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
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 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!
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.   


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

    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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      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.

      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

      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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      Apron Swap 2010

      I had a great time making my pinny for The Great Apron Swap over at Red Gingham.  This is what I sent my partner (modeled rather unflattering on me).

      I also made a couple of yo yo broaches to be pinned on the pinny too!

      In return I received a wonderful pinny which I have been wearing a lot.  I love the fact the pockets are  handkerchiefs.  I never thought of adding pockets!

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      Children Craft Showcase – Red Ted Art

      I am delighted to welcome Maggie from Red Ted Art to TheMadHouse and to present this weeks Children's Craft Showcase. 

      Over at Red Ted Art, my son (Red Ted (2)) and I (Maggy (old)) do lots of crafts projects. Sometimes Pip Squeak (0) joins us. Usually we are inspired by books that we read - the tagline from another crafty mum being – story + art = great stART. I love the idea of bring books and crafts together. And some days, when I really don’t know what to make, picking up one of Red Ted’s books really does inspire! 

       So. Today, I brought out one of Red Ted’s older books:  Tell me about The Sea, by Justine Smith. We have two books in the series and also have Tell me about Baby Animals. When he was a little younger he preferred Baby Animals. Now I think he prefers The Sea. But they are both lovely books – nice simple images with things to “do” on every page (count, find, look), some nice shiny surfaces to touch, as well as some flaps to lift towards the end. Lovely for them. Lovely or you and a little education on the side!

      This time we decided to make a boat!

      1)    Materials: although I knew I wanted to make a boat at some point and thus bought a 12 egg egg carton, I did wing this a bit. So my photo doesn’t show all the materials needed. But to be honest, just be crafty and do what works for you! My basic materials: egg carton (12 egg & 6 egg), chopsticks (for mast), paper & paint (for sails), ribbon/ string (to secure mast & bunting), glue, scissors, blue tack, staples…

      2)    We began with the sails. To be honest you can do WHATEVER you like for these. We decided to paint, as Red Ted likes painting. Also, I we use the “water technique” of wetting the paper and letting the colours run a little, as I thought it fitting with “The Sea”. However, you can re-use an old drawing, draw a new one. Paint patterns or even use a scrap of fabric! Whatever takes your fancy.

      3)    Once the sails where done, I made the basic boat, whilst Red Ted ate a pair, looked at the book again and got excited! The 12 egg egg carton is ideal for a boat, as it has a raised bit right in the middle of it – perfect for a mast. Whilst he 6 egg egg carton, has a dip in the middle and the mast is a little wobblier. I just poked it through, put bluetack underneath and added some precautionary glue.

      4)    The ribbon/ string helps secure the mast – I tied round the top, threaded it through little holes on the side and tied them again underneath. Seems to do the trick! Also added some blobs of glue just in case!

      5)    Once dry, I cut out some sails and flags. Glued on the sails and stapled on the flags. Using clothe pegs to help keep things in place.

      6)    FINISHED! And ready for play!

      If you enjoyed this post, do pop over to Red Ted Art and see what we get up to on a regular basis – Get Inspired by our monthly Get Crafty or just visit for Wednesday Crafts!! We look forward to meeting you!

      Maggy & Red Ted (& sometimes Pip Squeak)

      If Maggie has inspired you to get crafting with your childrern, or you have any blog posts about art and crafts, then please link below.

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      Writing Workshop – Lost

      Something lost, but where?

      I am bereft without, alone

      Mine to find someday.

      Very short and sweet this week, but my brain can not function, this post was inspired by Sleep is for the weak writing workshop prompt 2 what part of you is lost and you would like to find again?

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      I am struggling at the moment, to find my get up and go, yes as per all the cliches it has got up and gone.

      I had blood tests last week and I am already anemic again, my lips are splitting at the sides and the junior doctor who discharged me after my last transfusion didn't order the additional tests I needed, which means I still don't have a date for further investigations.

      But my blood results showed that it is unlikely I have pernicious anemia as my B12 level was still up thanks too the injection I had received. 

      I feel like sitting and crying, I keep asking why me, why my family.  Surely we have been through enough.  I am tired all the time, not the normal go and have a nap and everything will be alright tired.  No what I am experiencing is like walking through treacle. I am exhausted, but have lost the ability to find restorative sleep.
      My temper is shot, I am usually patient with the boys but the anger I am experiencing is red hot.  I want to lash out and hurt people, I want to bang my aching arms in to the wall.  I want to sit and let all the red hot pain out through the tears which burn by checks as they fall.  

      But it doest go, it remains seated firmly inside me,  making me no fun to be with.  This is not me, I don't recognise this person I am becoming.  Everything is too much trouble, to much effort.

      I miss my caffeine, I miss my get up and go, I miss the all encompassing feeling of joy of doing something with the boys.  

      My housework is getting on top of me, it is hard keeping up with my appointments, let alone my mums.  I am feeling terribly guilty as I have had to ask my brother to take mum to the consultants this week, as I can not find the time to take her alongside everything else I need to do.

      Yesterday was also the first day back at school for the minimads and now I can not wait for the school holidays to come.  I missed them, my hear physically ached for them and couldn't wait to pick them up and have a big cuddle!

      I fear I am drowning.

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      Fabric Addict Swap

      I took part in the Fabric Addict Swap and was paired with the wonderful Serenta at The Balancing Kiwi.  Look at how my parcel was wrapped in Fabric, doesn't it look inviting.

      She sent a couple of books for the boys, the pirate one has already been tucked into.

      I adore the card

      A wonderful Pin Cushion and needle case

      A brill badge which is already on my summer coat

      Some vintage threads and ribbons

      A selection of buttons

      Some delicious fabrics

      And some felt and a sewing magazine.

      I have really enjoyed the swaps I have taken part in and was wondering if anyone fancied joining me for another swap over the summer or maybe one to coincide with the children starting school, A September Surprise (to help ease the pain of losing both my boys to school)?  If you are leave me a comment and I will pop my thinking cap on.

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      Half Term Highlights

      Today is an teacher training day, so we are off to spend the day with Grandma, original plans had to be changed due to the weather, but we have had a fantastic half term break, the weather has been mostly kind and it has been so much fun watching the boys play together.

      Our Fab day at Emma Bridgewater

      Baking our best in the world oat and raisin cookies

      Spending time together just chilling in the garden

      Watching our veg plants grow, the warm weather has made a real difference

      Having fun in the paddling pool

      Good job the neighbours don't mind the boys running around naked

      Visiting Whiby with Grandma and having fish and chips from The Magpie and treats from the old fashions sweet shop.

      Days out to the beach

      We really had great weather for it (no it is not my windbreak)!

      The boys spent more time wet than dry.

      Lots of fun in the local parks was had too.

      Before we had school and preschool I used to dread the half term holidays as all the things we did, the toddler groups would be cancelled, but now it is wonderful to spend quality time all together.  I can not wait for the summer holidays.  I hope you had a great time too.

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      Why you should vote for me

      Today is the final day for voting in The Mads.  I am one of the final five who are up for the Best family Fun Blog, so I am putting in a shameless, last ditched attempt to gain your votes.

      So here are some reasons why I think we fit the bill

      Crafting with Children

      Fathers day is June 20th, so here I have some great ideas for Fathers day cards and gifts you can make with your children.

      One of my most popular posts via search engine is the rain catchers we made inspired by Cbeebies.

      Do you have lots of broken wax crayons?  Don't throw them away, try out recycling them in to make your own funky multi-coloured crayons.

      Cooking with Children

      Get creative in the kitchen with this recipe for home made naan bread and dahl.

      best carrot cake in the whole wide world, don't believe me take a look at the comments!

      Great Ideas

      .  Well my car packs came in so handy when we had a breakdown

      When I was teaching the boys to set the table, I made a printed table mat and also made a fabric one for each of them too.

      Rewards and Incentives for children.   Read about our method of positive reinforcement and rewards to encourage good behaviour

      Wonderful Readers

      One of the most inspiring things I have learned from blogging is the support and comments I receive from my readers and commenter's. A great example is that fact that Mini suffers from terrible tantrums and the advise and support I received was life changing for us all. Read about the recomendations and how we implemented the ideas.

      Voting closes tonight at midnight, so if you haven't voted for TheMadHouse yet, then please click here and give me your vote!

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      Emma Bridgewater – Getting to be a designer

      The highlight of the afternoon of our day at Emma Bridgewater was that we all got to have a go at decorating some mugs.

      It was so much fun, they have a large selection of pre cut sponges and a great choice of paint.

      The boys really enjoyed expressing themselves.

      MadDad had a go too, in fact his mug looked fantastic, he did tractors.

      Maxi really concentrated hard whilst painting his mug.

      Mini had some expert help at hand.

      We can not wait until the glazed finished mugs are posted to us.  It was so much fun and it as fantastic watching everyone get really stuck in.

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      Emma Bridgewater – Factory Tour, Part One

      Part OneWe had a fantastic day out at The Emma Bridgewater Factory on Tuesday to celebrate their 25th Birthday. 

      We started the day in the newly refubished cafe area of the factory for a tea and coffee and to meet my fellow bloggers.  Josie at Sleep is for the Weak, Becky at English Mum with her two boys (who were a real pleasure), Racheal from Tales from the  Village and we also made a new friend in Kate from Kitchen Critic.  There was this fantastic Aga, I was salivating!

      It is such a lovely relaxing area to meet and have a good old chat with everyone.

      We were then taken on a tour of the factory by Jamie, it was amazing and managed to hold the attention of Maxi and Mini most of the way round.  It is wonderful to see so many crafts people at work, showing real skill and dedication.

      This is where the slipwear is made - The web site has a great video explaining it all, which we showed the boys before our visit.

      There are pots drying everywhere and you can see the difference in the colour.

      MadDad had a go at throwing a plate.  One of the best parts of the factory tour for us was the empoyees, they were all really welcoming and freindly.  The didnt mind us taking pictures nad were really happy to chat.

      Many had been employed for a long time and they all really enjoyed their jobs.  This lady is finnishing the pots by removing excess clay from seams and edges.

      There are two types of decoration, this photo shows the transfer method, which is done on preglazed pot.

      The other method is by sponging the pattern.  It was wonderful to watch everyone at work, the photo above shows the personalisation.

      It is such a skill and there is one lady who spends all day cutting the sponges for the patterns.  Each sponge only lasts on average 3 days.

      Look at all the pottery waiting to go in to the kiln.  

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      The Gallery – Still Life

      This weeks theme for The Gallery, which Tara at Sticky Fingers hosts is Still Life.  Me and a group of bloggers were invited to Emma Bridgewater this week and I took over 300 photo's.  So here are a few (I have a full post to follow), so this is a sneak peak.

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      A Wonderful Bank Holiday Monday spent in the Kitchen and Garden

      I think the sun forgot our little park of the North East today.

      So we have spent the day baking.

      Maxi did all the weighing and measuring

      Mini did most of the stirring and tasting

      We have had a lot of fun and made lots of cakes

      Oat and raisin cooks and mince pies (mini's favorites)

      Many Muffins, sweet mincemeat and St Stephens Day Muffins, in addition to some fairy cakes.

      Whilst I was busy in the kitchen, MadDad tended the garden, including planting out the courgettes and cucumbers.

      Everything is looking great and really coming along.

      He also washed and cleaned the cars, ready for the trip we are taking today to Emma Bridgewater's Factory to celebrate their 25th Anniversary with them. We are very excited and I am sure will have loads to show and tell you.

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      Maxi’s first letter of appology!

      Maxi went round a friends after school for an hour last week (whilst I took Mini to his first swimming lesson) and was a terror, he didn't listen to her and in the mayhem a paddling pool (hard shell type) got broken.

      After his swimming lesson he came home and wrote this (all by himself)

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      Spiritual Sunday – Nourishment

      What feeds your soul?

      What to you need to enable you to live everyday?

      For me my family, my faith and my spirituality help me get through everyday, they help me find make some sense of the day to day struggles that we all call life.

      For me affirmations play a big role in helping me find calm and serenity during the day. They help keep me focused, balanced and calm.  They also help me in exploring my thinking and expanding the way in which I approach issues that I have in my life.  They help nourish me both mentally and spiritually.

      I am also trying to bring affirmations in the boys life.  Nothing scary, but basic affirmations, introducing confidence.

      I am smart, I can do this
      I am beautiful
      I am a good reader
      I am great at Maths
      I am always doing the best I can
      I am loved
      I am unique
      I am helpful

      In helping them chose the affirmations for them, we have been working on keeping them concise, focusing on "I am" and making them positive.  They are really starting to work, it is wonderful listening to Mini tell me what a great reader he is or Maxi telling me how he is quiet in the line for lunch.

      As the boys are now able to read we have printed these and others on to business cards and keep them in a small box.  When we hear the I cant word, then we tend to jump in with the affirmations, rather than the standard cant means wont.

      What so you do to help your children believe in themselves and develop confidence?
      How do you nourish your soul?

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      The Duckpond

      Let me take you on a little adventure and introduce you to a our local pond, which for a long time I had no idea was there!

      We live on a new estate on the edge of village and tucked away behind the houses and between the bypass, there is a wonderful pond.

      It is firmly becoming a favorite place for me and the boys to visit after school, as it is only a three minute walk and it is often deserted.

      We are the only people there feeding the many ducks, duckings, geese and goslings.

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      Guest Post Day – Rock n Roll Baby World

      It is the second guest post day, which is the fab idea of Erica at Little Mummy. I took part in the first day and was matched with the fab Kelly at A Place of My Own. This time I have been paired with Rock n Roll Mummy, who has just started blogging at Rock n Roll Baby World. Her post is pretty close to my heart as my wonderful Neice, who will be 5 on Monday is Ginger too

      Ginger and Proud

      When I was little I didn’t realise having ginger hair would make me the subject of cruel jibes and jokes; as I got older and started middle school I began to realise my hair which I had always loved made me stand out and made me different.

      Over my teen years I began to hate the colour of my hair and wished it was just brown like many of my friends not only was it bright red when the other kids called me names my face also went bright red.

      Rock n Roll Mummy with Rock Baby

      I had gone through a blissful childhood of my parents and family telling me what a beautiful colour it was and my mum used to dry it for me and spend ages perfecting it for me after bath time as it was so long, pretty much to my bum that I couldn’t do it on my own. I used to love the time we had, whilst she would lovingly tend to my hair, gossiping about my day at school, her grilling me as to whether I liked any boys, and just spending quality time with each other. My mum passed away when I was 17 but I have really fond memories of this time together.

      My brother had it worse than me his hair was even brighter than mine and he wore glasses he was particularly bullied and used to get called Duracell by the local school thugs. No wonder he has now shaved his head!

      In my late teen years, early 20’s I started experimenting with different colours trying to make it more brown, I went really dark at one point, then I tried highlights but ended up looking like Ginger Spice; nothing really worked for me. Not only was my hair ginger it was like a thick bush not a very glamorous look!

      But then something happened in my early 20’s, people kept commenting on how lovely my hair was, I had started seeing boys and they were always complimenting it, I had grown in confidence and started to realise its actually quite cool to be different and stand out from the crowd. I got a new hairdresser who just happened to be male, gorgeous and even better straight! And he told me my hair colour was actually copper gold not ginger and so now when people comment, normally just when they think its for a laugh I firmly correct them well actually it’s Copper Gold. When I discovered GHD straighteners, they literally changed my life. This will probably sound very shallow but when you were the geeky ginger kid at school with a bush for a hair cut only then can you appreciate how much of a difference they make.

      It is amazing how much discrimination you can get from having a different hair colour and how victimised you can sometimes feel. I was actually ashamed when I was younger and at many points wanted the ground to swallow me up. Even now music videos like M.I.A ‘Born Free’ are highlighting this in a particularly disturbing video in which US troops are gathering up ginger haired boys and assassinating them. The video is supposed to be art and a symbol of discrimination as a whole but I wonder what impact the video will have on all the children at school who are already the butt of numerous jokes, will this video make it worse for them?

      Pop Princess

      Then I think about my own children, my two girls Pop Princess who is 2 ½ and Rock Baby who is 4 ½ months. PP was born with a massive mop of thick dark hair and while it does have a red hint she is darker than her little sister. RB on the other hand was born with bright red hair, very much like her mummy. I think she is stunning with gorgeous red locks and bright blue eyes. I just hope that she will love her hair as much as I love mine now and that she doesn’t suffer from the same old jokes and jibes and that society and the media may change their perception. I want her to grow up proud to be ginger!

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      Writing Workshop – Hues of Orange

      We had a caravan when I was growing up.  No, not one of those wonderful static caravans, no we had a box on wheels, so summers were spent setting off in the dead of the night to the English Riviera. 

      Well before seat belts became compulsory, my parents would pack the cool box, the pillows and the duvets to make the back seat in to a makeshift bed for my younger brother and me and once we were asleep they would gently lift us to the car and start our adventure.

      Often the we woke to the sound of cars thundering by, as my parents had a cup of tea from the thermos flask in a lay by before setting off again on what seemed like a never ending journey to the other end of the country.  A place where the sun shone and was much warmer than our little patch of the North East.  

      Once we arrived at our destination we were dispatched to the park on the site whilst the van was prepared for that night, only returning when our stomachs started rumbling.  Left to make friends and leave the parents alone, so that they could open up the wine and get the windbreak pitched.
      I remember these trips fondly.  Of baths in buckets and cold showers.  Of share toilet blocks and running in the dark and cold for a pee in the middle of the night.  I look back on the endless days playing swingball with my dad and my mum managing to cook a Sunday roast in a caravan oven and I want to repeat them with my children.

      I grew up with regular visits to the English seaside.  Where you needed to have a windbreak and a great big towel for once we came out of the water.  I have memories of being in the sea in a blow up dinghy connected to my dads arm by a long piece of rope, of having the freedom to rock pool and build sandcastles.  The great big moats filling up as the tide came in.

      The Breakfasts were always cooked by Dad and we would have sausages, bacon and eggs fresh from the closest farm.  We never had to have cereal like at home.  Holidays were special.  A break from the norm, something to be cherished. e feeling of sand between by toes and often between my teeth too.  

      I used to hate the holiday coming to an end, I used to dread the packing up.  I loved spending time with my dad and this meant that he would be returning to work.  I was a real daddy's girl and we would be inseparable for most of the holiday.
      We would always stop at a farm and pick up bags of plums and other fruit before making the long journey home, once home we would make jam or "sunshine in a jar" as it became known to me as a reminder of those heady days of high summer.

      Those care free, heady days of the 70's, where everything seemed to be orange or brown or it is in my memory, but I wonder how much of that is due to the orange hue that the photographs have taken over time.

      I loved the summer, I still do.

      This was written for the writing workshop at Sleep is for the weak and I chose prompt 1. Summer

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      The Gallery – Freindship

      Long may it last

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      Children’s Craft Showcase – Fathers Day Cards and Presents

      Fathers day will soon be upon us, it is Sunday 20th June this year and I have been busy thinking about cards and gifts for MadDad.  If you are anything like me then you would prefer to give a home made card every time.I have a couple of very simple ideas for you. kid made fathers day cards
      I was inspired by Valerie at Frugal Family Fun Blog for this card.
      Card stock
      pencil or pen
      circle stickers, various colours
      Initially fold your card stock in half to to create a greeting card shape
      Draw a number of lines horizontally across the card to make the wire for the birds to sit on.
      Depending on the age of your child, you can either cut the stickers for them or help them.
      You use half a sticker (semi-circle) for the birds body, a sixth of the sticker to make the tail feathers and an eight of the circle to make the birds beak.
      Using either a pencil or a fine liner add some feet and eyes for the birds
      It is really easy, simple, very effective and then all that is left is to add your cheesy bird quotesNext up is a twist on our favourite chick cards, we have done this for my niece who is 5 this week.
      Materials Card stock Paper Scissors feathers Googlie eyes Glue Method Again very simple, Mini cut out two bird shapes (semi circle) and stuck them to the folded card stock.
      We used two triangles cut out of foam for their beaks and a feather for the tails.  He also used foam shapes to add an age and name on to the card. Scrap Art Book Marks This is a super way of using up and making purposeful bits of art that the children have done.  For ours I used our Mable Paintings.
      kid made fathers day bookmarks recycling art
      Materials Card Scissors or paper cutter Scrap Artwork Paper Glue Laminator or clear sticky backed plastic (also know as contact paper) Method
      Cut and matt the scrap artwork and your choice or card, making sure that the artwork is slightly smaller than the card backing and glue on.
      We made a back for the bookmark out of paper, which read Happy Father's Day 2009 and then mini decorated it and stuck it on to the rear of the bookmark.
      I then laminated them, I got four in to one pouch leaving space for the sheet to adhere between the bookmarks.  If you don't have a laminator (mine was £5 from Tesco), then you can use clear sticky backed plastic or contact paper.
      I then used my guillotine to cut them up to individual double sided book marks.
      I hope I have inspired you to get crafting for Father's day this year  and if you do, I would love for you to come back and link here, so that we can all see and maybe have a try of your ideas too.
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      Halcyon days – An afternoon event at the school

      MadDad and I spent a wonderful afternoon at Maxi's school last Wednesday.  We had been invited for a coffee, cake and fun with the children.

      I had forgotten my camera, so I took these images with the histomatic application on the iPhone - yes I know old hat by now, but I am a late adopter!

      We spent a brilliant 1 and half hours listening to all the children in the year singing songs and playing games.

      The weather was perfect, not too sunny, but warm.

      The teaching staff had all been very busy baking and the cakes were delicious.

      But the best part for us was just watching Maxi have fun in his own environment.

      To be able to chat to his teacher in a relaxed environment and meet up with more of the parents.

      Yes it was all to raise funds for the year group trip, but it was a fun afternoon and I want to say thankyou very much for a great way to fundraise.

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      A Weekend in Pictures


      Yes, we have all had a blast!

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      Spiritual Sunday – Kindness

      I talked earlier in the week about the values I am trying to instill in to my children and this week we have been discussing kindness.

      Fellow Blogger Suzie at New Day New Lesson has a kindness club, so we have been talking about her weekly initiatives.

      What is kindness and why it is important? this is one of the things we have been discussing this week
      • the quality of being warmhearted, sympathetic, considerate, charitable, pleasant and humane
      • To be able to forgive
      The boys have been actively working on their acts of kindness this week and we had a great example by Mini at our community coffee morning yesterday.  It has been very hot and they were serving ice pops for the children and Mini had consumed so many he was facing turning in to one and they were running out.  He took his 10p and and went to ask for another and was told it was the last one, when one of his friends from school came and wanted it, as he hadn't had one, mini gave him his.  I didn't prompt this, he just did it.

      I am trying to explain to the boys that they should treat others, as they would wish to be treated and slowing I do believe it is going in.

      How to you introduce Christianity or spiritualism in to your children's lives?  I found MadDad chatting away to our local Jehovah's Witness this morning, now MadDad is an atheist through and through, but he was discussing with them the importance to him in bring up his children with christian values and beliefs until they were old enough to make their own decisions.
      It really made me smile, he was stood on the drive with the boys (waiting for me as usually to go off to the coffee morning) and they actually waved us goodbye, he might not have agreed with their methods or branch of religion, but he listened and chatted to them and this made me proud to be with this great man.

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      Good enough to Eat Swap

      I took part in the good enough to eat swap, where I was partnered with Gill The Vintage Gardener

      Gill is a very talented lady and she sent some wonderful things, all tied up with gardening twine

      A fab lavender heart and marching bookmark

      Some delicious fabric

      Two wonderful pot stands, we are using these on the dining table

      Look at these stunning tags, Gill makes these and sells them at her Folksy Shop

      I also got this divine pouch filled with more tags, which I adore

      Plus some lovely stationery (which for some reason blogger wont include the right way up).

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      I am over at Baby Budgeting

      In  case you are wondering where I am today, you can find me over at fellow Mads Finalist's Baby Budgeting where I am cooking with glue.

      There is still still time to vote, so please do vote for me by clicking here.

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      Writing Workshop – The best things come to those who wait

      The best things come to those who wait, well that's what they say.
      I am not good at waiting, no I don't have a patient bone in my body.
      If I want something then I want it yesterday.  I want it NOW.
      I have been known to stamp my feet and bat my eyelashes to try and get what I want.
      But what about when not one can give you that thing?
      What then?

      For me I hid my need, I pretended that I was happy.
      I even managed to convince myself that life was good.
      And it was.  I was happy.
      I lived a good life, a great life and managed not to think about what was missing.
      But ever so often, something happened to make me realise what was missing.
      Something that made me take a sharp breath in order to take the pain away.
      Where was I, yes life was good.

      Every so often, I would be given hope, only to have it dashed.
      I was given glimpses in to the life that might be.
      Sometimes these periods lasted six weeks, sometimes a lot longer.
      But each time they were fleeting, leaving me with a sense of deja vu.
      Each time I came back stronger and more determined that there was nothing missing in my life.
      We talked about the fact that we were content with our lot and I was finally resigned to what I had.
      Then it happened, something collided and the planets aligned.
      Finally after years of waiting,
      After the heartache of getting close, far too close on occasion.
      We were blessed with a happy, healthy baby.
      And then just like buses who seem to come all at once.
      fifteen months later we were blessed with another.

      No I no longer need to convince myself that life is good.
      life really is good, we really didn't know just what we were missing.
      I didn't realise that my jigsaw puzzle had four pieces.
      But now I have what I wanted all along and I am not going to stop giving my all.
      I am happy.

      This week for Sleep is for the Weaks Writing Workshop I chose Prompt 2 Write about something that was worth waiting for – what was worth the patience and frustration?
      -Inspired by new mummy’s Tiddlyompompom and And One more Means Five who both had gorgeous babies this last week. Congratulations!

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      The Gallery – Self portrait

      Yes I too am the one always behind the camera in this house, the one taking hundreds, not thousands of images. 

      So when Tara at Sticky Fingers posted that this weekstheme was Self Portrait.

      So May I present, me

      Me and the boys all snuggled up and watching Doctor who a couple of weeks ago.

      Me with Mini as a baby with long hair, before my operations

      Finally me, about an hour ago, after my first trip to the hairdressers in a while, shorter hair, a lot greyer, but happy.

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      Tiffin/Rocky Road

      In an homage to my fellow MAD finalist Nick at My Daddy Cooks, Mini and I made a twist on his and Archies Tiffin 

      We followed Nick's basic recipe, but made a few tweaks as we went along.

      125g butter
      250g digestive biscuits
      4 tbsp golden syrup
      3 tbsp high quality cocoa powder
      75g raisins
      250g plain/dark chocolate

      Instead of using the microwave we melted our butter, golden syrup and chocolate over the stove, for me I love the way it all melts together, so smooth and silk like.

      We then added it to our biscuit mix and added in raisins and mini marshmallows.

      What is truly great about this recipe is that mini did most of the work, but adding golden syrup, you make the chocolate more pliable and it takes longer to set.  I always add golden syrup to the chocolate when making crispy cakes or our Jelly Baby Jesus Cakes

      We placed the mix in to a silicon tray and pushed in some more marshmallows on top and I left it in the fridge for an hour or so, whilst mini set to on the spatula and bowl.

      Once it was set, I cut it in to very small squares.  We have been enjoying this as a treat once the boys are home from school with a nice cup of tea.

      If you would like to vote for me in The Mads (Mummy and Daddy Blogger Awards) then please follow this link.  I really appreciate your vote.

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      Manners Maketh the Man or Boys, but what is imporatant?

      I have said many times that I want my children to be happy in life, but in order for me to be happy with them, I need for them to have a firm and good set of core values and beliefs, so below are a list of things we are working to instill in them.

      Respect for the opposite sex

      It is incredibly important for me that the boys, value, cherish and respect girls.  That they understand the differences and uniqueness and celebrate them for it.  I want the boys to become good men.


      To me family is everything, I want the boys to learn to love our family, to understand that we all love each other, even when we do not agree and that our love is unmovable and so will theirs be.  That home is a safe haven and will always be just that their home.  They should be houses built on a firm foundation.


      I want them to understand that you have to work hard to get what you want and need and that there is no shame in putting in 100%, in fact that the more you give often the more you get back.  I want them to be determined, tenacious and to strive for things.  I want them to come to me with solutions for approval, to look beyond the issues.

      Honesty and Integrity
      I want the boys to always try and be honest and truthful.  I want them to understand that the cornerstone of most relationships is trust.  This is a hard lesson, especially as a child, but one that will see them through their whole lives and enrich relationships. I also want them to be honest to themselves.

      Love and friendships

      The more we give the more we receive, to be loved is the most precious thing in life.  To have firm friendships and develop close bonds.  I want them to learn to trust their intuition regarding their friends and to be good friends to each other too.  To learn that showing affection is a good thing and should be expressed.


      This is a hard one, but I hope to instill in them the ability to enjoy peace and quiet, not only in the world around them, but to find it in themselves.  To be aware of the stillness, openness and potential of intentional silence and not find the need to fill the spaces.


      I want them to respect their elders, to know when to open doors and step back, but I also want them understand respectfulness,  to take peoples feelings, needs, thoughts, ideas, wishes and preferences into consideration,  To grow to understand that respect is earned by their actions and reactions.


      For me this means teaching what goes around comes around and that they should treat people how they would wish to be treated.  That it is OK to empathise with someone, but that sometimes compassion requires an action.

      Responsibility and accountability

      To understand that they have a choice of what to do with their lives, but that choice comes with a cost, that they have to be not only , responsible but accountable for their actions and to learn to understand the difference.


      As my mum will say, manners cost nothing, but mean so much.  Please and thank you are sacred words in this house.  Please may I have, not I want.  It is amazing what a difference a turn of phrase can make.  Holding open a door, not pushing past someone.  Manners maketh the man and in my boys case I really hope this is true.  I feel that they can get away with being a little cheeky if they have the manners to back it up.

       So for us the next challenge is how to keep instilling these essences in to the boys.  How to reinforce our messages and help them become the men that I hope they have the poential to be.  I am a great believer of behaviour breeds behaviour, so a lot of the time, I try and do as I say and lead my example, but it is not always as easy.

      What values do you want your children to have and how are you working on instilling and teaching them to them?

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      Spiritual Sunday – Grateful

      I spent a wonderful day yesterday with my Mum.  For the first time since she was in hospital in March we spend the morning  pottering round our local shops (yes I took and she filled my shopping trolley).  We then came back to themadhouse and spent an afternoon as a family.  So I thought a gratitude post was due.

      Things I am grateful for

      Sunshine - this makes such a difference to life, we shopped in town, hung washing on the line, went to the park and sat in the garden .

      Mum feeling happier - even though mum is not physically any better, she is mentally on the mend, she was able to spend an hour at the park with the boys on her own and texted to say she had really enjoyed her day.

      Mini in the Kitchen - I am grateful that my children enjoy helping me cook and bake, mini and I made garlic bread and pizza for dinner and had so much fun.
      Painkillers - corny, but they really did save the day, making it much more tolerable for me.

      Good neighbours - We found out that one of our neighbours are expecting their 5th child in October, how wonderful is that?  Plus they have a new greenhouse and offered us some space in it if we wish.
      Mr Smudge - There is nothing like curling up and stroking him when the boys have gone to bed.

      So my friends, what is making you grateful this beautiful Sunday?

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      Spring Swap

      As you know I really do enjoy a nice swap and have signed up for quite a few recently.  I was paired with Helen for Molly Cupcakes Spring swap and look what she sent me

      I was lucky enough to get some wonderful things including some CK smellies, napkins and chocolate of course.

      A lovely tin bird house, which the minimads have popped on the front of their playhouse!

      A hand painted sign, which is now hanging in my kitchen.

      A beautiful lavender filled bird, which I adore.

      A pink bead heart

      A super cute bunny.  I was overwhelmed and love it all.  Thanks Helen

      If you want to see what I sent Helen, then take a look at her blog here.

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      International Postcard Swap

      We signed up for the International Postcard Swap over at Playing by the Book and have been having a great time sending the postcards to our families we were allocated.

      Maxi helped write the cards, letting everyone know about the boys favorite book Aliens Love Underpants by Claire Freedman and Ben Court.

      Mini decided that he likes the taste of stamps.  We were somewhat disappointed that our village post office and that of the two closest to us didn't have any interesting picture stamps, so sorry folks.

      The boys also looked up the destinations of their postcards in their atlas, Germany, Canada, USA x2 and UK.

      They then stuck the relevant flag in their sticker book on flags of the world, which was £2.99 from Amazon.

      The following day we took a trip to our nearest post box and carefully posted the postcards to our swap families.

      We have started to receive our postcards and I will be doing a post on what we are doing with them as soon as they all arrive.

      This is a great swap and I would recommend more people to join the next time Zoe does one.  I also want to say thank you to Zoe as I understand that this was very much hard work.

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      Writing Workshop – My Spring and Summer Manifesto

      Dear Voters (well my boys in this one)

      We will make life fun, we will focus on laughter and giggles and grasp what we can get out of the day.
      We shall enjoy the seaside and I will ensure that we have the wet suits in the car at all time.
      We shall endeavor to make the most of the sunshine and of the environment around us.
      We shall picnic in our secret place and run free on the moors.
      We shall barbecue in the garden on a Saturday evening focusing on good food and great company.
      We shall enjoy the harvest from our garden.
      We will make, bake and create on a regular basis. I will not worry about the mess, or stress about the outcome.
      We with feed the ducks and float homemade paper boats on the pond.
      We will go on family walks and use your maps to explore new places.
      We will explore the wonderful parks in the local area and find our favorites.
      We will camp and explore new areas, cuddling up under our canvass.
      I will try not to shout, but you will need to listen and not just hear.
      We will swim and play football.
      I will try to say yes more.
      I will try and be the best I can.
      We will dream, we will grow and we will remain family.

      This post was inspired by promt 4 What’s YOUR party manifesto? for Sleep is for the Week's Writing Workshop

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      The Gallery – Men

      This week's prompt over at The Gallery is Men. Pictures of the men in your life - dads, sons, uncles, teachers, partners, brothers.   Let's hear it for the men!

      So I give you the men in my house:


      My wonderful constant companion thought life, he can be many things to many people, including a maker, an educator, a boss, a colleague, a lover, a husband, a dad, a provider....

      He has and is there for me and the boys when we are unwell, always putting us first no matter what.  He is a wonderful daddy and they couldn't have asked for more.

      He is fun, amazing and just wonderful, as I have said he is practically perfect in every way!

      He is the reason I have the two little men in my life, who fill each day with joy, terror, noise and love (not in equal measure)!

      Maxi writing a shopping list

      Mini making a smoothie

      The boys are constant companions for each other and love doing things together, which really makes my heart sing.

      And last but not least the other "man" in my house, because this is a house where I am the only female, let me introduce you to Mr Smudge, our somewhat geriatric, but totally adored cat.

      So thanks guys, for being here, for taking this ride with me.

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      Children’s Craft Showcase – Painting

      Sometimes painting with children can seem such a daunting task, it can take on a uncontrollable pace all of its own, which is why it is often great to use paint with an end in mind.

      So I set up the painting tings on the dining table yesterday for when I collected the minimads from school and decided we would do blow painting with a straw and then do some marble rolling.

      Tray (A bowl would be better from smaller children)


      You need to water down your paint for this to make sure that it blows and rolls easily.  I tend to drop blobs of colour one at a time on the paper for the boys to blow with the straw.

      I also show them how to turn the paper so that the paint doesn't come off the edge.

      They both prefer marble rolling, they have such fun and we all ended up in a pile on the floor laughing at all the times the marble left the tray, which is why a washing up bowl would be easier for smaller children.

      You can also use a larger ball and dip the ball in the pain rather than rolling it through a large splodge on the paper.

      I love the randomness of the images and the ways the colours blend.  We had a great fun few hours.

      So anyone who is doing crafting with their children, please link up below, I would love to see what you are doing and get some inspiration for me and the boys.

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        The Best Ever Oat and Raisin Cookies in the world

        I dont say it lightly, but these cookies are amazing and never last in our house.  They truly are the best.  This is an American Recipe (it came on the back of some sunmaid raisins from the US), but that said is super easy for the boys, as I have some plastic cup measures that they use.

        So here goes


        3/4 cup softened butter or margarine
        1 cup soft brown sugar
        1/2 cup caster sugar
        1/4 cup milk
        1 large egg
        1 teaspoon vanilla extract
        1 cup plain flour
        1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
        1/2 teaspoon baking soda
        1/4 teaspoon salt
        3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
        1 cup Raisins
        Heat oven to 180. 
        Beat butter, brown sugar, caster sugar, milk, egg and vanilla until light and fluffy.
        Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
        Add to butter mixture and mix well.
        Stir in oats, raisins and nuts, if using. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets.
        Bake 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from cookie sheets.
        Cool on wire racks.

        Then get the children to clean up after themselves!

        If you like them, then I am sure you will love the best carrot cake in the world ever too, dont take my word for it, have a look at some of the comments.

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        Spiritual Sunday – Happiness

        Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.

        Guillaume Apollinaire

        This kind of hits it on the head for me at the moment.  I need to stop all the hustle and bustle, all the pushing and pulling and just be.  

        So this morning I am thankful for the boys returning from the shop with some lovely flowers and I bit my tongue about not having enough money.

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        A little help for my friends

        I have been ever so lucky in this wonderful world of blogs to have made some great friends and have met some really inspiring people, so today I want to tell you about a couple of them and ask you to help where you can.

        Firstly Stephanie.  Stephanie is an inspiration to me, has been since the moment I first read her blog Bah! to Cancer, you see Stephanie has been dancing with Breast Cancer (you don't die from dancing do you?) and  doing so in a dignified and insightful way.

        One of Stephanie's Ideas is the Bah! Brilliant Book Bonanza, This is a great way of giving uplifting books to people who need a good read. 

        She is also taking part in the race for life and has a Bah! to cancer team.  All in all she is a really special kind of person, once that you don't come across all the time.

        Next up is Dan and the Hadrians Walkers, who are these people you ask and what are they doing.  Well they are a group of 60 people who in July will be walking the length of Hadrian's Wall in six days. That's 84 miles across the entire width of England.
        They are  walking in aid of the Joseph Salmon Trust, a charity founded by Dan's friends in memorial to their son Joseph who died aged 3 in April of 2005.
        The Joseph Salmon Trust supports parents who have lost a child by providing financial assistance to those who need it most.

        You can find their just giving site here 

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        Me and Mini take my mum shopping every Thursday and whist in the car on the way yesterday we were chatting as you do and he just stopped me in my tracks.  I can not believe this little man of mine, my baby, my cuddler will be 4 next month and I just had to record some of the things he says and I love.

        Although shopping with Mini and Mum can be stressful, I love the speical time I have with mini on a morning, I love our cuddles and our little chats.

        You want to be a nurse, not a doctor as you don't want to wear a stethoscope, but you do want to help people and you like the way the nurses always help me.  So yes you want to be a nurse that travels round the world and first you want to go to Haiti.   This really stopped me in my tracks as we have never talked about jobs before.

        You told Grandma today that you would be going to college after school.

        I love the way you stop mid-sentence to try and think of the right word, you just sit waving your hands.

        You also seem to start every sentence with the words "you know mum", to which I often reply "yes I know mini".

        You have started to clap out syllables and spell out words

        You ask for J A M on your toast

        When asked your name, you always reply with your full name, including your middle name.
        You are fiercely independent

        You still love your dummy and are not ready to give it up just yet, although you only have it for bed.

        Your bears are also firmly required when you go to bed and I often wake with a bear and you beside me.

        I love how you always manage to turn upside down in your bed!

        You think I am beautiful.

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        Please Vote for me!

        I am such a happy little blogger right now, I have reached the top five in the Family Fun Blog Catagory in The Mad's, the awards for  Daddy and mummy Bloggers in the UK.
        To say I am overwhelmed is an understatement, especially when you see the others in the Family Fun Blog Category, I am in such good company.  So I am asking you to please vote for me, but I would also like that vote to be a fair and just one, so please let me introduce you to my fellow and somewhat amazing peers: Have a Lovely Time Have a Lovely Time is a collaborative blog written by a team of ten parent bloggers and journalists, who review family-friendly days out and attractions. The site covers everything from overseas holiday destinations to pantos and British days out, with a focus on affordable ways for families to have fun together. Website
        NurtureStore   NurtureStore is a store of ideas and inspiration for parents and childminders based on the experiences of Cathy, a part-time childminder and full-time Mum to two little girls of her own. The blog covers a range of activities, from cooking and gardening to crafts, imaginative play and yoga. Website
        A Mother¹s Ramblings
        A Mother's Ramblings is the story of Pippa, and her two children, known as Top Ender and Little Ender. Pippa shares with her readers stories of family days out, country walks and holiday plans, with lots of laughs along the way. Apparently Pippa¹s favourite TV programme is Neighbours, and her favourite colour is blue.  Website It's a Small World After All Family It's a Small World After All Family is the story of Victoria, Stephen, Eve, Edward and Dickon, who are planning to head off on a round the world trip in late 2010. In the meantime, this blog has lots of fantastic posts about family days out in and around London, with gorgeous photographs alongside. Website I didnt ask directly for any votes for the nomiation stage, but I am asking for your help now. So please vote for me, please ask your freinds to vote for me, please blog about voting for me and ask friends of your friends to vote for me too. I really appreicate and value everyone who takes the time to read my blog.
        Click here to vote
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        The Gallery – Hidden Places / Secret Britain

        This week The Gallery theme is about painting a picture of the world we live in: The hidden bits, the bits you feel are special and people should know about. The bits people wouldn't necessarily see. It is inspired by the  BBC initiative to discover Secret Britain.

         When Countryfile was on TV on Monday night this is what the boys said their secret place was.

        We have a place that we go, a place that is just perfect.  It has a fjord, so the boys can watch as the cars drive through it.

        It has a beck so the boys can paddle, now they don't care if it is in wellies and clothes or wetsuits and crocs.  They just love water.

        It has grass, so you can picnic and we always do.

        It often has wind (well we are talking the North of England here), so perfect for kites.

        It has some fantastic signed walks too, even a roman road.

        So where is this wonderful place I hear you ask, well it doesn't have a name, it is on a road in the middle of the North Yorkshire Moors, about 15 minutes drive from TheMadHouse.  It is the place we go to have fun as a family, to relax, to enjoy each others company and to just be. 

        It is our place.

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        Whats going on In TheMadHouse

        Things are moving forward in the MadHouse at the moment and we have so much going on, so this is a bit of a mixed bag of a post to say the least! Mini and School
        My wonderful, adorable and perfect little one is due to start school full time in September and I am finding the transition and knowing this really hard at the moment.  I commented on his preschool review that I was disappointed that they had been unable to move him to mornings with his key worker to enable the transition to full time easier for him and guess what, the head of year informed me last week that they have a position for him going on a morning.
        So MadDad and I have had a chat to him and on Tuesday he is going to spend an hour at preschool with the morning children and me and we are going to see how he settles.  I have decided that if he doesn't settle that I am not going to push it, as he has been rather clingy since I was in hospital last week.Mini and Pampers Underjams Mini has been dry during the day for the last 11 months, but night time has been very different for him.  I know you shouldnt compare children, but Maxi was dry night and day at the same time, so we dont have any other experiance.  So when Lucinda at Fleshman Hillard offered to sent me some Pampers Underjams, I jumped at the chance and they have done the business for us, no more upsets about not being a big boy, no more of Mini not wanting to wear any protection and no more wet beds.   They have really worked for us, Mini wanted to be like his big brother and not wear anything, but underjams are designed not to look like pulls ups, so he wore them and it has got us though to a stage where he doesnt need them at all. If you would like a sample of Pampers then please e-mail Lucinda directly and let her know your name, email address, mailing address, name of blog (if applicable), gender, and weight of child and she will get some out to you.
        Jury Service
        I blogged that I had been summonsed for Jury Duty and  was really concerned about how I would manage with it all, so I tool your comments in to consideration and wrote a letter to the court service explaining my situation.  I detailed that I am main carer for my mum, that I really didn't want to put Mini in to child care and that I also had health issues and I have been excused from this and future service, which is such a relief.  So thank you for all your advise and comments.
        My mum is settled at home, has given up smoking and is really doing very well.  I am so proud on her for making such an effort and I know that it is really hard for her, as she used to be so much more independent.  We received a wheelchair for her this week, which will make getting out and about much easier.
        She was initially turned down for a ramp and a stair lift, but I have had a meeting with the Head of Occupational Therapy and we are waiting for a visit from an architect to see how a ramp can be installed and also the man from the stair lift company came this week to look at how a stair life could be installed.  My mum lives in a listed terrace and it seems that nothing is going to be simple!
        We have also seen the consultant about the test results and although mum does have a hernia, she is not well enough for surgery, so they are going to treat it medically, so all in all, things are looking much more positive for mum.
        Now we just have to see it she is entitled to attendance allowance, we have submitted the paperwork (5 weeks ago) and are just waiting to hear.
        My ever enchanting eldest is going to be taking park in a six week craft course after school on a Wednesday, which he is really looking forward to.  He also wanted to take part in an after school multi sport activity, but it is for 2 hours and is very expensive, so MadDad and I felt we had no choice but to say no.  Firstly his swimming tuition would be due the same week and also we feel that 2 hours is a long time for a 5 year old, plus he would be ravenous, I always take a snack for him when I collect him from school and he still manages to eat all his dinner, he would never survive till 5.15 without any food.
        He was pretty upset initially, but I am sure that he will get over it pretty quick.  I find it pretty annoying that they offer these things over the summer term, which is when I least need organised physical activity.  We always do something after school when the weather is good, even if it is just a trip to the beach, woods or the park.  I would much rather they do something over the winter.
        Well I am still shattered and I think that my iron level must still be low, as I am struggling for breath quite often.   I have had to give up caffeine, which for those of you that know me, you will realise it has been a really hard thing to do.  I am a Tea Monster.  I love my tea.  I am down to one cup of decaffeinated in the morning, which MadDad brings me in bed and then I am on to Mint Tea, which now the mint is growing again in the garden is not too bad (who am I kidding).  The reason for giving up the Tea is that caffeine inhibits the absorption of iron and I am keen to try what ever I need to, as I would like to avoid any more blood or iron transfusions.
        My tummy is still swelling and I am waiting for an appointment for some additional tests.  I have an appointment with my Plastic Surgeon to discuss reconstruction again.  I am not yet ready, but this way I am at least kept in the system.
        I have bought a shopping trolly to make life easier when taking mum shopping, less bags for me to carry means I can offer an arm for support
        Edited to say shopping trolley purchased from Ikea for £17
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        Locomotion – A great day out

        The boys took me to Locomotion, which is part of the National Railway Museum, but based at Shildon, as they had a steam gala on today and the Tornado Peppercorn Steam Train is there this weekend.

        Yes, even though it was raining, we decided to make the most of the holiday weekend and take a picnic anyway!
        So I made chocolate cakes and biscuits with the boys first thing, we packed a flash or two and also took some hot-dogs and buns in our food flask and set off.

        It is a great place, with loads to do for the children, games of all sorts and we had a great time.  In the photo above Mini and Maxi are setting the table against the clock in Hackworth's cottage.

        There is lots of small interactive games scattered throughout the place, which is great for keeping the boys occupied and of course it is full of trains!

        And even thought it was cold and a little damp there is a fantastic play park, which the boys really enjoyed.  A perfect day with my boys regardless of the weather.

        Leave Your Comment »

        Writing Workshop – Untill the next night

        I am anxious, trying not to think about what might be wrong
        I am trying hard to banish any worrying thoughts from my mind
        To compartmentalise my health worries
        Separating them from our everyday life

        But I am tired, oh so tired, exhausted beyond belief
        Trying hard to keep up with my boys
        which I do manage most day's
        But my nights suffer for it

        The thoughts they run free in the dark
        No longer masked by the bright sunshine of the day
        They invade my sleeping hours
        Leaving me no where to hide

        So how do I verbalise my worries?
        Will talking about them make them feel more real?
        I can not give them any more power than they already have
        So I will keep them to myself for now

        I will the night to pass, the clock to tick forward
        bringing the darkest hours before the dawn
        Dawn brings me my family, my reason, my being
        Giving me something to distract me

        I can almost feel the apprehension gripping on to my heart
        The nervousness making my tummy turn to jelly
        Yes I am worried
        But I refuse to allow the dread a presence during the daylight hours

        And soon enough the day does come
        A shard of light piercing the dark night
        The tiptoe of tint feet
        And great big warm cuddles making everything alright

        Untill the next night .......

        This week I chose prompt number 5 - Pick an emotion that best represents your state of mind right now and write creatively on that theme.

        Leave Your Comment »

        The Gallery – Portraits

        This weeks prompt over at Sticky Fingers for The Gallery was Portraits, how apt seen as I received these from school this week.

        They don't get much more adorable than this, do they?

        I am so lucky to have two such wonderful children, so some special things about my boys.
        I love nothing more than my morning snuggles with Mini, he often comes and joins us at some point during the night and we love it, we are cherishing the fact that he wants to be close to both me and MadDad.;;;;;I

        I love the fact that tucking Maxi in to bed is always such a treat, he is usually asleep before you even get out of the room!

        It is hard to believe that Mini is very nearly as tall as Maxi and he now has size 10 and a half feet!
        I am so impressed with Maxi's reading, it is coming on in leaps and bounds and he gets really animated when reading to us on an evening, the four of us sit together on the sofa and really love this time.

        I also really like the fact that they are becoming part of our neighbourhood and love that they are often called on to come out and play (I go up to my bedroom and watch them out the window).

        I think maybe the time is coming for the stabilisers to come off Maxi's bike.  We are only holding off, as we know that what one does the other always wants to follow.

        There is nothing better than coming home to two boys who make my heart sing and make most things a joy.

        They both blamanche or milky jelly.  They adore making it, which couldn't be simpler.  Dissolve the jelly in a quarter of a pint of boiling water, allow to cool but not set and then add half a pint of milk, pour in to moulds then pop in the fridge 30mins later you have this....

        Perfect to serve with strawberries


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        A weekend spent in the Garden

        I said that I had grand plans for the garden this weekend, well the weather was mostly kind and we did manage to get quite a lot done

        Onions have been planted out, 2 varieties, Red Barron and Bedford Champion.  We have also sown some spring onions (Lisbon) direct in to the bed.

        Rainbow Chard has been transplanted in to the bed too, alongside side Chinese Broccoli, which is a new vegetable for us.

        We have also direct sown the runner beans, peas and dwarf beans in to another bed.

        The potatoes have been planted in to our two barrels.

        Our Sunflowers have been transplanted too, the boys are so excited about these and can not wait for them to start getting bigger.

        We also managed to move the sandboat and the playhouse, well we swopped them round,as the sand needs to get more sun to dry out, we dug the wet sand in to the raised beds and will be getting new play sand at some point.

        There is still lots to do, but I have put away the other seeds for safe keeping and for the life of me can not find them!  I have also got some strawberries and tomatoes coming, which I used Tesco club card point to pay for.  Our neighbour dropped in two raspberry canes, which we are soaking ready to plant later in the week.

        We didn't plant the sweet peas out yet, as they could do with getting a little bigger. 

        So my plans for this week are:

        Sow some lettuce in trays
        Find my other seeds (spinach, Kale, Leeks) and sow in the conservatory
        Sow some radish in between the rows of beans
        Sow some borlotti beans in the conservatory

        Me and MadDad even contemplated putting our name down for an allotment, but part of the reason I love growing so much is that I can see it, the boys can see it and I can walk out the back door and pick something for dinner.  So even if I only have 3 small raised beds, they are wonderful.

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        Come over and take a look at TheMadHouse Makes – Blatant Self Publicity!

        As you know I love to craft and make things, whether that be with the boys or for the boys.  They have certainly brought out the creative side of me.

        So in order to help fund my fabric addiction and also to try and bring in some extra money (which we sorely need -  £82 for 2 pairs of school shoes!), I have decided to start selling some things that I make.

        Now I have no idea what will sell, so I am dipping my toe in the water, but I would also like to say that I can make to order should anyone wish.
        So please take a look and subscribe or become a follower on my new site TheMadHouse Makes.

        I am also busy stocking my Folksy Shop too, which can be found here 

        So here is an idea of the things I can and have made:

        Fabric table mat with place settings - £6.70 inc postage. 

        Pencil rolls - £6.50 including postage

        Children's celebration crowns - £15.00 including postage

        Mother of Pearl button hearts - £5.00 including postage

        Soy wax tea cup candle, Jasmin scented £10.00 plus £3.70 postage

        Quilted Laptop/Mac book covers - £25.00 including postage

        I am more than will to work with you to personalise and choose fabric, if you are interested then please get in touch.


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        Spiritual Sunday – Grateful

        This morning is such a contrast to yesterday morning.  Yesterday the sun was beaming in the windows, we had the doors all wide open and spent the day in the garden, but this morning it is grey, dull and RAINING, but in some ways this only makes me feel so grateful that we made the most of yesterday and really enjoyed it.

        So some other things I am grateful for this Sunday.

        The Rain... yes the rain.  We planted some vegetables and seeds yesterday and this rain is doing a pretty good job of watering in the raised beds.

        Warm porridge with maple syrup, our breakfast of choice at the moment.
        Mint leaves from the garden to make fresh mint tea with.  The docs asked me to try giving up tea for a while as it inhibits the absorption of iron, this is hard for me being a tea monster.

        I am also so grateful that the boys really do seem to be really enjoying each others company and play well together at the moment.

        I am also ever so grateful for whoever has nominated me in the MAD's, Mummy and Daddy (MAD) Blog Awards, celebrating the utter brilliance of British parent blogs.

        Today is the last day of open nominations for the first stage of the awards, so if you haven't voted yet, then please follow this link to give your opinions and make your votes.

        Leave Your Comment »

        Dear So and So – The Hospital Version

        Dear Bolshy Horrible Young Woman in Hospital

        What goes around comes around and it is no wonder that the nursing staff and consultant treated you in the way they did.  Your language was appalling, you were forever off having a cigarette and missed rounds twice, you answered your phone in front of the Consultant.  Courtesy and politeness cost nothing, even if you are in pain.  You are young, you will learn.

        A very Angry Mad

        Dear Nursing Staff

        Thank you very much for the superb treatment I received this week, I know that you are understaffed and underpaid, but you really did make things much easier for me.  You work non stop for your whole shift and still found the time to come and sit with me and explain again about my treatment.

        A very grateful Mad

        Dear Consultant and sidekicks

        Again a great big thank you for putting my mind at rest regarding any possible cancer and for explaining everything to me so clearly and concisely and then doing it again when MadDad visited.  It can be so hard to explain my paranoia sometimes with out sounding like a complete hypochondriac and a loon.

        An OK there is something wrong, but it's not cancer

        Dear Blood Donors

        A huge big up to all those of you who regularly give blood, without you I would not be home with my boys.  I had four pints of some generous peoples blood and it really makes a difference, often a life or death one.  I can not put in words how thankful I am

        Yours vampire Mad

        Dear Mini and Maxi Mad

        I know the hospital is a scary place that brings back memories of a terrible time, but I wanted to let you know that I was and am so proud of the way you behaved when you visited me, you made me a very happy mummy indeed.

        A besotted MummyMad

        Dearest MadDad

        Well what can I say, sorry to keep putting you through these sleepless nights worrying about me.  At least it isn't cancer, we can deal with whatever it may be.  Plus you run the house and the boys better than me!

        Your loving wife

        If you have a Dear so and so letter then come along and link it at Kats at 3 Bedroom Bungalow

        Leave Your Comment »

        Raffle in Aid of Cancer Research

        My wonderful talented and very clever friend Abi from Bub's Bears and Mutterings from the moor decided to start a raffle for one of her fantastic bears in aid of Cancer Research

        The response has been overwhelming and she is well on her way to reaching her target of £200, but offers of more prizes have been flooding in, so below is a selection of what else you could win.

        Prudence the chicken made by Claire

        A Book of weird and wonderful short stories by Abi's husband

        A Tea Cosy from Kelly

        Beautiful handmade cards from Al

         A stunning cushion by Amber

        An amazing reversible adults apron from Julie
        A handmade button heart from me!

        So please, please, please make a donation and you could be in with a chance to win.  All we ask is that your donation is over £1.

        Leave Your Comment »

        Been In Hospital

        I have been in hospital a couple of nights and had to have a number of blood transfusions due to serve anemia.  I have also had a B12 injection as I am lacking in that too.

        I have also undergone a number of tests, scans and x-rays, but the doctors have not yet ascertained why I have this anemia, but I am coming home and we are going to continue investigations as an outpatient. 

        I am starting to look a lot better and actually have some colour, although I do feel a bit like a vampire the amount of blood I have seen over the last couple of days.

        Thankfully It look all clear on the cancer front and I will be having some additional test before the consultants decides I have Pernicious Anemia, which will mean quarterly visits to the hospital for iron infusions and B12 injections.

        I am so glad to be going home, to my boys and my bed.


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        Childrens Craft Showcase – Volcano’s

        I dont know about your children, but my two are now obsessed with volannco's thanks to the icelandic one.

        We caught them making thier own volancic ash cloud with dust and mud from the pavement and then water on Friday evening and decided that we would have a go a making our own active volcano.


        Bicarbinate of soda
        Hot water
        Food colouring

        Salt dough is optional, mine wanted their bottles to look like mountains!


        Fill the bottles 2 thirds full with hot water and add a drop of washing up liquid and food colouring (to make your lava authentic!).  Add two table spoons of bicard to the warm water solution.

        We popped the vinigar in to a bottle so the boys could add it themselves

        So if you and your children have been busy making any crafts at all, please come and link to this page.


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        Looking Back – The toddler years

        As my boys are growing up, we seem to be having less of those incidents that make you want to scream, you know the ones....  where everything goes quiet and they are up to something.  I have had quite a few of them.

        Permanent Pen

        Maxi once drew on everything with a black pen that you used on paper to make a road for a car to follow, no where on the box did it say the pen was permanent, but oh my it was, he was 20 months old and nearly didn't live to see his next birthday.  The sofa, the walls, the doors, the TV, in fact most things in the sitting room.  All done when I was putting mini down for a nap. 

        He took the pen from its storage and just did it, I was beside myself and the resulting mess was unmovable from the sofa's, not even the insurance company's special "man" could get it off.  We managed to save the TV and repaint the walls etc.

        I learned my lesson on this one, everything that can do damage away, not just in a cupboard but out of reach and the company now label all their sets as having a permanent pen in them!

        It's Snowing Mummy

        We use washing powder soft tabs from Simply Washing and I store them in the utility area (or the futility area as it is known in this house).  I get them delivered in bulk, so more often than not there is a number of boxes there.

        Well the boys took it upon themselves to make it snow one day and went through the whole lot of them tearing open the boxes and the bags and opening the little tablets to allow the powder to make a snow.  I can not remember what I was doing this day, but I walked in to the kitchen to chaos.   They had started to half open the tabs and throw them at themselves allowing the "snow" to flutter down all over them and everything else in the kitchen!

        Mini the amazing safe-cracker

        We never had to put door locks on anything with Maxi, he never went in to the cupboards once he had been told sternly a couple of times NO, but Mini, oh my Mini is very different indeed.  More often than not he is driven by his tummy and his sweet tooth.  I have found him with his head in the fridge (having figured out the lock) more than once, with all the yogurt gone, or his fingers in the jam!

        He also cracked the treat cupboard pretty fast too, we don't have many biccies etc, but I pop them in a cupboard, but mini too know how to bypass the latch.  I stopped putting things in high units or shelves, as he would drag in a chair and manage to get them.

        You would think that he is starved, but I have fruit out always and they can help themselves to that anytime, but no that would be too easy for Mini!

        I could also tell you about the day Maxi got in to my make up bag, hence why I no longer have one, or when mini was found in the back of my wardrobes having fallen asleep playing hide and seek, I am sure that this isn't the end of it, just the beginning .  I can not believe that my babies, have been toddlers and are now children.  Come September I will no longer have a preschooler either - wow time flies.


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        I will come back to haunt you – Writing Workshop

        I was hot, yes I know I was in a hospital and they are always hot, but normally the dressings clinic is OK. 

        Yes the window is open, but I know that I am a little off, just not right, I can not put my finger in it and it is about to get worse.

        The nurse has returned with all the things she needs to remove these stitches and I will be so glad to see them go.  No blue thread making  my chest look like a zip, no more pulling and pressure as the skin tightens around them.  I am so happy to see them go, the boys less so, there is something about the gruesomeness of it all that makes them love them so.

        Anyway, I take a deep breath and hold on tight to MadDad's hand, "you might feel slightly nauseous" says the lovely nurse, I just press her to get it all over and done with.  I don't notice the pain to be honest, I am too busy concentrating on the drip of perspiration that is going to fall off my nose. 

        "All done" she tells us chirpily, "you have healed pretty well, apart from one spot on the right, I am just going to get some dressings for it" and off she pops behind the curtain.  The curtain fabric that I have become so familiar with, the white one showing local landmarks, The Transporter Bridge, The Tees Barrage and High Force.

        "I don't feel right" I say quietly to MadDad, "I am so hot and look my chest is so, so red".  "Lets ask to see a doctor, one of the ones that know you".  As soon as the nurse returns, I insist that I need to see my Consultant.  "He is in surgery" she tells me, so arranges for me to see his SHO Tom.  Tom is great and listens to my concerns and notes that I am a little flushed (normally I am as pale as a vamp) and also yes my chest area is slightly red.  He draws a line around the red area and disappears leaving me and MadDad behind that curtain again.

        Cheerfully he pops his head back from the said curtain "I am arranging to have you admitted for observation overnight, they are just sorting you a bed".  I look at my watch it is 2pm, so I agree with MadDad that he will pop home and get me a bag and arrange for the boys to  be looked after longer and then return as soon as he can, whilst I grab my clothes, pop them on and make a hasty exit to the dressings clinic waiting area.

        I grab a magazine and start to read, I am still hot, although I am getting a nice draft from the fan.  I take off my coat and scarf (I haven't removed a scarf since my mastectomy, it is a shield, it makes me feel as though I have breasts).  I am slowly getting hotter and hotter.  I ask the receptionist for a glass of water, she take one look at me and calls a nurse over.

        It is 4pm and they have found me a bed, the nurse comes and asks me to follow her, I hear her voice, but my legs wont do as I tell them, I stumble.  I keep trying to get up and walk after her, but I cant and neither can I find my voice.  I see MadDad arrive in the corridor and he sees me and drops the bag and come over and gets me up.  Together we stumble to a bed.  I hear him talking to me, but I can not concentrate on the words.

        MrsMad "wake up, you must wake up", "We need to find a vein now", "her temperate is 40.7 degrees, we need to strip her" and then I feel pain, pain like never before, they are holding me down and trying to get blood from my groin, I can hear a woman screaming in what seems like the next ward, but no that noise, that scream, it is me.  I feel so detached until I hear the words,"her kidneys are failing, her organs are shutting down, I think we are dealing with Sepsis"  Sepsis, that one word does it, it drags me from behind the curtain back in to the real world.  My dad died of Sepsis, I will not succumb to the same fate as my father.  What about Maxi's first nativity.

        I hear myself speak, before I even say the words "Do not let me die, please do not let me die, I want to see my children grow up, I will haunt you forever if you let me die" and that is all I have to say on the subject and that is pretty much all I remember of that night.  The night when they opened all the windows on the ward (it was a chilly March night), had fans blowing on me, gave me the domestos of antibiotics, updated MadDad hourly of my progress (he had to return to the boys).

        I don't remember my wounds splitting, or the discussions regarding surgery (I apparently begged them not to operate again, to leave it till my husband was with me), the waiting for an Intensive Care Bed.  That night I came the closest I have ever come to not surviving my ordeal, but my the morning I had started to get better.

        I wish I could say it was as simple as that, but it really wasn't.  The sepsis left more scars, emotionally and physically that all the previous surgeries put together.  I spent 2 more weeks in hospital on iv antibiotics with a stoma bag over each wound.  The bags were replaced daily  and that was a trauma in itself, but the worst thing was watching my children suffer.  Maxi behaved impeccably and they were even allowed to remain in my room with me during meal session, but mini, poor mini.

        He thought he had me back home, we hadn't expected Mummy to be whipped back in to hospital and hadn't prepared him for it and all he wanted was Mummy.  He withdrew, became clingy, stopped eating and sleeping.  Controlling the only aspects of his life that he could.  It was heartbreaking.

        It has been a long and hard uphill struggle at times, but I am alive, thanks to the quick thinking of a great team of Doctors and Nurses and also my wonderful family.  With them by my side I can conquer anything.  Hard to think that this was just under a year ago,  We have come such a long way since then.

        We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.


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        The Gallery – Joy

        Joy, I have been brought lots of joy in to my life, MadDad especially brings me more than I can ever express, but sometimes it is so hard to capture that Joy in an image.

        That first day when we brought Maxi home after the hardship of getting him - Pure exhausted joy of my wonderful husbands face.

        Their first bath - I went from having a baby to a baby and a toddler and MadDad made sure he was home to do all the bath-times!

        The overwhelming joy of being a family of four.

        That is joy on Maxi's face, pure joy at receiving a Star Wars Clone Wars Blaster - this is from a mummy that is not keen on guns!

        Joy, a precious emotion that I try hard to capture, recognise and hold on to every single bit of it.


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        A bit of Making

        I am starting to get my creative mojo back after a nasty bout of Flu and Vertigo and it feels good.  No it actually feels great.

        Inspired by the signs of new shoots and Spring outside my front door I have made new cushion covers for both the sitting room and the conservatory/playroom.

        Simple envelope style, in the sitting room from some seconds Laura Ashley picked up last year.

        Something a little more funcky in the conservatiry, Pop Garden By Heather Baily.

        I have also been making birthday presents for Maxi's friends.  Simple personalised purses filled with wooden beads.

        Sugar cubes, inspired by ......  I can not find the post, so if it was you, please tell me.

        I am not sure where the sun has gone this morning though, it is very dark and grey.  I am off to the GP for some blood tests (Still feeling not right) and then for a day of play with my boys. 

        We are really enjoying our Easter Holidays.            


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        More Spring Cards and Crafts for Children

        The boys have been busy making again, the above one is made by stamping with half a potato and mini made this all by him.

        This one is Maxi's, his writing is getting to be excellant and he did the spelling all by himself.

        Maxi did the cutting out on this one and it has become a classic in this house!

        This is Maxi's Easter Bunny Basket.

        This was maxi's Easter Bunny Egg, which he made all by himself at school.  He didnt win the competation, but them some of the eggs were pretty perfect a nd I am sure the parents had more of a hand in them than I did!


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        When the Sun comes out to play, so do we

        It is so much more fun when the sun is shining and we have been making the most of the last few days of MadDad being on Annual Leave, before I have the boys to myself for the last week of the holidays next week.

        Vanilla Scones from The Pioneer Woman - Yum

        Chocolate cakes - never fail to be eaten

        I tried this, not very successfully, but had a great day out.

        The boys went to Locomotion at Shildon, which is part of the National Railway Museum

        They had a brill time and are already asking to go back.

        We all enjoyed the sunshine in Saltburn yesterday (after football practice), mainly spent in the Valley Gardens

        Ice creams all round.

        There is a project taking shape in the garden

        Boys and their toys!

        I so don't want this week to end and MadDad to go back to work.


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        Jury Service

        I have been issued a summons for Jury Service at the beginning of June.  I do not fall into any of the categories that are able to decline or are ineligible for attendance, but I just don't know how to fit it in with our family commitments.

        I know that sounds such a terrible thing to say, but MadDad works and leaves at 6.30am and doesn't get back in to 5.45pm.  I drop Maxi at school at 8.30am and then I look after Mini and my mum till 12.30pm when I take mini to preschool.

        I collect both the boys from preschool and school at 2.50pm and 3pm respectively, keep them occupied, prepare dinner, feed them, bath them etc.

        I can arrange before school and after-school wrap around care for Maxi via the school at a cost of £6 per day for the duration and I think that he would be fine with that, but Mini is another issue.
        I am loathed to put him in to day care for any length of time, he really suffered when I was in hospital and so did we.  It took months to get him back to his normal self.  I can not leave him with my mum for obvious reasons and MadDad does not really get enough holiday to take it off to cover childcare. 

        Also I know my brother would step up and look after my mum, but it would make their life really difficult too.

        So what do I do, I could ask for a 12 month deferral, by then Mini would be in school, so could do the wrap around care and it would also give more time for my Brother to be able to help my mum and also for her to be in better health?

        Or do I just tell them all of the above and see what they say?

        I know it is my civic duty and I don't want to be a shirker, but what if I get allocated a trial that will take longer than two weeks, who will look after my family then?

        MadDad has done Jury Service, but it was pre Maxi and therefore, we didn't have any issues at all, but any of you mums and dads out there, what have you done?


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        Colour Swap

        I also took part in Dolly Dollops colour swap this month too.  I was paired with Vicki, from Vintage Vicki

        My colours were pink and green and you can see that Vicky has had a good look at the blog nad realised I am a lover of Hot Pink!

        What a fantastic parcel indeed, I received some felted soap, which is mine all mine and a bar of chocolate, which I polished off on my own too!

        Look at this fantastic bunting, isn't it just brilliant. I have popped it up in the kitchen and I have to say I love it, thank you Vicki. But there was more!

        Vicki made a super broach for me and a needle case too and give me some pink and green crafting ribbon and some lip gloss and the most wonderful shell shaped plate, which is now in our en suite. Thank you Vicki, your package really did cheer me up.

         The minimads are really enjoying their lollys too.  Thanks again.


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        Farndale and the Daffodils

        Daffodils (1804)

        I WANDER'D lonely as a cloud
        That floats on high o'er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd,
        A host, of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
        Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

        Continuous as the stars that shine
        And twinkle on the Milky Way, They stretch'd in never-ending line
        Along the margin of a bay: Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
        Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

        The waves beside them danced; but they
        Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: A poet could not but be gay,
        In such a jocund company: I gazed -- and gazed -- but little thought
        What wealth the show to me had brought:

        For oft, when on my couch I lie
        In vacant or in pensive mood, They flash upon that inward eye
        Which is the bliss of solitude; And then my heart with pleasure fills,
        And dances with the daffodils.

        Photos were taken my Mini and Maxi on my point and click

        By William Wordsworth (1770-1850)


        MadDad and the boys went Farndale to see the daffodils yesterday afternoon (I was zonked from Swimming with them in the morning, I am off for blood tests next week to try and find out what is wrong).

        It is said that Wordsworth wrote the above poem after visiting Farndale. Well this year daffodils are late and the ground is very boggy, but the boys had a lovely afternoon and loved watching the spring lambs too.

        We are very lucky to have this on our doorstep and it always reminds me when MadDad and I were courting.


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        The joy of receiving and a great big thank you

        Me and the MiniMads have been blessed this last couple of weeks by the kindness and creativity of bloggers.
        Firtly we were lucky enough to win a copy of a children's book that Cystal Jigsaw wrote herself. The mini's and I are treasuring reading a little of this each evening and are trying to make it last. Did I tell you she wrote it herself!

        The wonderful Sandy of Baby Baby, who I often think is me in disguise sent me some chocolate sustenance and some buttons for the boys (who open the package and ran off with them before I could take a piccie) and some fabric she has been meaning to do something with. Thank you Sandy the fabric is wonderful and I have my thinking cap on for what to make with it.

        I was also blessed to win a giveaway over at Sew Mental Mamma, a very talented lady who makes the most wonderful clothes for her children, please pop over and say hello.

        I was blown away with her generousness, not only did I receive a zakka sewing books, to patterns, some Alice in wonderland fabric, a stunning pin cushion, ribbon and a large button, but she popped in some green bath foam for the minimads and it is wonderful as it contains no nasties or SLS so they can use it! Oh and I almost forgot there was also some Gin and Tonic Chocolate in the parcel too. Thank you ever so much.

        Isn't the blog world just wonderful. I have had a hard month and I have to say that I have been in awe of the wonderful things we have received.

        Also a very special lady Ang over at Tracing Rainbows wrote the boys the most amazing letter all about the Easter Story and we have been reading it after dinner each evening and the now can recite it pretty much off by heart. It was such a wonderful thing to receive, such a joy and so perfectly tailored for my little men. It has bright images and well it is just wonderful.

        She also send an Easter present for each of the boys and for me and MadDad too.

        I was also given an unexpected Easter Present from the very clever Liz at Violet Posy.  Look up, see that new header, well Liz made that and I had no idea.  She is a super and very talented lady.


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        Egg Hunts, Child labor, Bonnets and Boogieing

        Ormsby Hall, a place I have visited in my youth, but not since, but we took the boys on an Easter egg hunt there, which was fantastic.

        They had to find all the clues in the Hall gardens.

        Mini and Maxi had so much fun and I got very muddy in the process, but it was a fun hour on what was a dreary Easter Monday.

        Ormesby Hall is a National Trust Property and we have annual membership, so it costs us nothing to get in and this year the boys are getting to the stage where they can enjoy the activity packs in each room, which is only 50p for the book and you get the pencil free!

        One of the great things about Ormesby Hall, which was once home to the Pennyman Family is its Victorian Kitchen and Scullery.  The boys loved joining in with the washing. The volunteer (a teacher in her day job) was amazing and she really captivated them with the tales of turning on fires at five in the morning and also the fact that they would wash 68 sheets a week!

        It was great that it was so hands on, they got to use a dolly and a mangle and also have a go at ironing (with cold irons)!  There is also a model railway, well three of them set up on the top floor, which is great for little and big men!  The Cleveland Mounted Police are headquartered in the Hall's stables too.

        So we then came home and the boys decorated their bonnets for the Clubs Easter Party, which was last night too

        I love the fact that they did it all themself themselfust a little help cutting out the egg shapes and adding the glue.

        Finally, I leave you with the boys doing Big Fish Little Fish at the party, they danced the night away will 10pm, I came home early at 8pm as I wasn't felling well, they outlasted me!


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        Easter Bakes, Making New Traditions

        We have been busy in the kitchen this weekend, making and baking and bring in new traditions to TheMadHouse.

        Hot Cross Buns

        "Hot cross buns, Hot cross buns,
        One a penny, two a penny,
        Hot cross buns."

        "If you have no daughters, 
        give them to your sons,
        One a penny, two a penny,
        Hot cross buns."

        These have gone down well with mini and MadDad, so much so that I had to make extra!

        White Bread buns, which I make the dough in the bread-maker and then divide and leave to prove.  The temptation is to eat them hot, but my they really do give you indigestion.

        Magic Mummy mentioned that Tesco had Easter Apron and Hats sets in for 78p and as Mini loves to dress up, we went and got him one and he decided that he needed a strawberry smoothie.

        He loves making banana smoothies, just milk, natural yogurt and a little honey.  He likes the hand mixer too!!

        Chocolate Simnel Cake

        Neither MadDad or the boys are keen on fruit cake, so I thought we could try a chocolate Simnel cake.


        100g/4oz dark chocolate, broken in pieces
        100g/4oz caster sugar
        100g/4oz softened butter, plus extra
        3 eggs, separated
        50g/2oz ground almonds
        50g/2oz self-raising flour
        1 tsp baking powder


        1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4/fan oven 160C. Butter an 18cm/7in deep round cake tin; line the base. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.
        2. Beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the yolks, one at a time. Stir in the almonds and chocolate.
        3. Whisk the egg whites in a bowl until stiff peaks form (see tip). Fold a quarter of the egg white into the chocolate mixture, then sift in a quarter of the flour and baking powder. Repeat three more times until the egg white and flour is evenly mixed in.

        4. Pour the mixture into the tin. Bake for 35-40 minutes until risen and firm. Cool for five minutes, turn out on to a wire rack, peel off the paper and cool completely. 

         I then added some homemade marzipan and melted chocolate to decorate.


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        I am Sorry

        I am truly sorry for a lot of reasons, firstly please don't worry we are all OK.

        But also just a little word of warning, a blog is never truly anonymous and there are consequences of writing words sometimes.  They seem so innocent, just characters on a keyboard, but my they hold some terrible and terrifying power when you add them all together.

        I made a mistake this week, I shouldn't have posted my Writing Workshop post.  I have hurt people I love and that is something that I never ever had any intention of doing.  I shouldn't have aired my dirty washing in public and I will not again.  I wrote the piece as a way of outpouring the emotion I was feeling a the time and should have left it at that. 

        My blog has always felt like my safe haven, somewhere to write down my feelings and emotions, but I never really believed that anyone could or would be hurt by it.  I never thought it might get back to people, if I had known that I would have self-censored myself, I wouldn't have hurt people intentionally and the fact that I have is almost to much to bear.

        I have a relationship to try and mend, if that it at all possible and will be doing so over the coming weeks, months and possibly years.  I have betrayed the trust and understanding of the person I love the most, my husband and made it very difficult for him and his family, if not impossible.  

        So I am truly sorry, I didn't think, I didn't comprehend the possible outcomes, without the shield of the blog I wouldn't have said the things I did.

        I don't know what is going to happen moving forward, only time will tell. 


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        Closed for the forseeable future


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        Flower Swap

        I decided to take part in Sew Scrumptious' flower swap, my first real swap and I was very excited to get Kelly at A place of my own

        I love the idea of a swap, it gives you chance to stalk their blog for all the right reasons and put something nice together, that doesn't have to cost the earth, but has meaning and tend to be based on a theme.

        I received my parcel from Kelly on Wednesday, but decided to leave it until the evening before opening, as I know my children, they would want to do it all for me and as much as I love them, well I like to have a little bit of the joy too!

        Oh and look at what wonderful goodies she sent me

        The most divine pin cushion with one of the flowers of Kelly's wedding dress, how honoured am I?

        3 lovely lavender cushions which are going to be going in to my drawers!

        The most stunning note cards, which Kelly has made herself, not only did she made them herself, but she took all the images too.

        A wonderful tea cosy for my teapot.  Woohoo

        Some sweetpeas and a fat quarter of delicious fabric

        Finally some cute little magnets.

        So I wanted to say a great big thank you to both Kelly and Louise.  It has been great fun


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        Easter Plans

        Easter starts for us today.  Maxi had his first ever assembly all about the First Easter.

        MadDad made it back from work in time and we both really enjoyed watching our boy, who had a wonderful strong and clear speaking voice.  It was such a joy to watch a group of four and five year olds clearly enjoying themselves.

        MadDad is off for the week, so we are planning on lots of family time together and with this in mind, I have exchanged some Tesco Vouchers for some restaurant ones, but even though I did this over a fortnight ago, we are still waiting!

        Our Plans include, but are dependant on weather:
        Egg hunt at National Trust - we have annual membership
        Visits to English Heritage sites, again we have annual membership (via Tesco vouchers)
        Easter Dance Party at my Brother and Sister in Laws Club, including Bonnet competition and egg decorating competition.
        Decorating bonnets and eggs for the Children's Dance Party
        A trip to Fardale to see the daffodils
        Making a start of Easter Egg mountain!
        Car boot on Sunday, we are going to take the boys with us.
        Visits to Kirkleatham Museum, Preston Park, Mima and Wet and wild.
        Danby Moors Centre
        Saltburn Valley woodlands centre
        Duckings swimming
        Day learning to crochet - yes I am so excited about this, yep almost giddy
        Bric a Brac sale at the Club.
        Baking, making and lots of cooking and creating
        Visit lots of local parks.  The mini's have a list and they like them all for different reasons.
        DVD's, popcorn and cuddles

        Plus we have plans to get some seeds planted and also we do need to repaint the render outside.  Oh and I also have paint for the sitting room and dinning room too, but I am not going to make MadDad do everything in this week, we have had the paint since the January Sales!

        So I am planning on having a great Easter and I hope you do too.  I will be posting, but possibly not commenting due to time, so please don't be offended.


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        What is so wrong with my Children?


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        The Gallery – Outside my back door

        I am so lucky to have some wonderful scenery just outside the back door.  I live on the edge of the North Yorkshire Country Moors and it is just beautiful.  So I have a few photo's taken over the last couple of weeks for you

        Initially my hazel tree, which we planted 3 years ago when we moved in, it is budding and makes me feel like spring is here.

        The Sea, I am blessed with two little boys who love it almost as much as I do and could sit for hours and watch it with me.  This was taken on Sunday.

        Finally my boys, it doesn't matter what is outside my door, as long as they are both there with me.


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        British Mummy Bloggers Carnival

        So roll up, roll up and let me  present to you the wonderful world of British Mummy Bloggers.  I am Mummy Mad and I will be your ringmaster today, for what will be an exciting show full of ooo's, ahhhhs and ehhhs!
        So without further ado let me introduce the entertainment:
        Red Ted Art shows us how to make a party Bag in  her first VLOG
        She also tell us about her travel strike on her other blog The Good Life Blog
        Zooarchaeologist tells us all about when Fifi went on a rampage in ..........
        20 something Mum is thinking about Modern Day Dating- How Do They Do It?
        Fraught Mummy at Brits in Bosnia (soon to be back in Britain) has a post on why do people not vaccinate their children
        Tiddlyompompom give us some sage advise on things to avoid saying to a pregnant woman.
        Babies who Brunch has regales us with tales on Transatlantic travel with a toddler
        Nova at Cherished by Me tells us about little M's best friend
        Whilst Jo at Slummy Single Mummy lets us know about her peferct day
        Insomniac Mummy has been thinking about returning to work and the realisation that she is more than just a mother.
        Kate from Mums the word, tell us how a friendship shaped her life
        Jude at Artful Adventures is pondering what our childrens artwork reveals
        Mediocre mum has told us all about the Funniest Bits of Childbirth
        I would also like to introduce to you to some mysterious creatures over at Amelies House, apparently you can only see them if you are young , so I am ruled out!
        Young Mummy reminds us there is No I in Team
        Home office Mum is basking in The heady heights of celebrity.
        Kate from Mums the word, tell us how a friendship shaped her life
        Ellen from a Bun Dance has had me in tears with this wonderful tribute to her brother Bye then, Nat. It was fun.
        Muddling along Mummy  tells the Politicians please leave your families out of this election. From Marketing to Milk post is Warning: employee overtaking on the right A Modern Mother discusses being a mum in your 40's Sandy from Baby Baby  has been Crying in Clarks Annie from Incessant ramblings tells us about Being a mum Dawn from The Moiderer was left wondering if had been mother day Lou from Archers at the larches has a 5 year old Thunderbird puppet in the house Amy from one more means four tells us all about eyes 
        No that is not a fire eater, it is just Bare Naked Mums pants, which are on fire for all the little white lies she tells her children.  I do hope it is now warm enough for Victoria from Its a small world after all as she needs Heat
        Whilst the rest of us are watching the entertainment  21st Century Mum is busy wondering Have We Become a Generation of Paranoid Mummies.
        Karen from Learning Made Fun is dreading the Easter Holiday Disruption, she needs to take a leaf out of The Frugal Family's book and get the children making their own Board Games or Cathy at Nurturestores Cress heads.   She could even follow Really Rachael's rules for Hide and Seek.
        And whilst we have all been enjoying the show Trish from Mum has gone to.. has been visiting Rome and (not so) single mum is moving to Spain.
        Please also pay a special visit to this lady who hasn't been feeling well enough to face coming to the carnival, but has written a very brave piece on how depression doesnt make her feel worth of their love.
        Whilst we have been watching the tightrope walkers, Liz at Living ith Kids has been very busy helping her son fulfil his ambition to be a knight
        Now the carnival is at an end you may want to step in to Mrs Hot Cross Buns kitchen or join Kelly at her place for a little bit of Dreaming.  I do hope that Mrs Mummyslife hasn't upset you with all this talk of arguing.
        Helen at cheeky wipes has been busy saving a life and hopefully Ali at Motivating mum has been having a baby, her post is all about not selling yourself short and very inspirational.  Whilst we talk about baby's take a look at Red and Relief from Baking Mad Mama.
        Finally something for you all to ponder Ella at Most/Least has been asking if she should come out?
        I would also like to let you know about the MAD's, which are Mummy and Daddy (MAD) Blog Awards, celebrating the utter brilliance of British parent blogs.  There are some fantastic parent blogs our there and I have introduced you to only a small amount.  The British Mummy Bloggers Ning has over 1152! 
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        Easy Easter Chick Cards

        Are you feeling ready for some Spring sunshine, I know I am and these Easy Easter Chick Cards are perfect for celebrating a spring birthday, mothers day or Easter, plus they are super simple and perfect for toddlers and preschoolers.
        Easy Easter Chick Cards

        Easy Easter Chick Cards

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        A Pause in Lent – Stories of Jesus for Children

        For most of us reluctant worshipers the closest we get to explaining Christianity to children is Christmas, when Jesus was born and Easter when Jesus dies.  This has certainly been true for me.

        Now As I have said before, I do class myself as Spiritual, although I am not sure which part of any organised church I belong too, but I feel it is important for my children to have an understanding of the Bible and these stories for a number of reasons.  It is super for morals, it helps explain good and bad in very set black and white ways which are easily understandable for children and it reminds me of my childhood and going to Sunday School which I adored.

        I have been really lucky in that Angela of Tracing Rainbows wrote a wonderful letter to my boys discussing the first Easter story with them and it couldn't have come at a more apt time, as Maxi is a narrator in the school Easter Assembly.
        So when Floss at Troc, Broc and Recup said she was going to do a series of posts next week on The Stories of Jesus for Children, I was overjoyed.  We have had some wonderful discussions at the dinner table this week about Jesus and I know religion isn't every one's cup of tea, but as far as I am concerned the more my children are aware of and understand then they armed with the information to make informed decision of their own in the future.

        So pull up a chair and come and join us, if you want to and share this wonderful time of renewal with your children and explain that Lent doesn't have to be all about giving up tangible things.


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        Politics, what I would like to see

        The wonderful Emily over at babyrambles has done a recent post on politics and the fact that the parties seem to be focusing on us mums quite a bit for this coming election.

        The thing is I started to reply in a comment, but released if I didn't stop the comment would be larger than the post! So I decided to do a post in homage to the original

        So what issues are important to me?

        Firstly as a stay at home mum finances are key to me. MadDad and I struggle by and I mean struggle, we are getting deeper and deeper in debt each month. It was our choice for me not to work when the boys were this age, at what other age in their lives do you get to spend this much time with them, to influence their opinions and thoughts and to enjoy having fun with them. Yes our choice, but with the age gap, it was kind of a Hobson Choice, as childcare for two was pretty prohibitive.

        Now had I returned to work I would have been entitled to tax credits, which in my opinion is like the government paying me a little extra money to help me afford childcare costs whilst I work. So in my very basic mindset, they are paying me to pay someone else to look after my beloved children whilst I go out to work. Why?

        Why not pay me a little bit extra to be able to afford to stay at home and look after them myself, surly as their mother I am the best person in the world to look after them at this age.

        Which brings me on to my next bugbear, education. I want my children to have the best education possible, in the local school. I want this to happen without the worries of SAT's. At six the most pressing thing I was concerned with was which Barbie should ride the white horse and why is Ken called Ken and not Buck Rogers?

        We complain that children are growing up too fast nowadays, well hell what do we expect with this sort of thing going on in our society.

        But the thing is, this is the least of it. Maxi is bright, as it mini, it is no longer the elephant in the room, we are all out and proud, but the school don't want t make a thing of it, they are happy for Maxi to do year 3 maths and aid and assist him where they can, but they don't want to fill out all the forms etc stating this is a fact. Why I hear you ask? Well if they did, then the LEA would be round, they would be pushed in to looking for additional funding for him and in all likely hood they would be learning targets.

        What are we doing to our children, why can the government not be happy in the judgement of the school and its teachers. We are. We entrust them with our most precious items, our children.

        Then there is learning to swim, when I was at school we went swimming once a week for the whole of my primary years, now they get to go for one year (if they are lucky) and that is that. The government goes on about child obesity, well is swimming not one of the best exercises you can do as a child. Oh I am getting so angry.

        So Politicians if you want to know what is important to me, you need to start listening. and by that I mean listening to all us mums.

        Oh I am not so fickle as to vote for you as your wife has nice hair, Liz at living with Kids has covered that wonderfully well and far more eloquently than could over at her blog on Kidstart.

        I am not as immature been concerned about your choice in biscuits, which seemed to be the overall outcome over at Mumsnet. Family are what matters to me. So instead of trawling the Internet get out and about, meet the mums at the school gates and the ones who are forced to use the after school club. Start asking them the questions.

        But more important that asking the right questions, to the right people, it is about delivering on the response, not just spurting platitudes. 

        Finally I heard David Cameron this week commenting on Sam's pregnancy and it made my blood boil, when he commented that he was delighted, but yes it wasn't the most convenient timing. What a thing to say, why count he have just said that they were very pleased and this child was very wanted. End of.


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        Writing Workshop – Do not be defined by what you can be, rather who you can be

        What can I say about a mothers love, the love I feel for my two boys
        The need to give them happiness throughout their lives
        To see joy in their faces
        To be privileged to experience with them so many firsts.
        First Steps
        First Smile
        First tooth
        The first feel of sand in their toes
        To be able to pick them up after their first fall.
        To be able to give unconditional love.
        To love their faults.
        To instill in them the morals of their father.
        To teach them to be righteous men, with big hearts and a strong comprehension of good and bad and the sense to make the best choice.
        To go down the right path.
        To be blessed with experiencing wonderment.
        To introduce them to Father Christmas and to instill in them that giving is better than receiving.
        To watch them grow and blossom
        To find the love of their lives and watch them mature
        I am truly blessed with two wonderful boys and the chance to make a difference

        I wrote this on 22 August 2006, when mini was less than two months old and Maxi was just 17 months old and it means just as much then as now, if not more.    I wrote it after a 2am night feed and was unable to get back to sleep, whist I watched mini sleep peacefully. 

        I chose option 3 What do you secretly dream of your children doing?

        When I think of what I hope my children may grow up to do, there isn't one job, one career that comes to mind and that is OK.  I am resigned to the fact that I place more emphasis on who they are and who they can be, rather than what they can be.

        The one thing they do both know, is that they can choose to be the best that they can be and that I will always be there.


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        The Gallery – Me

        Me, a really hard one for me to show this week and also they don't define me totally, they have shaped me and who I am for the last 2 years, so I proudly present:

        My scars, or at least some of them!

        When MadDad first saw them, they were red, weeping and looked as though some one had butchered me, they were not symmetrical, neat or tidy in any way, mainly due to the sepsis and subsequent operation I needed.

        But now they are mellowing, they are white, silver and raised, they run from under each armpit and meet in the middle with a vertical scar running up towards my collar bones. 

        They brought out different emotions in each of us.  He hated them, they made his angry, frustrated and upset.  To him they represented the surgeon and body's failure to deal with the reconstruction.
        To me they brought relief mainly.  I was relieved that my breasts were gone and couldn't harm me, but they also made me feel less of a woman, less attractive, especially as I was used to having 36GG ones.  

        Now with the help of counselling we have both reconciled our feelings and they are just me.

        This was inspired by Tara over at Sticky Fingers for The Gallery


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        Blackpool – The British Glee

        All this talk of Glee, has had me thinking.  Now I really like Glee, it pretty much does what is says on the tin and I Sky+ it and watch it when Maxi is at school and Mini at preschool, but I kept thinking it reminded me if something.

        So let me present you Blackpool.  A BBC production from a while back (2007)

        OK so they sing over the songs, but it was wonderful, ground breaking and it had David Tennant in it, what more could a girl ask for.

        Oh and the songs were so varried it made great viewing.


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        Sunflower Club

        We are taking part in Nuturestores Sunflower Club and have been busy planting our seeds. We are using single giant sunflowers and have decided to start them off inside, as last year our sunflowers were pretty late and lame!

        So we decided to plant our seeds in egg shells, as sunflowers don't like to be transplanted and this is a great and Eco friendly way of doing this.

        Both the boys love gardening which makes my heart sing and we will be planting more seeds over the coming weeks

        We put one seed in each egg shell and covered with more soil.

        We are going to be doing a scrapbook like Nurturestore have and keep a record of growth etc over the coming months too.  When I asked Mini what did the sunflowers seeds need to grow, he told me that they need soil, water, sunshine and lots of love.


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        Spiritual Sunday – A pause in Lent week 5

        Firstly an update on the shouting.  We have had a few relapses, but it is actually getting easier.  I have noticed a real difference, it is not my first reaction a situation.

        Also the fact that I have been unwell has meant that the volume button has had to be turned down with the boys too.  This is good news, no actually this is great.  On the few occasions I have had to raise my voice the impact has been immediate and it feels good not to be all fishwife.

        I have been discussing Jesus with the boys and they are both finding it hard to comprehend about the resurrection, so I have bi passed this for now and we have been discussing the fact that Jesus was aware that his death was near.  This seems to sit fine with the boys, infact death is not a thing to be feared in their eyes.  It is a natural progression in their eyes.

        Part of it is down to their Grandpa being a farmer, so everything is black and white with no in between, part of it is down to their innocence and their trusting in what Mad Dad and I say, which is fine, but it does make it hard to sometimes deal with the bible.

        So peeps, I need some help here, we need some help.  How would you discuss Easter with a 3 and a 5 year old, they are both bright and love to learn.  I would like some ideas on way to explain this to them.

        MadDad is a very lapsed catholic and Easter doesn't hold any pleasure for him at all and that is not what I want for the boys, so friends I am all ears.


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        The Photo Lottery

        I have been tagged by The Musings of a geriatric Mummy and I am sure someone else too, to do the Photo Lottery Meme, the rules are:

        1. Open the first (oldest) photo folder in your computer library
        2. Scroll to the 10th photo
        3. Post the photo and the story behind it
        4. Tag 5 or more people to continue the thread

        OK the oldest digital photographs I have on the laptop are from 2003 and our trip to South Africa. This is the tenth one and not all that stunning in its imagery, but as a part of modern history it is just beyond my comprehension.

        For this is the cell that Nelson Mandela occupied for approx 18 years during his imprisonment on Robben Island. He was finally released only 13 years before this picture was taken on 11 February 1990 (he didn't spent the last part of his sentence on Robben Island).

        The whole tour of Robben Island was very emotional, as we were shown round by an ex-prisoner and oh my it was certainly an eye opener. The hardships that these people endured. The hard labour where they were forced to work in a Lime Quarry and were refused a lot of basic medication.

        We were amazed by South Africa when we visited and had the best holiday ever. You have to remember that this is a third world country, with such a mixture of first and third word, that it is mind boggling.

        The people we friendly, the hospitality excellent, the food was outstanding and the scenery well out of this world. One day we hope to be lucky enough to take our boys and show them.

        Plus I am very envious of anyone who is going to the world cup. They will have a fantastic time, in a beautiful country that has come such a long, long way since the days of apartheid, but still has a long way to travel.

        I need to Tag 5 other people to do it too and I am going to tag some of the new people I have been introduced to via The Gallery

        Mums gone to....

        What's happening at my house

        Barefoot in the Kitchen

        Freckles family


        Now if you have tagged me recently, please can you drop me a line, as the flu has fried my brain and I can not find my notebook where I write all these things down - doh, I am having a homer moment as we call them.

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        Calling for entries for the Next British Mummy Bloggers Carival

        It seems like eons ago I put my name down to host one of the wonderful Mummy Bloggers Carnival and finally my time has come. 

        So I would like to put a shout out to everyone out there to send me their best post of the past month for the next carnival which will go live on Tuesday 30 March.

        There is no theme, just send me the link for the post you wish to include, oh and daddy bloggers are welcome too!

        You can either leave me a comment with the link on this post or e-mail me via muminthemadhouse at orange dot co dot uk

        I have a hard act to follow, have you seen the current carnival over at Baby Baby, well done Sandy.

        Want to know more then mosey on over to British Mummy Bloggers and the BMB Carnivals

        The deadline for post submissions is midnight on Sunday 28 March.


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        Dear So and So

        Dear Breast Cancer
        I found out you had took another member of the family yesterday. It makes me so sad and angry to see you focusing your attention of the female maternal line of my family. You are an evil shit and I will not succumb.

        A tearful MadMum
        Dear Mum

        I am sorry that they (the powers that be) feel that you do not qualify for a stair life, but shouting at me isn't going to get you one either.

        Your exasperated daughter

        Dear GP

        Flu, what real flu, you have to be kidding me, what with vertigo too. How can I bloody manage to look after myself let alone anyone else this week.

        A not very good sickly person

        Dear Friend

        Thank you from the bottom on my heart for going out of your way to take the boys to and from school and preschool this week. You have gone above and beyond.
        An amazed and very pleased to have you MadMummy

        Dear MadDad

        I am more than happy with my wonderful "Lucozade and ice cream marriage", hearts, flowers and candles are all all over rated anyway. Love you.

        Lets have an early night (wink) MadMummy

        Dear Maxi

        I do hope I haven't passed on my fever to you dear, but with a temp of 39.9 it seems like a possibly may have.
        An ever kissing MummyMad

        Dear School

        Just stop already with the charity days. Yes the boys will come to school in sports wear and bring £1 each. Yes they will both walk, run or crawl a mile and I will give them more money and yes they need lose change as you are going to make a sports relief logo of coins in the school hall. I am happy for you to send begging letters, just don't tell the children how much you expect them to bring in

        A skint parent

        Dear Brother

        I know you are a man and I know she gets on your nerves, but just put up with mother this week please.
        A stern older sis

        Dear Sleepiness

        I could really do with you having a chat to you mate insomnia this week. I want to knock the sleeping pills on the head, but he isn't making it easy for me.

        An in charge MadMummy

        Dear Pain

        Please see the above, I am going to manage so give me a break please.

        A determined MadMummy

        Inspired by 3 bedroom Bungalow's Dear So and So.


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        15 years ago my body let me down

        I could go down the I have a genetic spelling mistake and my body is my biggest enemy, route,  but been there done that and there is something more apt, something more perfect for today.  As today is my 15th Wedding Anniversary.

        Picture this I was 21 years old and we had set the date, MadDad and I.  March the 18th 1995.  The dress was bought, the hair was planned.  I had the tiara and the veil.

        We had been together a year, yes not long in the scheme of things, but we knew that it was the right thing to do, in fact I had knew that MadDad was the one from the minute I met him when I was 16, but he was taken and that is a whole different post!

        We had decided that we would announce our engagement and the date for our wedding a the same time and we also decided we didn't want a big engagement, so September 1994, we told our parents we were getting married and there was 6 months to plan it.

        Long enough to get everything in place, but not too long to start fretting about things and also not long enough for the costs to get all silly.

        Everything was in place, just the final little bits to sort, nothing major and then I realised that I couldn't see right, that road signs weren't clear and that there was something wrong, so off to the opticians I went.

        It was a disaster I was short sighted and I needed glasses.  The optician was baffled as I had only had my eyes tested 6 months previous and the deterioration was pretty serve.  So I needed glasses.  I went home and I sobbed my heart out.  I was so upset.  I got some glasses and I hated them.  I didn't want to wear them to the wedding, but how would I see anyone.

        So back to the opticians I went to ask about contact lenses.  Yes I could have some, but they would be pretty expensive, in fact they were going to cost in excess of £100 and it was £100 we didn't have, especially as we had just found out MadDad had been made redundant.  So I went home sad and defeated.

        The next day I received a phone call from the opticians to go back in and collect my lenses, I was baffled, he went on to explain that my mum and dad had paid for them for me and that he wanted me back in so that I could get used to them over the week before the wedding.

        So on March 18 1995 I walked down the isle to here comes the bride and I could clearly see MadDad looking at me with tears in his eyes.  I could see the congregation, I could see my mum crying in the front pew and I was overjoyed.  As I walked down the isle Mrs Mad to I vow to thee my country I could see everyone looking at me.  

        Yes my body let me down, but my family didn't.

        Marring MadDad was the best thing I ever did, it was the best day of my life and I love him more today than I ever though possible.  So I want to say thank you, my soul-mate for being there for me through thick and thin, sickness and health and for being the constant companion by my side.  I love you.


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        The Gallery – Colour

        This weeks Gallery prompt was Colour, now there are lots of colourful things round TheMadHouse and I couldn't settle on one and plus I am feeling pretty under the weather.  I have flu (real flu - I don't think I have ever had it before), with vertigo thrown in for extra measure and didn't fancy looking though my laptop image archives.  

        So I grabbed the camera and have taken three images that represent a snapshot of life  in The Mad House.

        Our art wall in the kitchen, ever changing, but always a colourful expression of the boys artistic endeavors

        A vase of daffodils in the kitchen, these are starting to turn a little, but don't fail to make me smile

        Lego, pretty self explanatory!


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        The Very Hungry Caterpillar Party – Maxi’s 5th Birthday

        I am lucky, Maxi doesn't crave big expensive parties, he is happy with a few friends and family round and things to do and quality time with his fiends.  This makes me happy and I am more than happy to oblige whenever I can.

        Last year this found me making, baking and decorating cakes one day after my discharge from hospital after my double mastectomy with my drains in.  So whatever we did this year it was bound to be easier!

        Maxi asked for a Hungry Caterpillar Party, so I scoured the Internet for inspiration and I needn't have worried at all.  So with no further ado I give you Maxi's Birthday Party.

        His Birthday Crown.  The idea is that I add an item each year to represent his birthday.

        The cake, what can I say, maxi is chocolate cake obsessed so the head is a large  chocolate cake filled with chocolate butter cream icing and the cup cakes are both chocolate and vanilla with vanilla icing (all the spare ones are going to the school) 

        Instead of little candles we loaded the cup cakes with sparklers and maxi had lots of fun blowing them out.

        I drew images of all the food the hungry caterpillar liked to eat on the windows in the conservatory and let the children have lots of fun colouring in butterflies that I also drew.

        Yes this is a butterfly doncha know!!

        The children all made bookmarks, inspired by Ali at Domasticali.  They also coloured in images I downloaded from Eric Carles web site too.  I punched circles from green and red tissue paper and lots of gluing and sticking took place.

        Lots of fun was had decorating cookies we had made in the shape of butterfly's too

        Oh and of course there was food and lots of it, in fact we had everything the caterpillar ate except for the cherry pie (as I don't have a cherry stone remover)!

        The children had a great time, we also had traditional party games, including pass the parcel, musical statues, musical chairs and sleeping lions.  I cooked a large ham roast and left most of the adults in the kitchen making their own sandwiches!


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        The most destructive known hurricanes rate as Category 5
        Muslims pray to Allah five times a day
        Five the number of digits on one hand or foot
        The pentagram, or five-pointed star  
        five elements: (water, fire, earth, wood, and metal)
        The five basic tastes are sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami.

        Maxi's last night as a four year old

        Five for me is the age that Maxi turns on the 16 March.

        For five years we have been blessed to have watched you grow and develop
        To see you start to become the man you have the potential to be.
        You fill my heart with joy, with optimism and excitement.
        You have brought many smiles to my face and many tears to my eyes.
        You have made me realise that being responsible doesn't have to be scary all the time.
        You make me jump in ice cold sea and allow me to feel the sand between my toes.
        You give me the freedom to sit next to you and listen to you read to me.
        You are a shoot waiting for the right elements to allow you to grow
        Sometimes I just have to look at you, to watch you sleep and eat and play
        To see a glimpse of the world through your eyes
        The innocence of a child coupled with a worldly wiseness beyond your years.
        What a wonderful ride these first five years have been 
        Here to many, many more

        Who is Maxi?

        He is a whirlwind, a ball of energy
        Tenacious, persistent, a know it all
        Cheeky, endearing and charming
        A flirt, a firm friend and a joyous heart
        He is kind and caring
        Perceptive and knowing
        An eternal optimist,
        A tryer, a doer and  an ever inquisitive mind
        He shines in a crowd
        He is a affectionate and a contemplative
        Creative and inspiring
        He has a wonderful imagination
        He is compassionate and honest
        Generous, brave and loyal
        He lights up our lives

        Thank you for lighting up our lives, for being the best big brother and for being a wonderful son.  I would go to the end of the earth for you.  I have spent hours and hours in surgery to be with you and to have the pleasure of seeing you grow.  Wow how can you be five already.  I love you.


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        Getting Maxi – Part Three Coming Home

        So the story continues....

        We were allowed to bring Maxi home 3 days after I had given birth, my mum had gone back to North Yorkshire, so that we could spent some time on our own, just the three of us and the two cats.

        So we popped Maxi in to his car seat and left, just like that.  No one came and checked if we were going to be suitable parents, if we knew how to look after him or any such thing.

        The first thing we did was make a trip to Waitrose.  I was so sure I would breast feed that we didn't have any supplies, so we needed bottles, formula and a steriliser.  I was unable to breast feed due to the medication I had to take.  It was just so odd walking round the supermarket with the smallest baby, we were stopped all the time being asked about him.

        We arrived home to a house filled with cards and flowers and also a nursery.  MadDad had managed to paint the nursery and put together all the furniture whilst I was in hospital.  We hadn't done anything as we were so sure that this pregnancy would end in tears like all the others.  We popped Maxi in to his pram by the window (as he had slight jaundice) and proceeded to spend the whole day just gazing at him with complete wonder.

        MadDad had taken a couple of weeks as holiday and we kind of just pottered around, as I was recovering from my section and spent most of the time wondering how we managed to make something so beautiful.

        7 days after Maxi was born I was feeding him and MadDad was getting his bottles ready when I sneezed and felt a little damp (TMI Alert - I thought I had wee'd myself), so I asked MadDad to come and finish feeding whilst I got changed. 

        If only it had been a wee!  I had split my scar and had to be restitched after a 999 dash to the hospital.  Gosh this parenting lark was eventful.

        I took things a lot easier after that, I guess that I was so ill during the pregnancy and I had stopped feeling sick and ill once I gave birth that I had been overdoing things.  We still look at Maxi and think "I made that" and stand in utter amazement at the complexities of a human and think "how it is all possible"?

        I look at Maxi complete awe, he is no longer a baby, he turns 5 tomorrow and love him more now than the day he was born, I have been blessed with such a wonderful child and many people wonder how we would have go on to have Mini after such an experience with Maxi.  Well he turns four in June and in the lead up to his birthday, I will be posting a "Getting Mini" series, so you will have to wait for those answers.

        But I would do it all again in a heartbeat, even now if it was physically possible.


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        What Makes a Mother?

        Do you ever just look at your children and feel a tugging in your chest. A physical sensation of how much they mean to you?
        Do you ever just want to hold them to tight, to squeeze the air out of them?
        Do you ever want to spend an hour kissing them or stroking their baby-soft skins?
        Do you ever tell them how perfect they are in every way possible and how much you love them?
        Do you ever wonder who speeded up time now your a parent. How can another year have passed so quicky?
        Do you let them know that you like them and enjoy being with them.
        Do you ever sit when the house is silent and wonder what life was like before they came along?
        Do you ever watch them sleep and wonder what they do in their dreams?

        I look at my boys and my oh my, my heart skips a beat.
        I look at my boys and get an overwhelming urge to breath in their smells and to lick their delicious skin.
        I want to watch them walk around naked as children should, their perfect bums all peachy and adorable.
        I enjoy mostly the minutes I spend in my children's company, they fill me with wonder and awe. I truly like them as people most of the time too.
        I watch them as they sleep, the rhythm of their chests rising and falling brings me peace.
        I listen as they chat to each other and laugh at their funny little ways.

        So this is what it means to be a mother. Happy Mothers day to you all.

        But this is also what it means to be a mother. My darling step neice lost her only child due to complications due to his Cerable Paulsy at seven months old and this will be her second mothers day without him, this is what she asked the vicar to read out at his funeral and it has haunted me ever since

        What Makes A Mother

        I thought of you and closed my eyes
        And prayed to God today
        I asked "What makes a Mother?"
        And I know I heard him say
        A Mother has a baby
        This we know is true
        But, God, can you be a mother
        When your baby's not with you?

        Yes, you can he replied
        With confidence in his voice
        I give many women babies
        When they leave it is not their choice
        Some I send for a lifetime
        And others for the day
        And some I send to feel your womb
        But there's no need to stay.

        I just don't understand this God
        I want my baby here
        He took a breath
        and cleared his throat
        And then I saw a tear
        I wish I could show you
        What your child is doing today
        If you could see your child smile
        With other children and say
        "We go to earth to learn our lessons
        of love and life and fear
        My mummy loved me so much
        I got to come straight here
        I feel so lucky to have a Mum who had so much love for me
        I learned my lessons very quickly
        My Mummy set me free.

        I miss my Mummy oh so much
        But I visit her each day
        When she goes to sleep
        On her pillow is where I lay
        I stroke her hair and kiss her cheek
        And whisper in her ear
        Mummy don't be sad today
        I'm your baby and I am here"

        So you see my dear sweet one
        Your children are okay
        Your babies are here in My home
        And this is where they'll stay
        They'll wait for you with Me
        Until your lessons are through
        And on the day you come home
        they'll be at the gates for you

        So now you see
        What makes a Mother
        It's the feeling in your heart
        It's the love you had so much of
        Right from the very start
        Though some on earth
        May not realize
        Until their time is done
        Remember all the love you have
        And know that you are
        A Special Mum


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        Getting Maxi – Part Two the birth

        I hope you are sitting comfortably, I just want to preface this with a little word about the fact that yes, getting Maxi was a long hard journey, but it was pretty joyous too.  We got a wonderful son at the end of this all and it was so worth it in every sense and way.  So although it may all seem traumatic wrote down like this, it was a blessed time for us all.  I also wanted to say that all children are precious and Maxi is no more or less precious for the heartache it took to get him and also he has no idea what we went though and nor will he.

        Right where were we?

        I had been given the OK to be induced at 38 weeks after 10 days in hospital.  So Sunday I was given a suppository, which didn't do anything and I was then given a further 2 suppositories which failed to get me to progress beyond 3cm.  Monday came and went, as did most of Tuesday.

        At this point the Consultant and the Midwife decided that they would break my waters and pop a monitor on Maxi's scalp.

        Up until this point I was coping with the TENS machine and pethidine, although I hated the feeling it gave me, in fact I think that is why Monday and Tuesday passed me by.  I couldn't have gas and air as it was making me sicker.
        So I asked, well I begged for an epidural and thankfully in less than 10 minutes I was given an epidural and it was fantastic, I went for a pain score of 8 to one of 3, which would have been zero apart from there was a spot on my right side that just refused to numb.  It was very early Wednesday morning by this point and my mum had gone back to our house.  MadDad had been with be for over 80 hours solid.

        I seemed to be progressing quite well with the epidural and the drip getting to 8cms, when all of a sudden everything changed.  I had a bleed and I also had decelerations in Maxi's heartbeat which didn't recover.  This was 11.50am and by 12noon Maxi had been born by Crash section.

        This was a very surreal experience and everything seemed to happen in super fast speed with MadDad running behind me putting on scrubs.  All the theatres were full so I used an emergency one which is actually at the end of a corridor on the delivery suite.

        I was given more local anesthetic and warned that I would possibly feel some thing sue to the area which refused to numb.  We were also told that they didn't want to put me under a general anesthetic due to the vomiting and if I did have to have it that I would wake up with a tube down my throat.

        It all happened oh so fast and within 5 minutes Maxi was born with an apgar of 10 and weighing 7lb 2 oz.  I have never cried so much in my life, tears that he was fine, then things get a little hazy.

        MadDad filled me in on the details after, as I was still losing blood, he said it looked as though I was in a slaughter house behind the curtain, blood everywhere, so much so that they dropped my placenta!

        They sorted me out, stitched me up, offered me a blood transfusion, which I declined and then took me to a private room and that is the last thing I remember for a full 24 hours!

        My body was battered and bruised and my blood levels were all over the place.  The consultant had come in and they had started me on some medication to stabilise me and MadDad took over looking after Maxi, I woke up to see him sat on the seat next to me giving him a bottle and telling him how wonderful he was, it was a scene that melted my heart.

        3 days post section we were allowed home.


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        Getting Maxi – Part One The Journey

        MadDad and I had been married nearly 10 years before Maxi came along and how he came to be is a story in itself.  He will be 5 on 16 March 2008 and I want to tell you all a little more.

        I used to suffer with painful periods from being quite young and had undergone laparoscopy before I was even 16 and diagnosed wit Endometriosis, so I always knew that falling pregnant might be harder for me.  With this in mind MadDad and I never really used contraception once we were married.

        3 years in to our marriage I fell pregnant, I had terrible morning sickness and was told that this could be a sign of twins and when we had the first scan we were overjoyed at the news that I was carrying twins.  We didn't tell anyone in the family yet though, we wanted to do it in person and as we lived in Berkshire and they all lived in North Yorkshire, we needed to plan a weekend to visit.

        I was still suffering with serve morning sickness and so it was decided that I needed to go into hospital to be re hydrated and put on a drip.  An additional scan was also ordered as my blood tests were not as they should be.  Unfortunately the scan showed that the baby's no longer had a heartbeat. MadDad and I were beside ourselves. MadDad had the really hard phone call to tell my parents that I had been expecting twins and now I wasn't an was seriously ill in hospital. I had to undergo emergency surgery due to issues with my liver and woke to fin MadDad and my parents by my side.

        I fell pregnant again shortly after losing the twins and this time was even sicker than the last time, but we put this down to the fact that is might possibly be twins again.  I was in and out of hospital being re hydrated for the first 6 weeks of the pregnancy and then I had a scan.  Well the sonographer went deathly pale and stuttered that she needed to get a colleague.  Me an MadDad knew that something must be terribly wrong.

        Th sonographer returned with her colleague and they went on to explain that the pregnancy was not viable and that the consultant would meet me back at the ward and explain why.  Good to her word she was sat on my bed and explained t MadDad and I that I had hydatidiform mole, also know as a molar pregnancy and again I need to be operated on to remove the "product".  She also went on to explain that I would have to have monthly blood and urine tests for up to 2 years to ensure that the product was not growing anywhere else within my body.

        Again MadDad made the calls and I woke to find my parents at my bedside, but his time I felt terrible.  I was still vomiting and generally felt very under the weather.  I finally went home and had to have the full two years of testing as my levels did not stabilise early enough.

        By this time MadDad and I resigned ourselves to remaining a couple, nine years had passed since our marriage and we decided to move to a new house.  We got a rather large mortgage and concentrated on our careers and on having fun.

        One day I started to feel really sick, in fact I couldn't stop vomiting.  This went on for a week and in the end I made an appointment with my GP, who prescribed me some anti-nausea tablets, but also insisted I do a pregnancy test before taking them.  Well you could have knocked me an MadDad down with a feather when we realised I was actually pregnant, especially as I hadn't had any periods for 6 months due to the Endometriosis.

        Due to my past history I was offered an early scan, which we took up and I found out I was 14 weeks pregnant.  We were overjoyed, but the sickness didn't stop.  It kept getting worse and it seemed as though I was permanently in the hospital.  In the end the consultant suggested that MadDad give me anti-emetic injections 3 times a day.  So he did.  it didn't stop the sickness, but it reduced it to a manageable 3 or 4 times a day.

        But I then started to get serve pains in my tummy, which we put down to indigestion, soon the pain was so serve I was fainting from it and then I got a yellow tinge.  It was discovered that I was having issues with my gall bladder and I needed to have it removed for my safety and the safety of my unborn child.

        It was at this point that we decided to tell my family and colleagues at work and at 20 weeks pregnant I was operated on and my gall bladder removed.  It really did ease the pain, but unfortunately it didn't stop the sickness.

        I managed to keep maxi safe inside until I was 36 weeks pregnant when all my bloods went very squiffy, so it was decided that I was to be admitted to the hospital.  I was supposed to go on to an antenatal ward, but it was very quickly decided that I would be on the delivery ward, where I had round the clock care. MadDad and I were allocated a suit with a double bed and my mum came to Berkshire to stay and for the next two weeks, I walked round and round the delivery suite and had very little sleep, lots of vomit and tears and loads of hugs fro MadDad and my mum.

        I was also given steroids to ensure Maxi's lungs would be OK and it was decided that I was to be induced at 38 weeks,  I have never been so excited to get the go ahead for the induction....

        More to follow


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        Under Pressure

        I usually thrive on pressure, at least I did BC (Before Children), but now I am not so sure. 

        I think maybe I was being optimistic about looking for a part time job, as it seems that mum is not going to get back on her feet so easily this time and it looks as though I am going to have to spend more time looking after her as well as the children.

        What the Consultant has said is that she has permanent lung damage due to smoking and also the latest chest infection and reduced her respiratory ability too.  They officially  call it Type 2 respiratory failure or COPD.  In the olden days it would have been called smokers lung or emphysema.  In all honesty I wish they would have called it either of them with mum when she was first diagnosed as it may have spurred her on to quit smoking before now, which is too little too late.

        She also has been diagnosed with anemia, which is obviously not helping with her oxygen stats, so has had a number of scans.  She will also need a gastroscopy and colonoscopy, but can not undergo the sedation at the moment as her oxygen levels may drop too much (sedation reduced the rate you breath at).

        Mum has been staying with us since her discharge from hospital a week ago and now the hard works starts in getting all the help and financial assistance we can.
        My mum lives on her own and this will not change until she needs round the clock nursing care, as she will not be looked after in either my brothers or my home (her choice and one that I am relieved immensely by).

        We always thought that it would be her rheumatoid arthritis which caused her to be unable to manage the stairs, so last year when an endowment matured she had a downstairs wet room installed, which will be a godsend, however, we still need to arrange to get 2 stair lifts installed.

        Why two you ask, well mum lived in an old victorian terrace and the bathroom is set on a landing between two staircases, as it was an add on at the rear of the house along with the kitchen and the levels are different to the bedrooms.

        I also need to arrange a wheel chair, as up to now we have always borrowed one when necessary.

        Someone to come in and do the cleaning and the ironing in the short term.  Once Mini is at school full time in September then I will do this on a daily basis, however, mum is going to need some help and assistance in getting up and dressed for a little while and also in cooking meals etc.

        It is so, so hard and makes me really sad.  I never thought I would be responsible for looking after my mum at 36 with a nearly 5 year old and a 3 year old to look after as well.  In addition to this I am aware that it is important that I continue to work on my relationship with MadDad too.

        Yes I am feeling it, the pressure, this is my mum, the woman who brought me up, we may not always see eye to eye, but I love her and can not bear the thought of losing her.

        Yes I am under pressure, I want her to live as independant a life as she can, I want her to enjoy her life and I want the grandchildren to have happy memories of their time with her.

        Yes I am under pressure, social care teams are woefully understaffed and getting any support is hard.

        But I am also under the opinion that you are only given the things you can handle to deal with and as a family we will all get through this.  My Brother has been fantastic, visiting every night even though he really needs to be in the club.
        MadDad is being a star as always, giving me the space and time I need to blog, be with the children and an ear to moan into and arms to fall into.
        I am not looking for sympathy, as you know that is not my thing, but a little understanding now and then, whilst I work at getting the balance right for all involved and yes I may be under pressure, but I do have my mother to celebrate mothers day with this Sunday and at the moment, after the few weeks we have had that is all I could have asked for.

        This post was inspired by prommt 5 What is making you feel under pressure right now?


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        The Past in Pictures

        Once I started scanning in pictures, well I couldn't stop and I have asked my mum of I can have the family tin, which is a box full of wonderful pictures and things from our family history.


        Look at those side burns, this is me and my wonderful dad.  I still have the rabbit, well mini has claimed it and my mum still lives in the same house, although she doesn't have the bar or the wonderful mural on the wall in the sitting room.

        This is me and my wonderful paternal Grandad who lived with us.  I was his reason for living.  He suffered from cancer before I was born and he always said he was waiting for me, he died when I was 17.


        Me and Lassie, Lassie was my Dad's dog given to him by his mum before she died way before I was born.  Lassie was my guard dog.  They used to pop me outside in my pram to sleep during the day and Lassie would guard me.


        Me and Mum, Mum was an older mother and she always seemed so glamorous to me growing up.  She made most of her and my clothes and I never really appreciated how much effort she put in.  we couldn't afford cloth kits (which were all the rage when I was little), but she would make our clothes from scratch often working late in to the night.  Oh and look I have red shoes on again.


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        Whitby for Lunch

        One of the biggest joys of relocating back to our native North East of England has been returning to some of the most stunning and outstanding scenery and places to visit in the whole of the British Isles.

        MadDad and I both grow up in the North East and MadDad spend the first 5 years of his working life in Whitby and this has become a firm favourite of the minimads.  

        As soon as they both saw the sun was shining today, they requested lunch at Whitby and who were we to disagree.  So in the car we popped and 20 mins later we were there.  MadDad knows all the best places to find a park and we were soon in the thick of it.

        If you are going to eat fish and chips in Whitby then there is only one place in our opinion worth going to and that is The Magpie Cafe.  You can eat in, but we prefer a takeaway on the harbour wall and it is our tradition.

        So we all queued to get our cod and chips twice, with home made tartar (me and Maxi), mushy peas (MadDad and Mini) and Lemon (Maxi).  We love the ritual of putting on the salt and vinegar and the smell, oh the smell is out of this world and takes your breath away for a short second.

        This was mine and Maxi's cod and chips today and I got a sniff of the batter and fish and I was allowed 2 dips in the tartar not that I mind.  it is great watching the children munch on all the fish and they do.

        20 mins later this is what the box looked like:

        The other box was just the same and the boys still had room for sweets and ice-cream!!  We made a visit to the old fashioned sweetshop on Sandgate and the boys chose popping candy and then before coming home we made a quick detour to Sneaton and picked up 2 small containers of ice-cream from Beacon Farm, which went down a treat after dinner Sunday Evening.

        In fact it was a perfect late winter, early spring day and I hope the start of many family outings to come.


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        A Pause in Lent – Tempation

        As I write this I am tired, not just physically, but also mentally too.  My mum is home, well at my home at the moment and visiting, arranging and organising has really tested me this last couple of weeks and will continue to do so I imagine.

        Firstly mum is going to be staying in TheMadHouse until we can arrange for stair lifts, which should have been done by the hospitals in-house social care and social work team, but the lady responsible for mum was off sick, so it was either stay in hospital (which she really didn't want) or come home to me.  The only other alternative was to move a bed downstairs to her dining room and that wasn't going to happen as that was were my paternal grandfather died.

        So here she is, which is such a relief, we have the oxygen machine and she is sleeping in the conservatory.  At least this way I can keep an eye on her and she can join us for all our meals too.

        My giving up shouting for lent has been better this week too, as I have been far too tired to shout, no really, the fact is the boys have enjoyed the change in the weather and going to the park after school is back on the daily agenda, as it lots of time outside on scooters and running around.

        All of these experiences has really got me thinking about temptations and trying to put yourself in someone else's shoes.  I am so aware that my mum is desperate not to lose her independence, so I have been trying to approach things from a different angle with her.  to not make her feel any worse about her situation.


        The worst thing for me is that this illness is preventable, this illness is all caused by smoking.  My mum has been a lifelong smoker and this is why she is now on oxygen 15 hours a day and can not get up the stairs on her own.  

        She shouldn't be like this, in fact no one should have to be like this.  As an ex-smoker (I stopped as soon as I was pregnant with Maxi) this makes me incredibly angry.  

        Cigarettes are killers and shouldn't be available.  I can not believe that once my children turn 16 they will be able to walk in to a shop and buy something that can kill them.  It just seems so unnecessary to me, how in this day and age can we allow this to go on.

        Anyway I will jump down from my high horse and try and be more understanding and try and get through the next weeks and months with as much grace as I can.


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        Blog Swap – Introducing Kelly from A place of my own

        Hi Guys, Kelly and I have swapped homes for the day, I have posted over at her place today and she mine.  I have posted a great idea for Mothers day, so do pop on over and read it.  Also Kelly's blog is a great read in itself, so I urge you to have a good read, if you don't already. 

        Hi, I am Kelly from A place of my own and I have been allowed into the Madhouse for a day. It's really rather nice here, I promise to wipe my feet and tidy up after myself. I have written a little something to share with you all, I hope you enjoy it:

        I Tweet, do you?

        I cannot remember how it started, why I started or even how I found out about it. Which would have me worried about the state of my memory but I do know that I was pregnant at the time so that makes perfect sense. I have just looked and my first tweet was on 11th February 2009, and I tweeted:

        Eating polos and wondering if anyone would notice if she went home.

        Thankfully, within a day or so I stopped talking about myself in the third person and I hope that my tweets became slightly more interesting. Or perhaps a little more bizarre. Or a mix of both. At the start I followed a lot of celebrities, but over the months I have culled them out, preferring real people with real lives who will have conversations with me.

        In the beginning Twitter was fun, a way to connect with some new and interesting people. It was like Facebook but just the interesting status bit. It linked in with blogging, something that I had been doing for years. It came into its own when I finished work in May to go on maternity leave. I cannot say that I miss work, but I do miss the social aspect of working in a busy office. I miss the in jokes and the mickey taking. I miss sharing anecdotes about my weekend and moaning about someone or something that has upset me. I might not be able to do it face to face anymore, but whenever I want some company, a chat, a laugh it is all there, streaming into my home. I can dip in and dip out when I want to. Or I can switch it all off for a day and enjoy the quiet.

        It has other benefits as well. Those night feeds with a newborn were made more bearable as I connected with others doing exactly the same thing. Usually any time of day, and most of the night I have people on hand to offer advice, suggestions, to check information and to keep me sane. People who let me know that I am not alone, that reassure me that I am doing well, that sympathise when I am having a bad day, who send virtual (((hugs))). There is always someone there willing to share in my excitement when Piran hits a new milestone, or if I just feel like sharing a picture of him looking cute.

        It seems strange that I have been tweeting for over a year. Some days I wonder how long it will last, will I still be doing it in another year, two, five? Will something come along to replace it? Will everyone suddenly realise that they have better things to do? I really hope not.

        So, do you tweet? I am @Kellyfairy, and I would love it if you would introduce yourself and say hello. I promise to share some cute baby photos.
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        Marriage, mostly under rated I fear

        These are the flowers from my wedding bouquet, which we had made in to paperweights for me, mum, MIL and my Great Aunt

        I believe in the sanctity of marriage.  I believe in my vows all of them, yes even the obey.  I married MadDad 15 years ago next month and it was the best day of my life.  I believe that there is a reason to marry, that children are best when born within wedlock and also raised within a happy family.

        I believe that you must work hard at your marriage and that in principal a marriage is "death do us part".  I married MadDad with no intention of divorce and I feel even stronger about this now I have children.  I have high standards and hold MadDad to the same standards, but then he is the same with me.  I expect faithfulness in body, soul and mind.  I will not tolerate any infidelity even in thought and neither would he.