Last weekend I went to Blogtacular. I had been looking forward to it for months, actually since last year’s conference, which I couldn’t attend as Lady Mck was just too little. Recently I’ve been feeling a bit ‘meh’ about my blog and this was the perfect opportunity to immerse myself in it, really think about what I want it to be and where I want it to go, as well as catch up with old friends, meet new people that I find so inspiring and finally meet some bloggers that I feel I’ve known for ever, but have never actually met in full colour, Imax quality, surround sound 3D.

I did all of those things and more. I started the day with the totally inspiring and more importantly buckets of fun, photowalk with Xanthe Berkeley. Oh, how we moaned about the 5:30 get up and no coffee until we got to Waterloo and how wrong we were. Every Saturday should start with a photowalk with this bunch of women. To have people that ‘get it’ is just the most life affirming thing. People who will pose, not be offended that you are walking and talking while Instagramming and just embrace the fun of taking great photos was better than any caffeine, although the coffee from Pret was pretty good too.

I got myself a new girl crush on Marte Marie Fosberg who spoke so brilliantly on inspriration and creativity. She seems at first like someone who has always had her plan, always had it all together, but she so lucidly communicated how this hasn’t always been the case and that her road to living the life she always wanted was full of bumps and twists and times where she was just floating, but through it all her need to be creative pulled her in the right direction. Her food photography workshop was also amazing. Such a different style to the white background, light Instagram fare that we see. It was so refreshing and will certainly make me think about my photos differently.

The keynote speakers were fabulous too. Grace Bonney admitting that she still can’t quite come to terms with the death of blog comments and that the pace of change in our digital world scares her too was so reassuring and I want to write in more detail about what I took from Anthony Peters closing keynote, which was hilarious and moving and just wonderful, even thought he didn’t have me on his side for the whole thing.

It was busy of course. I didn’t speak to everyone I wanted to, didn’t speak to enough brands or use the Genius Bar (Kats – please have this again next year. I promise I will be armed with a list of questions x) but I left feeling full of positivity and enthusiasm.

Which brings me to why I called this post ‘The Aftermath’ because today this is how it felt. Today all the positivity seem to flip itself around. Suddenly I went back to the endless comparisons, the regret that I didn’t speak to enough people, the questioning myself about where I fit, where this is all going, what I want from it and how I feel I will come up short. It even crossed my mind to give it all up. Not quite the result I expected from Blogtacular.

Of course I won’t. I love my Internet, my space here and maybe it needs to change, grow with me. Maybe, I need to evolve. After wallowing self-indulgently for a while and a much needed and hughtly appreciated chat with a good bloggy friend who put me straight, I am going back to the positivity and inspiration that I felt on Saturday. I want this space to be here, to continue to grow it’s readership. I want to write more at The Mudpie Diaries, a project I am really passionate about that I haven’t been able to give the time to. All day on Saturday, as I listened to the amazing speakers, The Mudpie Diaries kept knocking on my sub-conscious, whispering “I am here. This is about me” So, watch this space, or actually that space.

As far as Mummy Limited is concerned I want to write more of the stuff that I feel strongly about, which incidentally is also the stuff that you like reading, but also I want to try some new stuff, be brave, do something out of my comfort zone and on that note, it feels that maybe being ‘mummylimited’ all over the internet doesn’t quite feel right anymore. Mummy Limited, the blog will always be here, but on other sites and apps I’d like to just be me, even my kids don’t call me Mummy anymore (yes, huge SOB about that). So, if you see emilyandmore, well, that’s me. I know to any normal person, this seems crazy to feel scared about this, but I have also been Mummylimited online and that’s now over five years. It’s part of my identity, so it’s going to feel a bit weird for a while.

Blogtacular was all kinds of amazing and to every person that I met and spoke to, or anyone who commented and liked my photowalk photos, thank you. I hope the aftermath brings even more amazing.

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I currently seem to be having a bit of a blogging confidence crisis, which is ironic because my last post got more exposure than anything I’ve ever written, so thank you to anyone who shared or commented on it and incidentally there’s a little update for you on that subject. I think that I got freaked out that all the new readers would be a little disappointed with my usual fare of kids and crochet and moaning about being tired. So, what’s the best thing to do when the confidence goes? You have to just write, even if only a little. So, that’s what I’m doing.

I’m off to Blogtacular next week and I’m hoping that it will inject some much needed inspiration into my little corner of the Internet and me in general really. At the moment I think it’s probably contributing to my blog crisis. So much great content out there. So many amazing, creative people to meet. It’s scary. I also had my first wibble about leaving Lady Mck this morning. It’ll be the first time I’ve been away from her overnight and whilst she may fifteen months old, she has always been very much attached to me, above all others. Added to that the fact that I am still feeding her and she will not take a bottle, I am more than a little nervous. Actually, I am not really sure if I am nervous about her needing me and me not being there or nervous that she won’t need me at all.

As ever, through all the manic rushing around and the obvious, ‘being in my head too much’ worries, I am crocheting. For me, there is nothing as calming as feeling yarn wound through my fingers and the methodical working of it to make something that seems to grow out of nowhere. I have a few projects to show you that have been on the hook and finished since Lady Mck was born and today’s is one I finished quite recently.

After crocheting for five years I decided it was time to stop being scared and make something to wear. I am currently working on something for myself, which is the most challenging and most exciting project I have started for ages, more of that another day. However, I thought it was best to start on the nursery slopes, so to speak and so something for Lady Mck was a great way to practice, without wasting too much yarn or time.

I chose a wonderful, fairly simple in it’s construction, cable cardigan. I love cables and had recently learnt how to knit them when my allegiances switched from knitting to crochet. I was desperate to try the crochet version of them and I wasn’t disappointed. What is it about cables that makes them such fun to work. I think perhaps it’s the way they seem to magically appear out of, what seems like, a mess of stitches. The pattern is from Kat Goldin’s first book Crochet at Play and it was a lovely project to push my skills, without being totally overwhelming. Worked in one piece, it cuts down on the finishing, which as I’ve mentioned before I find laborious

When I first started this I decided to totally ignore the instructions in the book and use a different yarn. I blame impulsive yarn purchases and lovely ladies in yarn shops. It wasn’t long that I realised it was all wrong. The stitch definition wasn’t good enough and it just made the whole piece look far too chunky. So, I did the right thing and pulled it all out, ordered the wool from the pattern, which happened to come in the most gorgeous colours and started again. There is something quite satisfying about realising a project isn’t working out and changing tack I find.

I absolutely love the results, particularly the gorgeous cabled yoke and the detail on the sleeves and at the bottom. Amazingly, seeing as it was my first ever garment it came out the size it should, albeit a tiny bit small for Lady Mck, but this is entirely due to how long it took me and not the pattern or my working of it.

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I fully expect to hook another one of these for her in a bigger size as it was a joy to make and I am so pleased with the finished result. You see, crochet, totally good for the soul, starting something, finishing something, no worries in between about what people think. Blogging should be more like that….

Update: After writing this the founder of National Unplugging Day commented and listened to all your fabulous feedback. A few days later the website was dramatically re-written and is now much less judgemental. Gone are the stories of children literally begging for attention and getting NO eye contact from their parents, to the detriment of their emotional well being. My thoughts on the subject haven’t changed, but it is fantastic to see that changes can be made just my saying what you think and if that means that a strung out parent who is concerned about their technology usage visits the page and doesn’t feel worse then I feel as if I and you have done a good thing. 

I have read countless blog posts over the years telling me that I should unplug more, switch off my phone, not use social media, preaching about how much better my life would be if I did so. The irony that these posts are written by bloggers who work very hard to keep an online presence is not lost on me. Now, it seems a website (again irony metre off the scale) is getting in on the act by encouraging parents to take part in National Unplugging Day. To put our technology away for the day, for the sake of the children. They are asking us to do something different instead, like go on a bike ride or go to the park or simply a walk in the woods. It all smacks of making us feel guilty for being too interested in what we are reading and sharing on the Internet, rather than spending ‘quality time’ with our children. Well, you can unplug if you want to, but I shan’t be, because I know that social media and the internet in general, makes me a better parent.

Firstly, let’s deal with this myth that using our phones prevents us from doing things with our children. I take my children on bike rides and to the park. (Ok, so I pretty much loathe going to the park, but they don’t know that) I bake with them, play with them, craft with them, go the allotment with them, play board games with them, talk with them. I read. I laugh. I listen. I walk. I run. I do all this and still send tweets and share pictures on social media. I do it and still find time to read blogs and the news and yes, waste time reading gossip about One Direction and Bradley Cooper. My children don’t beg me to put my phone down, they hardly notice it. There are many times in the day when they are otherwise engaged. These times are often short lived, but there are definitely little pockets of time. They don’t need and nor should they have my undivided attention all day, every day. They wouldn’t want it!

I get the idea that we should be ‘present’ with them when we spend time with them and I won’t pretend I always am, but it’s not social media that is making my mind wander. It’s the fact that my house is messy, or I haven’t had the chance to put any bread in the breadmaker, because I haven’t had a moment when they’ve left me alone for five minutes. It’s the nagging feeling that I need to look at my credit card bill or renew mine and the children’s library books that makes me not want to sing ‘Wind the Bobbin up’ for the 20th time. All of this though is really about how the internet doesn’t make me a worse parent and I have stated that it makes me a better parent and it does.

Sharing on social media makes me notice things more and record things. I notice my children and what they are doing, I record it and I share it. The last part of that process isn’t necessary, I know, it’s just fun, but the first two bits are vital. I have a brilliant record of our life, the trivial, minute bits of it and I love that. I love looking back on it already and so do they. Inspired by someone I follow on Instagram, I recently made some mini videos of our day. We didn’t do anything special or different. Nano biked to school, we played, we visited the allotment, but it made such a special snippet of our day that I can look at for many years. In fact, yesterday after school Mini Mck asked if we could make a family video on Saturday. I love sharing this creativity with them and technology is going to part of their lives, why not show them what it can do.

Most of what I read and search out online is inspiring. I defy you to read this post and not become more patient the next time you feel more needed than you think you can handle. I can name at least three things I have done with my three year old, just in the last couple of weeks, that have come from Pinterest ideas. I know that when I am having a bad moment I can turn to social media and find a heap of support, delivered in a non-smug, totally understanding way, that will both make me feel better and make me pull my socks up and be a better parent. From other parents that I communicate with on-line I learn about places to take my children and things to do with them. I learn how to handle situations better, to be more patient, to laugh at a bad day, or nod knowingly at someone else’s. My world is bigger because of the internet, not smaller.

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The parents that I know and follow on-line and basically I am talking about you, the people who read this blog, are some of the best parents I have ever come across. They are creative and hard-working, they notice the details, they treasure the everyday, they want to be the best they can for themselves and their community and their kids and they inspire me every day.

So ‘National Unplugged Day’ can try it’s best to make plugged in parents feel as bad as possible on June 28th as it preaches to us to frolic through the woods on our  bikes. I may partake in some good old fashioned fun myself, but I’ll probably have a nice photo to go along with it and I refuse to feel guilty or lesser because of that.

NB – No children were neglected in the writing of this blog ;)

This week seems to have been packed to bursting, in fact every week seems to be packed to bursting. I guess that’s how it is in a family of five, with five people’s appointments, birthdays, friends, interests and needs to take into account. I like to think we are pretty good at not over-scheduling the kids, but we still seem to be fitting it all in with precision planning. Today is another juggle, as I help out at the School Fair and Mckdaddy’s football team have reached the play offs. Oh, how I long for this football season to be over. Of course, no sooner will it be over, than it will begin again, while we are still wearing shorts and suncream and sunglasses.

No matter how busy I am it is unusual for my crochet hook to be left idle for more than a few days. There have been times since Lady Mck was born, a year that I only just feel I emerging from, that I have literally hooked only three stitches before she has woken and needed me, but the intention is always there. So, since the last thing I shared with you, finished only a few hours before she was born, I have finished many other projects and learnt new skills. I am going to try and share them here. A project never feels quite finished until it has been blogged.

One of the things that often holds some of my projects back from being finished is my fear of and laziness around sewing. The crochet part comes naturally and sewing seams together with wool I can do without much thought, but actual sewing hurts my brain and so I need uninterrupted time, preferably in the day and that is hard to come by. A few weeks before Lady Mck was born, Mckdaddy took the boys away for the so I could have a weekend of ‘maternity leave’. He kept two small children in a rainy, cold and windy North Norfolk resort and I had time to rest, eat all my favourite foods, fold baby clothes and get the sewing machine out.

Some of the scatter cushions on our bed were looking a little tired and so I altered the size of standard pillowcases, that I then wanted to embellish a little. I love that being able to make things myself means when I am searching the shops for the perfect cushion and can’t find it, I can actually make something that suits perfectly. This project was made even easier when I realised that I had some IKEA crochet shapes that could be hand stitched onto the pillowcase and I’m not sure whether to be proud or ashamed that I had all the right colour yarn in my stash to make applique shapes for the second cushion.

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For what looks like such an easy little project it has taken me ages to finish this one. The hand stitching took me ages and I designed the shapes as I went along so it needed brain power, not something that is in abundance when you are pregnant or have a tiny baby and so this often spent months in the project bag. However, I finally retrieved it recently and finished it off and I am so happy with the results. Such a simple way to upcycle plain pillowcases and as it uses up small scraps of yarn it’s really good for the budget too.

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Mine is the one on the right and the IKEA shapes are on the left. See, scary colour matching, my yarn stash is too big!

For Lady Mck’s birthday I wrote an utterly positive post. It was a joy to write, so I am doing it again for Mini Mck, my eldest. I wonder if perhaps I’m not always as positive about my children as I could be. It feels good. 

I love how much you have grown in the past year. Gone are the tantrums of old, replaced with someone who can reason and think things through. I love how you adore your sister. Still. I keep waiting for the novelty of her to wear off, but it doesn’t. I love that you will help your brother with things, if he can’t make something, you will do it for him.

I love your enthusiasm for life. It is easy to get you interested in things. I love that you have a proper, best friend, who you spend ages just chatting with. I love that this hasn’t meant you’ve excluded yourself from others. I love that other kids in your class are always calling your name to say goodbye at the end of the day.

I love how creative you are. Always making and drawing and making stories, always to your own tune. I love that you are so full of ideas and will independently make them work. I hope you keep this need to be creative, it will enrich your life in so many ways. I love that you have your own, very specific and excellent ideas about your birthday parties and that when it was done you thanked me and your Dad for working so hard on it and doing such a good job.

I love that you are different at school, quieter, beautifully behaved at all times and yet, when I speak to your teachers, I can recognise the boy they are describing. I love that you have let them know you. I love that you are an ‘all-rounder’ in your learning, happy to join in with all subjects, good at maths and science, as well as art. I love that you really listen at school.

I love that you love Lego. Building it, using the instructions, doing your own thing and then making up fabulous stories with it. I love that you will save your pocket money to buy the sets you really want. I love that you tidy your room and put the shopping away with little complaint to get your pocket money. I love that you can make scrambled eggs and carry a cup of tea upstairs. I love that you can carry your sister and that she trusts you enough to let you. I love that you are much more adventurous with food than you used to be and that you love going to a restaurant to eat.

I love that, to me, you seem to be getting really tall and your legs just keep growing and yet when I see you with your friends you are still the shortest. I love ‘that, even though you don’t like “babyish TV”, you will still sit and watch Peppa Pig with your brother and giggle at it, despite yourself. I love that you can whistle and wink and your most recent achievement, click your fingers.

I love that you seem to suit ‘six’ already.

Noah 6th birthday collage

Since the Duchess of Cambridge left hospital looking amazing, with her husband and new daughter I’ve read blogs and seen lots of chatter on Twitter wondering how she could possibly look so amazing and how awful she must’ve been feeling and how somehow, her looking good twelve hours after giving birth, makes the rest of us feel bad about ourselves. 

I have to admit to being a little confused and it all smacks of jealousy to me. I understand that we don’t want to portray giving birth as no big deal, but many people seem to think that she has performed some hideous, tortuous task, by leaving hospital after twelve hours. So, before I join those wildly spectating about how she feels, let’s look at what we actually know. She walked outside, wearing a loose fitting dress, where her husband held her arm as she walked down some steps. She was wearing a bit of make up and had her hair loose and blow dried. She then waved, smiled and walked back inside. The whole thing took two minutes. She then came back outside, got in a car and was driven the short distance to her own home. She looked fabulous and glowing and this seems to be controversial. However, I have noticed something about women who have just given birth. They look amazing. There’s probably some kind of physiological reason, blood flow, hormones, but generally they glow.

Now I’m going to start speculating about how she felt and what she wanted. Maybe she wanted to be back in her own home as soon as possible and I’m not sure it really is an option for them to duck out a back door. Maybe they didn’t want to. From what I read, Prince William is pretty strict on what access he will and will not give, which is hardly surprising when you consider his past. Remember it wasn’t only the press waiting, but some die hard Royal supporters who had been camped out for days. (Did someone say ‘Nutcases’?) and the Royal Family do need the support of the public to survive. As a good friend said on Facebook yesterday, it is kind of her job.  Maybe in a small way the Duchess wanted to show her baby off. I know I did. “Look what I did world!” 

As for the inconvenience of the hair and make up help, which I believe was ONE person, I clearly remember that first delicious shower after giving birth, it was heaven. If someone had then popped a bit of make up on me and given me a fab blow dry while I cuddled my new baby, I’d have been more than happy. I think it’s totally reasonable for her to want to look groomed to have her picture taken. I would. 

I appreciate that all labours are different. Some women would need more recuperation for lots of reasons and of course, that should be respected, but on the other hand I applaud her for normalising it. I’m sure she had the option of staying in hospital as long as she felt necessary, but perhaps like many women, she wanted to go home, to her older child, to where she is comfortable. 

  

She stood for two minutes in a loose fitting dress and then went home, where I imagine she had a nice cup of tea, put her pyjamas on, put her feet up and gave her kids a big cuddle. I suspect however that she pop a fresh maternity pad in just before meeting the world’s media. I mean, did you see the colour of that dress?!

When Nano Mck was the age that Lady Mck is now, I was two or three months away from running a half marathon. Which means I was running at least three times a week, specifically three mornings. I was fitter than I’ve ever been and more toned than I could imagine and most importantly it made me happier. Now, I can hardly run around the block.

I tell myself that I could only run in the morning at the weekends due to having a school run to do now. That’s rubbish. I could manage a 30min run and still enjoy my cup of tea in bed when I get back. I tell myself that I’m too tired, that this baby is harder than the last. That’s rubbish, well I am tired and this baby is harder, but really, how much more tired would I be if I went for a little jog two or three times a week, so it’s rubbish. I tell myself I have a niggley Achilles ache. That’s rubbish, it’s hardly a thing and with some excercises it’ll clear up. A bit of light running won’t harm it.

They are all just excuses. Made of smoke. Clouding the reality. The feeling of running. The quiet. The room to think and the fact that there is no need to think. The view across my city. Strong, steady paces carrying me round. The last bit of energy left to sprint the last hundred metres, as my house comes into view.

When i don’t look after myself everything slips. I don’t eat right or sleep early or feed my creative side. No blogging, little crochet. A messy house. I run on empty. I have a friend who talks about putting pebbles in our jar, filling ourselves up with the things that soothe us and nurture us, so that we have reserves to give to others. I need to get better at this. I need to realise it’s important.

So, tomorrow, I am dusting off the running gear. Those slightly beat up trainers that I’ve run maybe hundreds of miles in. I’m trying not to think of the before. Of the getting out of bed. Of being out of breath and heavy legs. It is half an hour, probably less. I am thinking of the amazing rush when you finish. The energy which carries you through the day. The heavenly post run shower and the even more heavenly post run cup of tea served with a smidge of smugness and I’m writing it all here so I don’t back out!

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