The Rollercoaster

People who don’t like talking about women and they biology, look away now!

My period is due. I know this, not only because my cycle diary app tells me so, but because my bones jangle with uncertainty and anxiety that has been building for a week. The older I become, the more wild this rollarcoaster ride, that is my hormones, gets

Just as with so many other things to do with women’s bodies and biology, we just don’t talk about it. I am 43 years old and until last year I had never heard of the peri-menopause, but even without the age issue, our monthly cycle and the huge impact it can have on our lives is a hushed secret, something we must simply style out and hope no-one notices.

The only mention we ever seem to make of it is a self-depricating comment, usually in reference to how awful it must be for those around us to cope with our irrationally foul moods and I am done with that, because this is a real thing and it has a real impact on so many womens lives. It’s not just a GIF with a woman losing her shit, or me and many other women on Insta-stories joking about being ‘hormonal’ with a roll of the eye and a cheeky comment about the Hulk.

It’s real. It’s suddenly feeling you can’t cope, it is feeling that you are failing at everything. It’s not wanting to do anything out of your comfort zone. It’s questioning whether any of your friends really like you and overthinking every interaction you have. And then suddenly, it’s gone again and everything is calm, but you know it will be back.

Imagine for a moment that someone you work with had an on-going problem with their back or some other part of their body. they would mention it. We would be sympathetic. Work would be accommodating. Occasionally, if it was particularly bad they may take a day off. It would be slightly frustrating, but you would probably be understanding of their pain. Imagine if the bad back was replaced with PMS. It’s hard to, right? It’s impossible to imagine because it just never happens. Imagine too, how different soceity’s attitude to periods and the monthly cycle that goes with it, would be if men were the ones who had to experience it. I suspect we would hear much more about it and you can damn well guarantee that sanitary products wouldn’t be classed as a luxury item.

I started paying more attention to my cycle after I’d finished breastfeeding. For nearly 10 years I had either been trying to get pregnant, dealing with the hormonal aftermath of a failed pregnancy, being pregnant or breastfeeding and it wasn’t until all that had finished that I noticed my cycle felt very different ten years on. The blues and even the pain were actually split into two separate times of the month. Once when I was ovulating and again when I was menstruating. (how ironic that when I no longer needed to pinpoint ovulation, I could tell when it was, just by the excruciating pain on one side of my body!) I downloaded a cycle tracker and most of the time it is absolutely spot on, in terms of mood and energy levels.

Having an understanding of our own cycles is really empowering to a point, but what that doesn’t do is make it any more acceptable to say anything about it. I for one, feel hushed, that we mustn’t admit that some days these hormones of ours make us feel like a different person, because that would be a sign of weakness. A sign that being a woman makes us less than a man and certainly more emotional than a man. It’s great to be able to tell yourself that these feelings aren’t really real, but even then, it doesn’t stop them feeling completely real.

As usual in our modern, medicalised society the first thought is to take drugs to balance this all out and I’m not necessarily against this, however, often the side effects are just as bad as the symptoms and perhaps if we could start being more open about our own realities, we would find ways to ease the ride.

We may not have the medical silver bullet and maybe we shouldn’t even be looking for it, but what we definitely be doing is speaking our truth, being honest with ourselves, our friends, our families and especially our daughters. As uncomfortable as it might be, it’s worth it.


In defence of non-judgemental self-care

January was peak month for lots of talk about self-care and one particular interview caught my ears and made me start thinking about self-care and what it really means, or at least what it should mean. Two sisters were being interviewed on the radio about their book Self-care in the Real World and I wondered if this would actually cut through the noise and speak to a normal person like me.

One look at Instagram would have you believe that self-care is buying soy candles and wearing loungewear from Toast, so perhaps it was possible to find something from these authors that would resonate.

Unfortunately not. Their advice was well-meaning enough (and by well-meaning, of course I mean as well-meaning as you can be when you are flogging a book). They advocated “putting yourself in your own diary” which actually isn’t terrible advice. I know we all say we are too busy for that, but presumably there are times when we are not parenting or working and could think about ourselves a bit more.

But that was really as far as their ‘real world’ advice went. They went on to talk about food and how we should savour the preparation and eating of food. “Really taste it” As you can imagine, by this point my eyes had started to roll out of my head. I’m not disagreeing that, in an ideal world, this would be my preferred state of cooking, but in the real world this just doesn’t happen. Aside from the fact that cooking dinner is done while trying to tidy the kitchen and dining room, refereeing squabbles and packing tomorrow’s lunches, I cook nearly everyday and if you cook everyday, it becomes a bore. Of course, sometimes it’s an utter pleasure. Pottering around the kitchen of a weekend, baking or filling the freezer, but this is a rare treat, that needs forward planning.

For parents, their advice included “Practice self-care at the same time as your children. For example, a guided family meditation”. I feel that for most people with children, I probably don’t need to say much more about that idea to explain why it’s pretty crazy. *glances over at children doing headstands on the couch*. OK, maybe once in a blue moon you may get your children to all sit still a the same time for 10 mins, but it’ll be rare, right? RIGHT?!

My first thought was how ridiculous that was and wouldn’t most parents agree with me, but then that little voice of doom crept in, whispering to me that I just be failing at the parenting thing, because my children are too feral for meditation. I did dismiss the voice pretty quickly, but it had still sneaked in, making me feel inadequate.

And this brings me to my main point. When did looking after ourselves become something to make us feel bad about ourselves? Self-care seems to mean no sugar, lots of yoga, no screens, buying stuff, well-behaved, chilled out children. INTERNET BAD. MEDITATION GOOD. By trying to care for ourselves more, we seem to have found a way to beat ourselves around the head for not being a better version of ourselves, with children who love a guided meditation.

For me, self-care could mean a frozen pizza for my kids packed lunches, because I am just so sick of making sandwiches. For my friend, Vicky, it’s “crime dramas and biscuits” (which I am totally on board with) It’s a cup of tea and a pile of knitting, it’s a comforting, unchallenging novel, it’s not bothering with dinner and eating buttered toast and jam in front of the TV, it’s a good radio programme or podcast while you fold the washing. It’s deciding against that early alarm to get up before the kids, it’s buying boring, but useful things that you never replace, it’s a glass of wine and turning the music up, so you can’t hear the bickering. (sometimes! I am not a monster!) It’s saying “no, I won’t read you another chapter” or maybe reading them an extra chapter, just because it’s a good book. (For those of you who think this will never happen, just wait until they are about seven and a whole host of brilliant books will open itself to you both)

It is true that often the things that are really good for us, aren’t always the most attractive choice. We could all probably do with going to bed earlier and I can’t say I’ve even regretted making the time to do some yoga of an evening, but neither have I regretted knitting a few rows and bingeing on Netflix. When asked about self-care no-one ever says “oh, I watch TV” but we all do it.

Surely, self-care should basically mean “doing something for ourselves that we enjoy and makes us feel rested, relaxed and at ease”? I can assure you that a guided meditation with my children is not going to do that! Let’s reclaim self-care and indulge ourselves in some good winter tele and a biscuit or two, hey?

In-betweeny days

Hello friends. It seems my intentions to start writing here again quickly fell by the wayside. I’ve been pondering whether 2018 is the year when I will finally say goodbye to this space. Every time I post now, I do feel that it just gets lost amongst the many other blogs that are around and I struggle with where and how to get people to read it. I know it’s not all about statistics, but if the audience is so small, I may as well just write a private journal. However, the thought of saying goodbye to this space always feels too difficult. Perhaps it will just fade away until I no longer think about posting.

How has your festive season been? I hope you’ve had the chance to spend it how you want to, whether that be turning the Christmas up to full tinsel, or just having some time to pause and rest and reflect.

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I’ve realised that these in-betweeny days are my favourite. Every year I seem to struggle with the run up to Christmas. The hype starts too early for me. I feel this pressure mounting to get everything done in time. School and pre-school go crazy with lots of extra things to remember and Mckdad is around less because, of course his school also has lots going on. This year, was particularly challenging, mostly because I just wasn’t organised enough and didn’t start early or plan things. I’ve already decided that next year will be different. I will plan early. The advent calendar activities will be planned and not decided the night before they are due. Large family gatherings will be a meal out, rather than me feeling I should always host and put in so much effort and work.

However, now that is all done and I feel the whole family has been able to take a huge breath. This is really the only time of the year that we have few plans. We don’t embark on any house projects, or go away. Sometimes, I find that hard, to be doing nothing. I am a planner by nature. I’m not great at ‘wasting’ a day. However, I seem to have managed it this week. A little light tidying here, a load of washing to do there, but mostly I have been able to hang out with the kids a little and find pockets of time to pick up a crochet hook or the knitting needles.

One thing I will definitely be keeping in mind this year, is that it is OK to prefer this quiet, calm bit that falls after Christmas and that I am not failing at Christmas if I find the run up to it quite stressful. I feel this pressure to love it all, as that’s what I see everyone else doing. The pressure is entirely self-inflicted and I need to get better at thinking “they are them and I am me and that’s OK”. In fact, I need to get better at that is all aspects of my life. If I have any New Year’s Resolution, it is that.

Yes, I did say, crochet hook! I have been doing a little secret project for The Fibre Co. with my crochet, work hat on. I wondered if I would remember how, but the muscle memory is still there and I’d forgotten how satisfying it is to work on little motifs, repeating each step over and over again. I also have a sweater that is so close to being finished, I can almost feel myself wearing it. I have high hopes for this one and can’t wait to share it with you.

As this Twixmas time moves towards New Year, I naturally find that I am ready to start thinking about real life again. I begin to think about lists and work and being more organised. I really do need to up my game here. I found the last school term a struggle. As if I never really got into the swing of it. Everything felt last minute and really that just stresses me out. I already have the boys PE and swimming kits packed and today I must order the school lunches. That is a huge improvement already! I may even get the iron out before they go back, but let’s not get carried away, I still have family films to watch each afternoon and a few mince pies to finish off.

Happy New Year to all of you and hopefully I’ll be back soon…….or maybe not soon, but back at least.


emilyandmore loves…..{the hormonal edition}

One of the things I missed most about blogging was being able to share all the things that I am consuming and just had to tell you about. I’ve decided to lump them all in together, so sometimes you’ll get a book, sometimes a bunch of podcasts or even a spotify playlist. This month I’ve been loving all sorts of new things and here are some that you might enjoy too…..



For years Mckdad has been telling me to watch Suits. I always nodded politely and said I would, but not now and didn’t think it would be for me. I was so wrong. Aside from the ridiculously tight skirts and dresses that the women wear and the high heels, that are so high they make my feet hurt just to look at them, it is the perfect autumn binge. Sharp, funny and if you don’t fall in love with Harvey Specter just a little bit, then I don’t know what’s wrong with you. (and yes I’m talking to my male readers there too). Seven binge worthy seasons are waiting for you on Netflix. Get to it!


Oh, how would I get through the housework without podcasts? I wouldn’t is the answer. Some come and go, such as The High/Low PodcastI wanted to love it, I really did, but in the end I found the hosts too privileged, too London-centric and if I’m honest, just too young for me. It just didn’t resonate with me. However, I have found the perfect alternative. Fortunately  from the BBC is two of my absolute favourite women on radio, Fi Glover and Jane Garvey (of Woman’s Hour). What started as a podcast about cool stuff they’d heard on the radio, which was obviously another big tick from me, quickly descended into two middle-aged women talking about ‘stuff’. Laughing together, being witty and intelligent and just making me feel like I was having a cuppa with a couple of friends. Now, in Season 2, they’ve added a broadcasting guest each week, starting with the wonderful Shaun Keavney. This podcast is funny and delightful and I listen to it as soon as it’s available. This is my find of the summer.

….app downlowding

Apps have changed our lives and sometimes you find one that makes such a difference, you just have to share. Hormone Horoscope was recommended to me by a Twitter friend, when we were discussing how it is always a shock to us how much our mood is affected by our monthly hormone cycle. After all this time, you would think that I would know that a loss of confidence or a low mood always occurs at the same time in my cycle, usually around ovulation and just before my period, and yet, it is still a constant surprise to me. Hormone Horoscope gives a really detailed explanation as to what is going on with those pesky hormones, both on the good days and the bad days. As ever, knowledge is power and understanding more makes the waves of emotions far more easy to deal with.


I recently read Graham Norton’s debut novel, Holding and I really enjoyed it. It’s one of those books that is really more about the characters and how they are written than the plot, although I found the plot intriguing too. I just loved the way he drew all his characters, even the minor ones and I just felt I was in this small Irish town and was watching the action in front of me. I found it funny, sad and whimsical and I completely forgot that it was written by someone famous. I think if you can forget the author of a book, as you read, that’s an excellent compliment.

I hope you enjoy this bunch of recommendations. I won’t say monthly batch, because I’m going to stop putting limits on my blog. You might get some more next week, you might have to wait a month. I hope you give some of these a look. Imagine my grabbing your arm over coffee, or in the school playground and telling you that you absolutely must try this, you would love it!



When Me and Mine goes wrong

At the beginning of the year, I decided to take part in the Me and Mine photo project. One photo, once a month of the whole family. I had got a new camera for Christmas and a tripod and so was excited for the shots I could take and by having a monthly picture of all of us to keep. I love seeing everyone else’s shots, all so smiley and happy looking, but it turned out not to be so easy. In fact it all just became a really stressful stick to beat myself with.

We discovered pretty quickly that Nano hated the whole process. As soon as I even got the tripod out he would start to create havoc. Each photo was preceded by lots of cajoling, pleading, getting irritated and lots of tears and shouting from him (and I’ll be honest some shouting from us too). It wasn’t that I had stupidly high standards to get that perfect shot, even getting him in front of the camera was almost impossible. Everyone in the actual frame would’ve been enough for me. Every photo that I did manage to get was tinged with sadness when I looked at it, as I remembered the difficulty and upset that it took to get there.

I thought perhaps I would just take them without him. That if he wanted to join in, he could and if he didn’t I would share photos of the rest of us, but I just couldn’t do it. Each photo to me just had a huge Nano shaped gap in it and I realised that I didn’t want to document our months with someone missing. I tried just a quick snap with my iphone, but even that wasn’t something he was up for. As is proved by the shot below, taken on top of a mountain in France, where believe me, you do not want a six year old having a huge tantrum and running away from you in a rage! You can just see the top of his head in the bottom left of the frame. He was crying.

I did manage to get one set of photos, which I completely love and one in particular where everyone was looking in the right direction and standing in the way that I asked them. I’ve printed a large copy, framed it and hung in on the wall. It seems fitting that such a rare thing should be hung for all to see. Nano and I were looking at it the other day and he mentioned that he liked the photo, but that it would be better if we were all standing in height order. I thought back to the day in question and remembered that it took us ages to get this shot and we had already gone through, at least two tantrums. The only way I could get the photo was to get everyone else set up and have him join us at the last minute standing next to Mckdad.


They say that a photo speaks a thousand words, but sometimes it can hide just as many. When you look at that simple shot, of a happy family standing against a wall, there is no way of knowing how hard it was to take.

I read a lot online about the importance of capturing those family moments, about making sure we are all pictured together and whilst that is a lovely sentiment, I don’t think I should be pushing it, if we are not all happy about it.

And so I have come to the conclusion that the Me and Mine Project is not for us. Of course, I am sad about it and look longingly at the beautiful pictures that others have to share and keep for themselves. However, I don’t want it to be a thing we all dread and hate and I must simply accept that our photographic memories will have to be more candid, more relaxed and probably not all of us together.

I found this post really hard to publish. I wonder if it’s because I’m concerned it could be read as a criticism of the project and those lovely family shots that I see everyone else post. It isn’t. I love reading everyone’s posts and seeing the happy shots. Yes, there is a little tinge of sadness and envy, but not resentment. The Me and Mine Project will still encourage me to try and get us all in the frame every now and again, but just not push it.


I wish I was the kind of mother…

I wish I was the kind of mother who always has tissues or a wipe, for all those times we need one. I wish I was the kind of mother who remembered that I still need to have change of clothes for Lady Mck. I wish I was the kind of mother who didn’t shout at the kids or let the odd swear word slip out in their presence. I wish I was the kind of mother who didn’t get annoyed about the little things, the endless trail of clothes left around the house, the uneaten dinners, the spilled drinks, the requests to listen to David Walliams books in the car, when I would rather listen to Radio 2. I wish I was the kind of mother who could do the shopping properly, so that we are not always one thing missing for dinner and we didn’t have to go into a food shop, every bloody day. I wish I was the kind of mother that accepted the rubbish bits, that didn’t hate the drudging part; the washing, the tidying, the cooking, the shopping.

I wish I was the kind of mother who remembered to mark their heights on the wall, who prints off photographs and gets them hung, who keeps all the artwork that comes home from school. I wish I was the kind of mother who at least takes a photo of the artwork, before it hits the recycling bin. I wish I was the kind of mother who was happy to take the other children with me, so that we could all watch Mini Mck play football. I wish I was the mother who doesn’t look at her watch every five minutes during gymnastics class. I wish I was the kind of mother who doesn’t inwardly roll my eyes every time a party invitation comes home and the kind of mother who was happy to stay at said party, like the others do, rather than wanting to make an excuse to leave and pick up later.

I wish I was the kind of mother who played with them a bit more and wasn’t thinking of all the other things I could be doing. I wish I was the kind of mother that took them out for a big tramp in the woods every weekend and enjoyed it. I wish I was the kind of mother who likes the park.

I wish I was the kind of mother who found it all just a bit easier. But I am not. I am not that kind of mother. I am not a grown up, together type of mother.


I am the kind of mother who can throw a great birthday party. I am the kind of mother that will go on a school trip. I am the kind of mother that cooks from scratch and bakes every week. I am the kind of mother who is happy when they want a quiet day at home, in their pyjamas. I am the kind of mother who will sort through thousands of pieces of Lego, so that they can make a kit that a younger sibling previously destroyed.

I am the kind of mother who makes birthday cakes and makes sure they always have number biscuits for their birthday tea. I am the kind of mother who lets them play on an ipad or watch too much TV. I am the kind of mother who lets them build a den and make a mess, even though I hate it. I am the kind of mother who lets them run or scoot ahead of me to school. I am the kind of mother who encourages them to climb a bit higher, even though it makes me nervous. I am the kind of mother that makes sure they all share a book with one of us at the end of each day.

I am the kind of mother who makes a fancy dress costume and loves it. I am the kind of mother who lets them help me cook or garden, even if it means the result isn’t as neat as I want it to be. I am the kind of mother who lets them get filthy in the garden or at the allotment. I am the kind of mother who lets them have a deep, warm bath that they stay in until they go wrinkly.

The kind of mother I am isn’t better than the kind of mother I am not. It’s just different. These are the things that come easily to me and yet I still wish I was better at the things that don’t. I try to be good at them and for a while I am, but not for very long and soon I revert to my natural state.

I suppose most of all I wish I was the kind of mother who could accept what kind of mother I really am and stop admonishing myself for not being something else.


How about you? What kind of mother are you and is the kind of mother you would wish to be?


Hello, hello

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Hello old friend. It’s been a while, huh? That little blogging break became rather long. My absence wasn’t anything dramatic, just a lack of inspiration and a lack of time. I’ve filled my evenings with lots of knitting, lots of Netflix and too much mindless scrolling. Oh, and becoming completely addicted to Instagram Stories. If you ever wonder where I am, you can probably see me there, talking to the camera and fiddling with my hair while doing so. The summer, of course, is always busy. Routines go out of the window and just when I think I will have more time, I have less.

But, then September arrives and suddenly my thoughts turn to being organised and getting back to the things that make me happy and whilst the odd thought came to me to give up the blog forever, I never seem to be able to and I miss sharing in this space. Fear of judgement set in. I want to share everything here, but there’s always that feeling that I will offend or bore my lovely readers. I heard Brene Brown say, in an interview with Oprah that the bravest thing you can do is share your story and I love that blogging means we can share our stories, however small we may feel those stories may be.

As far as blogging goes, I have made a promise to myself to share whatever I want here. The longer one blogs, the more people in our real life read our thoughts and that can be difficult. It feels too real and I fear that those who see me everyday will read too much into what I share. That they will worry if a post is negative or that I will show a side of myself that isn’ t always on show, but I have chosen to ignore these fears. I want to be free to write whatever is on my mind and the only person stopping me doing that is me. I have missed posts about the children’s birthdays, rants about things I care about and sharing with you the best things I’ve read, listened to and watched. I hope you’ll come back and visit occasionally. I know we all post on social media, but I for one, still love a blog. It’s not dead yet, is it?

The children are all back at school and pre-school and it feels as though Summer is way behind us. All the other seasons seem to creep, but I always feel that Autumn is like a switch being flicked, as soon as the bank holiday is done. Even on sunny days, there is a sudden chill in the air. I woke up on Bank Holiday Monday in a tent, still full in summer mode and yet my mind immediately flicked to budgeting better, writing more, de-cluttering the house and taking care of myself better. The looming new term and the sudden change of season always feel like a new start is needed. It’s amazing how the years of new school years imprint on our minds for the whole of our lives. Autumn seems to be a favourite season for many people and I am looking forward to lighting some candles and snuggling down under blankets, but I can’t help feeling sad that Autumn will soon slide into winter and the darkness isn’t something I look forward to. I love the light and the sun and the winter seems to go on too long.

I’ll leave you with a few photographic highlights of our summer. It went in a blur, as it always does. Our first foreign holiday for six years, lots of camping, juggling work and keeping three kids occupied for six weeks. It was fun and it was over too fast, but a part of me is looking forward to the routine that September brings.

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It’s great to be back. I’d love to know if anyone’s still out there, so please do say hi, anywhere you find me on the internet and I’m nearly always on the internet!




I love …….{for a 3rd birthday}

Please tell me I’m not the only one who occasionally writes a post and forgets to finish it off and publish it. This one was actually intending for the beginning of March. Ooops!

The birthday season is upon us. Three birthdays, evenly spaced over three months, that leave me feeling bittersweet and a little exhausted. The first out of the gates is my littlest love. Born quickly and at home, on the most gorgeous, crisp first day of Spring. I remember being amazed that she was a girl (still am!) and relieved that she would always have a March birthday. Now she is three and these are the things I love.

I love that you care. If anyone is upset, you want to give them a cuddle. If I am cross with you, you will tell me “don’t be sad, Mummy” and say sorry…..most of the time. I love that you can tell me and others how you feel. Your speech is amazing, but you can also put words to your emotions and explain when you don’t like something. This makes me so proud.

I love how you move. You adore your gymnastics class and push yourself every week to do something a little new. You can balance really well and climb really high. You will jump from a higher place than when you started and throughout it all you have the most enormous smile on your face. I love that you sort the hoops into colours, before you start playing with them. I love that you want to show the teacher what you can do and ask him how each piece of equipment works. I love that you climb on the end of your bed, to be able to reach your clock and your light at the end of the day and that you insist of doing everything yourself.

I love that you are like my little companion. We don’t do very much, in the way of groups, but you are more than happy to follow me around the house, helping me or doing your own thing, but always nearby. I love that you are easy in the supermarket. You push the trolley and get things we need off the shelves and then when it is too heavy to push, you ask to get in the seat and you stay there until we have finished, helping to put the shopping on the conveyer belt and charming staff and customers while we shop. You will bake with me and help me prepare lunch or a cup of tea. You don’t mind what we do, as long as you can be involved.

I love that you love our cats. You properly look after them. You feed them and stroke them so gently. I love that you don’t rush at them. You know to move slowly and quietly. You talk to them gently. “You’re a good cat, Mabel” “Sophie is so soft and cuddly” and even our grumpy, fat, old man cat rubs himself around your legs for a stroke and a top up of food in his bowl. I love that they are not scared of you. They will jump on your bed, while we are reading your bedtime story and stay while you fuss them and I read.

I love how much you are learning. You can hold a pen and are starting to draw shapes and numbers. I love that you love an activity book. I love that you have started to build Lego……and you are really good too! I love your small world play. I love to listen as you make your toys talk to each other and talk to you. In fact, you talk to yourself a lot and I love it. I love that you want to bike and scoot, run and throw. You just want to be doing something all the time. I love that you scoot so fast down our hill, that I cannot watch, as it scares me too much.

I love your hair. It is all the way down your back now, something that you tell me is “just like Cinderella”. Your most favourite way to wear it now, is in two little plaits. I love that they stay in all day, but are messy and straggley within half and hour. I love that when you do let me brush it, it looks like golden thread.



I love your relationships with your family. You love so large. Your brother, your Dad and even your wider family. You love spending time with your Aunt, your Godfather and your Grandparents and they all love spending time with you. But I also love that still, I am your person. The one you want to have a cuddle with, the one you need to go to when you are upset, the one you need to make you feel comforted and safe. I am still that person and I love that.



Me and Mine {March 2017}

I especially love Mini Mck on this one. That kid really doesn’t know how cool he is.

Oh, my poor neglected blog! I feel I am having to blow the dust of it and wade through cobwebs just to get here. I hope you’re up for a bit of a ramble today, because that’s usually what comes after a bloggy break. 

I’m not sure why my writing inspiration seems to have left me. It starts with a busy week and then a lack of ideas, then I find I am too distracted with other things, mostly a knitting project if I’m honest. It’s very easy for a craft project to become like a boxset sometimes, I find I can do little else. Then, after the blogging habit has left me for a while, I find myself becoming disenchanted with the whole thing, wondering if I have anything I really want to say, or anything that people really want to hear and engage with and the final stage is where I start to compare myself to everything that is going on around me and not in a good way. 

As with many things, writing a blog is a habit that I perhaps just need to pick up again. A little every day to keep the muscles working I guess. I haven’t quite found the right time for it. I have been making a real effort this year for us to live in a cleaner, tidier space and I find that Lady Mck’s shorter nap time is taken up by boring chores and lunch. I’ve also been trying to go to bed earlier and that shortens my evening somewhat. I’ve taken to often getting up before 6am, purely to start my day with a little peace and quiet, but this means I want to go to sleep earlier. I’m envious of people who don’t need much sleep. I feel as if I’m the only one who really needs eight hours, or maybe everyone else is simply walking around being very tired. I imagine everyone else putting their kids to bed, doing a little blogging or work, watching TV with their partner and still reading and winding down before bed. I barely have time for an hour of TV and a few pages of my book! 

March was bookended by a birthday for my youngest and Mother’s Day. It felt as if it went by just as quickly as short little February. In the middle Mckdad had a weekend away for a school residential trip. These have been a feature nearly every year and so I’ve got used to them with small children, whilst also dreading them. This year felt so different. So much easier than previous years. I real indication that they are all growing up. It helps that my eldest can now put my youngest to bed and it was so sweet that he happily did so on the Saturday night and that she happily let him. He read her stories, tucked her in, had a cuddle on the bed and sang her songs and then they said their good nights and he came upstairs for his own bedtime story. The big difference when you’re flying solo, I find is how ‘on my game’ I have to be. Organised, always thinking ahead, tidying up as I go, because I know I’ll only have to do it later. That’s the tiring bit and it always makes me tip my hat to those that parent alone al the time. 

I’m really not a fan of winter and the darkness that comes with it, so it’s been such a tonic to have some nicer weather and lighter evenings. I’ve started being much more routines about which evenings the kids can watch TV. We are finding that Nano, in particular responds much better to a routines and so Tuesdays and Thursdays are now no TV days. I’ve been letting them play on the school field and then when we finally do return home, they carry on in the garden. It really makes life so much easier to not be cooped up inside.  Lady Mck got her, much longer for, scooter for her birthday, pink of course and she wants to be on it all the time.  She’s pretty nifty on it too!

Lady Mck’s birthday was a school day, so not much opportunity to take photos of us all together, so Mother’s Day was the perfect excuse to get my family to do what I wanted and my only Mother’s Day request was to go out and take some shots. We were treated to a beautiful sunny day and a clock change, which meant everywhere was quiet. I knew exactly where I wanted to go. We are so lucky to live where we do. We can travel a little and be at the coast or in the middle of a forest or farmland in a sort amount of time, but this month I wanted to capture our more urban setting.  Norwich is such a great place to live and there are loads of great places to take photos, included a car park surrounded by gravity walls. It’s not in the middle of the city and so is quiet enough on a Sunday Morning for us to have it almost to ourselves. 

As ever, not all of the family stuck with the plan, at all times, but with the promise of a trip to the nearby playground and the added bonus of an abandoned shopping trolley, we managed to get some really good photos. I really do love them.  (a photo shoot in a city car park isn’t really complete without a shopping trolley!) 

So, that’s our March. It’s been lovely to be back here and I promise not to leave it so long next time.

 This post is linked up with the Me and Mine project – hosted by Dear Beautiful, Bump to Baby, Capture By Lucy, Let’s Talk Mommy, Mummy Daddy Me, Our Life As We See It and Tigerlilly Quinn – where you take a photograph a month of your family all together.


Baking for After-School Snacks

My children always come out of school wanting a snack and in order to try and avoid some of the post-school ‘let it all out’ meltdowns, I arrive at the school gate well prepared. It used to be a small cake or biscuit or a small chocolate biscuity bar thing, bought with  the weekly shop. 

 About eighteen months ago I had been noticing that whenever I baked, the children would still choose the shop bought treat, if they could. This coincided with a news story regarding the trans fats in snacks and how they make everything taste yummy and a penny dropped. This, together with the extra sugar in shop bought treats was why they were choosing them over my efforts and so I made a commitment that I would no longer buy biscuits and cakes, I would make everything instead.

At first this seemed like a commitment I wouldn’t keep. Where would I find the time? However, with both the boys in school and Lady Mck now at an age where we could make it into a activity to do together, I found that baking a couple of times a week soon became quite normal. I told the children it would be home made treats or nothing and they’ve become quite used to it. I also found the added bonus of eating less of them myself. When I know I will have to be the one to restock the tin, it makes it much easier to limit myself to just one. I posted about this on Instagram a couple of weeks ago and loads of you asked what kind of things I make, so I thought I would give you a run down here.

A couple of things to start with. I find it’s a good idea to keep some unsalted butter out of the fridge, so that it is soft enough for baking, although I do have some ideas that use melted butter for emergencies. I would recommend a couple of books as well. The two I use most for this small, bite size baking are Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake book and the classic How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella. Finally, I like to keep portion sizes quite small. These treats are just enough to satisfy hunger kids after school and keep the car peaceful for five minutes.


These are our absolute favourite bake. They are a small biscuity/cake thing, rolled in cinnamon and sugar, to give a doughnut type flavour. They don’t have a huge amount of sugar and are just the right size for a small snack. My children would probably be happy if I made these or their sister snack, Chocodoodles every week. I use Nigella’s recipe, but there are many more on-line. My tip is to use a tupperware when coating them in the sugar and roll them around by shaking the box. Much less messy.


These are great if the store cupboard is a little bare and you’ve forgotten to get any butter out of the fridge. They take about 10 minutes to mix up. However, they are packed with sugar and so I cut them up really small. I’ve tried loads of flapjack recipes and have found this River Cottage one to be the best. It still needed some experimentation to get the perfect tin, oven temperature and timings, but now I have, they are a firm favourite.

Chocolate fork biscuits

These are also in the Nigella book I mentioned earlier. They are basically, butter, sugar, flour and cocoa powder. The recipe makes loads and they last a week in the tin….well, they get eaten before that, but they would last a week.
Heather’s Oat Biscuits

My friend Heather lent me this recipe and so they will always be known as Heather’s Oat Biscuits. These are quite similar to flapjacks, but with the addition of an egg and flour they become lovely chewy biscuits. I’ve reduced the sugar in the recipe and got no complaints. These also use melted butter, so are great if you’ve forgotten soft butter.

Cakey Buns

I don’t so these very often, but they use margarine, straight from the fridge and everything is just bunged in a bowl, so they’re super easy. I tend to avoid things with icing and you only get 12 out of this recipe, which doesn’t last long in our house.

Lemon Drizzle Cake

My friend Sarah says she has the recipe for the best Lemon Cake ever. I’m not so sure about that, maybe we should have a bake off one day. For after school snacks I bake the ingredients for a loaf tin, in an square cake tin and then cut into small rectangles. This makes it last longer, as you can get at least 18 portions out of it.


I love scones. They aren’t packed with sugar and just need a little smear of butter and jam. Again, I use a small cutter and they are then the perfect size for a little treat.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ll be honest I still haven’t perfected these. Sometimes they are amazing, sometimes quite average. I also think they’re a bit sweet, so I am still tweaking. However, I like that you can make the dough into a log, wrap it in cling film and take out and slice before baking. They’re great to make double quantities and keep some back.

So, these are just a few ideas for your weekly baking. I’ve added some links here, but you’ll also find ideas over at my Pinterest Board After School Snacks. I’d love to hear which ones are popular in your house and how you get on with the no shop bought treat challenge.