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Winter Walks

 Living in the heart of Devon means we are surrounded by some wonderful scenery. Every Sunday we try and get out for a walk as a family, whatever the weather, we gather up the wellies and coats and sometimes remember a picnic, getting out the house with three kids can be a bit of a mission so we aim to leave my 10:30am…. Nothing like blowing away the cobwebs and forgetting the pile of washing for a while. 
I love this time of year because the national trust places we visit (we are members) are normally quiet. Today I’m sporting a very stylish eye patch… Not unlike a pirate… I’ve developed a cornea infection as a result of my acne….so the chill in the air helped hide my shame and embarrassment… The camera hid the rest of my face… Here’s a few pics from the last few weeks

  

  

  

  

  

   
    
    
    
    
   

    
   

12

What to expect: the boob diaries 

Breastfeeding! I’ve touched on this topic before, it’s a subject close to my heart (pun fully intended). Now, I know promoting breastfeeding can be seen as ‘pushy’! and, listing the benefits or mentioning that formula is inferior can raise emotions. There are articles upon articles of the benefits of breast feeding for both mother and child….. This is not one of them, it’s a what to expect guide from my own experiences and my role as a parenting supporter, I feel I need to add a joke or further pun there, to fit my normal style but I’m struggling, sometimes this parenting stuff needs to have a serious side)

In the UK, only 1% of women successfully manage to nurse exclusively for 6 months…. Given that it’s estimated that 95% of women can physically do so. Why is this? I know that I’ve come close to quitting on several occasions with all three of my children. I want to share with you the things no one told me, the things I wish I’d known and the things bizarrely you don’t hear about, 

It takes a village to raise a child…. Thats people, not facts and figures… Real emotions are involved. Quoting IQ scores or immunity statistics only enhances the feeling of guilt many bottle feeders experience. Breastfeeding is everything your child needs. If a wonder drug came on the market that provided all the amazing things our milk does, what parent would turn it down? I bet not many, which means mums who don’t breastfeed don’t take this choice lightly, for many it’s not a choice, it’s a decision made through tears, frustration and exhaustion… A decision that feels taken away from them.

So here are some facts from my own experience!

Breastfeeding hurts!!!!

If your baby is latched correctly it shouldnt hurt I was told when big girl H was born! So why did my toes curl, my teeth grind and my boobs sting and ache every time she came to my breast….despite midwives,YouTube and every frikkin book I read, saying she was on correctly?? Seriously!!! I actually used to bite down on a teething ring and cry. 

Truth is! When we were in the recovery room she had gone on fine first time, no pain, no desire to run away, no thoughts of I can’t bare this…. but, sometime between then, and a feed down the line, the pain kicked it. Imagine falling off a bike, grazing your knees, then having to get back on repeatedly, not giving them time to heal… Splitting them open with every turn of the spokes! This is why breastfeeding hurts! All it takes is one poor latch… Which in the early days is bound to frikkin happen cos you know, you’ve never had to do it before and your baby is used to an all encompassing life support system which requires no effort…… (More magnified if they are poorly, underweight or prem) Then imagine, that pain is so bad but you have no idea if it’s damage pain, or poor latch pain…. You’re tired, exhausted, youre feeling like a failure cos it’s meant to be natural…. Is it right? Is it thrush? Should you leave baby on, take her off, call someone?? 

There’s rarely support 

Who you gonna call then? Ah your midwife…. Any midwife… What?! every time you baby wants a feed?? (I’ll get on to that in a sec) To breastfeed you will feel as though you need someone there 24/7, someone offering you constant pointers and reassurance, affirmation you’re doing a fab job and its normal! Or,when it’s not normal, and you should seek help.

But then you also feel you should trust your own instincts…. Something which is impossible to do when you’re a hormonal mess, one min you’re crying, then laughing, then you move quickly and your back hurts from the spinal or hours of pushing or your c section scar stings,…. And you can’t take pain killers strong enough cos your frikkin breastfeeding.., and your baby is crying and you know you’re a mother who should be soothing and comforting her… But you feel like your lack of knowledge is the REASON SHE is crying….and there’s no midwife there 24/7. Your partner is trying, but he doesn’t have breasts (bastard) or your mum/sister/aunt is saying the wrong things. So someone says formula and you feel a bit more confident! Yes I can do that, my partner can do that. They can help! I’m not alone in this battle anymore. My baby is crying! And it’s suddenly within your power to make it better… And what mother doesn’t want that??

Your baby will cry more than you expect

The world is a strange and scary place for the newborn. Coupled with a tiny tiny tummy, she cries a lot! You think there is no way she needs more milk? She just fed for an hour on sore nipples. perhaps you’re thinking I’ve had ten mins to get a drink and she’s crying again! Everyone says she hungry…. There is no way you’re producing enough milk, you express: nothing happens save a drop of the white stuff and that took 20mins. You clearly dont have the supply…

 This is not true, pumping is no match for a child’s latch… In fact I couldn’t even express one drop with nerg… If he had been number one I would have concluded my supply insufficient… But, If your baby is putting on weight, has wet or dirty nappies and otherwise a clean bill of health from your check ups… She is getting enough. (Always see a professional if you’re concerned) maybe she wants to feel close to you, reconnect, breathe in your smell, top up that tiny belly…. Breast satisfies many needs.

Most people don’t care

The media likes to remind us daily that breastfeeding is an issue,that women are harassed and hounded on the streets for providing milk to their offspring. While I’m not denying this happens, I can tell you I’ve never experienced it!! Not once, with any of my children, even when they passed a year. I have, however had compliments and smiles and, in turn, I have offered a knowing nod to other women publically nursing. Many  new mums, especially if they’re experiencing the issues mentioned, are terrified to leave the house! Worried about the boob police… I’m not saying it won’t happen to you! But I can say there are a lot of people out there who support you and your baby…. And the rest? Well, name and shame then in the daily mail…

Don’t be afraid

Maybe if I had heard these before having a baby I would have been scared, afraid of the pain that was coming… But isn’t that what we do when pregnant? We know labour hurts but we are ready and willing for the rewards? What if no one told you labour hurt? You were walking in blind

I also know that if someone was with me in those early days, perhaps reading the above to me, I would have felt consoled, understood and supported. Big girl h had a few bottles in those first weeks…. But I did persevere (read my other link for my reasons) and, I have successfully nursed all three of my children into toddlerhood. 

Perhaps if somone had told me beforehand it wouldnt be natural or easy I may have avoided even those early formula feeds. I don’t beat myself up about them and I don’t tell you to brag. I just want any mums out there gong through those early days to know that, more often than not those problems are NORMAL! And every breastfeeder has experienced them and come out the other side. 

One last thing
It gets easier!!!!! I promise! 
  

Mami 2 Five
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Work in Progress 

That’s right! We are rebranding and relaunching our site very soon. Out with the old and in with the new as they say.  

Rather like myself, this blog is a bit squigy around the edges! Links to nowhere and hastily styled. It’s time to bring it up-to-date. I’m so excited! First on the to-do-list is a new logo! Then it’s on to a a brand spanking new custom layout…. I’ll keep you updated on progress as we go along. I’m working with a fab web designer right here in Devon and can’t wait to share this journey with you all

I would love to hear your thoughts on what makes a perfect blog!

  
 

15

Not Another Grocery Haul

Today we went shopping! Grocery shopping! The monthly (ish) dash around Aldi to be precise. I love reading grocery haul posts on blogs, seeing the amazing and often colourful array of produce, along with the fab recipe ideas and meal plans, I also love watching grand designs….. And, in the same way there is no chance I will ever build a house from scratch and have Kevin Mcleod ’round for a cuppa in my reclaimed wood kitchen…. I’ll never quite manage those beautifully crafted grocery posts I so love reading. Here instead, is my version

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Before I go
Meal plans? Noo! I barely have time to plan my outfit… My leggings are really annoying me today, all twisted and loose at the crotch…. So I kinda just, you know look in the cupboards briefly to see what we need. Which if it’s grocery day is prob everything because I’ve worn down the contents over the last week (concoctions of beans and pasta cos I’ve been putting off the shop for days). Getting everyone out the house is like an episode of the Animals of Farthing Wood (remember that). In general we don’t tell the children where we are going, we just aim to leave within the hour…. And run back once they’re strapped in the car for the bags…. That way they can’t escape when they see the ‘bags for life’. Sometimes we forget these altogether and end up having to buy more. oooo you should see the array we have stashed around the house… Now that’s colourful grocery shopping!

Why Aldi?
We live in a tiny hamlet in the middle of the Devon countryside, we visit Tesco in the local town for a jolly regularly (too regularly) to pick up the fresh veg. (I mention Tesco a lot in my posts). Aldi is our Mecca (that and Ikea), every six weeks we visit to stock up on meat and fillers… It’s cheap! It’s also great quality and, because there is a smaller selection we get in and out in under half an hour…. It’s like supermarket sweep. A trolley each and go go go. Except today we forgot our pound tokens (we remembered the bags though) and felt asking the manager to unlock one trolley was embarrassing enough, let alone two… So I pushed, Scott carried, the children kinda put up with it and we dashed about in haste stopping only to readjust these bloody leggings.

Once home
Now I know this is where I’m meant to lay out all the items beautifully on the kitchen sides and photograph them in pretty wooden crates but well, I didn’t! I stuck on CBeebies and hastily scraped old crumbs out the cupboards and threw in the haul…. I gingerly walked over the decking in our garden to the shed to throw the meat into the chest freezer and bring back the washing from the tumble in the bags for life!

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What to cook?
With two jobs, a blog and three children I dont have time to cook from scratch; I can you know! Make sauces out of cornflour, herbs, sweat and tears etc… But I’d rather write about how I don’t  do it and shove pre-diced meat into the slow cooker with a jar of curry mix…. Then ding some rice… Because it’s so much easier and Thats how I roll! So here it is… Our grocery haul…. 8 hours later, already in the cupboards and some half eaten, but done! Done for another six weeks and only £150!

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Oh, a crème egg, how did that get there?

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Not So Shabby

20 years ago I got a dressing table for my birthday, it’s was in lovely 90s orange pine and all the rage back then. I had it in my bedroom with my porcelain doll collection and my peach paintsplatter walls…. I was so cool! Fast forward a few years and that dressing table has survived no less than 7 house moves. I think if I held onto it any longer it might even have come back in style. 

I  just couldn’t get rid of it though, great storage and extremely sturdy, it made its rounds across the westcountry and finally settled in H’s room last year, coincidently, she is now the same age I was when I got it all those years ago….. It was time for a make-over, an upgrade, and a step into the modern world of tweens.

So, two weeks, three packs of sand paper (yes I did it by hand), two undercoats, two glosses, chalk board black and a few random accessories later and it was finally complete. Scott lined the drawers with sticky back plastic and we added some new handles. 
It’s not shabby chic…. But not too shabby either. 

Disclaimer: the drawers get stuck and the room is a disaster zone 99.9% of the time, but still, go me… I spent weeks after wandering around the house, looking for things to paint!
 

Before

  

Sanded and primed

  

a touch of colour

  

done!

  

notes to our girlie

  

sometimes tidy……

    
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how the room looks most of the time

 

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The Little Things

It’s nearly Valentine’s Day…… (Said In a Sing song voice not dissimilar to Janice in friends) I know it’s not cool to say you expect, want, demand… Cough. A Valentine’s Day treat from your other half…. I mean love is for every day of the year not just one right??? WRONG!! I pretty much don’t love my husband 365 days…. Well, I certainly don’t show it every day, who does? He’s lucky if he gets a kiss goodbye in the morning rush, and at times, when we finally get the kids to sleep it’s not all roses, I mean there’s the dishes to sort the laundry to tackle and very important episodes of Buffy to watch. It’s nice to have a commercial day one a year where I and he, can be pampered.  

I Know I’ve spoken before about waiting for the next special occasion and how droll that is, but when your husbands language of love only extends as far as ‘Darling, I remembered to pick up eggs for pancake day’…. Oh wait no he forgot…. Let’s try again…. ‘Darling I ironed my own work shirts coz I’m not a dick or a mysoginist and I’m not sure you even know where the iron is…’ having one day where he has an opportunity to say we love each other is important to us. 

Valentine’s Day is like a free for all when you’re not actually soppy people…. I mean, if my other half turned around and said ‘I love you sugar plum’ on another day but Valentine’s, I would burst out laughing, look for the hidden camera and then raise my unplucked eyebrows so high they’d hit the pancake Remittance still on the ceiling, 

Our love is in the little things we do, it’s in the meals I manage to cook, the chocolate I pick up just for him and somehow manage to avoid eating myself… It’s in the inside jokes, the evening game of table tennis, the times I sacrifice Dr who on the sky plus so there’s room for his history documentaries. When I remember that he had an important observation at work at ask straight away how it went. It’s when I dish up the best roastie to his plate first (we use food to show love a lot) it’s when I dye my hair bright red because he said he thought it would look nice. It’s when I take the kids to tesco so he can sit in his pants watching football with a pot noodle (well I’ll do that some day). It’s when I send him stupid memes in the day and text him when he’s in the next room. When I allow him to leave the door open when he’s taking a crap or when I buy him a new toothbrush every year for Christmas. When I remember to pick up birthday cards for his family members and encourage the children to run to him when he gets home. When I make his lunch along with the children’s and put it in the fridge for the next day. When I scratch his back for hours and resist squeezing any spots. when I do Xmas, or Easter or birthdays so he can have a break when off work, when I check Twitter for positive work affirmations about him.

And for him?

He shows he loves me when he doesn’t ever ask what I’ve done all day, when he reloads the dishwasher after I’ve shoved everything in, when he washes my clothes first because he knows I’m in a cycle of about three good outfits (even though there’s drawers overflowing) it’s when he makes a parp sound when ever I bend over. Or if I’m ill and he brings me tea….. Or when I’m not ill and he brings me tea…. Or when it’s 7:30 and he’s got the children breakfast, made my coffee and shouted up for the fifth time that he’s got to get his train. It’s when he puts his car in my name or wears the hideous jumper I got him over the hideous one his mum got him. In fact it’s every time he’s put me first. From leaving the last bit of milk so I don’t have to go to the shop in the day to continually bigging up my achievements to those who say I’m not good enough. It’s his supporting of my breastfeeding in public by holding my breast pads and stop a stem of milk. Listing with me Harry Potter characters in the alphabet game while I’m in labour and holding up my dead weight leg when I’ve been pushing for 3 hours. It’s when he keeps track of my anti anxiety medication and picks up the prescription without me worrying I’m running low, or when he refills the car with fuel cos I worry about taking the children on the forecourt, 

As I stood in tesco earlier I looked for a card which said all of this, there were several other women in the same situation….. Why is it so hard to find the right one eh? I settled for this

  

With all the little things we don’t need Valentine’s Day, I mean he will never beat the treasure hunt proposal of 2010 and we normally play a game of who can buy the cheapist tackiest gift on the market… but the big things give you a chance to reflect on the day to day…. And if I get some flowers from my boo boo bear… Well that’s a bonus!! 

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‘Oh My Bags Are Packed

The big h! Not our daughter, she’s big girl h, let’s not get confused. I’m talking about holidays. If you’ve been with us from the start you’ll know we had a disastrous half term trip up north a few years ago, the trip itself, lovely, but the decision to take the scenic route home kinda ruined the experience, there’s children, car journeys and a story about poo, check it out if you have a chance and want a laugh,

My sister, who’s amazing and whose in no way slummy blog can be read here. Alerted me that Mark Warner were looking for their 2016 ambassadors . She encouraged me to apply and as part of that I’m required to blog about my ideal holiday. This is a big opportunity, the post I mean, I had planned to write a piece entitled, how not to blog about food, I even made a vegan chilli tonight and took some obligatory from above ingredients shots…. Now I don’t feel bad at all that I’m sat in bed with a child either side, a husband at the base snoring (it’s 8pm) and I’m eating a creme egg, washed down with a glass of coke….it’s a vegan creme egg…. It was laid by a vegan chicken, she had dreds, a henna tattoo and a nose ring!

Writing about my ideal holiday should be easy, Scott and I play this game every week when we mentally spend our lotto winnings before realising we haven’t won, have no chance of winning and screw up the ticket vowing never to play again. In my mind I’ve built a whole house, complete with pool and treehouse, playroom, library, games room and farmhouse style kitchen. I’ve even taken into account the plumbing system for the ensuites…. This has taken a considerable amount of time and brain power and it’s quite nice to progress beyond the house and imagine a Macdonald family holiday.

 

     As I’m a perfectionist, nothing will be spared in this imaginary foray, the journey itself will last about three hours, long enough for us to watch some inflight movies (a nice Disney) and for people to compliment us on our well behaved brood, smug smug! but not so long that we have to resort to I spy a cloud, the chair goes up the chair goes down and/or similar such desperate ‘please don’t let the children scream and get us chucked off the flight’ forms of self sacrificing entertainment. Maybe the airline will supply crayons? I remember colouring in pictures of Jimmy jet as a child and I think a similar character based book would help our lot also… Big girl h would go for pink and ask for glitter, Roo would stay in the lines merticuliously and Nergy noo would eat the crayons…. It would be like home from home, except in the sky… On a side note. The first time I went on a plane, I was four and, after colouring in Jimmy jet, I asked my mum where the dead bodies were…. Before you begin questioning hidden childhood issues, I’d like to point out that apparently I thought I was in heaven… Both sweet and creepy at the same time right? I wonder how the mini Macdonalds would react?

Bc (before children) we were champions of the city break…. A visit to Rome (obligatory when your husband is a lecturer in Classics) and Amsterdam (obligatory when you’re a new couple and trying to demonstrate that you’re a cool, aloof, adventurous and in no way threatened girlfriend). Because we are such a cool couple, we hired a camper for our honeymoon and toured the filming locations of poldark!! This is pre Aiden Turner Poldark…. Told you we were cool!!!! We kept all the national trust stumps and spent hours in empty campsite club houses perfecting our table tennis skills…. Rain and holidays are our aesthetic!SC (Since children), we have managed a break to see friends in the north, a failed trip to Scotland for Christmas where the, it’s so perfect it’s snowing, went too far and we had to cancel, lest we be trapped on the road with a Christmas tree, abnormally large Turkey and another five miles to reach the cottage we hired (it had a hot tub and everything) and more recently, a long weekend to Peppa Pig world, no hot tub, lots of rain and actually fun had by all.

  


Children are our main focus now, bet that’s a relief to hear….. We wouldn’t want childcare when away, mainly because that would also require a wet nurse for nergy noo but also because we quite like having them! So entertainment and exploration would be the core theme. Not ones to lazy about in the sun we quite fancy a giant tree house holiday with cycle paths, pottery and waterslides… A hot tub for the evening might help soothe some past hurts. Any holiday has to be combined with the teaching calendar so we haven’t actually been abroad since our hen and stag dos…. Woe be us. Lots of all inclusive food because holiday calories never count and because I’ve lost four stone this year and want to challenge myself to see how long it takes to put it all back on.

A real Brady bunch affair, where we say goodnight in singsong voices after hot chocolate and fun filled frolics of the day… Family picnics, running through the daisies…. Spilt drinks and cucumber sandwiches, you get the picture! It’s all about togetherness. 

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We are fairly quiet people, In fact when deciding on peppa pig world I had to remind my other half that a house in the countryside really wouldnt be a holiday as we currently live in a house, in the countryside. The rain of that long weekend meant there were no queues…and,as introverts we relished that there were not many people either, what a bonus!

 so, an ideal holiday for us has a shortish flight, crayons, a hot tub, lots of active and kid friendly activities, a hot tub, no other people, a hot tub, a tree house, lots of food, a hot tub, a wet nurse and possibly peppa pig (cos we know we can handle her! What do you think Mark Warner? Up to the Macdonald challenge?…..

Did I say I’d like a hot tub? Or course that is in the imaginary house that Emily build so Im quite happy to forgo that if youd like to supply a lotto ticket instead??? Now you did say you don’t need a replica of our dissertations for this blog post…. But just so you know, I got a first for my dissertation…… And my degree in fact….. Media and Creative Writing degree…… With a combined honours in ‘I’d be a wonderful holiday brand ambassador cos I’m funny and have a beautiful family’ if you’re not swayed…. Here an incentive…… It’s play money….but it’s bribed our way out the playroom and up to the dining table many times….. Only looking at it gives it away!!….. Oh I do have a SLR camera in the study charging…. Next to the passports