Lets Talk About Respect

There are things happening in the world of British Mummy Blogging, there are posts about Bulling, people giving up blogging, wondering why they bother and people questioning the validity of blogs with advertising, reviews and sponsored posts.
I wasn't going to get involved, I was going to keep my mouth shut, but I read something last night that made me realise that my silence wasn't helping anyone, in fact I felt pretty guilty by omission.  Some other wonderful woman have got there before me and had some very wise words about it all indeed.
If you are anything like me, you read these posts and even if they are not directed at you, you can not help feeling if it is someone pointing the finger at you.  Yes I know I am not that important and it is a sign of self obsession to feel that people are talking about you behind your back, but it does happen!
So what spurred me on to write well it was this comment by Maggy at RedTedArt, A woman I respect hugely
There is so much I want to say and comment on this, but I dare not, in fear of getting "lynched" "poo pooed" or "excluded" by some of those in the established blogging network.

Which means that the competition is fierce and makes newbies feel very unwelcome and unsupported (not by everyone I hasten to add).
 
So here is my two penneth worth and I would love to hear yours, if you are concerned about reprisals then please comment anonymously or e-mail me and I will comment for you.
 
The beauty of blogging is that there are so many out there, that if you don't like what someone is doing, then that's easy, stop subscribing and find one you like.  It takes all sorts really, that's why best seller lists are made up of much more than just chic lit and parenting manuals. The bigger the arena gets then it will start to splinter and people will form more close knit groups, this is inevitable. The thing is cyberspace is big enough for everyone and there is no reason why we can not be more tolerant of other people.
Just because I don't agree with everything, doesn't mean I stop respecting people. We should really live and let live, shouldn't we?  I am bring up my children not to follow the herd and to be individuals, who are true to themselves.  Nicky talks about the battle beginning and people bashing her square pegs into round holes here and it really struck a chord with me.
Bullying is never acceptable and neither is it acceptable to stand by and watch it happen.  I hope that I am never in a position where I do either.  We would not allow our children to be bullied, so lets not let our friends be bullied either.  I do sponsored post, review posts and take advertising. Does that mean that when I blogged about my issues with my health and parenting that it wasn't worth reading - I hope not. People should stop judging books by their cover and start to live and let live. I am all for healthy debate, right to reply etc, but I can not stand by whilst people like Maggy are scared to say what they think for fear of reprisals and being excluded. I think we should be concentrating on allowing people to have a voice and feel secure in the knowledge that their opinion is as valid as the next persons. Lets cut the crap and start respecting each other a little bit more.
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Living with a child with a health condition

When Maxi was 4 months old he became unwell.  He got a cold and was very unhappy, not his normal self at all.  He also fell off my knee and we were so concerned we took him to A&E at 6pm.  The doctor took a look at him and said he was fine and just to keep an eye on him and bring him back in if he was being sick.

Maxi on the afternoon before he fell off the sofa

We put our little baby to bed at 8pm that night and tried to give him a feed at 11pm, as usual, but he wouldn't take the milk, in fact he didn't cry, he was just struggling for breath.  We decided to ring the out of hours GP service and the doctor was with us within 30 minutes.  Within 2 minutes of entering the house, he told us to out our baby in the car and to drive straight to A&E.

He took our house keys and said he would lock up and meet us there, that there wasn't time to call an ambulance and we could get him there quicker.

A doctor and two nurses met us at the door to A&E and rushed our baby in to a cubical and then all hell broke out.  Maxi was ventilated and a cannula put in.  He has wires coming from his foot and finger and was put on a heart monitor too.  I have never been so scared since the crash section 4 months previous when we thought we were losing him.  
Maxi on CPAP in the HDU at Royal Berks

Our baby was moved to the high dependency unit as the Royal Berkshire doesn't have an ITU and we started what was our long long Vidual.  Maxi was suffering with breathing difficulties and they couldn't figure out why, he didn't have an infection, it was the middles of the summer not the bronchiolitis season, they were flummoxed.  Instead of getting better, our little baby got worse and was transferred to ITU at Great Ormond Street, it was suggested that we get him christened.

We didn't, he started to improve, we returned back to The Royal Berkshire High Dependency unit and began the long recovery, he was tube fed, changed on to nasal cpap and gradually got better.

A month later we did it all again, bar the Great Ormand Street part, as we managed to deal with it at the Royal Berkshire.  1 day after he was released we dashed down the M1 and had a joint christening for Maxi and my Niece (we basically hijacked their prearranged day), thanks to my wonderful sister in law, who arranged and planned everything.

Maxi's Christening

This became our life for until Maxi turned 3, we couldn't go a couple of month over winter without an admission.  We had over 10 sweat tests for cystic fibrosis, each time the results were in the grey area or there wasn't enough sweat to test.  Finally we for a negative test, we were overjoyed.  We were very lucky that we had a super Consultant, who agree that we needed to take some steps to prevent this happening.

So Maxi underwent numerous blood tests  and other tests and it was discovered that his specific antibodies were virtually non existent.  So Maxi underwent six months of re immunization and also had additional immunizations and guess what.  It made a huge difference.  He no longer picked up every virus going.

We have actually gone an entire winter without any hospitalisations.  It is wonderful.  We are able to manage his condition at home, which is wonderful.  He has done a whole year in Reception Class without one absence. 



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The Benefits of Play

I was invited by Pampers to come and look round their never ending world of play exhibit at the Metro Centre and to meet Pampers play expert Professor Dieter Wolke.


To be honest the interactive exhibit was pitched at children much younger than Maxi and Mini, so I bought them a slush each and we sat down to chat to the professor about why play is important and also the difference in play of boys and girls.

Firstly as a mum of two boys, I asked about the fact that the boys will always turn something in to a gun or a sword, they will build one from Lego, use a stick or even just use their hand and make the noises, should I be worried about this?

The professor reassured me that this was perfectly normal for boys and even children of pacifists will engage in this type of play and it is nothing to worry about or intervene with.

I also asked about developmental and educational play, as I am concerned that these terms are banded around so often at the moment.

All play is educational and you should be led by your children with the type of play that they enjoy, so if they seem to love dressing up, then dress up with them.  If they like to copy mummy cleaning, then get them a small cleaning kit and let them join you.

Play doesn't need to be end specific, children should be able to just enjoy being to see where it takes them.

A lot of this is just common sense, but as a mum I do know that sometimes you do worry.  I worried that the boys didn't get tummy time and other types of developmental stuff when they were small, but when you have 2 children in fifteen months then you learn to let go a little.

What is your child's favorite type of play?


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The Gallery – A Memory

This weeks prompt for The Gallery is A Memory.  I have thousands of photographs and each one is a precious memory in its own right, which makes this week harder than most for me.

How can I pick a specific memory, just one memory out of all of the millions that I have.  

At the beginning of July we all went to London for the weekend, I went to CyberMummy, but we made the most of the weekend and made many precious memories as a family.



So it isn't the best picture in the world, yes it was very dark in the Aquarium, but we were busy making a memory for years to come and surely that is what being a family is all about, making memories.

If you want to read more about our wonderful day making lots and lots of new memories then go and take a look at the review I did for Have a Lovely Time.

Also take a look at their fantastic 20 sites for summer fun, which I also featured on.



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Mummy bloggers head to Bangladesh

At the end of August 3 influential UK mummy bloggers will be heading to Bangladesh with Save the Children to see first hand the work they do first hand. 
Sian, Mummy-Tips and on twitter @mummytips
Josie, Sleep is for the Weak and on twitter @porridgebrain
Eva, Nixdminx and on twitter @nixdminx
Every year almost 9 million children under the age of five die, most of them from preventable illnesses such as diarrhoea, pneumonia and malaria.
Why are they going to Bangladesh?
At the end of September Nick Clegg will be at the UN Summit in New York. Ten years ago world leaders set targets, called Millennium Development Goals , to reduce poverty, hunger and disease.
By going to Bangladesh and highlighting the work done, then hopefully the team can reaffirm the need for these health targets to be met.
What can you do to help?
Sign the petition to get Nick Clegg to push for commitment to the targets at the UN Summit
Donate direct to save the children
Help publicise the trip by writing, tweeting (using the #blogladesh hashtag) and putting the badge on your blog
You do not have to give if you can not afford it, but we have the chance to make a difference, to raise awareness and to try and afford change.
I am proud to know these 3 amazing woman who are going on this trip (I can not even watch comic relief without tears) and will be watching out for all their updates in the coming weeks and months.
So come on together we can all make a difference.
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Hearing but not Listening

My boys, especially MiniMad seem to have issues with listening. I and the preschool were so concerned with Mini's hearing that he was referred to an Audiologist.

Thankfully it turned out that Mini's hearing was perfect, although it took four different attempts to get him to co-operate with the tests.  You could see that he was hearing the sounds, he just refused to acknowledge them!

The Audiologist was a lovely lady who went on to explain that she sees now boys than girls and that they can hear, they just don't listen.   They tune out or focus on other things.

So what can I do about making the boys not only hear what I say to them, but also listen and take notice of it.

1)  I have been getting down to their level.  When I have something important to say I get on my knees.

2)  I gently turn mini's head to my face and ask him to listen and watch what I am saying.  I try to keep eye contact.

3)  I have been keeping it simple.  I am trying to say what I need in the least words possible.

4)  By keeping a good tone and not shouting, over lent I tried to give up shouting and it was pretty effective, but I am guilty of slipping.

5)  By rewarding listening with praise.

6)  By responding with the unexpected.

I am also going to try writing notes, especially for things that I keep having to repeat myself on. ie hanging up coats.  The boys have a low peg in the entrance for their coats but at the moment they just keep running in and dropping them, so I am going to leave a note on the door to the living room asking them to hang up their coats.

So what are your children like, do they listen to you, or do you sound like a stuck record?  How do you get round this? I would really appreciate all your hints and tips.




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Frugal Food – Utilise your Garden

One of the many comments I got on my feeding a family of 4 for £50 post was that we must be green fingered or have a lot of room for growing vegetables.

The truth is we don't and I am not, we have a small back garden, but in 2009 MadDad built me 3 raised beds, they are not large, they are 6 foot by approx 3 foot and we also have a couple of barrels that we fill with potatoes.

But those raised beds and what pots we have round the garden supply me with a steady supply of vegetables right through till the Autumn.


At the moment we have the following

Bed One - Draft Beans, Runner Beans and Pea's
Barrel - New Potatoes
Bed Two - Spinach, Rainbow Chard, Kale
Barrel - New Potatoes
Bed Three - Leeks and Onions
6 Hanging baskets + Home made fence baskets - Strawberries
2 troughs - Cucumber
2 troughs - Tomatoes
1 Container - Courgettes
4 Containers - Herbs
2 Containers - Salad leaves

Come Autumn, we will be planing garlic and Spring cabbage, we have already eaten the spring onions and all the radish that we grew.


We have grown everything from seed and have shared the initial cost of the seeds with our neighbours who also grow and friends that have an allotment.  We don't have a green house, but I germinated and grew all the seedlings on the window ledges!

We planted our apple tree 3 years ago and this year is the first year we will see many apples from it (we only got about 7 last year), but you need to bear in mind that our back garden was that of a new build - full of clay and bricks with very little soil at all.  

We also planted a pear tree and will get our first fruit from that this year, which is very exciting indeed.

Upkeep and Daily Maintenance

We bought a reduce water butt in the sales last year and we water the beds and containers every night which takes us about 15 mins , or longer if the boys help!  I also go out a couple of times a week and weed, but we don't get many weeds as we plant very close together.

Slugs and snails are our main enemy, but the boys are well trained.  If they see a slug or snail, they squash them.

I think this post shows that you don't have to have a lot of space or a huge initial outlay to start growing your own vegetables.

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RIP Mr Smudge

Yesterday we made the decision that we have been dreading making, but both knew was coming, we had to have our beloved cat Mr Smudge (our rather large and old white cat) put to sleep.

He was 15.  He was my first baby, one of two brothers that we got after I miscarried twins at 20 weeks 15 years ago.

He had been with us through thick and thin and we couldn't bear to see him deteriorate in this way and decided that the time had come to stop looking for what was wrong and let him die with dignity.  To save him from further pain, to learn to live with the pain that it meant for us.

So whilst me and the boys were out yesterday, MadDad took him to the farm vets and today we will be having a little funeral service for him, as requested by Mini.
MadDad will be digging a rather large hole in the garden and we will be laying both the cats to rest (as we lost Snowey 3 days before returning to the north east and had him cremated) in their blanket and placing a bird bath over the area.

I have to say both the boys were very brave, pragmatic and realistic about Mr Smudge dieing and being unwell.  Mini even want to see him before we bury him (we are undecided as what to do about that yet).

The thing is my heart is breaking.  I keep imaging I am seeing him round the house and I guess that feeling wont go away any day soon.


RIP Mr Smudge
June 1995 to 13 August 2010


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Wordless Wednesday – A big Thankyou


Just look at this wonderful drawing I received from the very clever Suzie over at Itch 2 Stitch.  We adore it and have framed it and popped it for all to see.



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Mini(isms) Part Two

Mini has the ability to make friends wherever we go, which I assume is is partly down to his generous and happy nature, but also down to the fact that he is just so............................ unique!

We went to an adventure playground the other day and there were loads of older children there, Maxi went go off and played solitary on the monkey bars etc, but Mini threw himself in to the centre of the most dangerous games with the big boys.


Often I am not partial to the conversations that take place, but this time one of the older boys came over to tell his mum about this "super little boy they were playing with".
Big Boy "He is so funny mummy, he told us he has a pet mole and his mummy is dead"

Big Boys Mummy "Oh poor thing, which child is it?"

Big Boy "That one with the curly hair and glasses"

Me "Oh that would be Mini, he is mine and I am his mother!"

Big Boy "Oh, he also said he has a brother and wants a sister and is friends with the half inside out people who live on the high street"

Me "Oh yes, that is Mini, he has a very active imagination, think nothing of it"

So this is Mini, the half inside out people are his imaginary friends call Dave and Vic.  They have been around for about a year now, although the pet mole is new to me!  He has always wanted a sister, in fact both the boys talk about how they will get a sister all the time!

But I do feel the need to shout out HE HAS A MOTHER, I AM HERE.  I AM ALWAYS HERE!

But who could resist him, he is just adorable!



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Fresh from the Garden




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Personalised Lunch Boxes from Getting Personal – Review

Review Post
We were sent two personalised lunch boxes from Getting Personal to review.  They costs £9.95 each.  Maxi received a rocket-ship one in red and Mini an animal one in Blue.
What we liked:  The lunch boxes are a good size, larger than some on the market and the name is on both sides.  The boys loved the fact that they have their names on and even though neither has packed lunch at school they have both been used a lot over the summer.
Maxi took his on a couple of school trips and the lunch box was large enough to hold a good sized lunch (Maxi eats a lot)!  The name is on both side so you can always see it.
 
What we didn't like: The personalisation and image is a sticker stuck on the side of the lunch box, so you can only wipe the outside with a damp cloth. In order for them to last a little longer I covered all the stickers with clear sticky backed plastic (yes I had a Blue Peter moment too)!Overview:  We really like these lunch boxes and will get a lot of use out of them.  We would like personalised water bottles to match please!  Oh  and it would be much better if the personalisation was water resistant. Review Post
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Feeding a family of four on £50

Zooarchaeologist (being a mummy) did a great post recently about shaving £200 off her monthly budget and I commented that I had got our weekly food shopping bill down to £50 for the four of us and she asked to see our Menu Plan, so I thought I would post one for you all to see, with prices too.  I do a weekly shop at Aldi and if anything else is needed it tends to be the co-op in the village.

Now I do have a good store cupboard and freezer with staples like gravy, frozen stock), herbs, spices, flour etc in.

Sunday

Lunch - mince (£1.99) and onions with veg from the garden and new potatoes from the garden too
Dinner - Poached eggs (99p or six for the butcher or friend) on muffins (60p)

Monday

Lunch - Scrambled egg on toast (99p for the eggs and 99p for a loaf of bread)
Dinner - Bolognese made with left over mince pasta (99p a bag) and pasata (59p) with added herbs and any veg left over from Sunday dinner (pureed).  Garlic bread (home made)

Tuesday

Lunch - Beans and Sausage on Toast (59p)
Dinner - Curry with home made naan bread
 
Wednesday

Sausage rolls form the bakers (4 for 99p)
Sausage casserole with Potatoes from the FIL

Thursday

Lunch - Scrambled Eggs with cheese and ham 
Jacket Potatoes with Cheese and Beans or leftover curry

Friday
 
Sandwiches (cheese and ham or egg)
Fish and Chips with peas from the garden

Saturday

Hot Dogs and rolls with potato wedges (from the garden)
Home Made pizza (ham, salami, pasattatta, mozzarella and onion), garlic bread

Shopping list

Mince (1.99)
Breaded Ham (99p)
Mozzarella (2 x 49p)
Salami (99p)
Sausages (99p)
Bread (99p)
Hot dog rolls (55p)
Bratwursts (99p)
potato (69p)
Apples (1.25)
Banana (1.01)
Natural yogurt (49p)
Flour (33p)
Oven chips (99p)
Frozen battered Cod (1.99)
Passata  (49p)
Gouda (1.15)
Onions (69p)
High Juice (99p)
Jelly mix (20p)
Coffee (2.59  a month)
Paracetamol (2 x 19p)
Spreadable butter (1.79)
Marg for baking (50p)
Pull ups (3.59 once a month)
12 eggs (1.98)
Milk Iceland £1 for 4 pints we use at least 16 pints = £4)
Porridge (99p)
Choco Hoops (1.15)
Teabags (2.10 very 4 weeks)
Salad Stuff (currently 39p for tomatoes, lettuce and onions from ;Mar £1.20)
lemonade (40p)
Yogurt (2 x 80p)
Chicken pieces (1.99)
Hot Chocolate (99p)

I DONT buy cakes or biscuits, but I do buy the ingredients to make them and have baking powder, raisins etc in the cupboard board all the time.  I buy one loaf a week and then make all the rest (lidl do a really good inexpensive bread flour and I buy in bulk when passing).
 
I also make sure I have Ice cream and cone in  and when we hear the ice cream van  we make our own.  Sprinkles on top to make special or if they are really lucky then we might have a flake.

The garden is a huge source of produce for me, the peas are just coming to pod and the beans will be ready in the next few weeks. The spinach and chard is all cut and come again. We have tomatoes and onions, which we turned in to pasta sauce last year.

I always check the Internet to find out who has what offers on and shop around to ensure I get the best deal.  I will buy cheese and freeze it.

So how much do you spend on your weekly shop and how do you keep the bills down in the current climate?



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Three for the price of One – The Gallery, Play Academy and Children’s Craft Showcase

 


The Gallery this week is extra speical as it is linked with Cathy my friend over at Nuturestore and her Play Accadamy, so I thought that I would use a new Childrens Craft Showcase for this week, as it really seemed to fit the bill.

I think that this craft is pretty self explanatory, we all have bubble wrap and using it to pain on and create texture is so much fun for children.


We used our bubble wrap to make a sea on cards and on some paper.  We painted the wrap blue and green.


Then pressed it down on the card and paper.


To make a funky pattern.


We used foam shapes on the cards.


I cut out images of fish on paper and the boys painted them.



To make fish on the cards, we used the circle stickers and cut out a triangle to make the mouth and stuck it on as a tail, inspired by The Frugal Family Fun Blog.

We used tissue paper as sea weed.


This is our final art work which is gracing the wall in the dinning room.  It even has a treasure chest!

So if you have any crafty posts of things you have been doing with your children over the last few weeks then please link up below.  I would love to see what you have  been busy making and doing.


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    Teachers Gifts 2010




    Maxi made mugs for his teacher and teaching assistants.  We used porcelain paint from my stash and some 50p mugs from Morrisons,  He used his finger and thumb to make prints on them, which we turned in to pigs, beas, a caterpillar and flowers.


    Mini and I made lavender bags for his Preschool teacher and the teaching assistants using fabric that Mini and Maxi had previously dyed (tutorial to follow).  Mini picked the ribbon from my stash and sat on my knee to help sew (I use the term help very loosely)!


    The cards were super easy to make, we punched heart shapes out of tissue paper and used a paper brad to hold them on the card.  I then printed out "Thank you for helping me bloom" and the boys stuck them on to the cards.



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    Sunderland International Airshow 2010


    What a weekend, what a fantastic time we have all had.  This was my first experience of the Sunderland International Airshow and I can safely say we will be there next year.  

    We went on Saturday with mum and found a great spot on the promenade grass for us all to sit.  We packed a picnic and flasks and drinks and had a super afternoon watching all the planes.  

    Mum took the boys to the beach and they made a volcano and sandcastles and I went down to join them before the tide came in.

    Sunderland Airshow i Europe's largest free airshow and all you pay for is parking at the park and ride. Sunderland is such a great place as there are plenty of places to sit and watch and you get great views of the planes pretty much where ever you may be.  The programme only cost £3.00 and you really do need one to find out what is on when and it also tells you all about the aircraft and pilots.

    The boys loved it, so much so that the boys begged to go back again on the Sunday.  So we packed up a picnic again and set off.  The weather was colder and more overcast, so I was glad that I packed a blanket for us all to cuddles under.  I also took some colouring for the boys for in between the planes.

    The highlights of the weekend for us all were the Hawker Hunter, who was called Miss Demeanour on Saturday, she had such a cool paint job and the boys loved her.  MadDad really loved the Typhoon, which Mini also declared the best as it was the loudest!
    On Sunday Team Breitling were something else, we were in awe of the lady wingwalkers and the Red Arrows put on a fantastic 20 minute display to end the show.  They were out of this world and spectacular just doesn't cover it.

    The only down side was getting out of the car park and home on Sunday evening.  It took 2 hours to goo 100 yards and by this time the boys were very tetchy and tired.  We didn't get home till 8.30 and then it was straight to bed for them.

    Top tips for next year:
    • Arrive early to go round the aircraft on the cliff and look round the stalls.
    • Take a beach tent to pitch on the grass area in case of rain.
    • Get lost children wrist bands for the boys and agree a meeting area if lost.
    • Take buckets, spades, swimwear and towels for the boys.
    • Take an extra flask.
    • Take colouring etc for the boys.
    • Take a good picnic.
    • Leave 15 mins before the end, so you can get out of the car park!



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    The Gallery – Nature or Nuture

    What can I say, well today I took the boys to the local woodland centre, where the plan was to collect shells and small stones on the beach to make jam jar lanterns.

    We actually spent far to long on the beech to get them made so will have to do them tomorrow at home, but boys being boys they didn't want shells on their jam jars, oh no they wanted dead crabs....


    So as much as I nurture their artistic and creative sides, sometimes the force of nature is just to great!


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    A few of my recent makes



    A gorgeous table setting mat for children which is washable and backed with towelling, also available in blue - £8.00 plus postage 

    A selection of girls back to school hair slides and bobbles.  Can be customised, just ask.  Prices from £2.75 to £4.50


    A variety of hair grips and clips, made with stunning buttons.  Prices range from £1.50 to £2.75

    I have committed (or should that be need committed) to holding a stall on Sunday at the Gala at my SIL and Brothers Social Club - hmm, must get busy making, which wont be easy with the boys at home too!

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    Legoland July 2010 – Top Tips


    A couple of weeks back we took the boys on what appears to be an annual trip to legoland, so here are my top tips:

    • Use Tesco vouchers to pay for your entrance tickets, or keep an eye out on the two for one deals.
    • Pack hats and sun screen!
    • Arrive early, the park opens at 10am, but the shop and entrance open earlier, avoid the queue and turn up early.
    • Pick up a lost parent sticker at the guest services area.
    • Start a back of the park and work forward, this way you will get on more rides.
    • Take a picnic - the food in the park is overpriced and not very nice at all.  We ordered pizza, garlic bread and chips and it was tasteless cardboard and the boys didn't eat it.
    • Take swimwear and a towel.  The splash area in Duplo world is great for little ones.  We went at about 3pm for an hour and it was fab, I even managed to drink a cup of tea!
    • The Clutch Powers 4D show is a must see, we all loved it.  We went at lunch time when the sun was at it its hottest (join the queue early to get good seats)
    • The boys laughed and laughed at the pirate show, a great time and place to eat your picnic!
    • The boys are too small for a lot of the bigger rides, which seemed to have the large queues, when they get bigger I may consider the qbot.  Take treats for the queues as it does get a little boring for children waiting.
    • We did the water rides just before going to the water area at Duplo World, giving the boys clothes time to dry out whilst they enjoyed the water.
    • Remember to get a parking ticket on your way out - yes you now pay £1 for parking.
    • Leave 15 mins before the park closes, or you will get stuck in the traffic leaving the park.




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    Maxi’s Foundation Stage Graduation

    Thursday was Maxi's last day at school in Reception before he goes up to year one in September.

    This year has been a amazing one for my little man, one that I hope will give him a great foundation to all the years of learning he has to come.  The biggest part of this year has been his wonderful teacher Mrs Sayer and her two wonderful teaching assistants (Mrs Holmes and Mrs Jackson)


    Mrs Sayer has a wonderful way with the children and they all adore her, she brings learning to life through play and is the perfect Reception teacher (which is why I was overjoyed to find out Mini is in her class next year).  Not once has she pushed Maxi too hard, she has a great grasp of his abilities and keeps him challenged.

    Anyway Wednesday night was his graduation and he had a great time and didn't want the party to end.
     Maxi running to us with his Math certificate

    All the children got a certificate and a book and then Maxi got a certificate for being the best Mathematician.  We were very proud indeed.
     
    Dancing the night away




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    Mini Makes Music

    As you know the boys stayed at my mothers on Saturday night and when I went to pick them up yesterday we decided to go to the beach and have a picnic in a nearby park with my Niece.
     Little did we realise there was a council run event on at the park and it turned out to be a wonderful afternoon.


    There as a wonderful couple who had a load of drums and were showing the children how to play them and Mini had a fab time.


    He managed to keep in time (most of the time) and really didn't want to stop.  My niece also loved it.  Maxi decided he would rather play in the park with Grandma!


    As we were leaving the chap came up to me and told me that Mini had a real talent.  I was ever so proud of him.


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    The Boys are away and I don’t want to play ……

    My Mum has the MiniMads for only the second time in their life.  Yes this is the second evening me and MadDad have had to ourselves and we have no intentions of going out (not that we could afford to anyway).

    Before we had children we swore we wouldn't become parent bores, you know the ones......  the people who have no other topic of conversation apart from their children and guess what we are turning into them.

    We decide not to bother with the grand dinner I had planned to cook, instead we settled for some cheese on toast with a cup of tea, none of the sparking wine either, as we sat in front of the television to catch up on some of those shows we have filled our Sky+ with.

    We sat in comfortable silence, snuggled under the throw, punctuated by random sentences about how weird it is for the children not to be here and how sad I was that sports day was cancelled and how will find the cash to pay for swimming lessons again, especially as it is the week before pay day.  Then back to the snuggling and silence.

    We trotted off to bed an hour or so later than usual, no having to get up for the boys, but as we reached the top of the stairs we both felt the need to go in to their rooms.  You see we do this every night as we go to bed, we take turns to check on the boys, to tuck them in and stroke their foreheads and give them an extra kiss, oh and to just watch them sleep.

    I woke this morning at 6.20, which is what time Maxi is usually up.  My body clock hadn't yet got the message that he wasn't here and I lay still, not moving, breathing evenly as not to wake MadDad.  Over and over in my head the thoughts that I was boring, didn't have anything other than the children to take about, that I wasn't witty that we didn't have intellectual debate and worse than that I didn't even know what was a number one in the Charts, let along who where the DJ's on radio one. 

    How had it come to this?  When did I stop being a person in my own right and transform in to a mummy?  

    MadDad it turns out had been laying there not moving too, awake, but not wanting to wake me up.  Oh how we laughed about that, we would rather let each other catch up on precious sleep than use the time making love, like we used to.  So we laid and cuddles and I talked about how I fell that I was a non-person, a mother.  That I had nothing intellectual  or interesting to say and that how our conversations revolved around the children.

    "But the children are interesting to me and I love hearing how your day with them has been.  I want to know what they have been up to whilst I have been a work" MadDad told me.  Funny isn't it, I crave adult company and conversation, but when I get it, I have nothing to talk about other than the Children.  But then that is all I know nowadays really, that and the day to day issues of caring for a loved one as they get older (my mother).  

    We do tend to stick to talking about the things we know about and experience and I don't want to bring every conversation down to my health (or lack of it), my mood (deep dark and scary), our finances (enough said) and as for politics (money again!).  So I talk about what I know, what I experience and  what I live and for me at this time in my life it is being a mum.

    So we have resolved that if mum offers again to have the boys (and after speaking to her this morning, I am not sure she will be) then I will be more comfortable with things.  It doesn't mean that we wont miss them or go in to empty rooms to check on them though!



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    Stepping away from this Blog with the Bad Stuff

    Over the last month or do, my mood and therefore, by blog has become darker and darker and that really isn't what this blog was and should be all about.
     The boys asleep holding hands in our hotel in London (3rd July 2010)
    So I have made a decision that I am going to go back to basics and use this blog to record what I do with the MiniMads over the summer, a journal if you like of our days and time together.  I may still do The Gallery and writing workshop (if appropriate).
    Also summer holidays will be starting with a vengeance next week and I will have less time on the laptop, as I will be spending it with my children, therefore, I will have less time to visit all your wonderful blogs and comment.  Please bear with me.  I will try and read them, but may not have time to comment.
    Thank you for all the comments regarding finding employment, firstly I am not cut out to be a child minder (I looked after a friends 22 month old yesterday and although it was OK, I couldn't do it everyday - no way, plus until my anaemia and other issues are sorted, I don't have the energy to give to my own children let alone others!).  Secondly I was in no way saying that my opinion was right, just that I want to spend time with my children, but last night MadDad and I made the decision that I may have to look for full time work (sad).
    I have started another blog for my writing, musings and general moroseness here at Musings from TheMadHouse.
    I have also decided that I am consolidating my reviews on to yet another blog TheMadHouse Reviews and will be reviewing for The Great Toy Guide and Mummy Reviews.
    So thank you very much for all your comments and I do hope you stick with me over these coming months.  I really do appreciate all the comments every single one.
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    Transition – We have hit a wall

    I think we are reaching one, yes as I type. I have adored everyday I have been afforded as a stay at home mum of my two wonderful boys, but my oh my it has been hard. Not only mentally and physically with my health issues, but mainly financially and it looks like we have hit the wall.

    We originally thought that we would manage on just one salary, but then illness came and smacked us in the face meaning that MadDad had to take unpaid leave to look after me and the children.  We were daft we relied on our credit cards to pay the bills over those very hard and tough months and we got in to a pickle.

    We are still in that pickle and even though I try hard as I can I just can not make the budget work anymore.  What with two sets of school uniforms to pay for (done thanks to a car boot sale), clothes and shoes (yes the boys are growing at such a pace), swimming lessons, football lesson, school trips, cars to run and insure (yes I do need it, I have to look after mum as well as the boys and she lives in the next town and I live in a village that is even past the end of the train line).

    We live a pretty frugal lifestyle.  I manage to feed us all on £50 per week, subsidised by the wonderful veg in the garden, but it is just not enough.
    So I guess the transition we are in it that I have to finally accept that I need to find a job and it needs to be a job which will cover the child care and help pay the ever increasing bills and you know what, it scares me.  Yes for all the reasons I have blogged about before, but also for the fact that I didn't have my children to leave them with other people.  We never thought we would get in this pickle and it is killing me.  I am crying on the inside and the outside and working hard at hiding it from the boys.

    The fact is a magic job isn't just going to appear, no one is going to come and offer me a great job writing for them whilst I remain at home.  I have looked for evening jobs, but I live in an unemployment black spot and the council closed applications for a position last week when the number of CVs they received hit 1000, yes 1000!

    Yes I am bitter and upset about it all.  I have paid £13 in school trip money this month, just for Maxi and it is money I don't have, but how do you say that he can not go on them.  What really gets my goat is that Children on free school meals (we don't qualify) get to go on trips free and this will all double with Mini stating in September too.

    We fall in to a forgotten category of people, who's mortgage is a chain around their necks, we are in a tied in deal and it is crippling us.  Add to that massive gas and electricity payments, council tax, TV licence, phone bills, food, insurance, and then the dreaded credit card payments (how could we be so stupid).

    I am happy to take advertising on the blog and do sponsored posts (within reason).  I would love a small regular income from writing, as anything helps, but I am not sure it is going to be enough.

    So I have bought the local paper, I am scouring the Internet, I have been in to Tesco's and I am making an appointment to go to the job centre.  I need a job.


    This post is part of the writing workshop over at Sleep is for the week and inspired by prompt 4. Share your experience of a difficult transition. A moving ‘from’ to ‘something new’.

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    The Gallery – Can you see What it is yet? – The Reveal

    The Reveal


    The origional image is a crop of this image, which was taken when we were in  London.


    Have you guessed what it is yet....  Look there are little people down below!


    Yes it is the London Eye


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    The Gallery – Can you see What it is yet?

    For this weeks Gallery over at Sticky Fingers you  have to take a photograph of something everyday, but take it at a different angle, from a different viewpoint, using a close-up zoom, whatever - something that makes that everyday object look totally different.

    And we all have to guess what it is.





    So this is my entry, if anyone gets it right, they might even be a small prize, you never know!



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    Bringing out the Lioness in me

    Just don't go upsetting my cubs in front of me, as it will bring out the lioness in me.  She has surfaced this week and I am still upset and angry about how my boys, Mini in particular has been treated.


    Every Monday there is a youth group at the local church and although I don't attend church, I want the boys to have experience of church and the fact that this is help in the church itself, rather than a hall really appealed to me, in such that it demystifies such a quiet place.

    So I registered the boys and they went for the first time a fortnight ago.  They had a great time, I collected them, no one said anything to me, apart from the fact that it wasn't on last week.  

    So we got all ready to go this week, after taking Maxi to the doctors.  We arrived and I apologised for being slightly late (the GP ran over, nothing unusual there) and the boys went to play with their friends, when a lady stopped Mini and told him, he wasn't allowed to stay.

    She brought him to me and told me he was too young and they went insured, but there are other four year olds attending, so I questioned her and said how could mini be too young and the others aren't?  She then went on to say that it is a health and safety issue and he asked for help in wiping his bottom.  At this point he burst in to tears.  Now he doesn't ask for help at school and yes occasionally at home he will ask for us to "check" his bottom (to be fait Maci does now and again too), so I said that it was possibly down to him being in a new environment.  To which she responded "we don't want him here and I have spoke to the Vicar".  I asked her why she hadn't telephoned me prior to our coming and that this wasn't an appropriate conversation to have in front of everyone, but she wouldn't budge.  She was happy for Maxi to stay, but not Mini.

    So I took both boys home with me and it then took me an hour to calm Mini down.  All the time Maxi was telling him he would help wipe his bottom if that was all that stopped them from going.  Mini wanted to know why they don't want him, what has he done wrong, don't they like him?  I managed to hold it together until MadDad got in and then that was that I was in tears telling him what happened.

    I couldn't find the Vicars number to discuss this with her, I was far too angry to go back and talk to the Youth group organiser, in fact I am still so upset about the way this has been handled.

    I managed to speak to the Vicar last night and expressed my concerns over the way it has been handled and the inequality of it all, but I am waiting for her to come back to me.

    And I am stewing, yes Mini is hard work, yes he can be challenging, loud, he doesn't always listen, he can be cheeky, insubordinate,  naughty, downright infuriating at times, but is this the reason that they don't want him there?  What have I done wrong?  He does come across as boisterous, but he is also loving, fun and a joy to be with.  I can not believe that they have made their decision based on one session with them.  It breaks my heart and I don't want Maxi to go without Mini and truth be told, neither of them understand what the problem is.
    The longer it takes the Vicar to ring me back the more I think about it and reflect on the even, they are better ways to do this, without upsetting me and my children.



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    Children’s Craft Showcase – How to make paper flowers

    heart petal flowers
    Heart petal flowers are a really simple way to make flowers for someone special, not for any reason, just to say I love you.  They would also make a really great gift to say thank you to any teacher at this time of the year.
    Materials Tissue Paper Heart Punch or template and scissors Paper Straws (Art straws - 99p from The Works) Paper brads
    Method
    This is such a simple piece of craft, that Maxi actually made all of our flowers (roses) which we took with us to see The Wiggles and give to Dorothy.
    Use the punch to make heart shapes out of tissue paper
    With a single hole punch make a hole in each at the point end
    Place you tissue paper petals on to the paper brad
    Place you brad in to the end of your paper straw.
    Keep going until you have a bunch of beautiful paper roses (we gave ours to Dorothy the Dinosaur, when the boys saw The Wiggles)
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    Christmas with John Lewis

    The institution that is John Lewis invited me to their Autumn/Winter and Christmas launch this week and I had a great big glimpse into what they think might be the next big thing and guess what I love it!



    From a toy perspective, I was really pleased to see that there was a focus on traditional role play and musical instruments.  I have earmarked the fantastic electric guitar for Mini a snip at £35 when they get them in stock (well Grannie will be purchasing it for his Christmas present).  There was a lot of toy story on display too, in addition to a fab Lego camera and MP3 player.


    I have always been a fan of John Lewis' Christmas section and was very impressed with their offerings for Christmas 2010.  I was really inspired by the crackers made from recycled newspaper.


    I have to say though it was the home section that totally blew me away.  I loved the retro vibe of the connections fabrics and prints, which they had actually gone in to the JL archives for. 


    The furniture was stunning, I especially liked the Mr Bright Chair, each of the buttons were a different colour.  If made my heart sing!  Rob Ryan has also done a fantastic collaboration too and they his and hers mugs are on my Christmas list.


    Then  there was the haberdashery, how wonderful, so much eye candy.  Beautiful buttons, ribbon, fabric and  rickrack.  John Lewis are going to start stocking fat quarters and quilting fabric too.

    So thank you to John Lewis for a great day.


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    Behind this Good Woman, is A Great Man


    He stands behind with solid arms to catch me should I fall
    His tender words, his comforting stance
    The safety net in my world

    He watches with a knowing eye that only time can bring
    He is ever present, should I need him
    Not pushy or making demands

    He is the banks that my river flows through
    The day to my night
    ever present

    He is the galaxy that makes my stars shine brighter
    The oxygen in my air
    The love of my life

    He makes me smile a thousand suns
    He is mine
    Together we are one




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    Lets make a list outdoor games

    I was asked about outside games by the very funny Mr Shev and seen as I didnt have the answer, I asked him to write a post and said that I would throw open the floor to my wonderful readers.

    Browsing through the average toy shop, I sometimes wonder what kids did on a sunny day before NerfSupersoakers and themed paddling pools.

    But then I realise that I do know because I grew up in a world without them and we had to invent our own entertainment. So, we played football, developed innovative ways to kill ants and trawled the streets looking for useful trash to transform into go-karts or even more sophisticated and intricate ways to kill ants (makes me sound like I came from a family of pikeys, but the kids toy market was not as sophisticated as it is today.)

    I still don't know why we hated ants so much.


    The reason that I have been ruminating about this is because this weekend my Darling Son reached the ripe old age of four. Being neurotically proud parents we went through emotional turmoil about what to buy him (a bike), what to feed him (his favourite: chicken wings), what to do with him (boat trip) and who to invite to his party (everyone). We decided, because the weather is so good, to have it at the park and do a barbecue.
    We obviously organsied the ubiqitous, much maligned, steeped in corruption (with allegations of bribery): pass-the-parcel. The kids all knew what to do, even the really young ones. It's as if there is an infant internet using Leapfrogs or something and they all learn how to do it on web forums in the dead of night.

    I did face-painting. *RANT ALERT* I searched high and low in both Swiss and French toyshops for decent facepaints and eventually found a box. They are the worst facepaints I have ever used. They are like proper make-up and if I (an animator, with 7 years of art school tuition and years of industry experience) can't paint a kid to look like a bloody dragon then no one can. ALSO, they supplied make-up remover because once this stuff goes on it stays on - try explaining that to a 2yr old as you're scrubbing their face for the third time. FFS.

    Afterwards we hadn't organised a children's entertainer - NO! - or a ballon modeller - WHAT?! - or a travelling menagerie of animals - EVIL PARENTS! What we did was bring a football or two and left the kids to themselves - BAD, EVIL PARENTS! So, what did they do? Well...
    1. Stick-in-the Mud One person is 'it' and then have to run around like a nut-nut trying to tag a kid. However the difference with this is if you tag someone then they are 'stuck in the mud' and only their team-mates can free them. What happens, in reality, is that the kids go all Thatcherite and don't give a monkey's about anyone's skin but themselves and carry on running (in a pack!) away from the person who is it. You can play this in teams.
    2. Peep-Behind-the-Curtain Someone stands at a tree or a wall and all the children line up 20m away or so. They have to creep up on the 'peeper' and tag them. If the peeper sees someone moving then that someone is out. The first one to tag the peeper is the next peeper. Best to have a parent as a peeper as they can do slow-motion turnarounds that give the younger kids a chance to stop moving. If kids do it they end up turning around every second and it ends up looking like everyone is vogue-ing.Also, kids like nothing better than to become bonefide supergrasses and will stop at nothing to win. The little buggers.
    3. Wolves & Sheep This is, essentially, tag but when the person who is it (the wolf) tags a sheep then they become a wolf as well. Growling is optional...as is wearing wool.
    4. Runaway Train I don't know what this is called, but we coined it as this. Get a big picnic blanket (preferably one that you don't mind getting a bit trashed) and a Daddy runs around trailing the blanket behind them and the kids have to jump on and stay on. If you get more that two or three kids on you might need to get another couple of big lads involved to drag the weight. The kids go bananas for this.
    After this lot we ran out of ideas and I wanted to put it to the people: what games do you know that involve minimal props and lots of kids? Explain the game, what it's called and the rules and let's compile a list!


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    Mima with Maxi

    Maxi's class were lucky enough to go to Mima (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art) on a school trip and I managed to get MadDad to work from home that day so I could go to.


    Now I am not sure I will be taking the boys back just yet, but it was a great, if not a little long day.  In between looking and thinking about the installations the children did get to do some art activities, but they were not allowed to touch anything and with a group of 4 and 5 year olds you can imagine how hard it was for them.




    I was very proud of all the children, they were so well behaved and Maxi's teacher is such a gem.  She really understands reception children, so after a picnic lunch on the lawn, she got her class all playing games to let off steam.


    There is currently an exhibition by Anish Kapoo which tested the children's don't touch capabilities, as well as mine too. 



    Fantastic sculptures and pieces, which made them think, look and really explore what art can be.


    The exhibition co-insides with the opening on Tememos in Middlesbrough, which the boys have seen from the car.


    I really enjoyed the day and will be going back on my own for some quality me time.


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    CyberMummy 2010

    A bit like winning a luxury holiday with no flights.............
    Now please, please don't get me wrong here, I had a super fantastic day on Saturday and the best bit for me was meeting for the first time all these wonderful, nay remarkable women. These people that I am overjoyed to call my friends and with whom I have shared so many ups, downs and just middlings!
    The mummy blogging world is just full of so many inspirational and amazing people and I feel truly blessed to be part of it.
    So lets talk about the day, well firstly a big hats of to Suzanna, Sian and Jen for having the will and wherewithal to pull together such a great event, if can not have been an easy task and I was honoured to have been able to attend the inaugural conference, thanks to a wonderful Anonymous benefactor and to Carex for sponsoring me.
    Anyone who met me will realise that I am a pretty open and honest person and that hopefully I come across as that on the blog too and also that I am a pretty positive person, so don't get the wrong end of the stick with these comments.
    What would have made the day better for me:
    Less goodies and swag
    I was fortunate that there was a mishap with my freebies from Carex top giveaway, as they was so much stuff being given away that people wouldn't have had room for them.  I should have taken my old lady shopping trolley with me, next time please can I have vouchers for the products that I can collect at a shop or apply online for them.  But I do have samples of the great Carex Goodies I reviewed here, so please e-mail me with your name and address and we will get them posted out to you.
    Sessions and Cyber Labs
    I sat through the content, stats and influence and also the working with brands sessions and have some constructive critique on them.
    Good Content
    lets start with the content - I would have loved to hear more from India Knight and also heard from top bloggers about what they think is key with content.
    Stats and Influence
    Actually I really wish I had the balls to get up and walk out of this one.  I was hoping this session would remove the mystique surrounding technorati authority and how to use your statistics to help you blog.  For me the whole session fell flat from the start when there wasn't even a blogger on the panel and the best bit when Jax from Making it up outgeeked Ladygeek, which wasn't all that hard to do (especially when she confessed her husband did all the techie stuff).   I want to learn more about self hosting, the pros and cons of each platform, meta tags, links etc, so next year please can we work on this session.
    Working with Brands
    I lived blogged from the Working with Brands sessions (wow that was not easy, so many things to listen too and I do not type fast enough).  My feelings about this were it was very US centric.  We don't have a blogher type organisation dealing with reviews and working with brands here in the UK, yes it is great to here about a successful model, but I want more.
    I wanted to hear more from Natalie Lue on how she makes it work for her, how many people read her e-books and how she is managing to make a living from blogging.
    I would have liked Leapfrog to put show us a brand ambassador, rather than talk about it  (Samantha my boys would love to review the new Leapster Explorer) and I would have liked MS&L to have talked to the bloggers who have recently been on a trip to the Pampers factory, rather than just put down their PR company.
    I would have liked opinion of how much is too much, how to work out what to charge for your time, rather than being told to value it.
    Keynote Speakers
    This was a real highlight for me and i was honored to be included as a keynote speaker and wow, what a roller coaster that was.  I laughed and I cried listening to some inspirational women read out their blog posts.  To hear it in their own voice, with their intonation was just..........  well beyond words.  For me this is why I blog and this is why I read blogs, these woman have something to say and blogging gives them a voice.
    Pub Quiz
    Linda, dear Linda you made me laugh so much I nearly wet myself.  You do a mean impression of Jo Brand.  I only wish we could have seen more of you and I am sorry that you had to attend such a sad event prior to coming.  I do have to admit to being rather crap at it all and spend it eating cupcakes I had pinched from a nearby stand!
    Overview
    It was a fantastic day, I had an amazing time and met just the best people.  I can not wait to do it all again.
    Oh and the holiday.  Yes I won a holiday, a fantastic 4 night break for me, MadDad and the MiniMads in Cyprus, but and it really is a big but it didn't come with flights, so anyone wants to help pay for flights, then please do get in touch.
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    CyberMummy, Working with Brands – Live Blog


     14:00 - 14:50 Working with brands and the tricky business of making money

    How to successfully branch out, work with companies, and make your passion for blogging pay
    I have been lucky enough to get to CyberMummy with the help from a number of brands.  I am the product ambassador for Carex and have been lucky enough to receive some of their new hand and Surface Spray and Aroma Gels, which I will be reviewing here.  I have also received sponsorship in the form of an anonymous benefactor paying for my ticket - A great big thank you to you (I really appreciate the support and help).  Seven Seas have also paid for an advert on my site too.

    So this session really appealed to me.  I am keen on trying to make my blog pay a little bit, but also not take things too far, so for me it is all about balance.

    I will be updating, saving and re-posting this transcript live from the CyberMummy Conference and will tidy it up after the event, so please excuse any spelling mistakes and remember to bookmark this page and come back for all the coverage on the day.

    Natalie open the session confirming that she makes her living from blogging and that it is important to develop good relationships and not to be afraid to think about engaging with brands and that selling out is not working with brands.  That is it important not to over think things.

    Be savvy about working with brands, find out the difference between marking and PR.  Get involved with the people you want to.

    14.14   Kelly from MS&L

    Kelly explains that she is aware that mums are using the Internet for information and that companies are looking for ways to be involved in Mum's conversations.  "The delete button is the new receiver being thrown down"  An honest lunch the benefits both parties, MS&L US came up with the Blogger guidelines, so that transparencies is for all to see.

    What is key from this is the need to disclose the nature of the relationship, trust must be maintained at each link of the conversation.  It needs to be none negotiable and maintaining the integrated means that their clients need to let go and that MS&L can put the product in blogger hands and if the resulted opinion is negative then they and the client needs to live with it.

    Can you be an ethical blogger and accept free trips etc?

    Am I free to write honestly about it
    Is it something I really want or need

    14.22  Gina from Blogher

    55 million a week read blogs in the US, woman who blog are the most socially savvy, half of the most popular media destinations in the US are social.  They have 21 million viewers.

    2400 bloggers at the Blogger Conference in network  with 95 sponsors, who recognise the influence and importance of bloggers.

    There is a halo effect and a rub off in clients who invest in woman in the blogosphere.  They pay bloggers for their time, not for the review outcome, they have profiles and match them up to the brand.

    Monitirising is possible as long as it is authentic and open.

    14.28 Eva Keogan
     
    Eva has just spent a year building Last minutes social media section and her message is to truly understand the value of what we do.  It is an amazing vehicle, it isn't all about advertising.

    There are many ways to work with brands.  Eva makes her living as a social media evangelist and works with brands.

    Eva had three key messages.

    • How can people get in contact with you.
    • Be clear about what you right about - Eva isn't a poo blog
    • Know your value
    14.32 Samantha from Leapfrog

    Blogging is every important voice in social media and leapfrog have been working with mummy bloggers for over a year.

    61% of toys are bought from recommendations and Leapfrog actually read all the blogs of the bloggers they work with,  They  send products to them for reviews, although reviews must be honest and appreciate all feedback, both positive and negative.

    They also give the mummy bloggers exclusive offers for their blog site.  In the long term they are looking for a brand advocate and they like to give the products to mums before they giving them to journalists.

    14.36 Sian To

    Working from a PR/Mummy Blogger perspective.  Sian can often feel stuck in the middle ground and reiteraed not to feel bad about not doing something, just hit the delete key. Dont feel pressured.

    Mummy Bloggers are Sian's Market and the main reason for her getting in to blogger.   

    14.38

    Open Questions

    Antiona Chitty from Family Friendly Working - Woman she works with don't really value themselves are UK Mummy bloggers undervaluing their blogs?

    Gina - there is huge poential, if you don't value what you do it can be put on the same level as any TV show, magazine.  Our audience loves what Mummy Bloggers do.   We are fabulous.
    Samatha - Yes some mummy bloggers do undervalue themselves.  Word of mouth is key.  Ask for things we have nothing to lose.
    Kelly - Ask yourself when was the last time you purchased a products from an ad or whether you purchase it from world of mouth.

    Eva - brands search out bloggers, there is some value attached with that
    Natalie - People have funny relationships with money, don't overvalue yourself, but do get behind yourself

    Kat from Bambingo Goodies

    There is a rise of blogs charging upfront for review, but not disclosing this, what are your thoughts?

    Samantha - Leapfrog don't do that - it is a partnership for them about mutual benefit.  Blogging should be from the heart, you should feel it rather than being paid for it.
    Sian - I wouldn't work in this way with a blogger, it is about creating a buzz and a direct voice with consumer.  You can feel really passionate about the product.

    What if you really want to do a review of the product, how do you approach the company yourself?

    Eva - Eurostar supported something that she tweeted about, so just ask!
    Samantha - Utilise the contact us page on a website and drop them a line and Ask.
    Sian - you could do a review
    Gina - bloggers have gone to brands and said that if you done give me X oe W I will say nasty things about you  and yes everyone knows who their bloggers

    If you do a good review, then 2 bad ones, would the company still use them?

    Samantha - Leapfrog would still contact you and maybe have more work for you if you have constructive criticism and hopefully learn from it.
    Kelly - fair and constructive is key.  They like  bloggers with firm opinions


    Arggggggggggggggggggg  - so much to take in and I am now going to do a key note seach, so will come nad edit is a little more later.  Please feel free to add any comments on anything I may have missed






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    Flamingoland 2010


    We all had a fantastic day out at Flamingoland last week for Mini's birthday.  I used my Tesco vouchers, but was really disappointed to discover that this arrangement ends in July, which would mean that it would be £90.00 to get in to.




    The beauty of Flamingoland for us, is the variety, there are some wonderful animals.  We had a great time watching the sealion show and I could watch the mearcats all day.  Look at the camels in the photo, I had no idea that they moulted their coats.



    As we took the boys out of school for the day (we also took Maxi's best friend), it was pretty quiet, apart from lots of school trips.  This meant the boys got to go on lots of rides and didn't have to queue.  Mini has sprouted and could go on everything that Maxi could, which made for happy families.



    There is also a fantastic splash area, so we took the boys UV suits and they had a really good cool down for an hour and half in it.  It was really upsetting to see the number of children who are not allowed to get wet.

    The weather was fantastic and we had a great picnic lunch under the shade of some trees, in fact we just had a wonderful time together.

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    Childrens Craft Showcase – Gifts for the Teacher

    The end of the school year is very nearly upon us here in England, so I have started to think about teacher appreciation gifts for MaxiMads wonderful Reception teacher and her assistance and for Mini's Preschool Teacher.


    I am a firm believer in child made is best, I don't want my gifts to be expensive, just used and made with love.

    So I have a selection of things that we have made previously for people that would make great gifts to say thank you to a teacher.  



    This is what Maxi made for his teachers last year and will be doing again for his current teacher.  Click on the link above for a tutorial.



    We gave all the teaching staff these for Christmas and they were a huge hit.



    Mini has drawn a picture of his teacher and I am busy turning it into a wonderful bookmark.



    This was what we did for mothers day, but would also make a great teachers gift too.



     We made these for Nana and Grandma for Christmas, but would be easily adapted.

    Please fee free to link up any other ideas you might have or any crafty makes you have been busy with.

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      A Family of Emotions

      Mini just can not control them, they are so visual, so transparent.  It is like looking at me.

      I see burning red and hot orange embers.  The lava flow that just erupts before he has a chance to think about anything else.  He has no hold on them, no way to stop acting on the impulses they give him.  He has no perspective, no patience, no understanding of them.

      He physically reacts, throwing, hitting, shouting, screaming, banging and crying.

      He feels them in his heart, head and fists.  

      To the point of exhaustion.


      Maxi is comtenplative, a real thinker, he is learning to harness his emotions and to keep them in check.

      He is brave and often his lower lip will tremble, when he skuffs his kness, just a little, enough for me to see.

      When he is tired, then the emotions bubble to the surface.  I watch as he attemps to supress them, holding his breathm until they have to come out.

      But his joy, wonder and amazement are still there for all to see.


      MadDad is a happy man, a mellow fellow who lives his life with joy on his face and in his heart.  He is laidback and tolerent of nearly everything.  In all our time together I have only ever seen him angry on a few occaasions.  He always tells me that anger is such an unproductive emotion, that it doesnt solve anything, so he has learned to let it flow out of him.

      He is a protective man and you can see how much he loves his family on his face, he is not afriad to show his emotions and he sets a wonderful example to the boys.


      So that just leaves me, I for far too long have found that the dark emotions have been the ones that are the strongest, but I no longer allow them to take over my life.  I have learned to make the most of everything.  To look to the best in people and things.  To see the joy in the small things in life.



      I am also taking part in The Frugal Families Welcome Wednesday




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      A Birthday with The Wiggles


      Mini had a fab time opening his presents this morning.  This year is really the first year that he has understood what is happening and has been counting down his birthday since his cousins on May 31st!  He was almost too excited to get to sleep the night before!

      The joy on his face for his presents was wonderful, we got him a scooter and an Uno game, but his best present so far has been his Star Wars the Clone Wars Clone Trooper Outfit from Gran.

      Now the thing is my boy adores The Wiggles.  I have my mother in law to thank for it, as she was the one who introduced the boys to them and for some reason with Mini they really did just stick in his brain.

      We took him to see the live last year and seen as they were live in York on his actually birthday this year, we really didn't have much of an option.
      So this week we have made a bone for Wags the dog and also paper roses for Dorothy (a post on the roses to follow).  



      We set off early Thursday morning and Mini and Maxi were very excited to see them. What can I say, they had a blast and because they had a blast, so did we.  We have Ernest staying with us at the moment and he enjoyed The Wiggles too.



      Although I think that Ernest's Bad boy ways must be rubbing off on Mini, as he threw his drinks carton into the crowd, yes it was empty, but I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me whole.  I was mortified.  So if you were the mum of the little boy it hit - I am sorry and I hope the blackcurrant stains come out.



      We then went to Pizza Express for a treat (thanks to Tesco Vouchers) and mini spent his birthday money on a wii game.


      We also went to see one of MadDad's clients Shakeaholics and the boys had a wonderful Milkshake each.



      Maxi chose a smarties one


      Mini a fresh strawberry one.


      It is such a cool shop, they can make a shake that tastes of anything, MadDad had a Reece's peanut cups one and it was just wonderful.


      And yes, we did buy the boys a tour t shirt each!  York was such a wonderful day out.



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      Spiritual Sunday – Grateful


      I am grateful for my wonderful boys, who came with me to the car boot sale and really behaved in this heat (yes I really am that pale).

      We are grateful for cool paddling pools in hot weather.

      We are grateful for plentiful elderflowers and have made yummy cordial.


      My beautiful rambling rose, which is full of buds and flowers, the whole of the bottom of our garden (and next doors) is filled with wonderful scent.


      The fragrant honeysuckle which has cover the boys playhouse from next doors garden.

      What are you grateful for this Sunday?




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      Tell us your story – A street to school campign

      I have been asked to help publicise the "Tell Us Your Story" campaign, which is a fantastic opportunity to recognise and reward people who you feel have really made a difference to someone or a community over the past year.  Entries are submitted online at http://www.avivatellusyourstory.co.uk/

      Launched by Aviva, for every entry they will donate £1 to the Street to School Programme - a global initiative with the aim of reaching 500,000 children worldwide, helping them get off the streets and back into education.

      A weekly prize of £1000 will also be awarded to the local hero that captures the hearts of visitors to the site and receives the most votes. One overall winner will be chosen by a celebrity judging panel for a prize worth £10,000.

      AVIVA Tell Us A Story Large

      Not only is this a great way to recognise someone who has made a difference, but by nominating someone you will be making a difference in a child's life to.

       Did you know....

      • 100,000 children under the age of sixteen run away from home every year in the UK
      • 1 in 12 young runaways are hurt or harmed while they are away
      • There are now only 5 refuge beds for runaway children in the whole of the UK
      • 1 in 6 young runaways sleep rough
       As a mum those facts are hard to swallow.
       
      This is not a sponsored post


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        Four

        There are four seasons, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter
        There are four great elements, earth, water, wind and fire
        A human heart has four chambers
        The forth finger is also known as a ring finger
        There are four basic states of matter: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma.
        There are four human bllod groups
        Cancer is the 4th astrological sign of the Zodiac
        Tetra the Greek word for 4
        four is the only number with the same number of letters as its value  
        common time is constructed of four beats
        There are 4 movements in a symphony
        Four rules: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division.
        Four parts of a day: night, morning, afternoon, evening.
        Four cardinal directions: north, south, east, west.


        Last night Mini went to bed as a three year old
        Today he woke as a Four year old

        I see much more of myself in you than in Maxi and I know that you are learning to control your temper and emotions and hope that it can continue to develop and you learn to harness the feelings inside.
        Sometimes I am filled with the fear that you will always do things the hard way and wish you could learn from my experiences.
        You couldn't be more loved.
        You have developed my love of books and listening to you read is one of my favorite times of the day.
        You are both a mummy's boy and a dads lad.  The perfect blend.
        You are independent to a fault, but you love with out compare.
        You make me swing with you and skip, hop and jump.
        We watch the clouds and give them names.
        We sign songs making up the words as we go along.
        I am your kiss and cuddle express.

        Who is Mini?
        The baby of the family in years, but not in size
        Larger than life, you fill a room with your deep laughter
        A great force of energy
        A body that has to succumb to his emotions
        People adore mini, he has a way to endear himself to everyone
        He is cheeky with a twinkle in his eyes
        A boy with words from an early age
        A ferocious reader
        Affectionate to a fault with cuddles for all, but especially for me
        He sings from his heart and has music in his soul
        His imagination knows no bounds
        A loyal brother
        An observer
        A wonderful son

        Each day I am blessed to see you grow, develop and learn.  You will me with optimism and joy and have a way of making even the sternest person smile.  You have a gift of innocence.  I will hold you tight forever.



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        The Gallery – Creatures of South Africa

        Once upton a time long, long ago, in fact 3 years BC (before children) MadDad and I visited and stayed with friends in South Africa.  We spent some wonderful time in what is a glorious country and The World Cup really reminds me of the special time we spent there.  So for this weeks Gallery I present to you some of the creatures we saw on our fab holiday.



        The Penguins on Boulders Beach - oh they were cute, but the smell - ugh





        They were such characters, we spent hours watching them




        Majestic Lions


        Bab Cheetahs


        Yes, that is me with two white baby Bengal tigers


         Mama and other female elephants protecting a 2 day old foal


        Big birds!


        Big Mouths!


        If you loo closely, a big splash from the whales we spent the day watching.  We could have stayed for a month and still not want to go home.


        One day, we will go back and take the MiniMads with us.  One day...............


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        Mini The early weeks

        As I said in this post, MadDad took care of all of us for the first week of Mini's life and he was such a happy baby.  He fed well, burped like a dream or should that be a builder and went back to sleep really well after a feed.  He fitting us like a soft glove.

        But the peace wasn't to last.  MadDad had commented that Mini wasn't pooing.  The midwife told him it was because he was being bottle fed and suggested we change his formula to a comfort one, which he told her we were already using (after Maxi's colic we made sure we had every angle covered).  She then suggested that he give additional water, as it was a hot summer.  We decided to mention this to the GP when she next came out to me.

        She agreed that this wasn't normal and that he needed to be seen by a pediatrician and went about referring him.  The next day Mini started to vomit, it was not the standard little bit of sick after a feed, it was all his food and it was projectile and it was after each feed, so I rang the GP and she suggested that I take him straight to the hospital and she would ring and tell them to expect us.



        We were admitted to the children's assessment unit and they agreed that he was getting dehydrated and they wanted him to stay overnight, but before putting in a drip they wanted to try and feed him again.  The staff were amazing, I explained that he hadn't pooped and the nurse told me to take the bed and they popped Mini in a cot next to the bed.  He was not happy at all, he was pulling up his legs and screaming and I couldn't comfort him.  So the sister decided to take him to a walk with her and told me to go to sleep.  I woke up at 6am the next day in a real pickle as Mini wasn't in his cot and within a minute the sister brought him to  me, but he was in just a nappy and she was in scrubs.  It turns out the mini screamed for 2 hours until he poos out his body weight, all over the poor sister.  not only did it come out of his nappy, but it went though all her uniform and underwear.  



        He went from a screaming child to the placid baby we knew after that.  The consultant examined Mini and discovered that he had a tiny bum hole, but they were also concerned that he had other issues too.  So we were referred to a specialist at Newcastle.

        3 days later MadDad and I took Mini to meet his new surgeon and to discuss the options.  As he hadn't pooed since the incident in the hospital it was decided that he needed to have urgent surgery and it was scheduled for the following day, so we went home to pack a bag and make all the necessary arrangements.  I was terrified by baby needed to have a general anesthetic and he was under 3 weeks old.  

        We were not allowed to feed Mini for 12 hours before the operation, so we set off to the hospital.  I felt terrible, why was my baby suffering in this way?  We were taken to our room.  There was a double bed for me and MadDad and a bot, bath, changing table etc for Mini.  It only really hit home when we were asked to bath him and pop him in to a gown.

        Our fantastic surgeon came in and tried to calm me down and decided that before the operation she was going to have another quick examination and use a special implement to measure mini's anus and have a quick probe.  As she was doing this we all heard a strange tearing sound and mini suddenly stopped crying.  The doctor removed the probe and then whoose, out cam the poo, which was like water as he had been taking lactulose to try and help him poo.  He lost 4oz in weight in less that 5 minutes and we agreed that we would postpone the surgery for a week and that I would use a shorter probe and medication (lactulose and suppositories) to see if it made a difference.

        Mini just minutes before the surgeon came in

        That week turned in to six months, but it meant that he didn't need an operation and I am glad to say that he no longer needs medication and our months of carrying 5 changes of outfits were all worth it.
        Maxi is fine, he bowels are fine and you would never know that he went though this.  It confirmed to me that Mum and Dad always know best and we learned to trust our instinct implicitly.

        He was a joyous baby, a pleasure to be with and the easiest baby in the world.


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        Getting Mini – Part Two The Birth

        You can find part one here........ so now on to the next part of the saga.  Now just like I did with Maxi's birth story I want to preface this too.  
        Yes getting and giving birth to both my children was traumatic and more so that these stories can ever tell.  But you need to know that I would do it all again in a heartbeat.  They are so worth it.  They are wonderful boys, no more precious than any children and just because their births etc were difficult doesn't mean that they are more precious than any other child.  Every child is precious, every child is a wonder in their own right, but to me mine are just indescribably incredible.  I have said before that neither of the boys are aware of how hard their births were and they will not know if I have my way, not until they ask. 
        One of the reasons for writing this, is each year it seems less real, more of a fairy tale, somehow I am afraid I will lose it all together if I dont write it down somewhere.
        May 2006 was warm and June was proving to be warmer still,  Maxi and I took each day as it come, resting, relaxing and playing.  MadDad often arrived home to find us both asleep cuddled up on the sofa and ended his days cooking and looking after the two of us.
        My vomiting had stepped up a pace and I was finding it very hard to keep hydrated and I had keytones in my urine and I knew it was getting worse, as my breath smelled of nail varnish remover (strange, but true) and also the movement of mini had reduced (I as 36 weeks) pregnant, so I agree with the midwife over the telephone that I would make my way to the day unit to be monitored for a few hours.  I wasn't worried, I Dropped Maxi at my Mother in laws, I didn't take a bag and was singing alone to Snow Patrol in the car on the way.
        When I got to the unit, they found Mini's heartbeat straight away, which was very comforting, but they struggled to take blood (15 attempts) and I had protein and major keytones in my urine.  They suggested I gave MadDad a call and suggested that I went on to a drip immediately to help rehydrate me, which mean more attempts at trying to find a vein.
        Anyway when my bloods came back they made the decision that I needed to be admitted and also see the consultant immediately, as the results were not great at all.  The vomiting had gone from 5 times a day, to constant and I was also bringing up fresh blood.  So MadDad packed me a bag and came in.
        The Consultant made it clear that we needed to get mini out, but he wanted to try and wait until 37 weeks and we decided that I would have steroids to help mature his lungs and I was to remain in the hospital where they would try and control my nausea.  The following week is not one I wish to go in to in detail, suffice to say, the nausea didn't stop, I was very ill, I discharged myself against doctors orders and physiatrists got involved and the final outcome was that I agreed to a scheduled c-section for the 24 June at 1pm.  SO lets fast forward to that time.
        I have to say that the scheduled section was a much better experience than the crash section I experienced with Maxi.  It was more relaxed and I didn't panic about vomiting, as I knew they would be there suctioning it for me.  It was as pleasant as it could be and by darling mini was born at 37 weeks gestation weighing a very respectable 6lb 12oz with a head of dark hair.  They didn't drop my placenta like they did with Maxi, but it did go off to pathology for tests (as I had previously had a hydatidiform mole pregnancy).
         
        I was still vomiting, with Maxi it stopped the minute he was born, but I still felt terrible.  I was left in recovery with mini laid flat despite asking to be sat up and without a drink for in excess of four hours and then only moved after MadDad put his foot down.  They were reticent about removing the catheter or even getting me standing, which was very odd, as with Maxi I was encouraged to be as mobile as I could be as soon as I could be.
        I couldn't wait to get out of hospital, as I was in a private room all on my own with a newborn and I was vomiting every hour, so we agreed that I could go home the following day.
         
        MadDad was wonderful,  Maxi was missing me and overnight went from my little baby to a toddler.  He adored his new brother and him and MadDad looked after mini for a week, whilst I was bedridden and visited by our GP 3 times a day.  It wasn't the best recover as I wasn't allowed any other pain relief apart from paracetamol suppositories due to the blood results and the nausea  (I couldn't keep anything down), but slowly things got easier.  Mini sleep in a cot next to the bed, initially next to MadDad.
        My three boys bonded, they spent a wonderful hot week watching the world cup and learning each others likes and dislikes whilst I recovered best I could upstairs.
        I was lucky in that I got all the support and help I needed from the hospital, but if you feel medical negligence might be involved in your birth then get in touch with irwin mitchell
           
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        Fathers Day Meme

        Karen from If I could escape, who is a great blogger started a Fathers Day me me, so I asked both of the boys their answers.

         Mini
        1. What does Daddy wear for work?  –  Work Shoes, work shirt, work trousers, work pants, tie.
        2. Where does Daddy work? — Bishy Auland
        3. What’s Daddy’s job? — Makes Tea
        4. What does Daddy do at work? — make tea
        5. What does Daddy do at lunch? – work
          Maxi

        1. What does Daddy wear for work?  –  A work suit and tie, pant and a shirt
        2. Where does Daddy work? — Bishop Aulkland
        3. What’s Daddy’s job? — To earn Pennies
        4. What does Daddy do at work? — He talks and adds things up
        5. What does Daddy do at lunch? – Eats his food.
        MadDad is actually a Client Manager for a firm of chartered Accountants and a wonderful provider for us all.


        Happy Fathers Day MadDad.

        Fathers day is always bittersweet for me, as yes it is a celebration of my husband and my FIL, but it also it is sad, as my dad is no longer with us and I miss him so so much.  I wrote about my father here for one of the writing workshops.  I still love you Daddy.


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        Meet me at CyberMummy and ask for samples!

         

        Name:  Jen aka Mummy Mad
        Blog:   TheMadHouse
        Twitter ID:   @mum_themadhouse
        Height:   5ft 2 ish
        Hair:   Brown and grey!
        Eyes:   Mucky Brown
        Likes:   Family, sewing, crafting, art, chatting, eating and living!



        I am going to be at CyberMummy as the brand ambassador for Carex, who are introducing a two new aromatics handgels and a hand and surface spray, all of which are handbag sized.  


        I am ever so thankful to Carex for providing me with this opportunity and I will have a review of the products before CyberMummy and also a giveaway of them too, for anyone who can not attend.  I also need to say a great big thank you to Seven Sea's for doing their bit too with an advert on my sidebar and also to DotComGiftShop, who I will be writing an article for all about the Mummy and Daddy bloggers at CyberMummy - A top 50!

        Also a special thank you to the wonderful person who paid for my ticket to CyberMummy in the beginning (you know who you are).  The generosity of the blogging world never ceases to amaze me.  Thank you all.

        Anyone at CyberMummy, I am looking forward to meeting with you and if you would like samples then please remember to ask.




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        Getting Mini – Part One

        My darling boy will be four on 24 June, I truly can not believe how time flies, so now is the time to tell you all about getting mini.  I have told you about getting maxi here
         Maxi and I on the day I found out I was expecting Mini

        After the pregnancy I had with Maxi, I wasn't sure about having another baby, but watching him grow we knew that we didn't want him to be an only child.  So we made the decision not to take any precautions, well other than the fact I had just had a baby!
         
        Maxi didn't sleep, well never more than about 4 hours at a time, but that was what I expected.  So when I started to feel sick and dizzy I put it down to the fact that I was tired, exhausted even.  Compounded with the fact that he had just been released from hospital and we were back from the North East from his joint christening with my niece. 

        The last thing I expected to be was pregnant again.  We had a test in the drawer from Maxi, so I took the test and me and MadDad were nearly floored, but you couldn't wipe the smile off our faces.  Maxi was to be a big brother.

        I spent the next couple of days still feeling terrible, I was dizzy and nauseous and then the vomiting set in with a vengeance.  I suffered Hyperemesis with Maxi, so knew that this was it all over again.  I was petrified.  How was I going to manage looking after my baby if I was going to be that ill all over again.
        So MadDad and I went to see my wonderful GP and she agreed that I should start on the anti nausea medication immediately, this meant that MadDad had to inject me 3 times a day in my bum.  It was worth it, it reduced the sickness from pretty non stop to about 5 times a day.

        We also made the decision that we would relocate back to the NorthEast, as I wanted to be a stay a home mummy.

        I was due to return to work at the end of March from my maternity leave and we agreed that I would take any holiday due to me and then roll straight on to my new maternity leave.  I don't think I was particularly popular!

        I also made one of the biggest decisions of my life, I would learn to drive.  I did try when I was 17, but after 3 fails gave up and had never felt the need to drive since.  So I found a sympathetic driving instructor and explained to him my situation - pregnant, sickness and nausea and really wanting to pass my test and I started to have lessons.  Paul my instructor was great and I passed my driving test in the March, 3 months before Mini was born and the inspector didn't even know I was pregnant!

        We sold our house and found a house to rent in MadDad's home village.  I cant say that moving 360 odd miles, with a one year old and and being pregnant was fun, but we managed.  We moved in the April 2006.  Maxi had just turned 1.  I was getting more and more tired every day and we spend a lot of time snuggled up on the sofa and playing cars in the front room.

        Yes I was still being sick, coupled with the fact that I had low blood pressure which meant that I would often faint when changing a nappy.  I used to sit and cry at the fact that Maxi would know to bring me the tissues when I went running to the toilet, but we managed with a lot of help from my mother in law.

        After my experience with my previous section I as determined not to have one this time.  I couldn't contemplate the thought of a 15 month old,  a new born and a section.  So I went through copious meetings with my new consultant (I was going to give birth up North, rather than at the Royal Berkshire, where Maxi had been born) and we agreed that we would aim for a VBAC, but there could be no induction and they would monitor me closely after the abruption I had with Maxi.  I would like to say it all got to that stage, but me being me, it didn't!

        to be continued.....



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        The Gallery – Motherhood


        Motherhood is planting a seed
        Motherhood is helping them grow
        Motherhood is watching them bloom
        Motherhood is about new experiences (yours and theirs)
        Motherhood is about growing with your children
        Motherhood is about dipping your to in the water
        Motherhood is about love, amazement, heartache and pain
        Motherhood is late nights and early mornings
        Motherhood is new places
        Motherhood is new friends
        Motherhood is having fun
        Motherhood is creating
        Motherhood is endless worry
        Motherhood is unbridled joy
        Motherhood is learning to trust
        Motherhood is about taking a step out in to the unknown and embracing all it has to offer.
        Motherhood is me





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        Writing Workshop – Tainted Blood


        Mini sometimes I look at you and it is like looking at a mini me in the mirror.  My boy, you are going to have to learn to control that temper of mine that you have.  That boiling anger that I can see clearly inside.  You are going to have to grow and learn how to engage the brain, before putting the mouth in gear, learn to count to ten before erupting into the volcano of fury you can be.  It isn't going to be easy, I have said some hurtful things in my time due to my bad temper, but one thing that being a mother has brought me is a modicum of patience.

        Maxi, I see a lot of your daddy in you, your intelligence, you willingness and your kindness are all wonderful traits of your Father.    You also have your Daddy's love of all sports and it is so lovely to see you get involved and enjoy being outside.

        You both fill me with so much joy, you have the best and worse of the two of us and with that all the potential to be a unique individuals.  You can mould and sculpt the traits you have inherited and turn them in to something new, something special.   This is all in your hands, they are your choices to make.  All I can do is influence you to be the best you can.

        There is something though that is out of our hands, that we have to leave to destiny, to fate and to this end I pray every night to a God that I am not sure exists.  I pray that you do not carry the same genetic "spelling mistake" that I do.  I have stopped trying to see who you most take after physically in the hope that I can not passed on my tainted blood, in addition to those wonderful brown eyes you both have.  

        I hope that the small top lip you both have doesn't mean that you too are susceptible to the genetics that have made me make the hard decisions I have.  

        People often say "doesn't Mini look like you and Maxi like his Daddy" and each time iIhear it, I cry a little inside.  I hope that looking like me, doesn't mean that you too are sentenced like to to worry, wonder and pray.

        This is my burden, mine and Daddy's and we try and carry it with dignity and grace.  I graciously accept all complements about you both, for you are my pride and joy and together we will deal with what my tainted blood will bring.  I love you.


        This post as wrote for Sleep is for the Week's writing workship, I chose promt 1. What qualities or traits do you think your children have inherited from you, you partner, or even from your extended family?



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        Saturday Story Workshop

        Maxi was lucky enough to be invited to a special storytelling workshop which as held at a local school on Friday.  He had a funtastic time and we were invited to take him back for a morning of fun and activities on the Saturday.  So we decided that Maxi and I would go and MadDad and Mini could go and have some one on one time at Football Tots together.

        What a treat I was in for:


        The event was run by a local school (one of the smallest in the area) for a number of the local schools and was specially designed for Reception children (4 and 5) year olds.

        It was hosted by the divine Marina the Mermaid and Stony Fag the good pirate.


        Maria told the children all about the council evicting her from her home in a cave at Saltburn by the sea, as she had lost her magic shell, which enabled her to sing.  


        The children helped Marina find her shell and get her home back in the end.  It was brill a real interactive story.

        On the Friday the children had all had all made fish and helped to decorate the school.


        Maxi made another one on Saturday too (look out for a sea inspired Childrens Craft Showcase next month).


        We then all went in to the underwater tunnel to hear Stony Fag tell us about how he met Marina and how he changed from a bad pirate in to a good one.



        The event ended with the children and parents getting involved in the Hall in yet another story about how the seasons came about.

        We had a fantastic morning, both me and Maxi.  The event as brilliant and they even put on refreshments.  The only down side as that only 20 children per year got to attend and as they are nearly 90 children in Maxi's year at school, children had to miss out.
        We had a fantastic time.



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