31 July 2015

Kitchen Planning

OK, so I know long term we'd talked about extending/changing/knocking through walls in the kitchen and back of the house...but in the meantime it has come to my attention that not only does my oven only ever reach 150'C (useless!) but that the layout and space doesn't work for me. Not one jot. I have started to hate teatimes and couldn't really figure out why. It took me a few weeks but I finally realised, it's because I hate the space. I have little to no worktop space to actually prepare the food, I hate the electric hob with a passion and the dishwasher is in the next room which is absolutely farcical!
So, the question is, do we make do and leave it until we can afford the big project? Or do we just replace the oven? Or do we re-do the kitchen in the space that we've got? I'm inclined to say the latter. I can't see us coping with this kitchen for the next 4/5 months let along 4/5 years until we can afford a massive building project and I'm loathed to spend any money at all replacing the crappy little wall oven when we know that we will eventually want to rip it out...That leaves me with option C!
My current thinking is...take out the old, crappy wall oven and rip out the cupboards below it and, because they all currently sit inside a chimney breast, open it up properly (praying that there is already a RSJ holding the whole shebang up!) and install a range cooker. The rest of the kitchen is still shit and not our style, but it can wait. And when the rest does need doing, Husband is more than capable of sourcing and installing most of it. It's the gas line for the new oven we'll need doing properly, obviously.
Anyway, a girlfriend came over for coffee on Wednesday and was listening to me chunter about the oven and how, if I wanted to rip it out I would probably need to ring a builder because of the chimney breast tra la la and she took one look at it and said 'I don't think so?' Cue one phonecall to the local kitchen suppliers and the man is coming out this morning to gauge exactly what needs to be done.
My pinterest board currently looks like this:
Am thinking dark grey units look amazing, and I love the wooden top, but kitchen-man tells me that's an expensive choice??
 This is Courtney Adamo's kitchen which is my total dream design and inspiration!!
 Slightly lighter grey used on the walls instead??
 Definitely want some open shelving in the new design
 And I am in love with the tiled splash back they've put inside this chimney breast!
 Definitely want white subway tiles everywhere else and I also really like these lights?!
Another splashback option, sticking with the grey/white combo...?? Am thinking this might be slightly better than the first image with grey walls as the space is so small and cramped?
Hmm, so many ideas buzzing around my head, and Husband will probably weigh in with something totally different and random that I'll hate (like French country kitchen with painted pine doors, gak!) and then I'll have to spend days and days convincing him that MY idea is actually the way to go and that it was, in fact, all HIS idea in the first place, you know how it goes with menfolk.
In the meantime, it is now almost 1pm (I had to leave this post mid-flow at 11am and return to it so apologies if it feels disjointed!) and I am running terribly late to pick up said Husband and get on the road for the races. Boys are safely ensconced at the Big House with their godparents, our bags are packed and in the car, just need to get to Bath safely and order some champagne. Will attempt not to spend the entire child-free time worrying about aforementioned minors or wittering on endlessly about the new kitchen. Have a great Friday night everyone, will be back over the weekend with some more thoughts on Positive Parenting and hopefully an update on the kitchen (see if I can nag him into submission on the M5!!) x

29 July 2015

What's up Wednesday?!

Welcome, welcome, welcome, hope you're all well?? Here's a 'What's up Wednesday?!' post for you all (link up is here http://shullfamily.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/whats-up-wedneday-072915.html if you fancy reading a few more!!) 

What we're eating...a lot of vegetables! Toddler has been on a total anti-veg drive after 4 years of eating everything I put in front of him and while I am totally cool and chillaxed about it infront of him it is driving me to absolute distraction behind closed doors! Therefore, a new enthusiastic approach is upon us. We are choosing more exciting veg, preparing it together, eating it with gusto and rewarding him with star stickers for his behaviour chart if he eats some/any without a mega fuss. Day 3 and all going well so far!

What I'm reminiscing about...the days when Toddler didn't 'sass' me (see previous posts!)

What I'm loving...my new desk finally arrived. Still can't show you a photo because the massive bundle of wires beneath it let it down, but will ask Husband to fix that ASAP and share. Am in love with it!

What we've been up to...we have bought Toddler's school uniform this week, started a new behaviour chart, started our handwriting/phonics practise before school starts, had the boiler fixed, celebrated my BFF's eldest's 12th birthday, it's been fun so far and it's only Wednesday! Still have a quiet day tomorrow and Friday at the races to look forward to, lucky me!

What I'm dreading...leaving the boys all day Friday and not picking them up again until Saturday morning. BFF is more than capable, they're probably safer under her roof than they ever are here!, but I shall miss them like mad. And also, shall worry the whole time that Toddler is behaving. Eeshk!

What I'm working on...my positive parenting. Lost our way slightly today when Dentist Mama and her children were here to play and Toddler threw an almighty strop, complete with attitude and finger pointing at me...but we got it back and he voluntarily cleared up the entire playroom when they'd gone to 'help me while I made dinner'!! We will conquer this phase, we will!!

What I'm excited about...on a whim I called the kitchen guy today and he's coming out quickly on Friday morning to assess exactly what needs doing with regards installing a range in my ridiculously shaped kitchen space. Of course, Husband knows nothing of this plan, and of course I'm now on multiple kitchen websites deciding exactly what look I'm going for...but it's a start. Weeee....

What I'm watching/reading...don't really watch TV but have just downloaded an Elin Hilderbrand book and am hoping to spend a few hours this evening starting it with a glass of wine. We shall see how it goes. The only other major things I've read today have been the school calendar for the upcoming academic year (eeshk) and a Phonics Assessment workbook so I know what I'm doing when I start it on Friday with Toddler. Thrilling!

What I'm listening to...just the iPod on shuffle, as ever, makes for a fun, random day :-)

What I'm wearing...of course it's anothe Breton top with skinny jeans and converse!
 and I finally chose a dress for the races on Friday, huzzah!

What I'm doing this weekend...first thing Saturday I will be racing across town to collect the boys from BFF's house after 20hours apart. Then it'll be tennis lessons and a weekend in the garden (weather permitting) Toddler has asked that, should he earn enough star stickers, we go to Weston Park to ride his bike so we will hopefully be doing that too.

What I'm looking forward to next month...August already?! August will bring tennis lessons, 2 NCT birthday parties, a family BBQ, a family garden party, a trip to the dentist!, skiing lessons for Toddler's birthday gift, Toddler's 4th birthday tea party, a charity event planning meeting, an MRI for niece and my first ever flight with 2 small hangers-on. Wow. Am excited about the whole month but kinda don't want it to fly by as September brings school with it...

What else is new?? Not much!

Am off to wrestle Toddler into bed and then I have a long, quiet evening planned of kitchen research, reading my new book and emailing these many, many school dates across to Husband's office. Happy peak of the week x

28 July 2015

Little One

It has been FOREVER since I wrote a 'Circle of Friends' post. Apologies, to you and my girlfriends! My Little One lives in Bristol and has been my friend for forever. While Baby naps, I quickly made this word cloud about her...she is, of course, much more than I could ever capture here xxx


Tuesday is a great day. I was born on a Tuesday! I also have Toddler at home with me on a Tuesday (but only for the next 6 weeks, sob sob!) which is lots of fun.
Today our mission if to buy school shorts and trousers for the Autumn term and also get Baby measured for new shoes. Not only do we have to manage both of these jobs without Baby's patience running out but we are also up against Toddler's new stinky attitude and my inability to sort anything related to starting school without wailing! It also looks like rain so we had better walk down the high street fairly speedily!
Then our afternoon will consist of naptime, some screen time, British Gas coming to look at the boiler, HOPEFULLY my new desk arriving!!!, and encouraging Toddler to help me make some dinner. My new positive parenting approach has a brand-new sticker chart on the kitchen wall combined with a brand-new enthusiastic approach to him helping prepare and cook vegetables. His refusal to eat them after 4 years of eating everything under the sun is driving me doo-lally-tap!!
Has anyone else got fantastic (read: mundane!) plans for their day?? Enjoy x

27 July 2015

Happy Monday!!

Monday, new week, new start, new chances... woke up determined not to fall out with Toddler and (touch wood) we have almost managed an entire day. Granted, he was at nursery for 6 hours but it still counts!!

Also woke up determined to start eating better. Am not running at the moment due to dreadful lack of energy/inclination past 7pm and I'm really starting to feel it in my clothes. Hopefully am buying a running buggy on Wednesday so will be able to go in daytime with Baby in tow but in the meantime I really need to stop eating shit. Obviously walked into the kitchen, promptly forgot my new goal and ate 4 jelly babies while I was waiting for the kettle to boil?? What is wrong with me??? But for the rest of the day I have worked hard and only consumed a banana, an apple, some tea and coffee, a bowl of sultana bran with strawberries and a few mouthfuls of hotdogs off Baby's plate at teatime! I even went to Costa (twice, but let's not dwell on that fact) and didn't order anything to eat and that's quite an achievement for me, it's those bloody pain au raisins. Am making a large jacket potato for my tea (because Husband hates them and he is eating out tonight) and will try my damndest not to smother it in cheddar. God, I love cheese...

Have booked British Gas man for tomorrow, came home from nursery drop-off to find boiler had emptied itself all over the utility room. Yay!

Rang the estate agent to remind them that our old house has 'no chain' and that is quite a glaringly obvious thing to have missed off our house listing on rightmove???

Have thrown money at the 'dress for the races' issue after none of the Karen Millen choices worked. Am awaiting a delivery from Whistles. Groan.

Leeds Dad had his birthday today so after the nursery pick-up run we had coffee whilst the boys all watched Box Trolls and we watched them on his video monitor. Inspired parenting!

Oh yes, and Nana had her birthday today too, but she's in Italy with girlfriends so she didn't get coffee or cake. I wish she didn't choose to spend such important occasions away from home, she's just announced she'll be in Austria for Christmas, but what can I do?

So it's now 7.30pm and this is me...

I am in my slouchy trousers, with my jacket potato in the oven, babies in bed, NOT drinking wine (calories) and about to find something crappy to watch on TV. May even celebrate Husband working late by slathering my face in night cream and painting my toenails. Life in the burbs, peeps, it's all glamour!!
Have you had a productive Monday? Hope there was less flooding involved at your place!

26 July 2015

Loving our little ones

Man oh man, we have had a week of it. I am utterly and totally exhausted from parenting Toddler over the last 7-10 days. He has been a complete nightmare. Let me explain...
It started with clumsiness. I should have clocked the constant falling over, the bumping into things, the general weeble-like tendencies and braced for the coming storm but like a numpty I thought 'ahh bless, he's having a growth spurt' and just wrapped him up in cotton wool for 24-48hrs until he learned how to walk on his new, slightly longer legs. I completely forgot that after the physical growth spurt comes the mental growth spurt. The mental 'I'm now going to push every boundary you've ever given me and I'm going to do it with a whole new sh&tty attitude you've not heard from me before' growth spurt. And this is the harder of the two, I find. This is the one I should have mentally prepared for, armed myself for, got more wine in for...
Honestly, on the whole, Toddler is a good egg. He listens, he's helpful, generally quite kind (when he's attentive enough to notice the child on the floor next to him...), he doesn't flip out when you tell him 'no' in a store...For the most part, I'm incredibly proud of him and his behaviour. We use 'three chances then you're out' in our house and he is rarely in time out these days, the mere reminder of time out is enough to help him correct his behaviour and we all carry on quite happily.
But this week has been whining, grumping, pouting, disobeying requests, pushing, refusing to help, stamping feet, slamming doors... you name it, we've heard it, at full volume, in public, with a tantrum to follow. Our newest addition is the cheeky, disrespectful attitude. 'I'm not going to sit here, I'm not going to sit in time out because I don't want to, nah nah nah nah' was actually sung at me at one point. I deserve a bloody medal for biting my tongue at that one!!
It has been exhausting. I have carried him into time out multiple times, he has refused his dinner more times than I'd like to count, Husband and he have clashed this weekend so loudly that at one point I was sure the neighbours were going to call child protection. All of these outbursts and tantrums have come with or been closely followed by genuine tears and real anger. It has been horrible to watch and must have been horrible to experience for him.
When he's like this I find the actual outbursts quite easy to handle (the cheeky sing-song voice part aside!) We have always tried to be consistent in our approach and so when I'm in the thick of it, especially when I'm out and about and the watchful gaze of randoms is making me feel totally on edge and panicky!!, I know the basic steps I can follow that will hopefully have some effect. I can stay calm, I remember to bend down and talk to him sweetly, I am clear and concise, I do not give him too many chances... All of that is fine and I have no problem following through with consequences. It's the aftermath I struggle with, it's the parenting anguish when he's gone to bed for the night that keeps me up and makes me worry. Have I been too hard? Would other parents have ignored that particular behaviour at that particular time of day? Was I being too strict because I hadn't had enough sleep or was feeling on edge in an odd situation? Am I doing what I think is the right thing but is, in actual fact, the one thing that will scar him for life and mean he needs therapy?
The other thing that causes me endless angst is the 'REASONS'. The 'REASONS' are the things that Mamas say when their child is misbehaving and in a terribly, judgemental, non-sisterhood way I think 'bullshit'.
Such as the following:
Random Mama: Ahh, he's never usually like this, he's maybe a bit tired?
Me: then put him to fucking bed.
Random Mama: He's just such a tactile little boy
Me: who is sitting on my kid's HEAD
Random Mama: He's obviously experiencing some disruption that he can't express
Me: Bullshit, he's 3, he's clearly just being a wanker.
(Disclaimer, I only ever think these things whilst smiling sympathetically and nodding in agreement, obvs!)
And the thing is, not only do I KNOW I'm being a grade-A bitch but I KNOW that these things are very valid and real reasons for a 3 year old being a little shit at the playbarn. They may well be tired, hungry, being affectionate and not meaning to suffocate your child...and they may well be dealing with something emotional that they don't even understand let alone have the ability to express. And when I've put my own Toddler to bed it is then that I start to panic, maybe he WAS just tired/sad/scared and I was a grade-A bitch to HIM?
It's never ending, the double-guessing, and it makes you want to lie down in a dark room for a very long time.
And how long do you keep on about these things? My own mother used to guilt trip me about things for what seemed like forever and it did nothing more than make me feel like I 'still' hadn't been forgiven, I 'still' had to work harder to gain her affection back, I'm sure it's partly why we're not as close as we could be now. I don't want to guilt-trip my Toddler, I don't want him EVER to question my love for him...but how long do you stay cross for so they don't think 'Mama is such a pushover, she's forgotten about the biting/drawing on the sofa/throwing a duplo at her head already'?!
God, it's so hard isn't it? I like to think that we're doing our best over here. We always try and move on when time out has been completed, we are working so hard on the positive reinforcement aspect of things, we hope and pray that we tell them enough how much we love them. I found these quotes on Pinterest this morning that I saved as reminders.

This message is important for Husband and I. We want them to be strong, independent, decisive men but in a caring and thoughtful way. We feel consequences like time out or extra privileges are a good way of instilling this message for the life ahead of them.

And this one was for the soft side of me. He's only 3, I need to be firm but do all things with love. I hope that way he'll always know that we were doing what we did because we cared for him and wanted to do the best by him because we loved him.

And if you love someone you shouldn't scream at them and throw a duplo block at their head!!

24 July 2015


So, as Mamas do when something comes along that is impractical and/or inconvenient, I re-jigged nursery hours, swopped a playdate, rearranged a coffee meet-up and rescheduled some admin work so that I could be at home for the 2 hour window the desk was meant to be coming...and it didn't arrive. Was so mad I could have spit feathers (whatever that means!) Emailed the company and they have apologised profusely, don't have a clue what went wrong but have rescheduled it for next week and refunded the £40 delivery charge. Can't complain really, saved £40 and the Husband is so happy he won't mind as much when the two dresses I ordered for the races next week arrive in the post this weekend (why does that always happen?? I only ever shop online Mon-Thurs depending on which company I'm buying from to ensure that no parcels for me get delivered over the weekend when he's here to spot them. This is a fail-safe method. Until you order from a new company and they take 2 days longer than you'd expect. Hence race dresses most likely arriving tomorrow, groan!)

Here's what I ordered, both from Karen Millen in the sale:
And here are the alternatives I am thinking about:

These 2 are both from Karen Millen but are full price...

And these 2 are both from Next, but clearly the one on the left is the cheap rip-off version of the LK Bennett dress you can find in their Label section!!

No clue what to wear, have never been to the races before and, while I know it's supposed to be relatively dressy, there is nothing I hate more than being over-dressed at an event. I hate being under-dressed too, I suppose, so that is a ridiculous observation to make. I just don't have any idea where to pitch it??

Maybe the answer lies in shoes instead...?

23 July 2015

Got a sad, teething Baby??

Buy him one of these bad boys:
Seriously. Best £10 I ever spent. He has spent the last 3 days rolling around on the floor wailing, drooling all over himself, refusing food, just suffering from general melancholia...buy him a shopping trolley and he is happy as a clam.
He's his mother's son!

22 July 2015

Home Office Inspiration

OK. So in our beautiful new home we have a random mix of modern, vintage, metal, oak, leather, Ikea...you get the idea. Style isn't my strong point (in my wardrobe or in my interior design) but I try oh so hard and I hope it is starting to come together and resemble something remotely akin to grown up and stylish. We love our new house so, so much and we really want it to reflect that. I was about to take some quick snaps to share with you, turned around and saw duplo all over the dining room table, Husband lounging all over the sofa, mess all over the snug room...so maybe I'll do that tomorrow when I've tidied it all beautifully and it's looking like a show home?
Tonight the point of this post is to tell you about the little corner of the dining room that I guess you could call the home office. I am trying hard NOT to make this into a command centre. I don't want it to be bogged down in paperwork and to-do lists, I have a specific place for these in the kitchen/bootroom and that system works just fine. I want my desk to be a place where I can write, shop, email, do some admin for Husband's business but be surrounded by beautiful things that are clean, happy and stylish.
The reason the PC is situated where it is has 3 reasons. 1: this is where the PC was situated when we looked around the house for the very first time and therefore it seemed like the logical place to keep it when we unpacked! 2: as the boys get older and use the PC more we want to foster an open-door policy and this seems like a smart way to achieve that without ever making it into a 'thing'?? 3: the wi-fi is dodgy as hell with the super-thick walls so we have limited places we can put the damn thing IF WE WANT IT TO WORK!! All valid reasons I feel.
Anyway, at the moment I have an old ikea desk that is super old and annoyingly narrower than the alcove it sits in, an ugly black office chair, a pile of paperwork that doesn't belong here, a pile of CDs that Husband is systematically uploading onto iTunes and an xbox remote that Toddler dumped here earlier today. It currently looks like this...

Ew! I mean, it works and it's functional but...ew. There's also a photo of our wedding above it which is hung way too high in the space available...I was being lazy and using an existing hook instead of doing a proper job.
Anyway, here is my current inspiration, posted by the fabulous Laura this afternoon on instagram.
She's been posting little teases of her home office for a while now, and I'd seen other images of a similar nature that I had 'pinned' for a later date but when she posted this today I thought 'right, no delaying, the new desk arrives tomorrow, let's get ready'!!
Lo, an hour later I had sourced and ordered this:
and if you remember rightly, this desk is already on its way:

So am going to spend my evening sourcing some white shelves, some fancy artwork on etsy to print out for a frame or two and a nice lamp. Oh, and I'm going to try and look glamorous and also wear espadrilles!! Wish me luck and send me suggestions if you know of anywhere great I can find said items!!

21 July 2015

A long day

Today has been a long Mama day. Baby is cutting 3 fangs in one go and his happy little demeanour has been taken over by a clingy, sobbing mess who just wants to sit on my knee and chew my arm! Toddler had his BFF over to play for the day (they live over by Nana so we only see them once a month or so) and while it was lovely to see him play with another rough-and-tumble boy, it was rather stressful at times, mostly because I am constantly shattered and was taking my tiredness out on him. I was acutely aware that he wasn't actually doing major things wrong, that he is simply shattered at the end of the long summer term and that I was over-reacting. It wasn't a fine day.
I am trying not to beat myself up over this. I am trying to remember that I am human, a tired tired human and that I will strive to do better tomorrow. Pinterest is encouraging me in my endeavours.

I may well print these off for my fridge door, a gentle reminder to be more mindful of my words on difficult days. Is it wine o'clock yet??

20 July 2015

10 weird things about Mama

Shay posted this this morning (http://shullfamily.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/10-weird-things-about-me.html) and it made me smile so much I thought I'd write my own. What better way to start the week than sharing our weird things. No judging...

I can't put my hand in a bag of crisps incase it gets all greasy and salty. I have to shake my crisps down to the edge of the packet and pick them out daintily with my forefinger and thumb!
If I have a cheese sandwich for lunch then I have to have a cup of tea with it. I drink coffee 99.9% of the time...unless I'm having a cheese sandwich. And even then it has to be so hot it's almost scalding my mouth, once it goes too cold I can't drink it and it gets tipped down the sink.

I love the smell of rain but hate hate HATE getting wet when out and about. Urgh, nothing worse!

We have moved house and now have a separate playroom which means, in theory, when the boys have gone to bed I could just close the door and not worry about the mess until the next day. Nope. I have to tidy up every single item into its proper box/basket/shelf before I can even think about sitting down for the night. It's an illness!

I hate comics. Hate them. I appreciate this may cause us an issue in years to come if Toddler turns out to be one of those boys that will only read boy comics...but I simply can not and will not read them. Husband will have to take the lead in reading!

I gain an oddly high level of happiness from filling my online shopping baskets with clothes, toys, games, home decor items, even random stuff such as stationery...then I close the window and walk away from the PC. Makes me feel like I've had a productive shop and treated myself AND SIMULTANEOUSLY saved money and been spend-thrifty?? I know, no logic, but it makes me happy. Only issue is when I start wondering why no parcels are arriving...

I hide Husband's old clothes somewhere in the house for 6 months and if he doesn't ask after them during that time I smuggle them out of the house and take them to the charity shop! I think this is a fair enough system. He disagrees!

I clear my messages every night before bed without fail, delete events from my calendar as soon as they've finished and I don't keep emails longer than a month. Once a parcel has been delivered or an event has happened or a conversation has ended then BAM it's deleted. Husband finds this odd, Posh Mama finds this incomprehensible (but then she has emails dating back to 2003, shudder!) but I just find it helps me to feel organised and tidy. Granted, sometimes I delete texts that had important details in so have to request the info again, but no system is perfect!!

I don't know our landline number and have no real desire to find it out. Why do we even HAVE a landline number?? I'm not sure anyone has ever rung it, I don't even know why we own a landline phone??

I get irrationally cross if some insensitive non-psychic jerk rings the doorbell making the dog bark between the hours of 12-2pm. Literally, a red mist descends and I can't hide my absolute hatred for the offender. Naptime is sacred in this house and people only make the mistake of messing with it once!!

So there you have it, 10 random facts that make me weird (read: unique)

And now I'm off to pack a snack bag for Toddler as we're picking him up from nursery slightly earlier than normal and heading to Trentham Gardens to meet Auntie and Niece for tea. Again, if Baby falls asleep in the car on the way home heads will roll! Enjoy your Monday x

19 July 2015

Bumpity bumpity bump

Good lord, Toddler has had one hell of a weekend. The only explanation for his clumsiness must be a growth spurt but I mean it when I say he is lucky to be alive after the last 48hours. 
On Friday he was at home for the day and promptly fell over his own feet on the retail park, grazing both knees. 
Saturday morning bright and early brought a bite on the forearm (note to self: don't try and take duplo off Baby) Then while I was off deep-cleaning the shithole that is Toddler's nursery (long story for another post) he skidded along the all weather tennis courts...on his face. So, in an effort to cheer him up after his painful morning, we took him to the nearby play park where they've installed a fab, new, whizzy slide and smack, he cracked his head off the metal rim at the bottom. Cue egg.
You'd think that was it. But no. That wasn't enough for my child. Ho no, my child likes to do things 110%. So Sunday he went over his handlebars, luckily he landed on the grass verge which minimised the scraping, but he does have an almighty bruise in his groin where he landed on said handlebars. No wonder he was crying and holding his privates!!
I mean, I ask you. Do girls behave like this? It's turning me grey and frankly, I feel like hammering the doors closed and never leaving the house again. It ain't safe out there for my crazy boy!!

16 July 2015

Batman is coming!

Sigh. Why do I make deals with Husband when I'm in a fix? I say the most outlandish things to get myself out of trouble and he always, always remembers what I promised and holds me to it later on. Toddler (then known as Baby) had the most amazing first birthday party. I'm talking invites, bespoke cake, cupcakes, party favours, decorations, bouncy castle, entertainment, personalised t-shirt to wear to the party...it all had a theme and it all looked amazing. When Husband walked into the village hall on the day and queried the (astronomical) amount I had spent I swore blind that he'd only have three big parties and then I would pare down and behave. We wouldn't be those parents who invited the entire class to celebrations purely to avoid offending people. We wouldn't hand out the world's most extravagant party bags. It was crass and excessive and anyhoo, shush now, by this time next year you'll have forgotten all about it so eat a themed cupcake and quit your whinging.
Or so I thought. I got away with this argument for the next two consecutive years (snow party and forest party, both immense!) but it's now 6 weeks until Toddler turns 4 and he has firmly put his foot down and said NO. No to the themed bash, no to the guest list of 36 children (what??? we know a lot of people!) And the thing is, this would be totally fine. I was raised on simple birthday teas for me and 2 little friends. He's not going to die without a huge birthday bash. But being (almost) 4, he is totally aware of the whole birthday party thing now and clearly remembers the huge affair we threw for his third. And also, Mama is afraid of offending the aforementioned 36 friends who have always been invited in the past. I've already had one Mama friend say 'ooh we're really looking forward to Toddler's birthday this year, you always throw the best parties...' and quite frankly, my ego would like to cave!!
Anyway, we have come to a compromise. He is allowed to invite 5 friends to birthday tea and Mama is allowed to have a theme. Toddler has, against all my advice, chosen the theme of 'Batman' but I'm rolling with it as, if I make too much fuss, Husband is likely to cancel the whole shebang and make us eat a boring birthday tea just the four of us (horrors!)
So, never one to sit and pout for too long, I have sat and pouted for the appropriate amount of time and am now happily searching pinterest, amazon, party pieces and etsy for birthday party supplies.
My pinterest boards currently look like this:
which is a change from the normal view of sheds, playroom layouts and 45 ways to style a Breton top but it's a refreshing change and I'm trying to embrace the fact that I have a boy who knows his own mind. Aargh!
Am off to send Yummy Mummy some cake photos as she is both fairy Godmother and also birthday cake baker every year. Hope she's got some yellow food colouring!!

15 July 2015

On gardening and outdoor shit

OK, so I know I said I'd be back 'tomorrow' and am now officially 24hours late...but it occurred to me when I sat down to write about the garden last night that I have precisely nothing to say about the topic. I only ever use mine to a) occupy the children and b) sunbathe. I don't paint, weed, plant things, cut the grass...nothing. They all come firmly under Husband's job title because I can't stand getting my hands dirty so my mind was totally blank.
I sat for a long time today while Baby was napping, gazing into the garden and trying oh so hard to conjure up a blog post about something outdoor-garden-specific. I didn't succeed. I did, however, realise that we have a huge shed up the back of the garden that is shabby, a small rifle range that is doubling as a playhouse while the boys are young that is kind of orange and patchy and an exposed brick wall...and they are ALL in need of a lick of paint. Gardening I may not do, but decorating and pretty-fying I excel at!!
So here in my Pinterest inspiration for my new project, I'm going to pretty up the garden!
Love the purple door on this one, especially next to the purple bush (that's also the extent of my gardening vocab, not. a. clue!)

And this one looks so cute with the blue accents...

I think this one caught my eye because of the little round lanterns...would they survive a British summer/autumn season, hmm, not sure. Pretty though...

And here we have the classic duck egg approach.

Since the shed and the playhouse are currently sitting side by side (and we have no plans to relocate them since they weigh a metric tonne each!) then I need 2 paint effects that look different but complement each other beautifully.
Am off to spend some more time finding images that solve this issue. 
Have you got any outdoor projects on the go for the last few weeks of summer? I'd be interested to hear. Also, let me know which paint colour you prefer...!

13 July 2015

An eclectic mix...

Happy Monday everyone, here's hoping your day has been as fun as mine. Nursery run, pootle round house tidying up the after-effects of the weekend, lunch with Baby, hair cut and coloured while he napped, then nursery pick-up followed by a cheeky slice of cake at a nearby cafe we've just discovered. Bliss! We're back at home now for the 'witching hour' between 4-5pm, when Toddler is tired and cranky, and Baby is frankly angry at everything unless it's edible. Every day it's a battle to distract them until tea is ready, boys really are never full! So Aristocats is on and I've handed Baby a montessori-esque basket of twiddly bits in the hopes that I'll get 15mins to sit down and write something...
Have had little things popping into my mind over the last 4/5days and kept making a note of them to share with you, hence the eclectic mix of content today. Nothing better than a random post full of bits and bobs to mix things up a bit, eh?
First things first, I need these sunglasses in my life. OK, maybe not THESE ones, maybe the Next version will suffice. But suddenly it came to me at the weekend, I've been wearing my beloved Prada 'bug-eyed' sunglasses for 5 summers now. New sunglasses = instant revamp. Durrh. Am ordering them tonight!
Then there's this lovely image that popped up on my screen when I was googling things to do with kids in Inverness. Seriously, it may not be Portugal and I may need a totally different holiday wardrobe to the one I had planned in my mind, but am beginning to get excited now. It's going to be such a big adventure for me and my little boys, I get butterflies just thinking about it (that's probably a low-level panic attack about check-in etc...but am telling myself it's butterflies, smile and nod!)

Here's the info on the new cafe we just discovered. I know you shouldn't really share your favourite new places incase they get swamped and 'ruined' but it is seriously cute and seriously underpriced and I would be sad to see it close. Three slices of cake, one scone with jam and butter, a tea, a hot chocolate and a cold drink for Baby all came to under £11! I was in shock! We are going back with Nana tomorrow for lunch. Yummy.

And just for kicks, here's the photo I gave my Hairdresser Mama friend months ago when I was after a change (hair used to be down by my shoulder blades) I think it looks pretty damn close to this photo in all honesty, in shape and colour...
 ...but here's how Leeds Dad described my hair to me the other day. Excellent. Thanks for that!!

The only other thing I realised I hadn't updated you about was the summer fair success. Well. After a week of watching the little black rain cloud on my weather app and finally accepting that it wasn't going to budge, I sat down at the computer and created a wet-weather-table-plan all ready to go...and the Vice chair shat all over it and threw it out the window. Pretty much literally, screwed it up and threw it out. I almost cried. She was adamant it wasn't going to rain so ahead we forged, setting up outside, making everything beautiful, laying out all the things we had lovingly bought and wrapped and BAM, 30 mins in the heavens opened and we were flooded. I almost cried again.
It was awful. Everyone pitched in and hurriedly got stalls moved inside and 'blitz spirit' reigned, but man was I cross! In the end we raised £960, which is equal parts incredible considering the weather and infuriating thinking of what we COULD have achieved had people bowed to the wisdom that is the BBC weather app (other good apps are available, apparently our Vice chair uses none of them!) Can you tell I'm still harbouring anger about this? Anyway, £960 is not to be sniffed at and it'll make it easier to smash the total next year I guess.
C'est la vie!
Will be back tomorrow with a garden update, now there's sentence I never thought I'd write!