Parenting archive

I became a parent in November 2009 and, as the cliché goes, my world turned upside down. PHP posts turned to pregnancy, midnight gaming turned to midnight (and 1am, and 2am, and ...) feeds. Here lies documented tales of poop, boobs, toddler tantrums and the nitty gritty that goes with being Mum.

Anniversaries, Races and …. this is a terrible title

What a month. WHAT A MONTH. Is it just me, or is May easily the busiest month of the year? (It probably is just me.)

The end of April (that’s basically May, right?) saw this blog – well, domain – reach 15. FIFTEEN years of dodgy web design, blogging about everything from poop to programming, as well as documenting massive life changes and my ongoing adventures.

May 4th, which came round far too bloody quickly, was the date of my trail marathon. That one with multiple ascents of circa 2000ft that I entered because it seemed like a good idea at the time. Predictably, I did not train for a marathon, so ended up ‘downgrading’ to the half on the day.

We (myself & some local friends) walk/ran/walked the half in 3hrs 37 official time, but again a Garmin moving time of around 3hrs 15 mins. Some of that walking was because my choice of trainers left a lot to be desired; despite running regularly in minimalist barefoot shoes and loving it, they’re absolutely sod all use for hilly half marathons comprised of slippery rock faces, gravel paths and the like. I was expecting to run in some Asics trail running shoes but they didn’t arrive in time, so I’m holding these back for July (because I’ve entered another trail half!?!)

The 5th of May saw me celebrating my ‘freedom’ anniversary – 3 years since I asked the ex to leave. As per usual, this meant my annual donation to Women’s Aid which after a quick post on Facebook was nearly tripled by friends.

On Sunday 7th May I then ran again — the Market Drayton 10k — which as well as being the first race I ever ran back in May 2015 is also up there as one of my absolute favourites. The support from the locals of Market Drayton is always fantastic: such a huge buzz being cheered on for 99% of the route by everyone from tiny toddlers to old pensioners. Bloody great goodie bag at the end too (important facts)

Next Tuesday (16th May) is my first wedding anniversary. One whole year of being married to the smartest, funniest, most amazing man I know. At this point in time I have completely failed to do anything about an anniversary present despite knowing what I want to do for well over 6 months (Jem in “leaving things til last minute” shocker) so this could be a very short lived marriage. :D

In between all this I’ve been juggling huge workloads both of my own stuff and as a WordPress ninja for Gaz’s firm locally; revising and practising for an upcoming taekwon-do grading for my yellow belt with a green stripe; usual kids / house crap; and lastly, multiple social engagements… because I am nothing if not a social butterfly (with great boobs):

To end this month of chaos we have Olly’s 5th birthday (May 30th) rapidly approaching which also marks the 5th anniversary of working for myself shortly after (no, launching a business with a newborn isn’t a good idea). I am not sure how my little spud managed to get to 5 (benign neglect / second child syndrome) but here we are. Should probably get him a present too…

What a munchkin.

All photos taken from my instagram because I’m too lazy to download them from my phone & re-edit them.

Children’s birthday parties are exhausting

That’s it. The milestone I was dreading has come and gone. We have a lot of ‘seven’ left to go, but that initial mountain has been climbed and conquered.

Not made any easier by the organisation of the birthday party, because some bright spark thought that’d be a great idea.

For some reason, when I do stuff like this, I don’t like to do it by halves. Why buy a couple of frozen pizzas, some biscuits and sausage rolls when you can make your own pizza dough, bake your own mini quiches (that none of the kids will eat anyway), dip pretzels in chocolate and create breadstick ‘sparklers’..?


And indeed, why stop there? If making your own party food isn’t hassle enough, why not spend 3 days building an elaborate rainbow layered My Little Pony birthday cake featuring fondant icing that you will inevitably roll too thin so will fall apart when you try to put it on the far-too-tall birthday cake…


Still, I’m nothing if not a show off. And we got through the party without death, disease or tragedy, so it’s a win for a month that has been otherwise pretty crap so far.

And I only drank 4 glasses of vodka & lemonade to get me through it.


My daughter turns seven years old on Monday.

It’s a milestone I’ve been dreading for some years. Seven years old.

I have organised a party. A disco with music and lights. I’ve bought glow sticks, I’m making a buffet and building a rainbow My Little Pony layer cake. I’ve told her to invite all her classmates. I have bought all the presents that seven year old girls like (hopefully).

Because I want my little girl to remember seven for the year she had an awesome birthday. I want my little girl — my sensitive girl who’s still afraid of the dark, who still likes to cuddle when she’s sad, who still likes her sandwiches cut into little triangles, and who has me sit with her while she falls asleep — my sweet, innocent little girl to remember seven for the year she got to party in sequins and eat pizza and cake with her school friends.

I don’t want her to remember seven as the year a sexual predator with alleged child sex offences won the US presidential election, further normalising the continued treatment of women and girls as objects.

I don’t want her to remember seven as the year a sexual predator with alleged child sex offences won the US presidential election, in part because of votes from a majority of white women, who statistically many of whom have been sexually assaulted but don’t see it as an issue that should affect their vote, demonstrating the further normalisation of the continued treatment of women and girls as objects.

I had hoped that by the time my daughter reached seven, the world would be different. Better. That I wouldn’t have to worry about her potentially experiencing the shit I went through when I was seven.

Because I don’t want her to remember seven as the year she was sexually assaulted for the first time. Like I do.

I wanted better than this.

Ohai August

You’d think having not blogged for over a month I’d have a huge array of exciting developments to fill you in on.

Unfortunately, however, my life is just chores, bum-wiping and work, and I’m too lazy to make anything exciting up so you’re not disappointed by my very existance. But in a nutshell (for those interested in the monotony and the mundane) I have:

  • Agreed to do the Macmillan ‘Brave the Shave’ to help raise money so that they can support those suffering from cancer. A charity close to my own heart after they supported my maternal grandmother in her final weeks. I’m not sure what bravery is involved in voluntarily removing one’s hair, but if I can make a few quid doing something fairly simple, it’s all good.
  • Wasted a LOT of hours (when I should have been cleaning, parenting and/or sleeping) playing Stardew Valley. It’s the only game to have held my attention for longer than an hour in well over a decade. Love it, and love that it’s 100% by a lone indie dev. You can see what my farm looks like if that’s your bag.
  • Drunk too much, eaten too much, and exercised too little. And have put on about 10lbs for the privilege. Currently holding myself accountable by posting daily(ish) sweaty selfies to instagram. Feel free to nag me if I skip a day.

In addition to that, my essure has been signed off (the mysterious pain and bleeding stopped) and Oliver has finally finished nursery and is due to start school in September. Scary to think of my baby boy being old enough for school, but it couldn’t come soon enough. Paying out hundreds of pounds a month for childcare is gut-wrenching and not in any way helpful for overpaying the mortgage.

I reinstalled my laptop recently in a desperate last-ditch attempt to speed it up before I give up and replace it (which I can ill afford to do). After clearing out a few years of accumulated shite, converting to free open source software to cover stuff I no longer have the license to (Photoshop), and using Chrome as my primary browser (from Firefox)… well, it seems to have done the trick. Touch wood.

I decided a while back to redevelop this blog and my professional site into one big site, but after getting to 99% completion I decided against it at the last minute. Pondering how commercial and personal identity fit together isn’t a new thing — I’ve waffled on about it on here for years — but merging still makes me feel censored when it comes to discussing things of a more personal nature, so it’s not yet a path I’m willing to go down. This does mean my pro site will get a mini makeover (as soon as I have time to do it) though, woo!

I guess that’s all folks. See you again next month.

No more babies

Back in February I asked my GP for referral for a sterilisation. I saw the consultant last Monday to confirm that I fully understood what was involved in the process and the fact that it was a permanent, non-reversible contraception etc etc. I was offered a newer, non-surgical procedure called Essure®, which basically involves inserting two small coils into the falopian tubes via the vagina, which cause scar tissue to form blocking off the tubes and preventing sperm from reaching an egg.

I agreed to the procedure, signed a consent form and was told I’d hear shortly for an appointment date. I went home expecting to be waiting for another few months. I mean, the NHS is brilliant but for elective procedures and non-urgent care it can be (rightly) slow.

Not so much… within two hours of getting home I was called by someone from the hospital to advise that a cancellation had been made, and could I make it in the following Tuesday (29th March). Holy shit batman. (Talking of which, the new Batman vs Superman? Pants.)

On Monday night, I lay in bed and had a little cry as I thought about what this procedure meant: no more growing babies in my tummy. No more breastfeeding cuddles. No more snuggling tiny humans to sleep by my side. But what reassured me about this little release was that I didn’t feel regret, or like I was having a last minute change of heart, but simply coming to terms with experiences I’ve been lucky enough to have and realising that although beautiful and life-changing and fulfilling, I am done.

No more babies.

Teach your children to cook

Would it be controversial of me to suggest that failing to teach your children to cook is neglecting a hugely important of parenting? That is, missing out a huge part of a range of life skills that should be imparted upon your kids.

homemade lasagne

As I lovingly prepared a homemade lasagne earlier (by which I mean threw it together to satisfy my own cravings) I caught myself yet again feeling utterly indebted to my mum and my nan (dad’s mum) for having given me both culinary skills and the encouragement to experiment, which is the root of most of my dishes.

Don’t get me wrong, my mum was no Michelin star chef. She can’t cook meat (anyone who eats beef and lamb well done might as well not bother, sorry mum), and turkey twizzlers were regularly served in our house growing up til that bastard Jamie took them away, but her spaghetti bolognese is rivalled only by my own (of course) and she makes a mean syrup sponge pud.

My nan was of the generation that hand made everything and grew a whole lot of what she cooked too. I have fond memories of my nan’s rhubarb crumble, with fresh fruit straight from the garden and proper custard made the way you’re supposed to.

While I’m not naive enough to believe everyone has the time to both grow and prepare their own food these days, I think relying on the freezer section in your local supermarket and introducing your kids to fresh stuff just once a week alongside your roast does everyone a disservice. It robs children of the opportunity to experience and help with meal prep and robs the whole family of tastes beyond miscellaneous processed yellow crap.

Cooking at home is cheaper and better for you than ready meals and takeaway, and a necessary skill as a self-sufficient adult. Teach your children to cook.

Day in the life of a WAHM

It’s Tuesday morning, 6:50am. The kids have just asked me if it’s morning yet and can we get up, and I send them back to bed knowing full well the alarm is going to go off in 5 minutes, but every second I can spend tucked in bed wrapped in limbs and duvet improves the chances of me not being a grumpy arse when I do get up.

7:05am — oops, I realise I must have forgotten to turn the alarm on last night. Drag my weary butt out of bed and get the kids out of theirs.

The next hour is a confused, frantic mess of breakfast choices, getting the kids dressed and hair brushed (urghhhhhhhhh worst part of every morning), me showered / dressed / protein shake in my gob, feeding the cats and getting everyone out the door. We’re running 10 minutes behind schedule.

8:10am: chuck Izzy out at the school breakfast club. She loves going, because it means she can have a second breakfast and it’s usually poached eggs.

8:25am: drop Olly off at nursery: his favourite lady is there this morning, so we have a smooth and smiley handover. This allows me to recoup some of the earlier lost time.

8:30am: arrive with a client whom I have committed 8 hours a week to, split over 2 days. It guarantees regular income (so a bit of stability for me) which pays my childcare bill, allowing me to do all my other (more profitable) work.

Work work work.

12:30: home time

12:45: raid the fridge for anything vaguely edible

1pm: catch up on e-mails, social media

1:30pm: remember I’m supposed to be working, close down twitter

2pm: remember I’m supposed to be working, really close down twitter this time

2:05pm: realise that the spreadsheet I’m working from is out of date (probably because I haven’t updated it)

2:15pm: chuck some notes in spreadsheet, mark things completed, email to client in anticipation of call at 2:30 which is probably going to be a telling off because I expected to have other bits done by now (August was a disaster work-wise)

By 2:20pm I’m already sweating. Not because I’m hot (hello, Britain, September!) but because I hate phone calls. There’s something about not being able to read the body language and facial expressions of someone that reduces me to a jibbering wreck.

2:32pm: Desperate for a pee and the call is already late, what do I do, what do I do?

2:33pm: Risk it.. sit down, start to pee, phone rings. Pee faster, pee faster! Grab phone, accidentally cut him off.

2:34pm: Call back, telling off for slipping deadlines and unclear communication. Oops :(

2:58pm: Joke about pee on twitter, suddenly remember I need to pick the kids up. Forget sometimes there’s an “M” part to this WAH thingy.

7:53pm: Sit back down at computer somehow having lost 5 hours to feeding, bathing, bedtime stories and the like. Suppose I best get some work done. Ooh, what’s happening on twitter….

My 5 key parenting principles

Although my parenting ‘method’ is very much make-it-up-as-you-go-along, I have a set of core principles that I believe are important to creating well-rounded little human beings.


I strongly believe in a level of autonomy for my children. Primarily this means bodily autonomy: the freedom to make choices about themselves without judgement or coercion. This means being able to choose if they want to kiss or cuddle a relative (or even me). Choosing whether or not they get their hair cut (and recently, doing it themselves… ouch). Choosing what clothes they wear (within reasonable seasonal / social restrictions, i.e. I encourage them to wear a coat in winter, and to not strip naked in the middle of Tesco). I like to think that if children understand from early on that they have a degree of control over their body, they are less likely to accept unwanted attention as something that is “ok” or “allowed” should that ever occur.

Isabel 'mowing' the lawn
Because who doesn’t like mowing the lawn in their underpants…


I feel like I’m raising my children in a culture that is defined and imprisoned by a bogeyman-like threat. An invisible but ever-present scary monster masquerading as the “bad men” who will kidnap our children and do unspeakable things to them. The Daily Mail would have us believe that our streets are lined with rapists and child abusers.

I don’t believe in it, I don’t believe we should be controlled by it, and I certainly don’t think my children’s lives should be unfairly restricted because of it. As such I encourage my children to play unsupervised — I am the parent who goes to the park and sits away from the play area enjoying a coffee. I encourage them to seek adventure — with unrestricted access to our jungle of a garden there’s plenty of mischief to be had. I send Isabel to the local shop for bread or milk — it’s four houses down and never out of sight but to her is a sign that she’s a trusted, responsible, contributing member of the family which boosts her self esteem. Freedom to be, to do, to explore, to play: without interference and direction.


From the moment my kids were able to navigate the world independently, I’ve encouraged them to do so. They are encouraged to walk as soon as they can walk. Fetch their own toys as soon as they can reach. They brush their own teeth, make their own toast, tidy their own room, put their own clothes in the washing machine, scrape their plates (and so on). It doesn’t always go well; teeth sometimes need a second brushing and breadcrumbs in my butter makes me wince, but practice makes perfect. There are days when Izzy ‘forgets’ how to dress herself and wants to be babied and days were Olly is being so fiercly independent that he won’t let me swap his left-foot-right-shoe with the right-foot-left-shoe but 9 times out of 10 they do OK, and I know that I can get on with things I need to do without answering calls of “muuuum” every 30 seconds.

Isabel, 18 months, "mopping" the carpet
Isabel, 18 months, “mopping” the carpet


Because I know what my kids can do when left to get on with it, I find it much easier to respect them as little independent beings. I respect them enough to assume that they can do ‘stuff’, rather than needing me to do it for them. I respect them enough to talk to them like people, with grown up words and not baby language, and respect their ability to ask when they don’t understand. I try and demonstrate respect to my children so that in turn they will learn to respect the world around them.


Lastly, but most importantly, I surround my children with unconditional love and affection. Because what kind of life is one without love?


I got a little bit excited yesterday evening after Izzy told me her mouth was hurting as we brushed her teeth (oops, that sounds awful!) I had assumed she was just complaining because she was tired and grumpy, but nope… turns out she has two permanent teeth coming in.

Took me a little by surprise as she hasn’t actually lost her baby teeth yet, but apparently this is a relatively common phenomenon called “shark teeth” (which sounds pretty cool to me). Izzy didn’t think it was cool last night, and got herself all worked up because she was confused about how the teeth were coming up, worried that the tooth fairy wouldn’t know to come, etc. Thanks to a Charlie & Lola episode in which Lola loses a wobbly tooth eating an apple, Izz is now insistent that she has to eat lots of apples for the foreseeable future…

Oliver is also experiencing something new, although more at the “other end” of things as it were. He’s spent the past couple of weeks in pants during the day and we’ve had no more than a couple of accidents tops. He’s very pleased with himself and keeps telling me what a “super job” he’s doing at potty training. This is the second time my wait-til-they’re-ready approach has paid off and enabled a smooth transition straight into pants. Obviously that makes me an expert on potty training now – I should write a book ;)

My babies, they’re growing up! *wipes away a tear*

Fun Days and Holidays

This post was originally written a week ago, so the first paragraph probably doesn’t make much sense now…

Having told you all back in March that I’m blogging wrong, I then went on to not blog at all, which is probably as wrong as you can get if your aim is to actually blog. Unfortunately this was in the most part due to me coming down with some sort of mega cold which left me barely able to function (but without the fever and sleepless nights of flu, thank goodness for small mercies).

On the plus side, it got the lurgies out of the way just in time for the Easter school break, which whilst not normally significant (because we don’t celebrate Easter and I work full time) this year I’d actually remembered to take advantage of the Easter bank holidays and booked 4 days off work (equivalent to a full week with the BH) so that I could take the kids away.

I was meant to blog before we went away to tell you how terrified I was of the whole idea. Long journeys! An entire week with the kids and no break! No adult company apart from strangers! Potentially having to listen to “I miss my Dad” / “I want to go home” whines and not being able to do anything about it! A week without sex Gaz!

Anyway, to ease myself gentle into the whole “being a parent” thing (because I might have them for most of the week but they’re asleep or I’m at work for most of that), I accepted an invite to join various other bloggers and “VIPs” at the Sealife Centre in Birmingham on Saturday 28th March. I was supposed to be telling you all about their new exhibit, the Sea Stars, in time for the Easter holiday. Unfortunately that’s not quite gone to plan.

sealife-centre-birmingham (more…)

The F-word

f-a-tYesterday I was high-fiving the blogosphere as I read @NomadMomDiary‘s post “Not all F words are created equal“. It appealed to me for two reasons:

  1. Because I (controversially) swear in front of my kids
  2. Because the “F” word — that is, FAT — is not allowed in my house

My tweet to this effect raised a mostly positive reaction but Aisling asked a great question:

It was a valid criticism of the idea of banning words and how it might have undesired consequences (which is relevant to why I swear in front of my kids) but, through lack of explanation on my side, missed the point behind my banning of the F-word in my house. It’s not that I’ve sat my kids down and said “we don’t say fat, it’s bad”, it’s just something not discussed:

  • I don’t refer to people as “fat”
  • I don’t refer to myself as fat (within earshot, my blog doesn’t count. No it doesn’t, shut up.)
  • I don’t talk about dieting or losing weight
  • I never force my kids into finishing a meal; I trust them to know when they’re full
  • I talk about food positively, emphasising good nutrition as a baseline but enjoying everything in moderation
  • I talk about exercise from a health and strength point of view

Despite this “avoidance” of the word fat, and general attempts at body positivity and emphasising fitness over perceived fatness, Isabel told me on Tuesday morning that I am fat. I was genuinely shocked to hear the words fall out of her mouth. Not because it bothers me if she thinks I’m fat (I don’t need validation from a little girl) but because I thought I was doing a good job on avoiding what feels like a slippery slope into the world of fad diets, image-obsession and social pressure to look a certain way. I’m not ready to have to discuss these issues with a 5 year old and I don’t think she’s ready either.

I don’t have an answer to dealing with this, although I told Izzy that I didn’t want to hear her call someone fat again because it might hurt their feelings; that there are more important things to people than how much they weigh.

Still, it just goes to show that you can avoid what you like at home, the moment they’re in school they pick up things from their peers you might not like, including the F-word.

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