I want to start by making it very clear that I like Christmas and I like getting and giving presents and I like shopping and just the same as most people I can often be found spending a bit more than I really should. I used to think I loved Christmas and maybe I still do, but I am starting to think that perhaps there really are people that love it more than I do, seeing as I try to keep it low key until much later in December. I perhaps just don’t have the stamina for it that others seem to.

This year it seems to me that Christmas has been ramped up to factor ten much earlier than usual. The fairly new tradition for the big Christmas Advert reveal happened at the beginning of November and it just seems to get bigger from there. Which mean we will have nearly two months of Christmas preparation and being told we must ‘buy this’ ‘eat that’ ‘drink this’ ‘do that’. It makes me want to hide under a duvet.

And then came Black Friday, an American import which sees massive reductions on goods the day after Thanksgiving, in preparation for Christmas. Supermarkets opened at midnight and online retailers started their Black Friday deals at the same time. At first I didn’t really pay much attention, but when the morning news started reporting about queues and crowds, a sick feeling started in my stomach. By 9am I had heard a clip of someone in one of these queues, who was asked what she was hoping to buy.

“ummmm…..TV’s, tablets…..ummmm…radios……whatever we can get our hands on really. Someone got punched in the face here last year!”

She didn’t even know what she wanted! She didn’t need or even really want anything. Just the lure of a huge company with enormous profits shouting “Buy this! Don’t miss out! Everyone else is doing it!”. Almost immediately after this was on the radio I found myself in a huge queue of traffic that isn’t normally there and realised I was near a John Lewis. It finally dawned on me that this was really happening and this was really a ‘thing’. As the day wore on it just got worse. Pictures of marauding mobs pushing and shoving to get a TV, police called to supermarkets, many websites not working due to pure volume of traffic and what made it worse was that this was all being done in the name of Christmas.

As someone far more insightful than me pointed out on Twitter, people are prepared to go to Tesco to buy something they don’t even need at midnight, but walking to the local primary school to vote on who runs the country seems to be an effort too far. We are told that we are more financially squeezed than ever and yet Christmas comes around and suddenly consumerism reigns supreme. It just leaves me feeling cold and sick, as if I have gorged on too much chocolate. The only winners in this are the companies that are selling us all the ‘stuff’, despite the massive reductions that were on offer yesterday, they are still making a huge profit, which frankly should just make us feel a bit stupid for the rest of the year as well. I agree that Christmas is a time of celebration, but since when did celebration involve fighting to get your hands on a new games console. WHAT ARE WE DOING?!

I finished the day feeling rather disillusioned with the world and as if I didn’t want to buy anything EVER AGAIN. Of course, I will, but I didn’t buy anything yesterday* and I think I will make a point of not shopping at all on Black Friday, which I have now taken to referring to as Bleak Friday.

*that’s actually a lie. I bought a lime for 37p.

Dads are brilliant. I couldn’t do this parenting lark without it being a team effort. However, there’s nothing like a teething baby with a cough to remind this Mama that the buck well and truly stops here. I am needed and no-one else will do and when I am am old and grey I will long for being needed as much as I am now. So, suck it up and just grind it out. Coffee exists. Things could be a whole lot worse.

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If you need me, I’ll be in my pyjamas, holding my girl. Yawning.

It’s been ages since I’ve written about what I’ve finished crocheting. As you know I have little time at the moment and while I can manage to write a post in my phone and add an Instagram photo to it, crochet post are a little trickier. They need proper photos, in daylight. However, it seems I have some kind of crochet/blog OCD, in that I have to put each project here. It’s as if they’re not complete until they’ve been blogged.

I may not have been blogging them, but I have been crocheting, I feel a little jittery if I don’t have yarn, hook and a pattern or an idea to hand. However, I spend many evening hours with a babe in my arms and I haven’t really been able to master hooking and baby holding and so progress is generally slow. I dream of an hour or two uninterrupted hooking. As a result there will be far less hooked Christmas gifts this year and I’ve decided not to push my Etsy shop this year. I just don’t want the small amount of time I have to crafting to be deadlines and stress of whether I’ll get it all done.

So, back to the showing off part if this post. I was so excited to hook a blanket for my own baby. Making gifts for new arrivals is a totally lovely thing to do, but to be able to go with whatever colour scheme you like best, not restricted by others tastes or gender preferences is a real treat and I knew exactly what I wanted to create for our new arrival.

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I’d fallen in love with this particular combination of colours years ago on Kat’s fabulous blog and I really have a thing for grey. Whenever I sort my stash I’m always shocked by how many bits of leftover grey I have. I felt these colours really lent themselves to a ripple blanket. I love ripples for baby blankets, they work up into such a snuggly, warm finished item. So, I really knew what I was looking for when I visited my beloved yarn shop. The turquoise blue and line green almost certainly needed something with an element of acrylic in them in order to get that zingy pop of colour and so I opted for the trusted and familiar Jarol Heritage DK yarn. Half wool, half acrylic. For the rest of the colours I was looking for a softer, more snuggly yarn, especially as the grey was going to be the primary colour. A visit to my most favourite yarn shop, who incidentally have recently relocated to within 2 minutes of my favourite coffee place AND my hairdressers, (serendipitous or what?!) was needed. I was drawn to the feel, colours and price of Artensano Superwash DK and I am definitely going to be using this again. The colours are so rich and the grey was the perfect shade that I was looking for.

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Once the yarn had been selected it was all pretty straight forward. I’ve hooked rippled items before and find it the most soothing pattern to hook. Knowing this blanket was soon to be wrapped around my new baby, who while hooking was still wiggling about inside me, made it all the more enjoyable.

On February the 28th at 9pm I hooked the last stitch on the simple double crochet border. At 4:30am on the 1st March, Lady Mck made her appearance in the world. This has now happened with two of my children. Never mind curry and pineapple. If you want to bring about labour, simply finish your homemade baby blanket.

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I know that last photo shows virtually nothing of the blanket, but I couldn’t resist.With thanks to @Kellyfairy for the perfectly colour co-ordinated dress

Dear Mama

These are the years, they say. The ones that are precious and special and will be gone too soon and they are right, they really are. They are also the years when you experience a tiredness like you have never known before and find yourself more overwhelmed with what seems so simple than you could ever have imagined.

I see you. Looking frazzled. Looking tired, you hands literally full of children. I see you and I know. I know how it feels. The joy and the grind all rolled into one very long day and I want you to know it’s ok for
it to be like this. It’s ok that you aren’t loving every minute, that some days you just want to walk away and have a day off. It’s fine that you’re doing your best and that sometimes your best is not everything that others may think it should be. In fact, it’s ok that your best isn’t even everything that you think it should be. It’s your best and it’s good enough. Some days, good enough is as much as you can expect. You don’t have to be superwoman every day. You actually don’t have to be superwoman at all. People will judge you, think you’re doing it wrong. You’re not. You’re doing it your way and your children won’t know there were other ways and they won’t judge. They will think you are superwoman.

Take a moment. Just every now and again to tell yourself, out loud even, that you’re doing your best. That you’re doing ok or even that it’s a bit rubbish today/this week/this moment, but make sure you take notice of it all. Take notice of the giggles, the mess, from what to them was an awesome game, the moment when your baby is asleep in your arms. Feel the weight of them, remember the sensation of your arms being full, if only for a moment, before chaos descends again. Remember it all, for what is a raw, indelible experience for you, will be a mere haze for them, a feeling of how life was, with those weird details that they remember scattered around.

Take care of yourself. Try to eat well, but go easy on yourself. Have that extra cup of coffee, enjoy some cake. Brush your hair, if it makes you
feel better or don’t, if you couldn’t care less. Smile at someone, strike up a conversation, or hunker down in your own bubble. We are all different.

People aren’t going to tell you how fabulous you are, or what a great job you’re doing. It doesn’t work like that. It seems like the easiest job in the world, so many have done it before you and will after you and yet it the hardest thing you will ever do and so I say this to you. Mama, you’re rocking this thing. Just keep going and breathe.

Love Mummylimited

I miss this space. I miss this place. I have many half started posts that languish in drafts. The moment passed and therefore likely never to see the light of day, but this one must. My baby is six months old. It should be marked. If I isn’t I will forget so much. I shudder when I think of how much I have already forgotten. How is it possible for something to be so all consuming and yet such a blur all at the same time?

Once again I am stunned by how each child is different, both in looks and temperament. She looks like both of her brothers and neither of them and is like them and yet entirely new. New quirks, new likes and dislikes and new challenges. I still find myself utterly flummoxed as to how to make her happy or what to do next. I thought, by now that my instincts would be stronger, that I would always know which way to go and mostly I do, but there are times when I am transported back five years, holding a crying or awake baby, with no idea where to turn.

She has pale, porcelain skin and blue eyes. Beautiful, round, deep blue eyes. Her hair is really starting to grow, not yet decided if it’s going to be blonde or red. When the sun shines on it, it looks like tiny strands of bronze.

She is incredibly alert and interested in everything. So much to see, something always going on in our house and she is completely entertained by it. Watching, learning, wanting to be involved, soaking it all in. She is the chattiest baby I’ve known and I have chatty children! I wake to chatting, not crying. Always making a noise. She loves to be upright, sitting or holding weight on her legs and as a result doesn’t spend much time on her tummy or lying down, except just before her bedtime feed when she is grouchy and tired, but we are busy. At this time she is guaranteed to be cheered up by some nappy free time, rolling around and putting her toes in her mouth. Her newest noise is the loudest shriek, used when she is excited and very happy. Lovely to hear, but dare I admit a tiny bit too loud and irritating, possibly only because it is a glimpse into the noise levels in my house, in the future.

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For each child you have people, and perhaps even yourself seem to expect you to let go earlier and easier, but babies don’t work like that, certainly not this one. She needs us, more specifically me, especially in the evenings. She has taken a bottle of painstakingly expressed milk, but reluctantly and has refused to on another occasion. She likes to be held in the evening and still feeds then a lot, although usually compensating me with only one wake up in the night. (Edit: this post is taking so long to write that that lovely one wake up is now two, maybe three. I hate colds, teeth and anything else that’s bothering her. Sleep has become an issue in our house. A all too common topic if discussion and dissection. I am longing for the state of acceptance that I know I’ll come to me soon) It can be frustrating, my hands itching to do, to create. I wish I were someone who could just watch TV, but there’s only so much I can watch without a crochet hook to hand. My brain now divides things into hands free and hands full activities. It is what it is, this time is short and she is my last. Our baby gazing days are numbered, acceptance is the key. It’s not always easy to remember that.

She wants to be held in the day too. Our woven wrap has been invaluable. As well as not liking being out down, she has many other dislikes. She doesn’t like her car seat, having the babygro poppers on her legs being done up, tummy time or having a toy removed. She loves a bath, she kicks and splashes, time without a nappy, chewing her feet, being tickled and the cat. She LOVES the cat.

Her brothers adore her. Nano sometimes a little roughly. He is three, a new sibling creates emotions he doesn’t really understand, but he tries. Mini Mck calls her “girlie”, he keeps her entertained and pretends they are at the fair or flying a plane. She lights up when either of them are near. It is quite a wonderful thing to make people and then watch them love each other.

As always time is going too fast. Six months (nearly seven now) gone in a blur. I look at her newborn photos and it seems only weeks ago and of course this time there’s the bittersweet knowledge that there will be no more tiny babies for us. Clothes that are outgrown need to be sold or donated and not put back in the loft. I can’t do it all yet. They have been sorted, donated and the bits to sell put to one side. I hope soon I can actually bring myself to offload them soon. To be able to see them for what they really are. Simply things. Their departure simply a signpost to a new and exciting stage of out life.

*It’s actually now seven months. That’s how long it has taken to write this, on my phone, at school. with two napping children.

Making the most of pre-school years has been on my mind a lot recently. Having your last baby, when your first is in their Reception year at school really brings home how quickly these years pass. I look at Lady Mck and am reminded so much of her eldest brother, who is now well and truly settled at school and no longer looks totally alien in his school uniform. I see friends sending their children to school for the first time this and it feels like yesterday that I was doing the same and the most scary thing of all, something I shall be doing again next year, as Nano starts in September 2015.

Days with small children and babies can be so, so long. So many tiny activities that they tire of easily, so many naps to make happen and feeds to do and tantrums to endure, but the years whizz by and before you even feel you’ve had time to breathe they are gone. At school, starting a new journey, that you are never quite as involved in as anything before. I never realised, before I had children, that so much of being a parent is about letting go in tiny increments, from the baby days onwards. I haven’t really come to terms with that and I am not sure I ever will.

I am already thinking of next September and how quickly my time with Nano has gone, even quicker than with Mini Mck. That’s the thing with second and third children, they have to fit around a family, not just a couple. Your attention is divided and so time passes even quicker. This seems particularly true of a middle child. Poor Nano was born when his brother was only just two, a whole year before pre-school and by the time we had Monday to Friday together, I was pregnant again and so basically in a bad mood for nine months.

And so, we have this year. Three days each week will still be ours to do what we choose and I am determined to make the most of it, to make sure he gets the best of me and that I enjoy the best of him. It’s not easy though. I remember saying much the same about Mini Mck and I’m not really sure I did make the most of those final pre-school days. I am not much for big days out, my purse doesn’t run to it and I find the thought of them quite exhausting, but I am going to make sure we do some things during the week that are just for him, have a little structure so that his needs and mine don’t get choked out by boring jobs, the school run and the demands of a baby. I’m only talking a gymnastics play session, or a morning spent at the park and the library. Just something where I can soak it in, try to bottle the memory before he’s all grown up and off to school.

We did some of that last week on our first day together since the end of the summer holidays. We made the most of the sunny weather and took a picnic to the “water park”, a local park that has a lovely play area, which includes water fountains for the children to run through, randomly squirting from the ground.  We stayed there so long that when it was time to collect MM from school, there were no complaints from Nano at all. We had spent a lovely afternoon playing, chatting, getting wet (him), cuddling in a towel to get dry (him with the towel, me doing the cuddling) and even a sneaky read of the kindle while Lady Mck slept (me). It was simple, inexpensive and relaxed. In fact a perfect start to our pre-school year.

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I  really recommend enjoying and embracing the mundane. Nano is at the age where he wants to be my shadow. He wants to help with shopping and baking and making the dinner and I love that older toddler stage, where they become proper company. Someone you can actually have a conversation with. So, we try to enjoy the boring bits. Cooking together, punctuating a morning of errands with a cafe stop or a visit to one of our favourite playgrounds. This is the stuff I need to remember, the things I will miss when these days are over.

The added bonus this year is that I will have a little time with just Lady Mck too, with Nano spending some time at pre-school, something he is hugely looking forward to. I can’t wait to be able to focus just on her, but I must make sure that for some of it I really do. It’s so tempting to use that time for cleaning and organising or even the odd sneaky afternoon of Nashville and crochet and I am sure that sometimes I will, but I know only too well how fast it all goes and so I am going to take Fairy’s advice and embrace every cuddle. Lady Mck and I will be doing some baby yoga and massage again, but I am mostly looking forward to having the time to just lie on the floor with her, listening to her babbling and giggling as she learns to move and communicate.

Fairy have produced a lovely video, that they have asked me to share, embracing the #powerofsoft and encouraging parents to enjoy those extra soft and special cuddles while they are so freely. I warn you, you may need some tissues for this video…..

Sponsored post. All words and views are, as usual, my own.

 

Every now and again you get approached by a company to do a review and you say yes on the strength of the company alone, even though the product doesn’t appear to be something you’ll find very useful. This was exactly the case when Muddy Puddles contacted me. I love Muddy Puddles, an online store selling wet weather and sun gear for babies and upwards. As regular and yet totally unorganised campers, they have come in handy when needing to order waterproof trousers in July.

The product they wanted to try for them was a lightweight Pac-a-Mac jacket and whilst I thought it *might* come in handy occasionally, it wasn’t something that was in my list of things we needed. Both boys wear lined waterproof coats as their winter coats and so I figured we were pretty covered in that area.

How wrong could I be?! I had failed to take account of a very showery spring/summer and the ‘curse of the school run’. The grey clouds start to gather around 2ish, prompting me to get the washing in. By 2:30 they are black and swirling. When we get in the car 20 mins later, a few drops of rain have started and this inevitably turned to proper rain once we pull up at school. You know the drill.

This jacket is perfect for days like these. In fact it’s perfect for summer. It’s light and folds away into it’s own pocket, with a handy clip attached, so MM was quite happy to carry it himself. We often take it school for those ‘just in case’ days and when I have been caught out and had to bring it for him, it fits nicely in the pocket of my own rain jacket. The pocket has a nice big name label attached and the zip is easy enough for the kids to do up themselves. Now, that we are back in baby days again, anything that I can do to lighten our load is a bonus and this jacket can easily be carried by either of the boys themselves. I and they like them taking responsibility for their own things.

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Initially, I did raise my eyebrows at the price, coming in at £20, it’s more than I would usually pay for a rain jacket. However, considering how useful it’s been and what great quality it is, I would absolutely pay from my own pocket. In fact, you can currently order one for the reduced price of £15, so I will definitely be getting one for Nano, in preparation for summer days out and camping trips.

Which brings me on to my only criticism really. I would like to see a wider choice of colours and patterns. We ordered the red and grey stripe for MM, which looks really good with his school uniform and I will order a nice yellow with umbrellas for Nano, but the other choices are a bit underwhelming.  Although, I was delighted to see the absence of pink in the options.

All in all I would recommend the Muddy Puddles Pac-a-Mac. It’s all the little extras that set it apart from much of the stuff on the high street.

Muddy Puddles kindly sent me a complimentary jacket for the purposes of this review. All, opinions and words, as ever, are mine

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