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

Everything is unfinished and interrupted. Even the tiniest things. I never get from the beginning of something to the end. Blog posts gathering dust, in fact everything gathering dust. A quick tidy round here, a half emptied dishwasher there and my focus is always divided, so no-one gets the best of me. Everything interrupted. Naps, conversations, thoughts, usually by a small voice shouting or a cry from the monitor. It’s frustrating. Intensely frustrating. As the day goes on the unfinished accumulates, physically and mentally. The wet washing, now too late to hang out, the shopping being stepped over as dinner is prepared, the forgotten thoughts, the half finished conversations. It makes my head hurt.

Of course it’s normal and unavoidable, which means I feel guilty for feeling frustrated. Constantly fire fighting and not finishing anything is wearing though and it just isn’t me. I like a list, a task, even a small one. Something to mentally or actually cross through. Reaching the end of the day without accomplishing anything is infuriating, especially when you know that tomorrow will be the same.

Babies are so consuming and so whenever I am with her my focus is split between her and whatever else is going on. I long for some distance, but at the same time do not want to be too far away or for too long.

This is one of those time that needs grinding out. Not quite a newborn, bit still needing so much from me and only me. I feel, by now, there should be more order and I like order, but we are not there yet. We have very little routine, apart from the school run, which is forced on us and juggling two other little people, means I can’t always provide everything she needs at the moment she needs it. More guilt.

These early years mean accomplishing very little, whilst at the same time accomplishing a lot. It’s just that the thing I am accomplishing doesn’t ‘look’ like anything, it isn’t tangible, it cannot be crossed off a list. Unless of course the first thing on the list every day reads “raised children”

I feel I am lacking any kind of coherent point, which actually seems quite appropriate. I am unable to form one. My brain is a tired jumble of half thoughts.

I will end with this though. Yesterday I went for a run. 20 mins. I started a run and a I finished a run. Uninterrupted. My attention focused on one thing. My mind allowed to wander, without intrusion. I completed something. It felt good.

He is three. It’s gone by in the blink of an eye. That happens when you are in the middle. So much of his life has been slotted between an elder one potty training, starting nursery and school and a younger one growing and being born, that I hardly noticed him turning from my baby into a boy. As I look back at his early baby photos, I almost feel they are of someone else. His brother’s early days are seared into my mind. They were my first as a mother and were so hard, with a baby that resisted sleep. His sister’s are fresh and new and I feel I shall never forget them, although I probably will. He was squeezed in the middle, newborn days passed amongst the blur of raising a just turned two year old. He was just so good at being a newborn, a complete natural and so the days panned out with little incident. IMG_6873   Now it is his turn to have the boyhood rites of passage. We have left nappies and pushchairs behind and they have been replaced with teeny tiny pants and his first scooter. Pre-school is looming in the distance and his final year before school is here already. He weaved himself into the fabric of our family so quickly and easily and is only now stamping his wishes on it, which is both frustrating and wonderful all at the same time. The quiet baby has turned into a noisy, chatty boy with his own ideas and needs. I need to pay more attention or it will be gone too soon. He is polite and fearless. Stubborn and gorgeous. Still all about the eyes. Big blue pools of thoughtfulness, framed by the lushest eyelashes I have ever seen, that seem to grow even bigger when big toddler tears fall out of them. Wrenching his independence from us and still wanting to cuddle. Wanting to be a baby and big boy. A muddle of contradictions and extremes. In another year he will be utterly changed again. Blink and you miss it, they say and we roll our eyes as we wade through another pre-schooler day filled with tiny tasks and tantrums, but they’re right.  So don’t blink.

Sometimes there is time for being creative.

For making sure packed lunches have home baked goods in them and cooking dinner from scratch every day.

For decluttering and tidying. For planning and plotting.

For packing your toddler’s day with fun things to do.

For staying up too late and going out in the evening.

For going on a diet or reducing caffeine and sugar.

For housework

For finishing crochet projects, writing blog posts and getting the sewing machine out.

For being on top of it all.

There is also a time for realising that time isn’t now.

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Sometimes there is a time for early nights and getting as much sleep as possible.

For taking the easy option.

For doing the bare minimum.

For choosing the easy dinner.

For putting Cbeebies on more than you’d like.

For watching unchallenging, but oh so addictive and pleasurable, cooking programmes.

For not wearing make up

For putting your feet up for 10 minutes, even when chaos surrounds you.

For being pleased if you just achieve one thing in a day and not minding if you don’t even manage that.

For rarely being alone or having space

For cuddling the baby just a little longer

For not being as good as you’d like, but realising you’re still good enough.

For accepting that sometimes it’s ok to just want to put the baby down.

For appreciating even the smallest moments doing something that soothes the soul.

For realising it won’t be like this forever.

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Before Lady Mck arrived I told myself that if I did have a girl I wouldn’t bother with new clothes for the first year and she would just be dressed in the unisex or blue clothes we already own. However, it turns out that there are some gorgeous clothes for baby girls and they are just too tempting. There are also some hideous ones, too pink, too grown up, too impractical. So, I was intrigued to have a sneak peak at Kiddicare’s new items in their Pumpkin Patch range.

They sent me a broad sample of the range, from smart dresses to everyday short sleeves vests. If I had to sum up the range I’d say it was traditional with some modern twists, which I love. There’s no cringeworthy slogans or too much ultra fashion details and in my mind that’s just how it should be for such young customers.

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I’ve been surprised during my brief introduction to girls’ clothes that it’s incredibly hard to find anything that doesn’t, at least, have a touch of pink, so it was refreshing to see many Pumpkin Patch clothes have none at all.

My two favourite outfits are an absolutely gorgeous cotton dress with a collar, in lemon and pale grey stripes and a leggings and tee shirt set in navy blue, yes BLUE, for a girl. So refreshing.

I do find the sizing to be rather large. I am used to my children wearing smaller sizes than their actual age, but these so seem particularly large. I was sent mainly 3-6 month sizes and I suspect she’ll be quite a bit older before she fits most of it. There is a pair of shorts that would almost fit Nano. So, I’m afraid she can’t model any of it for you today.

However, the quality of everything is amazing. Lovely full skirts in the dresses and lots of nice details to add interest while still be easy to take on and off.

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What I like most about this range is how distinctive it seems to be. Something a little different, both in terms of style and colour. Thank you Kiddicare. We’ll definitely be looking out for what else is coming out of the Pumpkin Patch.

Pumpkin Patch is currently available in store only. Follow the link to find your nearest Kiddicare store.

13th April

 

Five. A messy jumble of words, ideas and questions that tumble out one after the other. Filling the eldest brother shoes with ease. Funny, caring, loud, challenging, unbending and loving. Needs to run. A Lego loving, imagination explosion. Amazing company.

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In other words, everything a five year old should be.

Thanks to Heather for the last photo. I hope she doesn’t sue me for putting up a slightly blurred one, but I just love it so much

I’m so delighted to be finally joining in with Laura at Circle of Pine Trees and #theyearinbooks project. Every month I’ve looked on longingly at the photos of piles of lovely books, wishing my long lost love of reading could be ignited.

Ever since having children, especially since Nano was born I haven’t carved out the time to read, too tired to manage more than a page each night, most of the time. I would still always have a book in progress, but they would take so long to finish I’d often give up.

So, I decided to make a point of reading during night feeds as soon as Lady Mck arrived. With my previous two I’d either watched boxsets of Sex and the City or aimlessly surfed the Internet on my phone. I wanted something that felt more productive, somehow, and her being born on March 1st fits beautifully with the idea of recording what I read throughout the year. I’m so pleased with how it’s gone so far. I completed two books in March and I can’t remember the last time I did that. I found myself reading not just during night feeds, but in the day too and staying up longer than needed in the night to finish a chapter. Obviously paternity leave gave me a bit more time, but if I can read just one book a month I’ll be satisfied.

Today, I’m going to share the books I read in March and what I’ll be reading in April.

I wanted to start myself off with something easy and comforting and one of the few authors that I have been able to read during my reading block is Jenny Colgan. Her series of books based around sweets and cakes are a real nostalgic and funny read and so I began my reading project with “The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris”. It didn’t disappoint and was crammed full of romantic French heroes, lovely descriptions of Paris and mouthwatering food. It absolutely made me crave chocolate, but seeing as I was breastfeeding, what felt like, constantly, I was able to indulge a little.

The Rosie Project was a book that I’d seen a few people taking part in #theyearinbooks read and all I knew was it was about love. It happened to be on offer when I went to buy my other March book and so after a quick scan of the synopsis I decided to give it a try. I absolutely loved it. An easy read with a totally fascinating and charming main character. It was funny, touching, enlightening and had me hooked very early on. Not the sort of thing I would normally pick up, but I am so glad I did.

So, there we are, two books in a month. Can’t remember the last time I managed that.

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For April I decided to drag myself into the 21st century and got myself a kindle. Mckdaddy has had one for years and raves about it. I got myself a bargain, mint condition second hand one and I’m always happy about a bargain. I don’t imagine I’ll give up actual books, but it’s great for one handed reading or for books only available online.

My first April is one such book and is very exciting. My talented twitter friend Aimee is writing a book and asked if I’d read the first draft. It returns to her existing character, Dottie and I am so thrilled she’s asked me to look at it. You can find Aimee’s other Dottie adventures in the kindle store on Amazon.

Next on my list is The Vesuvius Club by Mark Gatiss, which I’ve been wanting to read for ages and have started once before and next some non-fiction. I love non-fiction books, but these have definitely been neglected during my reading block.

I’ll let you know what I think of these next month and in the meantime get over to Laura’s blog to see what others are reading. It’s a great source of ideas for what to read next.

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