Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Things I don't get

Please explain where I am going wrong - am I swimming up stream? I just got sent some free samples of Mum Mum's baby rice cakes. Firstly a big thank you for sending them. They are organic, beautifully smooth and quite tasty. At this point I loose the plot. Surely salt and sugar are considered less than ideal - they are almost branded with a skull and cross bones. Are they essential ingredients for rice cakes? I checked my Organix pack and they seem to manage without. Why then would I will fully introduce them to my child?

While on the subject I love the Ella's brand; I buy them because they delicious, nutricious and organic - but then remember that the packaging goes straight to landfill. There must be some degree of correlation between buying organic and Eco awareness, so why is the packaging nigh on impossible to recycle? It annoys me so I avoid the brand again until the next time I forget!

Other random bugbears include over shopping for newborns when some saved money ( wishful thinking) to spend on delegating domesticity (cleaner / ironing / take aways - choose your vice) would be a much better use of cash. Or do we all need a colour coordinate top and tail bowl set that is destined for Oxfam after the first month?

I seriously don't want to trash anybody's business- and I have huge respect for Ella's kitchen- so can someone explain what u am missing.

I applied for the Mum Mum's samples on the Made for Mums website - but all comments are based on me as a simple consumer. :)

Saturday, 24 March 2012

The A-Z of me

As the antidote to my last post and to celebrate my latest follower and her lovely blog, I am taking her challenge and spilling the beans with the A-Z of me. Check out hers at http://mydarlingsandme2.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/friday-funthe-z-of-me.html

A // Age: 41 OMG I am old!

B // Bed size: standard double, which can get very cosy by the morning when we have two little human and one feline darling snuggling up to us. (Thank goodness the dog isn't allowed upstairs - more about him in D)

C // Chore that hate: most housework. I am desperately undomesticated. I do manage to keep the house hygienic and the children in clean clothes and nappies but I missed out on the housewife gene.

D // Dogs: an energetic and cuddly border collie who keeps pudding status at bay as I have to walk him at least an hour a day.

E // Essential start to your day: an hour and a half walk comprising the school run and walking the dog. Ideally I would have had a cup of tea and large bowl of sugar free Alpen, but often it is just the off cuts of the sandwich from my daughter's school lunch.

F // Favourite colour: Blue. Goes with my eyes and it suits me. It ranges from lush lavender to glacial eau de nil or sophisticated French navy.

G // Gold or Silver: Silver. I wear very little jewellery - to enticing to little people. I love non precious jewellery, plastics, aluminium and found objects but thinking of silver the best and most expensive thing I think I have ever bought is a vase by the amazing and lovely Ndidi Ekubia.

H // Height: 5 foot 6 1/2" I guess the half must be important as I always mention it.

I // Instruments you play: Tamborine? I tried to play piano but I guess I was pretty bad. The teacher once said 'if murder was legal I would have....'

J // Job title: Director. Now pass me my seat and loud hauler.

K // Kids: My little darlings - Pickle (5) and Bean (7 month) and grown up step children who deserve to stay anonymous.

L // Live: Reading, UK

M // Mother’s name: Diana - the mighty warrior

N // Nicknames: sometimes Sairi but I guess the best is Mummy

O // Overnight hospital stays: I fell off a wall age 6 and was concussed, then was kicked out for bouncing around the ward on a space hopper. Then childbirth, alas (the hospital stay that is).

P // Pet peeve: taking the easy answer. ..

Q // Quote from a film: 'frankly my
Dear, I don't give a damn'. It is an old joke - with my best friend who I only see every other year :(

R // Right or left handed: left - and yes, I am creative.

S // siblings. One brother, three years older than me. We don't see each other often but agree and are close on things that matter.

T // Time you wake up: normally between 6.30 and 7.00 when the alarm goes off but dependent on the Bean.

U // Underwear: yes. Ideally pretty and matching. Also I love my Pants to Poverty.

V // Vegetable you hate: I used to hate beetroot but the veg box forced me to confront them, and now I love them.

W // What makes you run late: my
Children. The only option is to ignore the time otherwise you will end up by being wound up and will be twice as late.

X // X-Rays you’ve had: Too many! I am a clumsy former Tom boy. The last last time was from when I tried to blend my finger.

Y // Yummy food that you make: I love cooking. The current family fave is pancakes with egg and cheese - barely a showcase for my skill but it makes them happy..

Z // Zoo animal: I went out with an actor for 8 years and we went to London zoo regularly to examine animals so that he could get physicality of his parts correct - apparently. Crap actor, I dumped him..

Wow - did it. Was it revealing?

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Stuck in the mist

Looking at my blog I notice that I have shared rather alot about my post natal depression. Two reasons, one to work things out for my myself and to validate my feelings but more importantly because it is an issue that affects the majority, yes the majority, of new Mums but is still often viewed as something to be ashamed about. This has been prompted for thehttp://www.dancewithoutsleeping.co.uk/p/mental-health-carnival.html Normal tales from the optimist will resume imminently. Xx


I glimpsed her today, walking through the woods. She was just going about her daily business, but somehow she just looked so free. Almost as soon as I registered her presence she drifted away - but I was happy just to know that she was still there.

Who was she? It was the person I once was, before the fog of depression isolated me from real life. With post natal depression a haze had descended; sometimes a deep and dislocating fog and at other times just a blurry mist. This makes the depression sound cozy and comforting, which is misleading, it is pernicious and cruel. Stray comments became stealth bombs that could plaque me in my endless sleepless nights. During daylight I was listless and unable to move under the terrible weight of what I perceived to be my failure; failure to keep my job, failure to keep my step children happy, failure to hold onto my financial nest egg, and worst of all by failing to conceive again I was a failure, in the most basic sense, as a woman. The mist of depression stopped me from being able to navigate my own life - all I could focus on was what I saw as failure.

I was physically present but the fog isolated me from my reality. Sure, there were happy times but I did not seem to be able to connect with them. I could watch my daughter enjoying her birthday, face alight with excitement and wonder - but feel as if I was watching it on a film.

For me there has been no black dog, I have never stopped functioning on a day to day level and I have always maintained my natural optimism. My life has just been veiled by the fog that isolates me, making functioning laborious.

The veil of depression is lifting, this morning for the first time in years I felt as if I was reconnecting with the old me. The effortlessly optimistic me will once again will feel connected and free again. I know, i saw her this morning.:'y

Monday, 19 March 2012

Happy Mothers Day

I will treasure this forever! I am so pleased to be an oritcook (alright cook). Apparently Henry wanted to have 'horrific' for his H but Miss M suggested that was not the best idea.
As for the R that was Ajay's recommendation, even though she sweetly reminded me that I never have any money.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

I agree with Gina ford (well, almost)

The headlines are awash with Gina Ford's latest dictates as she promotes her new book. I am ill informed on this book, I read her first one five years ago and decided not to follow her advice and will not be rushing out to buy this. Any comments are highly prejudiced particularly as the new book is based on comments from real Mums that is all I know about it besides the media spin.

The headline shock is that we should not neglect our husbands. I just can't shake the image of the time table attached to the fridge!:
7.30 change baby
7.36 express exactly 5ml milk (proof that she hates mums)
7.45 eat two slices of toast - did I mention the chocolate philadelphia you lard arse?
7.52 attend to husband's carnal desires

When the Hubster had been away on business and I tasted life as a single mum I almost crumbled. Single mums deserve medals and to be offered flowers and chocolates form random well wishers just for holding it together!

The Hubster is great but every relationship is different. After twelve hours of a colicky baby I think I would decapitate a spouse who forgot the first rule of parenting that 'mother knows best' in favour of some gem that he read in the baby manual or worse heard third hand from someone at work (fortunately I never got that). Motherhood can be desperately repetitive - I love it and seeing the bean evolve - but by the fifth nappy of the day I do get a sense of deja-vu. The antidote has to be selective adult companionship. There are a few options: the obvious one is fellow mums, an hour long conversation about the relative merits of different nappies will not necessarily push the boundaries of your friendship but in a few years time you may regret putting all your eggs in that basket when you finally realise that you have nothing in common apart from the age of your children.

I find myself agreeing with the hallowed Gina, some of the best times have been with the Hubster. Enjoying stolen moments for a pub lunch when the bean sleeps beside us or giggling at his latest silly face (loads of photos to embarrass him on his landmark birthdays) or even that moment at the end of the day when the munchkins are asleep and you can just look at their (now) angelic faces and feel supremely content and at one with your family. Our relationship works based on things that brought us together many years ago and has been strengthen by years on fun and shared experiences - but we don't need or want Gina to write a time table for us to remember that.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Escape to China

Role models were quite few and far between for me. I idolised my Mum but I never saw her and knew even less what she actually did; my Nannie and friends' Mums were lovely but barely glamourous - so who did that leave? Well Gertrude of course!

I can't be sure what was bigger: her physical form (somewhere between statuesque and immense) or her reputation as she died long before I was born.

One apocryphal story is that she was on a health farm on a Polish island before Germany invaded and a messenger was sent on ahead to urge her out of he country, another that as a Southern Belle (albeit of epic proportions) she taught the Prince of Wales of the time to do the charleston (as nobody remembers, or cares, who was the particular Prince of Wales I suspect that the story was more important than the truth). I can, however, believe my Father's story that all the letters he received from her during the war were confetti as the censor took a dim view of her candid tales.

Life dealt her a few tough blows, and she was a global gypsy of the glamourous kind: a Danish American who never really found a home. She finally died in Japan; my grandfather was perplexed as to how to repatriate her until he remembered that Barclays Bank had a branch out there and got them to ship her and her effects back. We found her trunk many years later and it still contained her stars and stripes flag incomplete with 49 stars.

This is where my escape begins. As a girl growing up in her shadows how could I ignore her? She was paddled up the Congo in a log canoe to meet the venerable Dr Schweitzer (who apparently demanded that she left immediately but had to offer hospitality overnight while her transport was recalled - and so began a long friendship and a lifetime's correspondence) and machete in hand she fought the jungle to see Angkor Wat. Most memorably to me was that she was reputed to have lived a while in China. Apparently she wrote a book of her stay, a rambling account: as charming and unintelligible as her speech (she whistled on her in breath).

That rumour was enough for me. With little more than a replic of an old Chinese scroll poem I had fallen in love with the potential of the place. The vast open spaces of Mongolia, the rolling hills of the south, the changing territories along the Yangtze - a vast horizon of dream like promise.

China was my secret, my soul refuge where I could escape to forever if my life ever got too dire. It was so far removed from reality that it could always be there for me when things got tough. A broken heart, a horrible boss - whatever happened I always had a theoretical refuge I could run away to.

For many years it was just my secret. I surprised myself when I mentioned it to the man - by then he was 'the' man: a definite article! The man became the Hubster and what about China? It is no longer an escape but a reality, he surprised me by taking me there on honeymoon.

This is my entry for Josie's writing workshop. After six months away it feels good to be writing again, I am so pleased to find it still going - thanks Josie! See her badge on the right to find out more.


I think the Bean said his first word today! Yes, in honour of yours truly he said it loud and clear 'Mama'. Did he really say it? Who knows, of course it was while we were on our own with no witnesses - but who cares.

He is great at getting his views across already, just he is a little young for words. I can't remember back five years ago to when the Pickle said her first word - but ever he proud Mum I am delighted to relate that her first word was 'book'.

Funny my first word was 'Richad' (in a comic half shout with accompanying scowl. I think my brother was going through a particularly trying patch.

Is is my imagination? Well the next few days will tell :)

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Sunday Sundae

We have a house rule: you don't have to like everything but you must try things. Besides that food must be fun. I think this recipe succeeds on both points.

I have never been particularly good on puddings - prior to motherhood I would normally opt for a bought option or local cheeses (Barkham Blue, Spenwood to name but two). I have been experimenting and this got full marks from the family.

Make you own sundaes! It is fun and can be adapted for each person without any extra effort or obviously pandering to picky eaters.

Component parts:

Strawberry frozen yoghurt (I made it and it has loads of fruit so minimal added sugar).

Vanilla ice cream

Fruit sauce (I blitzed frozen berries with a little icing sugar than squished it through a muslin - a jam making one :)

Crumbled biscuits or cubed cake (I made a quick one egg cake in a mini blender and added some white chocolate powder - we were given a hot chocolate kit and the white chocolate has barely been touched so it is great to use it up. I cooked it in a lower oven than usual so it was dense and squidgy.)

Jelly chopped up


Toppings (strawberry flakes/ glacé cherries/ chopped nuts / sprinkles)


Fruit (we used nectarines - I contemplated poaching then in sweet wine but glad I didn't)

It is fun to layer it up. The Hubster felt thoroughly indulged with jelly and ice cream and and better still I did not have to share his tastes!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

A day at the National Gallery

The Hubster and I have started 'the list' of things we want to pass onto to the Munchkins before they leave home. I will inflict it on you later - is quite diverse I assure you - but as an introduction I will mention that we hope that they will have learnt to go to museums and galleries for fun. During the great blogging hiatus the Bean has frequented the V&A (excellent changing facilities) and the British Museum (Grayson Perry is my hero).

Yesterday the Pickle decided that it was time to go to the National Gallery. Sunday is more set up for family visits and Tate Britain's Art Trolly sounds more her cup of tea but in the interests of family democracy and the lure of the number 9 bus (it's a childhood thing for me- all great trips used to begin) we headed to the National on a Saturday.

After what became known as *drumroll* 'The Great Poo of London' we were ready to begin. The Pickle is an aspiring artist so rather than the child's audio guide we decided to go for the work book - a tried and trusted formula in our family - to escort us on our tour.

Our rules are fairly standard - have fun. Mum holds off the overtly educational (no the Munchkins do not have to understand the finer details of perspective nor pronounce pointillism) and the Pickle takes the lead. Soon the activity book was discarded as she started to write and illustrate her own book - obviously.

When we got tired we visited the cafe. We found a glorious hybrid area where the Pickle got an affordable but excellent quality plate of chicken nuggets and I could order a coffee then grab my own sandwich from the cafeteria area (rather than splurge on an expensive hot meal). The Bean recarpeted the floor with a fetching thick pile of banana and part digested bread goop (I did try to clear his decor efforts before leaving).

As an art experience it was not my ideal candidate - but I have been stuck in my White Cube style contemporary rut for a while and it is fun to visit a permanent collection. It was great to see some of the pictures that had first made me fall in love with art all those years ago: Guardis and Canalettos, Stubbs and Gainsborouhs, Van Goghs and Monets. We kept it easy going so nobody, least of all Mummy, had meltdown.

Which museums or galleries to you recommend? Have you not tried it as a family activity? Go on I highly recommend it. While we can still see Da Vinci's for free it would be sad not to! Xx