Domestic violence, it's alien tapping the keys to form that sentence.  I have never experienced it. 

That was my mum. And it makes me angry, my eyes swell with tears, I could smash through a brick wall with nothing but the pure angst that cultivates inside, any time I remember what my own father did.

But I should remember, to somehow honour my mother, the lady who endured feeling the force of someone's hand, strike her beautiful, loving face. The face I know as 'home'. The face I see my own reflection in. To remember her past and never forget how much, sole consuming ore, I have for the amazing woman she is, how she raised a daughter, alone, who was oblivious to the pain she once lived, at the hand of my dad.

I feel guilt, I feel so far removed from the life my own mother once lived, that often, although it's part of my history, and the culprit is part of my gene pool, it all feels a bit like a tale from someone's else's life tapestry. It's not, but how I ache for my mother that it was. 

My mum was young, from a sheltered childhood, one of three sisters. 
My dad was a city lad, doing what young men do in the 80's with some jail stints thrown in for good measure. 

I won't describe the attacks, I know details of few myself. I selfishly could not quite process hearing what one person had subjected 'my mum' too. It was more than I could handle as a naive teenager, the time I found out the true reason I had no memory of my father. 

All those years ago, mum never knew of women's refuges, helplines, and charities. 
She just ran. In the dead of night, with me as a babe in her arms. The nearest house with a light on, became a beacon of safe in the darkness that covered those streets like a cloak, running from the torture she was about to face, again, from him. 

And that's how it ended. She ran. With nothing. With no one. 

She was 19 years old. The same age I was busy travelling Australia after college. The age I was happy and seeing the world, all because my mum ran.

I've devled into the realms of allowing my mind to picture where we might be now had she stayed. I toss the thought quickly out, I don't even have the mental strength for that. 

I'm ashamed at who I'm biologically connected to. I'm ashamed my link is so close to such a creature. But more im proud, so proud, that my mother raised a confident child, with nothing but memories of doing roly pollies round our large pink blossom tree, crabbing trips and feeling as loved and secure as any child could ever need to. 

Domestic violence is real, it's happening right now, somewhere to someone. 

We need to show them their beacon of light. 
We need to hold up candles along the way to a life free of abuse. To show them, yes, run. 
Run today. Now. 

It needs to be at the forefront, the charities and refuges need exposure, all the time, as just one day that victim, man or woman, may see that article, may see that phone number. And go.
Hurtle towards a life they feel is unreachable, free from fear, control and pain. 

I will only let the darkness of my families past, become a light for someone else. Raising awareness, thrusting out into the media, charities who have their arms out, waiting to help you, hug you. 

My father did not win. He lost everything. A partner, a daughter and now grandchildren. 

Victims of domestic violence, you have more strength than I can ever fear to have. You face your battles alone, in silence, you endure, you survive. Please. Please reach out to the hands calling to you. They are there, they won't let you go.

You are strong, you can run, you can feel safe again.

I wrote this with the pure intention of getting it plastered everywhere. Anywhere. To give it a platform. To give victims their beacon of light. 

Share it, post it, copy it, I'm not ashamed to ask. 

As you do, think of just that one person it could help. 

My mum is now happy, healthy and the most inspiring woman I've ever known. 

Everything I have I owe to her. She brook the chain. For me and my daughters. 

Let's help someone else do the same. 

For any help, advice or someone to talk to there are so many charities there to help, below are just a few. They also are always looking for help promoting and sharing their work as well as volunteer opportunities. 








Monday, 20 July 2015

An open letter to Pinterest

We've had good times, great times, some of the best. 
But here's the thing.

I'm not quite sure how to say this, I need to break up with you. 

Wow. This is tougher than I thought.



Remember our Elsa themed party last summer?! You showed me how to erect a giant 'pin the carrot on Olaf'

You held my hand whilst I wrote 237 stickers saying 'melted snow' on bottles of water...

For a party of kids that couldn't read yet. 

Good times. 

You've been there for me Pinterest, 2am4am, any hour of my sleepless nights, I could count on you to show me a wooden pallet bench that only took 5 steps to make. 
It gave me a project, a focus. And we know I love one of those. 

All I needed was pallets, a hammer, nails, circular saw, sander, varnish, and, well my husband to do it..

It was going to be immense. 

I pinned it.

I pinned you.

I'd pin all of you, but I try to be selective, realistic, if you will. 

No! I loved your ideas on homemade guacamole, but come come my love, we both know my strong point isn't in the kitchen, silly Pinny! 

What's that? Homemade Gin and Tonic cake? Oh, go on then.

Pin. 

Your not making this easy for me you know. 

Yes, I now I've got 762 boards to think about first, and another 357 secret ones. 

I know they are our brain child, we built them together step by step, but they are saved on my app, I promise.
I'll never forget your cheeky little emails sent to me at lunch time with recommendations. They always made me smile, you little charmer. 

But look, it's not you, it's me. 

I have to break away, just for a little while, I promise. 

I need to come back to reality, I need to delve back into the real world and remember that I don't have a 700ft, pure white kitchen and I'm not a size 0, so that hot pant outfit I accidentally pinned 4 times isn't really going to work. (But thank you for reminding me I had pinned it already, your always there for me)

I need to step away from hobby craft. I'm getting stares.

I'm not sure how long I can keep convincing my husband that I have no money because the price of bread keeps rising and the children needed new shoes.

We both know it went on 'Mod Podge' and burlap. That nautical wreath was going to look epic in my bathroom.

I must spend my money on, food, because you know, I can't keep feeding my family beans whilst we run off together in a land filled of Instagram filters. 

I love you Pinterest, you brought out the crafter in me once more, and gave me hope I could be a first class makeup artist, hairdresser, chef, party host, jewellery maker, teacher and have the most organised and colour co-ordinated play room for my children, that would rival a Laura Ashley catalogue. 

But really, we both know I need to learn to sow first, and I should really tidy my house. 

Bye, Pinny, not forever, just for now. 

Until my husband feels I spend more time with him than you.

Cos' I guess that's kinda important.

Your devoted Pinner 

Martha. 
A Cornish Mum

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Simple tips for opening new doors to new adventures.

I'm 30 years old. I had my first daughter at a young, naive, fresh faced and lacking a bit of confidence, 22 years old. 
 
I hadn't yet entered my career, I had worked within the police, but left after realising I wasn't the sort of person that could leave that sort of work at the office. It was eating me up.  
 
When I fell pregnant, I had just started to work as a car hire receptionist, a job, until I figured out what I wanted to do. 
 
And then 'H' came along. 
 
Mothering, mothering was what I wanted to do. 
And so I did, and I still do, but now to 4 beautiful,  funny girls. 
 
Even though I knew I wanted to be at home with my daughters, I still had the itchy feet syndrome, to do things for myself. 
 
Not to become an investment banker or run the next multi million empire (that would come later..) but just to 'put myself out there' for anything, everything, that I could actually do, small little baby steps to just see where it would take me, whilst I was still navigating exactly who else I would be apart from 'mum'. 
 
The one thing I always did, was buy the local paper. Simple you say? You would be right. But remember, in this post I'm not trying to show anyone how to navigate stocks and shares from home. 
 
It's all about just becoming a get up and go person, rather than waiting for things to happen to you. 
 
Now, I'm not a fan of the news *hangs head,or, rather, buries it in the sand* but local papers are great for looking up opportunities. 
Now, by opportunities I'm not talking about looking for Avon reps, I'm talking about that local charity looking for volunteers, that art teacher offering a free lesson that may unleash an unknown talent. Things you wouldn't even think to type into a search engine as you didn't know they existed.
 
Here are a couple of examples of projects I got involved with. 
 
Some opened doors, some didn't, but all gave me confidence and a zest to keep on looking for what else was on offer. 
 
I saw a competition for a mother and baby to become the new models for a Hand Print Memory company, you know, where you take tiny hands and imprint them on pictures to pass on to loving grandparents. 
 
I was actually 7 months pregnant at the time of applying, so I sent my photo, of me and little 'A' and a rather massive bump, then pitched to them that having a pregnant model could actually really work for their brand, I didn't really know what I was talking about, but I sounded upbeat and ..it worked and we won! 
 
I didn't dream we would, but before I knew it my face was plastered all over their products and I had a box of free goodies sent as a thank you. 
This then opened the door to another little adventure. 
 
I always browse the like of Netmums and Mumsnet, fantastic resources are just a click away. 
 
One day I saw a post asking for pregnant models for a local photography studio. I sent in my picture from the competition 'A' and I had won, and yes, I got chosen for the job! 
 
I would like to point out here I am NO model!
I am 5ft2 and average in build, I think it was mainly down to being positive, enthusiastic and smiling, a lot! 
 
From the pregnancy model job, I got a
fabulous free photo shoot, pictures of my blooming bump and me, for free, and a massive boost in loving my pregnant body. 
 
None of these involved money. 
 
But that's not what was important. 
 
It was about building the attitude of being a 'do'er', meeting and talking to compete strangers and they were just great fun, day by day I become a happier and more positive version of myself 
 
In posts to follow, I'll go into other, some slightly random, things I have got involved in, and hopefully, they may inspire some of you to make your own luck, open doors you didn't know were there, and see how small adventures can change the person you are in 5 years time. 
 

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

My protein shake diet test!

So, I'm totally doing it. 

I'm so in the zone I can't even see that unopened pack of chocolate digestives beaming its lustful glare in my direction. 

I'm so in the zone, I turned down a scone this morning at my friends house. THATS how serious I am. 

Nope I can't see those biscuits. Nope. 
Ok let's just put them in the bin. 

I am embarking upon a protein shake diet. 

I will say now, this is not product endorsed, not diet advice, and just off of my own back, I'm happy to share the brand (if it works!) although I'm pretty sure you could use any shake! 

So. Today is day 1. Got to start somewhere right? 
I have about 10lbs I want to loose. Now some may scoff at that, others hopefully will know, that those last 10lbs cling to you more than a child being dropped off at preschool. 

I just can't shift them. 

And it's really, really, stuff my face with donuts to console myself, frustrating. 
So I've done some research, bought my shake powder and I'm off! 

The idea is this, to drink two shakes a day, one for breakfast and one for dinner (I'm dreading that one) to have a normal lunch and healthy snacks. 

I have literally no idea if this will work. But I am prepared to be guinea pig for anyone else thinking about doing it. And will report back each week how it's going. 

I'm hoping by week 1 to have lost 9lbs. 
No? 
Ok 1-2lbs a weeks will suffice. 

I will be honest and say I will be doing no exercise to compliment this, although I know how totally healthy and great that would be. 
But frankly. I haven't got the time. 
The 30 day shred has sat in my drawer for over a year and I've never made it to day 2. 

So I'm doing this on diet alone. Besides running around after a toddler with a new found love of climbing on top of dinner tables and window sills is enough excersise isn't it? 

Wish me luck. 

Dunk that chocolate digestive and have one for me. 

Here I go, week 1.