The Art of Parenting

The Art of Parenting

The Art of Parenting

The Art of Parenting. How is there an art to parenting? Like, I make sure Team Twiglet are fed, watered and clothed, does that make me an artiste? Is it my flair for entertaining voices in the bath? Or perfecting the ever so important Mum Glare when the kids are turning into possessed Tasmanian devils in the cereal isle? Either way, I’m not convinced there is an art to it.

Same Shit, Different Day.

We are on week 5 of the epically long Summer Holidays, and I think all of us are beginning to lose a marble or two. Artistic it most definitely is not!

There are so many hints and parenting tips for you to absorb in the magical world wide web, it is pretty much an Idiots Guide to Parenting.   

Team Twiglet, wet play. Parenting Fails and Pigtails. The Art of Parenting.

Except, the main thing that seems to be sparse in the advice for parents of babies to teens alike, is this:

The fact that each individual soul that walks this planet, is unique.

What I may find funny for example, could be offensive to the person on my left, but mildly amusing to the person on my right. Yet despite their indifference, I am rolling around on the floor in a fit of giggles, because it tickled me pink.

Quote No One is you and that is your super power. The Art of Parenting. Parenting Fails and Pigtails

So, whilst there is a fountain of knowledge out here in the massive technological universe, I suggest to try to take each Parenting Styles or Preschool Parenting Advice or any other of the millions of parenting related titles, with a proverbial pinch of salt.

No two humans are the same, there is no one else who is you. And as the quote states, it really is a super power.

I spent some time figuring out who I am this year, with the help of Martha Beck and it has been an amazing exercise that I thoroughly recommend. Personalities are so complex, sometimes it is hard to figure out who you are, let alone any one else. 

Its a Twin Thing

I say the above based on limited, but genuine experience. Having been launched into parenting on a nappy filled rocket, we welcomed twins almost a decade ago. My pregnancy was complexed due to multiple reasons. Primarily cancer + pregnancy isn’t a great combo, but we’ve made it thus far regardless.  

Thing 1 for example, would only sleep on her front*, which is against all advice. But she would cry and cry on her back yet slept soundly on her front. Where as Thing 2, would only sleep on his back.

A minute apart in age, a world apart in personality and preferences. 

Comparing when you have twins is pretty much a mortal sin, but somewhat inevitable. Having two children grown in the same womb, sharing the same conditions and entering the world at almost exactly the same time, leads to some natural comparisons. If Thing 1 was winding better, I would try and figure out the perfect technique to use on Thing 2. I had completely lost the understanding that they were indeed entirely separate entities. I now know, each and every child is as different as the advice available to trawl through.

Whilst I wouldn’t swap our parenting baptism of fire, I am grateful they are somewhat self sufficient these days. The twins have even started to make their own breakfasts! Team Twiglet continue to amaze me each and every day. Thats not to say they don’t push my buttons, argue and invariably cry multiple times a day. For my sins, I am a shouter. Despite my best efforts a few years ago to give up shouting for lent, the Summer Holidays aren’t all that easy to navigate. It has however decreased in volume and frequency now they are now old enough (ish) to reason with, and I no longer have to wrestle a crocodile to remove yet another piccalilli shit storm!  

The Art of Parenting?

I feel, should there be an Art of Parenting, that someone, somewhere needs to take ownership and filter out the tosh that is floating around these binary 0’s and 1’s. 

There are too many people who seem to know the best and apparent only way of parenting correctly. I however do not. I believe we each parent the best possible way we can, and the way I do it, is no better or more correct than the way you do it.

And my attempt is most definitely is not Art,

*The current guidelines recommend an infant to sleep on their backs, I was aware that this was against midwife regulations, but as a sleep deprived mummy of twins, I got to the stage of if it works, it works. I spent many nights in restless slumber checking on her, the mum guilt was rife. She still sleeps on her tummy, bum high and wrapped up like The Hungry Caterpillar.

I do not however recommend or endorse other people ignoring these well researched guidelines. 

Top Ten – Parenting Fail

Top Ten – Parenting Fail

Top Ten Parenting Fails

What is in a name? A clue to the nature of the person perhaps? Or to the purpose of a waffler like me on that little thing known as The World Wide Web. As a person and as a mother, I have had some instances where I have made an epic Parenting fail, many of which make for excellent inspiration when writing Parenting Fails & Pigtails. Below is an attempt at a top ten, but because I know this road we lead is so meandering and eventful, I would like to state now, that there will be many more life happenings to add to this list. It is by no means exhaustive. In no particular order, I give you my top ten parenting fluff ups:

Parenting Fail: Drunken Antics

I spent the week prior to finding out I was expecting, Uni Drunk in Valencia with my Spanish bestie and any other fool who would drink gallons of vodka and lemonade on a random Tuesday. It was epic. There are photos that only surface to embarrass us, and it was dubbed my Spanish Hen Do. I was so worried after I had peed on the stick that I had poisoned the baby, I went to the doctors, to own up.

Fortunately, I was reassured I was not the first, and won’t be the last Mummy-to-be to find out they were pregnant after a tipple to two. I perhaps didn’t paint an entirely truthful picture of the week leading up to my beautiful two blue lines, for fear of sounding like an irresponsible human being. I have come to terms with the fact I am indeed, an irresponsible human being. But with practice, persistence and a bucket load of fails, we are navigating this journey together, learning on the job if you will.

Child inflicted indecent exposure

In our infinite wisdom, we offered to drive a friends car down to Italy for them for after their wedding, with out then one year old twins. What were we thinking? On the upside, we decided to make a holiday out of it for a few days. Having traveled by car, we checked in, changed and headed out for a well needed bite to eat and exceptionally large glass of wine. When in Rome, it would be rude not to.

The twins were tots, but older than they looked as premmies often are. It was one of the first holidays we had taken since becoming a family of 4, and my inexperience became quite literally visible for ALL to see. I put my sundress on, and off we went. I hadn’t taken into account the fact that it was strapless, and that Thing 1 was in the pulling stage of life.

Those little, tiny, razor sharp fingers got themselves nicely wrapped round the dress, and in one flail movement, the  post baby boobies were out for all to see. Best bit, she waited until I was facing a rather loud, German Stag Do before offering my less than full fun bags for the world to see. Thanks kid. I am not sure how, and I am not sure when, but payback is going to happen. Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Baby Brain Bungle

I hope I am not the only parent to do this. Any sentence that starts off like that should come with a disclosure, because now I am super worried, this might just be a Me fail, rather than a common parenting mishap. It was nursery pick up for the twins, I signed in and nipped to the loo. I sat there thinking, gosh, Ive not felt the baby move much today….SHIT THE BAAABBBBBYYYYYY. Yep, fast asleep, in her car seat in the back of the car.

Sorry kiddo, it wasn’t personal. 

Parenting Fail: Swing Low Sweet Chariot

Boys will be Boys. If there was ever a list of expressions to utilise, that would have to be on it. Its as though there is some built in DNA for a boy to do (stupid) boy stuff. Thing 2 was playing with a friend who had recently had his first golf lesson. Now, I love my son with all my heart, but he can be a bit of a doofus sometimes. He lacks the ability to see and reaction to actions, mind you, so does his Dad so Im not sure why Im surprised. He excitedly stood to watch the practise swing, so he knew how to hold the club.

Fair enough I hear you say. But he stood over his buddies shoulder, in perfect alignment with the end of his swing, therefore the end of his club. En route to A&E, the pair became a comedy double act. Telling everyone and anyone that would listen the story. I clearly had not been listening because I thought he was hit in the head by a swing. As in the park kinda swing. Not as in a golf swing. Cue a concerned looking nurse when he saw the flicker of my eyes upon full comprehension of the facts.

Dude, don’t stand next to someone swinging a metal stick, it never ends well, that bald patch on the side of your head should act as a sufficient reminder.

Parenting Fail: Potty Training for  Boys.

Me “Do you need the toilet Josh?”

J “No, Mummy”

Me “Are you sure?”

J “Yes Mummy”

Me “YOU ARE PEEING ON MY FOOT”

Parenting Fail: Multi-Storey Mishaps

Ernie The Fun Bus, how I miss you. The fastest milk cart in the west. You were a gem of a car. Held together mostly by spilt juice and melted chocolate buttons, but you served us well. You were however, a bugger to take into a multi-storey car park. And I was having a terrible day anyway. Mid organising my sister-in-laws hen do, we had nipped out for a few, last minute things. It was manic.

It is not humanly possible to “nip” anywhere with 3 kids under the age of 3. Add to that, the fact that it was a multi-storey car park and I drove a van styled airport taxi, you can imagine the stress levels just trying to park, let alone getting in or out of the car. Jobs successfully achieved, we piled back in the fun bus, firmly putting my SIL younger sister off kids – for life. And then World War Three broke out. The screaming, shouting and general tantrum-ing fuelled a knee jerk bollocking from yours truly. Followed by a very load and distinctive sssccccrrrrrrrraaaaaaaaattttcccchhhhhhhh and within 30 seconds, half the door was missing. Actually half the side of the car was missing, but tomato tomato.

And no, I didn’t think to stop and pick the bits up Hubs, because the shame and embarrassment of being labelled a “typical female driver” was too much for this Fun Bus wielding feminist to handle.

Toddler encouraged, Baby led weaning

Breakfast in The Mad House is always a loud and bustling affair. Slightly less civilised than a room full of kids jacked on purple fruit shoots. It is bedlam. Thing 1 was helping #BossBaby have her morning milk. Only she thought it was unfair for her to only be having milk, so shared her cereal with the 6 week old. Neither appreciated her efforts, which ended in us all in tears, hungry and a little soggier than planned.

Parenting Fail: Inappropriate Pyjama Party Viewing

The Hubs has a habit of not checking the rating on a film before we sit down to watch it. As PJ parties are a weekly occurrence in the Mad House, we have swiftly run out of remotely interesting films to watch with appropriate ratings. So most of the time, The Hubs “assures” me it is a family friendly view. I have learnt that this basically means he has ignored what ever the review said because he thinks Adam Sandler is THE MAN.

As a result, there are times the we have to “quizz” it. Only for it to get stuck on the worst possible action shot, the one we could see coming but not appropriate for the small folk. At all. Panic ensued, I couldn’t get it on, off, forwards, backwards, it wouldn’t do anything. It froze on Jennifer Anistons very effective enjoyment face. Thing 1 “Its ok Mummy, we know grown ups get hot and sweaty when they cuddle” I died a little bit.

Parenting Fail: Daddy Day Care

#BossBaby was a late talker. She didn’t really say anything until she could form full sentences, other than the usual Mama and Dada noises. Cute as a button and hasn’t stopped talking since. Unfortunately who she referred to as Daddy, was in fact my friends husband. If The Hubs took her out, she would quietly mouth to the nearest granny “Help Me” or better still, “you’re not my Daddy”.

Thankfully, most old ladies were either hard of hearing or slow on the uptake, so he didnt have to answer too many awkward questions over a small child proclaiming no relation to him. This continued for two whole years. That kid was literally born to be on stage. (should any body be questioning her heritage, she is without a doubt a fully licensed member of Team Twiglet).

The Airport

Standard airport security queue after a late night flight, add in 3 hangry kids, all under the age of 3. You can imagine the stress levels in the air, they were practically palpable. The twins were riding their trunkies, but the queue suddenly started to move more quickly. I could feel my heart rise, and almost smell the toast I was dreaming of. I dutifully started towing one of the trunkies, only Thing 2 wasn’t holding on.

The clonk of his head on the tiled floor was so loud a universal Oooooooo was audible from the queue that surrounded him. Then there is that awful moment you are holding your breath, praying for the scream seemed to go on for DAYS. It was the worst slo-mo ever, I have never been more grateful for a screaming toddler in my life. I am eternally sorry Dude, it was one hell of an egg!

I hope that this little snap shot into some of my finer moments has made you smile with relief that no matter what fails you have experienced, there is a special niche of fails that could only happen to me,

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The Summer Holiday Fear

The Summer Holiday Fear

The Summer Holiday Fear

Put your hands up in the air (put your hands up in the air) if The Summer Holiday Fear has set in.

 

The Fear encompasses all that goes with trying to entertain small people for an entire 6+ weeks. From the infinite piles of laundry, to the arguments over who sat where last, I felt it was about time it was given a name. 

Holiday Blues makes it sound morose and quiet, which it is anything but. It’s high octane and bloody loud.

Schools Out for Summer whilst it’s an epic song, makes it sound thrilling and exciting. Where in actual fact, particularly if it’s raining, its boring and quite frankly a bit beige.

Summer vibes perhaps? That wonderful warm, sun kissed feeling, feet up with a perfectly chilled glass of Rose in hand, watching the world go by. I bet you can practically taste it. But hold up, you need to fix the soggy, and now unfixable but oh so cute Fairy House, whilst chasing a wasp colony that appears to descend from nowhere, just as you sit down. Then the sun goes in, and a small person kicks your now warm wine over en route to tell you why punching their sibling was a justifiable action. Then you remember why, summer holidays can be, well, a bit shit. 

Whilst we have successfully managed to make it towards our 4th week, it has not been without some epic fighting, both physically and mentally. My usual enjoyment of being with my tribe, some how evaporates upon getting in the car on the last day of term. By the time we are paying homage to Maccy D’s en route home, The Summer Holiday Fear is full on established.  

The Summer Holiday Fear

I can’t decide if it is just because of the impending month(s) ahead of us, or there is a more to it than just The Fear?  I think it is a genuine dread of consistently being a responsible adult. This is not something that comes naturally to me. In my opinion, we have too many years ahead of us where being responsible is the only choice. Therefore I am rebelling. There are no reasons I can see that require me to be an actual bonafide adult in the foreseeable future. I potentially need to put my glasses on, look a little closer,  as Im sure there are many a reason. But, we’ve made it 9 years in on the Mummy front, and survived! Tell me I’m not the only one winging it?

Chalkboard with writing and books

Pink Hair, Don’t Care

As I am sure is the case in every family, we have our little Summer Holiday traditions, like the aforementioned McDonalds on the last day of term. One of our favourites, and the rebel in me loves, is the girls and I having pink hair. This began a few years ago, when we were in Spain and I had bought a pink shampoo and conditioner in duty free. It was literally the most fun, so has become a deep rooted girly pamper, and a quiet interval from The Fear.

As The Hubs works at home through the summer, he isnt with us by rule for very long. So pink hair, don’t care was absolutely no problem, when it is only Team Twiglet and I, in a country where we are just a face in a sea of many. As our summer holidays have taken a different format this year, we are on more of a staycay than a vacay. But, as all responsible (cough cough) mothers would do, I found a solution to our predicament. 

I left the rule book by the door, and we did what we do best. We popped into Terence Paul and watched the magic happen. It was absolutely the most fun we have had in ages. The girls are so proud of their pink hair, as am I! 

Much to my disappointment, Thing 2 wasn’t so keen on having pink hair, but I will work on him.

For now at least 3/4 of Team Twiglet have pink hair, and guess what, WE DON’T CARE! 

Summer Holiday Survival

Summer Holiday Survival

Summer Holiday Survival

I am proud to report we have successfully navigated almost 3 weeks of our ridiculously long 9 week Summer Holidays. Whilst I appreciate that Team Twiglet need to recharge their batteries, I swear 4 weeks would be more than enough to get them back to Duracell powered mini beasts. I am seriously running out of ideas of how to entertain three practically feral attention seekers. How do you entertain your tribe when the school holidays strike? Some days seem to be so much easier than others, but I am yet to figure out what is the formula to success. Other days, it is just a matter of surviving.

#BossBaby’s Squeal

#BossBaby has a very frustrating habit of squealing. Given we are pretty housebound due to my operation, it has become very, very annoying. She squeals in delight, in fright and always within earshot of adults if she is at risk of not getting her own way. Its akin to running your fingers down a chalk board, it practically makes your ears bleed. A completely unnecessary noise, especially if it is going to continue for the duration of the summer holidays!

She is the youngest, the baby of our family and I think she is struggling with the idea of growing up. She likes to be a triplet when it suits her, and join in with Thing 1 and Thing 2. However, she likes to be the baby too. It must be a very difficult road to navigate, especially as the older two are twins. But the squealing is bloody annoying. Luckily for her, I am on some awesome painkillers right now, so I’m a lot more relaxed than usual. I fear for her safety when the pain goes and I am back to my over-strict self. 

On top of a squealing #BossBaby it pains me to say that I think Thing 1 is a hormonal angry pants. Her ability to go from happy to dangerously cross is enough to rival #BossBaby’s squeal to tears ratio. She has always had a temper, as a baby, Thing 1 was a biter. She would get so angry, that if she couldn’t find someone else to bite, she would resort to clamping her razor sharp gnashes around her own arm! The naughty step appeared to be her favourite place to reside in her formative years.

Even to this day, if the red mist descends over her, I suggest you run and take cover. On the upside, at least she only screams and shouts these days, I don’t fancy being bitten by her fully formed adult teeth. 

The naughty step is still in regular use, particularly in the summer holidays. It seems to be the best place to put a child who has lost the ability to be reasonable. #BossBaby has been known to voluntarily put herself on the step in order to give herself some time out. She has always been a solitary creature, and can often be found meditating on the trampoline.

Instagram Worthy Summer Holidays

I often see insta-worthy family pictures of angelic looking kids and stunning parents. Perhaps enjoying an ice cream by the sea, joyfully happy because they are all having the best summer holiday. How do families do this? I would absolutely love to know how everyone looks so angelic and perfect. Stock photos and instagram gems are not good for the soul! I can’t remember the last time we took a picture together. One with everyone looking at the camera, let alone stylishly dressed with perfectly quaffed hair.

Thing 1’s hair is like a rug, sadly she inherited the frizzfro from me, unruly curls that misbehave regardless. Her idea of brushing it, is to do the two side over her shoulders. Who needs to do the back anyway? #BossBaby isn’t much better it has to be said, but as her hair is less curly, so we have less of a fight when it needs brushing. I think I need to buy shares in Tangle Tezeer. We quite literally have one in every room, handbag and even in the car!

Team Twiglet’s Crazy Shake

After a 10 minute search to try and find a picture of us as a family, I have given up hope. I have found pictures of missing socks, shoes and blazers. As well as mouth ulcers and broken toes, but alas, not a single photo of us all, let alone an instagram worthy one!

When I am more proficient at using my fancy pants new camera, I will endeavour to rectify the lack of family photos. However, Im not holding out much hope that we will magically turn into the perfect instagram family. So instead I am going to pop this little delight in. Team Twiglet endeavour to take one nice photo, followed by a Crazy Shake. Which invariably descends into laughter and typically looks like this.

Maybe this is why we have no decent pictures, and live a less than insta-perfect life. I wonder how many filters and photoshop trickery it would take to make us insta worthy? I don’t think anyone has the time or resources to do that. It would be tantamount to working a miracle. So you’ll be pleased to know my squealing, hormonal and hay fever ridden Team Twiglet will regularly be donating a Crazy Shake or two for your entertainment throughout the summer holiday, 

Shake your crazy’s guys, its fun,

Baked Eggs & Tomatoes

Baked Eggs 

Baked Eggs and Tomatoes, Oven and Aga friendly.

Baked eggs and tomatoes is a recipe that I  cook weekly, and I thoroughly enjoy for breakfast, lunch or dinner! As a family, eggs are a staple part of our diet. They are quick to cook, versatile and an excellent way of getting nutrients into Team Twiglet. We are fortunate enough to have the fabulous Egg Lady https://www.theegglady.co.uk delivery service, to ensure we never run out! Bear in mind if we are all eating scrambled eggs for example, I can use up to 15 eggs depending on their size! 

The recipe itself has taken inspiration from many different sources, including http://www.agaliving.com/aga-living/aga-recipes/mexican-breakfast-eggs#sthash.hMQOiFV5.dpbs . We have an Aga, and that does most of the hard work for me in the winter months. Team Twiglet and I get very saddened when we have to switch it off through the summer. Not only is there no bum warming facility, it also means I have to remember to turn the oven on and off. This transpires to be challenging for my little brain cell, I have been known to put a chicken in to roast and forget to turn the oven on. I have also been known to leave the oven on overnight because I forgot to turn it off. Less than ideal when The Hubs is the energy police and  recommends putting a jumper on as opposed to the heating when the house is cold.

Ingredients for Baked Egg and Tomatoes

 

2 eggs per person

Fresh tomatoes – I like to use a variety of tomatoes, but any will do. You will need a handful per person. They do cook and reduce down, so I would over tomato if you’re in doubt.

Garlic – As a family we are garlic fiends and have a generous amount in almost every meal. For fellow garlic enthusiasts, don’t be shy. I would use 1 clove per person. If garlic isn’t your thing, I would use 1-2 clove for the entire dish. It is there to enhance the flavours but not to over power them.

Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper to season

Optional extra’s

 

When I am making this dish for lunch or dinner, I add some or sometimes all of the optional ingredients as it makes the dish more filling. If you add any optional extra’s I would add another small handful of tomatoes also. This will ensure the dish doesn’t dry out.

 Chopped Peppers

 Chopped Onion

Chopped Mushrooms

Finely copped Chilli.

Method. for Baked Eggs and Tomatoes:

 

Pre heat the oven (and remember to switch it off when you’re finished) to 200′. Aga users, place a shelf on the lowest runners in the roasting oven.

Finely chop/garlic press the cloves of garlic and add to an oven proof dish. It will need to large enough to contain all of the ingredients – which is dependent on the number of people you are feeding.

Chop any larger tomatoes into rough quarters, no need to chop cherry or small tomatoes. Put all the tomatoes in the oven proof dish.

 Add any optional extra’s.

Drizzle oil over the contents of the oven proof dish. I am quite generous with the oil if it is the weekend, but less so midweek!

Give everything a good stir and place on the middle shelf of the oven, or the lowest runners in the roasting oven of your Aga.

Allow to cook for 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes are bubbling nicely.

Remove the dish and place on a heat proof surface. Make wells in the mixture to crack the eggs into. For example, if you’re cooking for 2 , you need to create 4 wells. Crack the eggs (remember the dish is scorching hot so don’t use that to crack the eggs – this is speaking from blister experience) and gently fill each well with one egg. You may already start to see the whites cooking, which is just what we want!

Put the dish back in the oven and keep an eye on it. I really enjoy a runny egg, and Brucie Bonus it means it will be ready sooner! In order to judge this, I have developed a scientific way of checking if the eggs are ready.  This has undergone rigorous testing* and is by far the best method to check the consistency of the yolk.

You tap the side of the bowl

If the egg white will move a little, the yolk will be runny. If you prefer it cooked through or are expecting, wait until the egg white is more solid.

The eggs will continue to cook in the pan so I would suggest you serve immediately using a large serving spoon. The challenge is to successfully extract the eggs intact, I have tried many a method and the big spoon one seems to be the most successful. Team Twiglet enjoy theirs on toast, but I tend to find it filling enough without. Although it is pretty delish to soak up all the garlicy, yolky goodness with a nice bit of sourdough!

There are lots of variation on the Baked Egg front, check out one of my heroes Jamie Oliver https://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/eggs-recipes/baked-eggs-lots-of-ways/ recipes, for some more inspiration.

I hope you enjoy a baked egg or two as much as I do. Tobasco is my favourite condiment, it compliments all the ingredients perfectly. But be warned, don’t put too much on, it makes your eye balls sweat!

Leave a comment with your favourite combos, its always nice to jazz up a family favourite! You can find more recipes and the odd disaster here https://parentingfailsandpigtails.co.uk/cakes-makes/ 

Ciao for now,

*Complete and utter tosh. I have learnt by mistakes. Baked eggs can turn into bullets you could break a window with. I have successfully developed the Tap The Bowl technique to try to ensure you lovely lot don’t end up with bullets.

Back to Basics – SEO

Back to Basics – SEO

Every Day I’m Waffling

Back To Basics

To be fair, back to basics is pretty much how this week has panned out. Post op, Ive not been feeling myself, and it has seemed to be the best tact to take in multiple situations. My facial expression opposite says it all! I have however, been cheered up by the slogan on this fabulous, flamingo pink jumper and it couldn’t be more accurate. (Thank you to one of my all time besties for such a fabulous treat, you know me so well, I shall be seen wearing it forever more!). You can find this fabulous jumper here http://www.cocaranti.com 

or here https://www.wildfox.com ).

Albeit, the “thinking about” isn’t about to change into “going to” the gym any time soon I fear. It is more truthful to say I am “Pining about the gym” it is after all, one of the things I love most in the world.

I say one of the things and not the main thing because, aside from the obvious kids, The Hubs, The Fam & Friends etc etc. My most favourite thing in the whole entire world is ….this is going to come to you as a complete shock, as it has never, ever been mentioned by me before………wait for it……….

is the suspense killing you yet…..

WIIIIINNNNEEEEE.

I bet none of you saw that one coming. 

This week has not been a good week. Between shoulder spasms, tears, staples and sleep deprivation, I appear to have also lost my usually fantastical (ha) sense of humour. I have sat down to write witty, engaging, SEO friendly content about 100 times – with absolutely zero success. So instead, I am going to ignore whether or not this #blog is, or is not, ticking all the right boxes and go back to basics. I’m thinking more toast, less Yoast. (which, should you be needing to find out vital stats for your blog is awesome by the way, it just doesn’t taste too good with butter https://yoast.com ). 

Lets go back, waaaaay back, back to basics and what I do best. Waffle complete and utter tosh to all you lovely folk in the hope it raises at least a smile or two. Ironically, currently as I type, only one half of my face can smile. If I concentrate, (big ask I hear you say), I can get the other half to work a bit too. 

However, I dribble when I drink and that’s pre-wine, and I can’t guarantee the food on my fork makes it into my mouth in the way expected of fully fledged adults. My eating habits resemble those of Thing 1 and Thing 2, and that is most definitely NOT a good thing. I also can’t be certain whether I’m chewing the food I have put in my gob or my tongue – either way its classed as protein I guess?

So, going back to basics to means I need to get one thing off my chest. The whole algorithms, SEO, DA, PA is BORING. There, I’ve said it.

BORING. BORING. BORING.   

 My goal is to grow with this blog, to align with fabulous readers, likeminded brands and creatives, and ultimately  showcase my wonderful waffle to the world. I endeavour to catapult my social presence, and one day be cool enough to become that coveted thing known as A Success. Currently, my only hope is to align with brands who need help marketing contraception I reckon. Having 3 kids under 3 sends even the most normal of people bonkers. I was disadvantaged from the off, as not normal to start with.  

Or, maybe I could be an anti-influencer? Work with rival companies and spoof their competitors. Hey, I reckon that’s a business idea right there, what do you think? Are you in? Reminiscent of Punk’d way back when MTV only had one channel and Ronaldo debuted for United.   

I have to confess, I used to try to be cool. Those who know me personally, please feel free to belly laugh at these attempts, mostly found in the late 90’s blessedly before social media was a thing. A big hello to those who know me through this blog and my internet documented fails, check out https://parentingfailsandpigtails.co.uk/uncategorized/friyay/ and the rest of my site, where I can guarantee you will get a feel for my general, and life long ability to find myself in situations that can only happen to me.

Today, I look ghastly. I don’t reckon all the make up in the world will make my face or my staples look any better. It’s a shame it’s not nearer Halloween, because I wouldn’t need a costume. Thank you to all those that have just fleetingly thought I’ve never needed a costume because I naturally look scary enough. Or that I have Casper the Friendly Ghost nailed  365 days of the year. 

Im also devastated to say that I don’t think I can fly (yoga or aviation) anytime soon. My head feels like it weighs about 50 stone, oh no wait, that’s me due to the disastrous number of crumpets I’ve consumed and inflicted on my ever expanding arse. My head is more like 5 stone perhaps. Fun Fact of today: The average human head actually only weighs between 10 – 11 pounds…

https://www.brainstuffshow.com/blogs/how-much-does-the-human-head-actually-weigh.htm  

Can you tell its the Summer Holidays and I am trying to entertain Team Twiglet with random fact finding expeditions due to the disastrous weather? You can actually ask Alexa anything. And yes Thing 2, she does indeed burp. I am not convinced using Alexa fits in with my back to basics philosophy of today, but nobodies perfect. 

Unfortunately, I  feel like my head has the potential to physically hang off, reminiscent of Nearly Headless Nick for all those Muggles out there. In fact, if I sneeze, I reckon my head might actually fall off. I also have “cough fear” in so much as my insides might end up outsides should I have to clear my throat. I have to admit, I have reached the stage now where I am sick of the muscle spasm, my head feels like I’ve lost a round with Tyson Fury, and my neck resembles a zipper.

Shit day all round I say. 

As the saying goes “If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry”. My darling Sister-In-Law produced the photograph opposite using this app https://www.faceapp.com in the hope of raising a smile. Despite her best efforts, it has genuinely filled me with dread about how bad I am going to look when gravity takes hold and my nose trebles in size! I mean, I know your nose never stops growing (this could well be less fact, more fiction akin to when your ‘Rents tell you if the wind changes, your face will stay like that), but seriously, with that nose, I’m giving Shrek another run for his money. 

https://parentingfailsandpigtails.co.uk/uncategorized/my-blog-and-i-readership-or-really-sht/

I am however about to download it and use it as this afternoons Wet Play entertainment given the dire weather July has offered us thus far, given the fact we are already week 2 of the Summer Holidays. Why is it only ever sunny when they are in school? 

So whilst this waffle isn’t SEO friendly, it is making me feel better, and hopefully resurrecting my love of writing funny’s. I I feel as though I have got myself so lost in trying to figure out how to make Parenting Fails & Pigtais “work”, Ive forgotten why I began inflicting my waffle on you lovely folk in the first place. 

I am taking up this minute piece of binary 0’s and 1’s to make you, me and anyone who cares to read this, laugh. I can assure you, my life, my attempt at motherhood and all that goes with it, is most definitely, unequivocally NOT Instagram friendly. For example, when I decided to use washing up liquid in the dishwasher one time, because I had run out of tablets. DO NOT DO THIS, unless you want a Foam Party circa 1999. It did smell far better than whatever that foul stuff was that we not only voluntarily got sprayed with, we actually paid for the privilege!!! This would have been an ideal time to go back to basics and actually just do the washing up, karma totally got me back.

Whilst attempting to use my business but drug fuddled (legal ones only) mind these last few days, Ive been researching social media content, and how to schedule posts in order to stay current and relevant.

Do you know there is a national “Talk in an Elevator Day” coming up. An actual day, dedicated to talking to someone in a lift. I am super tempted to get myself a little chair, a coffee, and park myself in a fancy one in Selfridges or somewhere, and see how long it takes for security to arrive.

“Gosh, sorry Mr Security Guard, Today is National Talk in an Elevator Day. I am fulfilling my duty on behalf of our nation. Oh, the chair? I went with comfort, you know, my dedication to our nation has meant I have been here a few hours already. I used my initiative. In fact, I bet there is a National Initiative Day too, I shall research and get back to you. Please come in, mind the gap, I shall now talk to you whilst ensuring you reach your desired destination. Oh shit, we missed your floor, not to worry, we can go back up again.” Cue some big burly dude taking me, my chair and luke warm coffee out of the building via the fire escape to avoid bringing any further shame to the fabulous store that is Selfridges.

Guys, may be it’s not actually a terrible idea? It would certainly make for a good Vlog. Think flash mob? But for now I shall leave you with my none SEO, DA, PA box ticked waffle, because sometimes its nice to just write, 

The Mummy Concierge

The Mummy Concierge

The Mummy Concierge offers you personalised planning from bump to baby. How amazing does that sound? When I fell pregnant it was a huge, HUGE surprise. Given the amount of treatment I had received, there was little hope that my ovaries were in good enough nick to conceive naturally. I have an ongoing battle with that annoying thing called cancer – more on that here -> https://parentingfailsandpigtails.co.uk/the-big-c/. In order to start on the IVF programme, we were advised to “stop being careful” for 18 months, with the view that we would then begin to try to introduce children into this world, however that was possible.

Little did we know, 4 months into our 18 month plan, we would be fortunate enough to conceive naturally! An as if that news couldn’t get any better, we were expecting TWINS.

Now, I wouldn’t swap them for the world, but boy was it tough. From “peeing on a stick” right through to my emergency c-section, it wasn’t plain sailing. On top of that, my level of disorganisation was shameful. Thing 1 and Thing 2 arrived so early we hadn’t even had the car seats delivered. Fail numero uno considering you need to have one in order to take bubs/bubbas home from hospital with you.

Although not required immediately, the nursery still had the lingering odour of fresh paint, the blinds were yet to be hung, and even the heating was a bit sketchy. But alas, they were ready to make their entrance into the world, regardless of how unprepared I was! We landed, twins and all, with a (still ginormous postpartum) bump.

What The Mummy Concierge offers

Tiffany offers a service that will cover all the lists of lists that daunts us all about impending parenthood. Who here loves a list? “Me” I hear you say, but I’m guessing, like me, only the ones you manage to tick off! Which was definitely not the case in the aforementioned scenario. It is so very important to get the help and guidance you personally need, and no amount of blogging me, you or the other millions of wonderful people out there do, can achieve this. I certainly don’t have all the answers or the ability to offer all the guidance you seek for the newest member(s) of your family. 

Aiding in everything from personal confidence to pram purchasing, Tiffany endeavours to ensure the transition from bump to baby is a seamless as possible. Although, I have to say, sleepless nights are pretty much a guarantee, if you were unaware of this, I am sorry to be the one to break it to you. On the upside, Tiffany can even aid in the night time routine, she is practically a real life super hero, who is contactable by email tiffany@themummyconcierge.com day, or night. 

Stylish Mama’s To Be

Bump support and style are two key areas The Mummy Concierge covers, which would have been of such benefit to me and my humongous sized bump. I struggle to tick the “stylish” box naturally, and I definitely didn’t achieve the coveted pregnancy glow. Primarily because I was either being sick, felt sick, or was sick of being sick for pretty much the entirety of both pregnancies. I am gutted this service wasn’t available when I was green (morning sickness/nerves/shit the bed I’m having twins/all of the above) with worry about becoming a first time Mummy. 

If there is an area in parenting you need help, advice or assistance on, I would thoroughly recommend visiting www.themummyconcierge.com

Tiffany’s testimonials go to show what an amazing job she has done for each of her clients, I only wish I had my name on there! Her website is clean, easy to use and informative. Given the multiple ways to contact Tiffany, it leads me to believe she is incredibly dedicated to her clients and the role she plays in the amazing journey of bringing a little bundle of joy in to this world.

I am a full-time hands-on Mama and I know I still need all the help I can get – even if my #BossBaby is 7 (years) old already. Whilst Im a huge advocate of finding your own way in life, sometimes knowing a (wo)man who can is the most emotional and time efficient option available. 

Have a peep, Im sure you will love what she offers just as much as I do,

Summer Holiday’s are here.

School’s Out

Summer Holiday’s

So that’s it, School is breaking up for Summer Holiday’s in T-minus 2 hours. Oh.my.word. I have dread and excitement flowing through my veins in equal amounts. Shortly to be replaced by wine. Well, not too soon, I try to wait until after 5pm, even on a Friday. This is highly dependent on how well this afternoons emergency shopping trip goes. The Twiglets have grown out of EVERYTHING except their school uniform, which is in literal tatters. Come the last term of the academic year, I refuse to replace anything. Even if that means odd socks/shoes/no tie/going to school in pyjamas. This is not because I am a horrible, unloving beast. It is simply a matter of economics.

Whatever I purchase now will inevitably be lost, damaged or grown out of come September, so we go with the feral look for most of June and early July. I feel zero guilt for this, school uniform is chuffing expensive, Thing 2 is rocking size 8 (!!!) shoes. Which come with VAT attached so work out exceptionally chuffing expensive, especially when he lost one (and only one) within the first 2 weeks of Year 4. Yep, he played games with one shoe. I would love to be able to regale the story of him finding it, but alas no, its MIA, probably being used as a boat by the unintended recipient of Big Foots donation.  

Boats aside, Team Twiglet are going to be kitted out this avo in order to have actual clothes to play out in, not pjs. Don’t judge, its only in the garden, and is entirely common place of a weekend in The Mad House. When we leave the house they are instructed to at least put a hoody over their polar bear adorned fluffy tops of dreams, but it isn’t a guarantee. I endeavour however to not go out in my pj’s very often, despite them being my most favourite item of clothing. Past this afternoons plan, I have no clue how I am going to keep 3 kids entertained for a near on 9 week long school summer holidays.

Shit a brick, holiday clubs here we come #staycay. We live a little way from school, so I am hoping to utilise local activities as will be without wheels for a while post op. However, have legs, will travel. The set up here is fab https://everybody.org.uk/summer-holiday-activities-launched-at-everybody/ well worth a peep if in need of ideas.  All else fails, the sprinkler is going on, tarpaulin laid over the grass and a good dash of fairy liquid. Nailed it. Health and Safety aside, its pretty much the most fun you can muster in a jiffy. My heart can’t always take the pace of impending danger though, so I leave that to The Hubs. I just get the cleaning up job – yey. FYI fairy liquid turns tiles into death traps, WEAR SHOES as the first line of defence against  inevitable clean up related injuries.

 

Spending the Summer Holiday’s with Friends

 

The Mad House is permanently mental, whether I have 3 or 15 kids. I endeavour to have very much an open house policy for Team Twiglet and their friends to enjoy. We invariably have multiple extra kids throughout most holidays. I even manage to gain extra kids ON holiday, which is harder to facilitate when our entire living space is an adjoining hotel room, but none the less, we give it a whirl. I do find that extra kids, dilute Team Twiglets bickering (that and Harry Potter audio books https://www.audible.co.uk ). Im not sure if it is just because my lot have the fear of death put on them should they misbehave when friends or round, or because it genuinely reduces their entirely unfounded, albeit only occasional mutual hatred of each other.

Cousin Love

 

We are so very blessed to live close to family, and I am endeavouring to completely exploit this fact over the Summer Break. It is such a long time to be without lessons, structure and head space, it is vital I occupy those little minds with something positive instead of incessant cat calls of “Im boorrrreeedd” or “she looked at me funny” or varying versions of the same shit, different day https://parentingfailsandpigtails.co.uk/uncategorized/we-have-survived-half-term/ This is where cousins come in super handy. Family in general, not just those related by blood, are invaluable when life kicks off. We all have those kids we treat as our own. The ones we can comfortably feed, water, get to sleep, love unconditionally and bollock because they are practically Team Twiglet anyways. Over summer, spending time with these pocket of people are vital to everyones sanity. Thing 1 is a big advocate of head space, and tries to use it to manage her savage temper (which is DIRE!) and by adding family into the mix, its feasible to dedicate a little time per child, one on one.

When you have twins, one on one time isn’t something you can offer very often. As Team Twiglet comprise of Girl/Boy/Girl, invariably when we divide and concur, I get the girls and The Hubs gets Thing 2. As a result, Thing 1 rarely gets the head space she so desperately craves. But, with a little juggling and a lot of coffee, I am hopeful we can facilitate this.

 

School Summer Holiday’s 2019 Team Twiglet Tactics

 

  • Headspace for each memeber of Team Twiglet and Family.
  • Economical entertainment options such as picnics and danger (water) slides.
  • Fun with friends, adult and child alike.
  • Wine.
  • Braving a potential Road Trip round Europe….I have no words.
  • Completing all homework before the last damn week of the holidays – despite saying this EVERY year, I am determined.
  • Taking up a new hobby we can all learn together – Im thinking learning Spanish maybe – again I say this every Summer…
  • Avoid sunburn – I am going to be an SFF warrior and disregard all protests https://parentingfailsandpigtails.co.uk/the-twiglets/childrens-suncream-summer-holidays/ 
  • Exercise – I have established Team Twiglet (The Hubs and I included) are embarrassingly unfit! I am basically going to bootcamp their asses through to September….I might even order a whistle. Whilst I may be out of action physically, I can holler instrcutions to the best of my ability.
  • Yeah, who am I kidding, definitely more wine.
  • Have FUN – I know this should have been the first on the list but I’m yet to remember that is the point of the Summer Holidays, primarily because I can not believe they break up at midday.

Happy Summer Holiday’s, I wish luck and love to one and all, stay strong Team Mad House, we’ve got this (honest),

Sun Creams Out, Sun Burns Out

Sun Creams Out, Sun Burns Out

Sun Screen

The SPF Dream

Finally, the sun is shining. In the Uk. In July. It has indeed taken a while to warm up in to the throws of summer time, but as I am a firm believer in the power of positive thinking, I have decided on behalf of the entire country, that this is here to stay. Get your Sun Tan Lotion  ready, it’s going to be a scorcher. I have also established, that the pink spot on my forehead requires regular REAPPLYING of Sun cream  50 to avoid crisping nicely on this balmy evening in The Chesh.

 

SPF is a magical invention. I do not tan. In fact, I burn if I even see the sun peeping through the clouds on a stormy day. Ok, maybe I wouldnt quite burn, but I have successfully been bed ridden from lack of sunblocker with sun stroke in Devon. In March. So its safe to say, my sun survival technique needs work. I have previously show cased my ouchie-ness for all to see https://parentingfailsandpigtails.co.uk/uncategorized/life-fails-without-pigtails/ and despite multiple occasions where I should know better, I continue to excel myself in my burn-ability level.

 

This isn’t something I take lightly, my Gramps was a redhead and I most definitely inherited his gene pool, my freckles join up as opposed to my skin goes brown. Buuuut, three kids later and I kinda have to admit to forgetting I need to reapply. I go in cream first, first thing in the morning, and my mental tick list is complete. The reapply method doesn’t seem to make its way on to said list. I am however determined, and learning from many a previous mistake.

 

This summer I have discovered there are different creams for different areas. I actually detest the feel of suncream, and have spent many a year trying to find a good textured cream, that comes in a high enough SPF and doesn’t make me spotty and gross. Oh and it can’t taste gross either, otherwise there is zero hope of it making its way to my face. With the kids Summer Holidays just around the corner (as in Friday folks) I have to be on my suncream A game. 

Suncream/SPF Options 

 

Soltan https://www.boots.com/soltan is a family fave. Reasonably priced, easy to apply and relatively mess free. Downside is, it does seem to stain white clothes an irreversible shade of yellow, so apply carefully. 

Piz Buin https://www.pizbuin.com/# I have tried many various versions and SPFs of Piz Buin and all to some success. My favourite product is their SPF 50 Face cream https://www.pizbuin.com/en/our-products/allergy/ which was great even on my super sensitive skin. 

Nivea https://www.nivea.co.uk/shop/sun is probably my all round favourite for the children particularly. It is easy to apply and comes in various formats that make it easy for the kids to see where they’ve already applied, which is useful as Team Twiglet get older and more independent (awkward)

Hawaiian Tropics https://www.hawaiian-tropic.co.uk It smells divine and goes on like moisturiser, which for a suncream-a-phobe is literally a dream. The face cream is my favourite and whilst not as high SPF as Piz Buin, it goes on in a similar way to a BB cream. Im not sure if there is tint in the cream itself, but I feel less pasty once I’ve put it on, so even if its only psychological, its a win from me.

Unfortunately, I am aware there can be allergies to suncreams, so please only take this as my opinion, it is not based on scientific evidence, simply my experiences and stupidity when it comes to being a strawberry blonde determined to go brown.

I am fully confident however in my assessment of the aforementioned summer that has hit the UK. That I shall have unabashed faith in, get your sunnies out, my legs are at risk of being on show,

My 15 Year Thyroid Cancer Cancerversary

Undeterred even After 15 years

Fifteen Years, a touch shy of half of my entire life, I have been living with Papillary Carcinoma of the Thyroid. Or, in its most basic form, Thyroid Cancer. I would much prefer it was called Thyroiditis but hey ho, what’s in a name any ways. Actually, when it comes to the word Cancer, quite a lot. I was 20, green from too many nights in Student Union at Wonga or Pounded (classy bird me) but also because I didn’t know what was ahead. I was fairly confident in my google analysis * that shit was about to get real. 

I was referred to A&E by a Uni Doctor who said I was being a hypochondriac and there was in fact nothing causing the referred pain in my arm. My then boyfriend dutifully came with me (thank you) to have an X-ray done, in the presumption that I could have a fracture of some sort from over doing it in the gym. 

The SHO that saw me that day, saved my life. As new to his profession as I was to hospital departments, he thought outside the box. He examined me, and after a chat asked me if it could be anything to do with my thyroid problem. With biology never being my strong point, I laughed and muttered something to the tune of “I don’t think I have a thyroid”. In my feeble defence, I thought it was something you got when you started menopause, despite this reasoning having zero scientific substance behind it.

 X-rays began, my collar bone and chest, in the inference the arm pain was referred. Within 2 weeks, despite the arm pain still bothering me, I was to become a statistic, a number on a very, very big spreadsheet. A would be happy-go-lucky Aston University Student with an awesome family, friends, boyfriend (not Facebook official mind – it didn’t exist in those years the dinosaurs practically roamed the earth) and dream job potential on the horizon. And then, within half an hour, I wasn’t any more.  I was a cancer patient.

Thyroid Cancer Patient 101

My first operation was pretty immediate, but began and ended with no removal of the disease. It was too advanced for my first surgeon to be confident to tackle. He personally accompanied me to meet a Man-Who-Can (they even have those in the medical field!) on a Saturday morning in Birmingham, passing over the reigns to the dude that is the real hero in this story. Professor John Carmel Watkinson, or as he is now affectionately known JW.

His manner was tongue in cheek, to the point and informed me in the nicest possible way – “he would see what he could do”. Beyond that, there were no guarantees. My Family and I quite literally placed my life in his hands and with that I signed my life away for what would be the first of many operations to rid my body of this evil beast.

The one thing cancer never took from me, was my stubbornness. My determination to never let it win. Which is testament to the support network I have around me, who remind me of this resolve on the days it starts to falter. I did all things I shouldn’t do –  I ran a half marathon, I went snow boarding and turned into a Giant Bruised Peach, I travelled, I went on a boozie holiday with the lads and 2 girlfriends. I climbed a mountain (literally as well as figuratively) I got engaged, I got married and the sprinkles on my knickerbocker life – I had 3 beautiful babies who I am honoured to call my own.

 

If you would have approached me 14 years ago and told me any of the above was remotely possible, I wouldn’t have believed you. I went into self destruct mode a touch. Out a lot, even when I shouldn’t, drank a lot, even when I really shouldn’t. I lost some serious chapters in that time, because I would drink until it didn’t hurt any more. Not physical pain, more emotional pain. I was as the old saying goes, drowning my sorrows. Which doesn’t work. 

It took some harsh words from my parents for me to pull my socks up, well actually I needed to find them first, and get myself together to handle the annoying thing known as The Real World, even if that included Thyroid Cancer.

Pep talk worked, and I met a new boyfriend, who became a fiancé, then The Hubs and Team Twiglet swiftly followed. Not bad for a 20 year old given weeks to live. I wasn’t privy to the seriousness of my health for a long while, I think that level of protection has aided me so very much. Annoyingly it did mean that I have been to Australia for a day trip, but then that’s another story.

Thyroid Cancer has become who I am, but it doesn’t define me. It doesn’t, contrary to popular belief, make me live each day to the full. I appreciate it should, but the same shit goes down when the kids melt, the dryer packs up and then an error code comes on the dishwasher. Those kinda days aren’t good by anyones standards. And if they’ve never happened to you, I need your secret because believe me when I say

It always happens to me!

With another op date looming, Im quietly going about today – hubs doesn’t realise the significance this day holds for me. Firstly its one of my absolutely Besties birthdays (Happy Birthday Aunty Lyds, still sorry I ruined your 20th), Its my Gramps anniversary and whilst his pain and suffering needed to end, its oh so quiet without his happy little songs filling the room. And finally it is my cancerversary. Time really flies when you’re having fun/kids/life/cancer…..

 

*If you ever find yourself awaiting medical results of any kind – DO NOT GOOGLE – its is hands down the worst thing I did, and from that day to this, I have never done again. Find genuine and useful resources through Macmillan or Butterfly. Feel free to reach out to me too, if it is of any help helen@parentingfailsandpigtails.co.uk 

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