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!



Hello, hello

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

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.

Photo 29-07-2017, 11 46 46Photo 28-08-2017, 09 36 31Processed with VSCO with a5 presetPhoto 04-08-2017, 11 33 43Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

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!



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.

emilyandmore reads….and more {January}

A strange thing has happened over the last year. My brain has shifted and once again made space for things. I feel as though my baby brain has lasted for eight years and as my littlest shifted from baby to toddler I suddenly found that I have the urge to read and watch films that are more than fluff, to immerse myself in challenging listening, reading and watching and to learn new skills or pick up old ones. That is perhaps a blog post in itself, a theme of which I am sure I will return. 

For now I wanted to start recording what I am actually reading, partly because I found myself  not being able to remember a book I read last year and had LOVED. Some of my favourite bloggers already write about what they are reading. Try Laura, Sarah and Hayley for some great reading ideas. I also thought that because I just don’t have time to re-read the stuff I love, but want to tell you about them, I am going to choose ‘One from the shelf’ as well as my current reads. 

My first book in January was Marian Keyes The Mystery of Mercy Close. I haven’t read Marian Keyes for years, so have lots of catching up to do. She is so funny and gets the detail of life perfectly captured. Just for the record I hate the term ‘Chick Lit’ and just won’t be using it here. It suggests a book is somehow less than that written for men. If a book has romance, humour and is about human relationships, it doesn’t mean it is any less well written, just because there may be some pink on the cover. This book is a perfect example of this. It was much darker than I expected, covering depression and suicide, but in no way was it a difficult read. It stayed with me after I’d finished it. Gallows humour at it’s best 

My second book in January and I can’t tell you what a thrill it is to have finished two books in one month, was Rainbow Rowell  Attachments. I first read Rainbow Rowell last year with Fangirl, which by the way was the book I loved, so when I saw this in the library I snatched it up. It took me a while to settle into this book, much of it is written as a series of emails, but as I got through the book it really started to get under my skin. Lots of things resonated with me and I loved that, for me, the main character was Lincoln, a man and I loved following his journey. Utterly romantic in a Brief Encounter/Sleepless in Seattle way. By the end I couldn’t put it down. 

‘One from the shelf’ this month is Persausion by Jane Austen. I am a complete Austen fan and find her books totally re-readable. This one is perhaps less well known and has sneaked up on me as a bit of a favourite. Anne Elliot is my favourite Austen heroine, being less full of her than Elizabeth Bennett or Emma Wodehouse. I would always urge anyone who hasn’t read Austen to give her a try. Her books are so readable and the humour in them is lovely. 

Incidentally, I thought I’d include other culture recommendations in this post and my latest find on Netflix is another Austen classic Amongst all the new ‘must see’ binge watch box sets, you will find the BBC adaption of Emma, another Jane Austen classic. This one has Jonny Lee Miller as the hero and it was all the press around T2 Trainspotting that made me remember it. It is the perfect thing for a February evening when you have a nasty cold, as I have had this week. 

Do you have any book recommendations for me? At two a month, I’m going to need a ‘to read’ list. What’s been staying with you recently?

Happy New Year

Hello friends! I hope you’ve had a lovely festive time, however you choose to celebrate and for those of you that don’t love Christmas, I hope at least you’ve had some restful days in this in between, nothing happening week. 

I wanted to just pop in and share our plans for New Year. I’ve never been a huge fan of New Year’s Eve celebrations. Always so busy and expensive to go out and since having children I struggle to make it to midnight, preferring instead to enjoy the early morning on January 1st, which frankly I’m going to get anyway, with three early rising small children in the house. The last time we had a grown up celebration was when we all de-camped to friends for a few days and I was pregnant with Lady Mck. I think the fact that I knew there would be no hangover and the shared parenting duties that you get when you team up with other adults, made the late night more bearable. Plus, some friends are worth the tiredness. 

However, the last couple of years we have started to build our own, child-friendly New Year Celebration and this year the children remembered and asked for it. We will collect Fish & Chips and eat by candlelight. Dan and I will open something bubbly, the kids will have lemonade from plastic champagne flutes and conversation will no doubt turn to all the things that have happened to our family this year. (Which I will totally harvest for a blogpost in the next few days!) I know that there will be plenty of opportunity for seeing in the New Year in the future, when we are less tired, but for now letting go of the pressure to stay up late and finding our own way of celebrating has been so liberating. 

So, whatever you are doing tonight, I wish you a very happy evening and hope you all have a fabulous 2017. I want to thank you for popping in to read my words this year, it really does mean so much that you give me some of your precious time. I know I am not the most reliable blogger and I hope to be more so next year. Have a good one!

A festive pause

Hello friends! How are you all? Are you all ready for Christmas? Have you opened the After Eights and the Baileys yet? Or if you’re in our house, the Aldi equivalent, because, frankly you can’t beat an Aldi rip off, especially at Christmas. This pre-Christmas is frantic, no? Keeping the magic of Christmas alive is hard, but good work. I hope your lists are getting crossed and you are managing some rest in between the madness. 

If you follow my Instagram feed, you will know that I love living in my city and this year Norwich has really excelled itself with it’s festive lights. Moving pictures projected onto the side of the castle, the usual, but lovely clusters of lights in the trees and perhaps most impressive the Tunnel of Light. It’s just crying out to be photographed, but the hoards of people, not so much. 

I mentioned on my quickly snapped photo that I posted, that I was tempted to get up while it was dark and quiet to take photos, but that I probably wouldn’t. Encouraged by Kat, who knows her Instagram stuff, I started to wonder why I was reluctant to get up for an early photo shoot. I’m awake anyway, thanks to my children and I realised the main reason was worrying what people would think and that’s not a good enough reason. I also realised that Instagram or not, I wanted to see it with no people in it.

So, I persuaded Mini Mck to join me and we left the house just after six. I love the city when it’s deserted and we had a lovely time, both taking photos and running through the tunnel, with only the odd delivery van or early morning worker for company. 

This time of year is so busy, so many lists and things to be done by a certain time. It’s important to take a pause every now and again. The boys carol concert at the Catherdral is one of those moments for me and baking mince pies and sausage rolls in our warm and cosy kitchen is another. I never realised that leaving the house in the dark with my boy and my camera would be another, but it was. The cold morning air, the quiet city and the twinkly lights were the perfect start to the day. 

I want to take this opportunity to with you all a healthy and happy festive season, whatever you may be doing. I hope you all get some rest and lots of lovely time with those you love. I am sure that  Father Christmas will treat you well. I know you’ve all been good this year…..

Mum Burnout

I am staring at the cursor, blinking in the top left of the screen. A blank page to fill. When is it right to share the real, not so pretty stuff on a blog? Is it ever right? For me, it is when not sharing feels inauthentic. You don’t come here for a picture perfect life, you come for a real portrayal of life and I imagine, of motherhood, in particular. I have other posts I could finish off and publish and they will come, but when I find something is stopping me, I know it’s time to write whatever my fingers type. 

Do you ever feel that this should all be so much easier? That you should be doing it all better and enjoying it more? When does it get easier? I thought once the baby days were done it would become more manageable, but at the moment I am finding it harder, I think, than even those sleep-deprived hazy days. Perhaps it’s the expectation that it should be easier that makes it harder. When you have babies, just getting out of the house on time and with everyone in the right clothes is a cause for celebration and a good day tick earned. Maybe it’s that juggling the needs of a 7,5 and 2 year old is actually just as challenging, as juggling those of a 5 year old, a 3 year old and a newborn, if not harder. Perhaps it’s just the lack of balance for such a long time. The seven years of making snacks, mopping up spills, arguing about clean teeth and coats and what’s for dinner. Perhaps it’s tidying the kitchen everyday, folding endless loads of washing or trying to stop your car becoming a toy cupboard/rubbish bin and failing. I suspect it’s all of that, plus, and perhaps this is most important, giving so much of yourself, everyday and not even knowing if you’re doing it right. Overthinking it all or getting to grips with it all, only to have it all change on you, in the blink of an eye. 

Over the past few weeks (months?) I’ve noticed how short-tempered I am. Running on my emotions too much, in a house of small people, who are designed to live on their emotions too. And then a couple of weeks ago, it hit me. I looked in the mirror after the kids had gone to bed and thought “ I look knackered. When will I ever not look knackered?!” Mostly, I get plenty of sleep, aside from the odd disturbance for a child’s nightmare or a wet bed, we sleep all night and I realised it’s not really that kind of tiredness. It’s weariness. It’s burn out. On the same evening this blog was shared to facebook and it stopped me in my tracks. It was like she was speaking to me and the relief that this is how it is was overwhelming. 
A google search later and of course, Mum burnout is a thing that everyone else seems to know about. I just thought I was failing at it all. I’m not, I’m just burnt out. The extra to-dos of the festive season have taken it up a notch and my complete lack of enthusiasm for it all, in stark contrast to last year, show that things are a little off. It occurred to me today that I have felt more festive when pregnant or with a tiny baby or in the middle of a very long and expensive loft conversion. This year, it all just feels like a huge drag. I am hoping that the introduction of mulled booze and mince pies will rectify this, but they won’t if I don’t write some cards and wrap some presents too. 
So, what next? Well, I’m a bit of ‘this is how it is. Suck it up and get on with it’ type of person and I stand by that. It is what it is. My children are still quite young and take a lot of hard work and it’s not even that I am wishing it were over. Strangely, the last few months have had lots of moments that make me want to freeze time. They are all at such awesome ages and I can see their brains exploding, in very different ways, but all seem to be in a time of huge growth and I love it. 

However, I know that just sucking it up and ploughing on won’t be enough on it’s own. Even if I do find that by just acknowledging how I feel is often enough to help. Do you find that? I am a big proponent of ‘feeling what we feel’ and just sitting with it for a while. 
How do you prevent or recover from ‘Mum Burnout’? I’m thinking working on that elusive balance. A little more taking it easy on myself. A little less heaping on the guilt and pressure. Lots of early nights and things that make me happy, that ‘fill my cup’ How about you? 

Small Things {The Autumn Edition}

In the spirit of wanting less and being happpier with what we already have, I have been thinking of the small things that make these dark, blustery autumn months feed our soul. This week, I could so easily have written a post on the many things that irritate me, that everyone else seems to love, but I’ll strive to keep the internet a positive place and if you want that post, you’ll have to ask for it! Despite an attack of the grumps, there is still more to November than dark nights and soggy school runs. 

Finally having the chimney swept and building the first fire of the year, Bonfire season at the allotment, National Sausage Week. Having dinner bubbling in the Slow Cooker. Toddlers kicking through ankle-deep leaves. A crisp start to autumn that makes the tress put on such a show when the leaves are ready to fall. Discovering a child friendly cafe.

Treating yourself to a new herbal tea and finding that it is absolutely gorgeous and soothing. Paying off your library fines and so redisvering the joy of browsing the shelves and choosing some new books. Taking library books back, not only on time, but read and on time. Discovering a fresh, decaffienated coffee that actually tastes nice. Buying posh yoghurts simply because you know the glass jars will make nice candle holders and finding the yoghurt is delicious too. Closing the curtains at dusk, turning the lights on and knowing you don’t have to go out again for the rest of the day, putting your comfies on. Remembering to put a hot water bottle in your bed before you get in it. Good Autumn Tele (have you seen The Crown on Netflix? SU-blime!) New episodes of Gilmore Girls (FOUR DAYS PEOPLE)

Finding a new podcast that you love and can binge listen to. Baking a cake that you haven’t done before and knowing that it’s not quite right but that your’re going to keep trying until it’s perfect. Tate & Lyle’s Halloween Treacle tin. Cats who like to curl up next to you and purr very loudly. Starting a big knitting project, especially for yourself. Instagram, before the trail of Christmas trees arrive on December 1st. An evening of no TV after school, where the children all sit together, near enough for me to see and speak to them, all happy doing this own drawing/puzzles/homework. Making a fresh batch of Granola. 

Going to bed early to read a really good book. Staying up too late, reading your book and not caring that you’re going to be tired tomorrow, because it really is a good book. Finding a long forgotten piece of clothing and feeling like you’ve been shopping, even though you haven’t. Two hours child free time, to go Christmas Shopping with your partner and spending nearly all of it buying books for people. Finishing off homemade Christmas presents. Getting donations in for the school fair a week before the deadline. Parent’s Evening. Putting the children to bed on your own and getting it all done by half past seven. Going out with new friends. Staying in. Still getting the occasional day when you can hang your washing out. 

So, you see, there are in fact many good things about this dark and damp month. I guess we all just need to look for them. What is keeping you smiling this week? 

How to do a DIY kid’s party, without losing your mind

We do our own kid’s parties, mostly because I can’t bear the thought of paying out hundreds of pounds to a soft play venue, which is my personal idea of hell. However, kids love soft play and if this is what you do by choice then go for it. No judgement here, I promise, but if you like the idea of a DIY kids party, but have always been put off by the idea that it’s too much work, then I have a few tips for you. 

Firstly, a word about ‘Pinterest Parties’ because I will definitely be referring back to that. These are the perfectly styled in every detail parties that we all look longingly at on Pinterest and wonder how we can ever match up. That’s not really the type of party we do. I love a theme and I love Pinterest and I’ll go on to talk about why, but I can’t live up to the standard I see on some blog posts. Hats off to those who can, but don’t be put of doing your own party, simply because you don’t think it’s going to look good on the Internet! 

Hire a space

Whilst I’m all for doing a party myself, I don’t want it going on in my house! A small space is fine, preferably with a kitchen and if it has outdoor space or a playground near by that’s even better. I’m thinking community centres, village or church halls. They are often relatively cheap to rent for a few hours, ours costs £30 for the time we need it and that’s a price I’m willing to pay to be able to have my home stay party free. 

Have a theme
Children love a theme for their party, something they can really grasp hold of. Don’t be put off by a theme, it can really help you. It takes a lot of decisions away. If you know you’re doing a Pirate Party, then you can very quickly and easily stock up on pirate plates, cups, invitations and party bags. However, you don’t have to let your theme rule you. We always have pass the parcel and musical statues and they are basically the same whatever your theme might be. No child will turn their nose up at your party just because you haven’t themed every aspect. 

Start with a craft or sit down activity

Crafts are an absolutely brilliant way to start a party. They give the children something to do while everyone is trickling in. Your birthday boy/girl can greet their guests as the others get on with their craft. It’s also excellent for giving the shy children a chance to get used to their surroundings and they can be with their friends without having to interact straight away. This is the best reason to do it. Don’t worry about the complexity of the task. It could be something as simple as decorating their own party bag or a cut out hat that you’ve got ready beforehand. Avoid paint and glitter, for obvious reasons, but glue sticks, stickers and feathers are a perfect non-messy alternative. 

Pinterest is your friend – no really!

So, remember what I said about not having to keep up to the standard of a ‘Pinterest Party’? Well, that’s important to bear in mind, because, if used the right way Pinterest can really help you. It is absolutely jam-packed with ideas for games, cakes, decorations and themes. Take the bits you want, leave the bits you don’t. We have got so many ideas from Pinterest, that we have then adapted or simplified based on what we actually feel we have time to create.

Plan early

This one is really key, as it will totally take the stress out of the whole process for you. Plan what you want to do and then make a big shopping list of all the things you need. Then, settle down with snacks, a cuppa and a computer open on eBay and order everything. You don’t even have to leave your house to prepare for a DIY party. eBay is brilliant for craft supplies, themed stickers, party bags. I get a big box out and throw everything in it, as it arrives.

Remember who the party is for

Whilst Pinterest and many fantastic blog posts can be an excellent resource when planning your party, they can also make you feel like one huge fat fail. This is where I like to remind myself who the party is for. The guests are going to be somewhere between 4 and maybe 8. They are not going to notice every little detail. An area I like to keep this in mind is food. I don’t make food fit with the theme of the party, with beautifully caligraphied labels, when on many occasions the guests can’t even read. I always make a cake, because that’s me, that’s what I do and always have, but the rest of the food is a few sandwiches, party rings (because what is a party without party rings) some crisps. Oh, and number biscuits. If you follow my Instagram, you will know that everyone gets number biscuits on their birthday, even those with very big numbers.  

Kids are kids

We always have a few basic, traditional party games up our sleeves to fill time if we need and ever since Mini Mck was five, I’ve wondered if kids still like pass the parcel, musical statues and the like.  I can assure you, they really really do. Despite the huge range of entertainment that kids have at there fingertips in today’s world, they are really not so very different from us when we were their age. They still love a really simple party game, the noisier, the better. 

So, these are a few of my tried and tested party planning tips. I urge you to give it a go. The buzz that my kids get from having a birthday celebration that’s unique to them really is worth the work. If you already do your own DIY parties for your kids, do you have any tips to add in the comments? I’d love you to teach me something new that I should be doing? 

Taking a break

I’ve decided to take a summer blogging break. I know, I know, with the scarcity of posts that I publish these days, you’re thinking that you won’t even notice my break. However, even when I’m not writing here, I’m thinking about writing here. I’m feeling that I am neglecting my lovely online space. I’m thinking about how I’ve fallen out of love with it a little and feeling lots of self-doubt about what I share and how I share it. 

This year has been so busy for us and yes, I work in academic years, much more than I do calendar years. Mckdad started a new job and while it’s been amazing to see him finally be somewhere that he is appreciated and his skills and strengths are recognised, it’s involved an awful lot more work for him and subsequently an awful lot of work for me. We know that perhaps we haven’t got the balance quite right and that we need to change that. 

I thought things would be a little easier with Nano at school now, but Lady Mck is growing up. She needs more input from me and sleeps less in the day. She also makes more mess, as toddlers are designed to do. I envy those who are able to write or photograph for their blog during the day and as much as I aim to do this too, I am left with the scarce free, grown up hours in the evening to write and by then I often find I am too tired and uninspired. 

The summer holidays do give me a chance to write, but frankly, no-one is reading blogs in the summer and so I fear that any effort I put in would just end up making me feel deflated. I’m not really sure where I fit anymore in this ever-evolving blogging world. That may not matter. I am not sure that every blog has to have a mission or a ‘brand’, but if it doesn’t matter, I need to come to terms with that. I need to believe that it doesn’t matter and get back to writing about the topics that I want to write about, rather than feeling nothing I have is worth sharing. 

So, I am taking a break. I am not sure for how long. I may try to write some stuff ready for my return. I may just have a complete break. I can’t imagine that I will stop forever, although maybe some distance will result in me deciding I have blogged for long enough. What I hope is that a break from publishing will reinvigorate my enthusiasm for blogging. 

In the meantime, we are leaving for a a few days camping today and on our return we have lots of things we want to do with this much needed summer break. I am looking forward to switching off and having some thinking time, some much needed brain space for things to permeate. I hope you have an amazing summer, whatever your plans are and I will see you back here, hopefully, when the nights start to draw in and we can feel that early autumn chill in the air.