27 Nov 2014

The Great "Frozen" Bake-off

 

It’s Becky’s fourth birthday in a couple of weeks, and like most little girls, she’s totally obsessed with Disney’s “Frozen”. So much so, that all she’s talking about is that she wants a “Frozen”-themed cake for her birthday party. Hmm…

I’m a fairly confident baker *I baked my own wedding cake, after all. Fact!*, but I have never done much with sugar craft or handled Royal Icing very often (I’m not that fond of it, so most of my cakes feature buttercream icing or other frostings), so we’ll have to see how that one will go.

But of course, my daughter’s birthday wish is my command, so I will attempt to get some kind of cake creation going. I think I will do a main cake and probably order some Anna, Elsa and Olaf cake toppers (with the best will in the world, I don’t think I can “craft” convincing Frozen figurines), as well as a batch of Frozen cupcakes, which should be a bit easier.

Above and below are a couple of cake inspirations that I have pulled from Pinterest. Not ambitious at all. *Cough*. I’ll report back how I got on, if they turn out in any way ok. Any tips and tricks are most welcome!

 



 
 



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24 Nov 2014

Fat



A couple of days ago I was in our local farm shop and Becky got mesmerised by some delicious looking, colourful cupcakes. “Mummy look, they look yummy”, she said excitedly.

I was just about to put one in our shopping basket (I just can’t resist Becky’s beautiful smile and seeing her devouring something with gusto, and I knew this was just the ticket), when this old bloke who was standing nearby, sneered at Becky from the side: “They will make you fat!” he uttered matter-of-factly.

“No they won’t,” I quickly said sternly, and put the cupcake demonstratively in my basket.

“Yes, they will,” he repeated stubbornly, nodding his head at Becky, as if to give weight to his warped opinion. “No they won’t,” I repeated, this time visibly angry.

Poor Becky looked on in confusion, not knowing what to think. Close to telling this guy to eff-off, I just hissed at him “Please keep your opinions to yourself” (I know! That told him!) and shuffled Becky along, away from the situation and any more of this guy’s unsolicited opinions.

But this episode left me really annoyed and upset, maybe more than it should have, and I can’t stop thinking about it.

Firstly, Becky is a petite, dinky little thing, and really not in danger of getting fat from a cupcake.

But there’s a deeper, more fundamental concern for me here.

I have suffered from an eating disorder for most of my teenage and adult life; in fact it was only when I fell pregnant with Becky that I had to address the issue and seek help, and I’m trying really really hard to teach Becky a healthy body image and a healthy relationship with food, so I can spare her from all the self-doubt and self-torture that has had a grip on me for so long.

Even though it takes all my discipline, I make sure that I never ever let her hear me run myself down (very hard, as my body confidence at the moment is the lowest it has ever been after recently having had another baby), I never comment on food in terms of fattening or calorific, only in terms of healthy and possibly unhealthy, and just try to convey to her that everything is ok in moderation.

I have therefore banned the word “fat” from our vocabulary (my husband thinks I’m exaggerating; maybe, but it is a sensitive topic for me). So it was funny when on that very same day I came across the very poignant blog by Along Came Cherry, “Why we've banned the word fat” (you can read it here), and it totally resonated with me.

It’s hard enough being a Mum of a girl, what with all the pressures that are put on girls today and from such an early age, but as a Mum with previous food issues it is even more difficult, and I don’t need strangers with deluded opinions to interfere. It just felt like this old guy was undoing all the good work I have been doing, in one, careless, totally uncalled for and incorrect comment.

Suffice to say that I let Becky have her cupcake.  And as for me, I will continue to teach her a healthy attitude to food as best as I can.

* This is a link-up with Honest Mum's great linky Brilliant Blogposts. Check it out here.
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21 Nov 2014

Competitive Much?


Gosh, it's competitive out there in the world of parenting, isn’t it? Whether you’re surrounded by a gaggle of pushy Mums and Dads or not, inevitably there will be times where as parents you question how you measure up.

From developmental milestones, academic achievements, variety of toys and gadgets to parenting styles (and resulting child!), most parents – subliminally or consciously – will compare (mental) notes at some stage or other. I guess it’s natural to draw parallels within peer groups, and we all want the best for our little ‘uns, as well as some kind of reassurance that we and them are doing ok. But as Becky gets older and her social circle wider, I’m picking up on rising pressure to “keep up” to an extent (thanks heavens Alex is too young for all of this yet – the most we compare in our mummy groups are sleep patterns and the frequency of poos!).

And there’s a lot of stuff you can get wrapped up in.
 
Which school is Becky going to go to next year?

Is ballet class enough, or should we also add swimming, gymnastics and violin to the mix of extracurricular activities to make her an accomplished 4-year-old?

Will she be at a social disadvantage because we haven’t taken her to Disneyland yet?

Does she have enough “Frozen” collectables and toys to match her friends?

Are we bad parents because we only recently cottoned on to the fact that “Micro Scooters” are the “it” scooters every little girl and boy needs to be seen with?

I could go on, but you get the picture. And no doubt, the older Becky gets, the more will be added to the list.

I’m really trying not to let myself get consumed by this, and particularly where Becky’s development is concerned, I’m really not bothered about pitching her against other kids. I know she’s a clever cookie and meets all age-relevant goals, even exceeds some, and anyway, each kid develops at their own pace, right?

But I do put John and I as parents under a degree of scrutiny. I often wonder whether we are facilitating Becky’s development enough, her talents, personality and growth as a little character. Are we offering her enough experiences that will help shape her into a well rounded person? Are we doing enough, amongst the every-day realities of jobs, chores and time constraints, to help her realise her potential?

I guess there’s nothing wrong with a bit of self-analysis and a constructive look at your parenting now and again.

But at the end of the day, parenting isn’t a competition, a rat race or a tournament. So I will try to focus less on ticking boxes and more on just letting Becky be her own, unique little person.

 
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18 Nov 2014

Customising Ikea

We recently bought Becky her first "big girl's bed". Until then she had been in a cot bed which converted from a baby cot into a junior bed. However, when Alex started to outgrow his moses basket, we decided to convert the junior bed back into a cot and move Alex in, and Becky was very excited to get a more "grown up" sleeping arrangement.

Her nursery is the typical box room found in most houses, so maximising space was paramount. So off we went to good old Ikea and came back with the mid-rise bunk bed "Kura", which offers a sleeping space on top and lots of room for storage, toys or playtime underneath.


The things is, the Kura bed is and looks pretty basic, as you can see (it's only a temporary solution until we decide whether we'll move to a bigger house or extend, so we didn't want to invest a huge amount into what is meant to be just a provisional arrangement). Therefore, I've been trawling Pinterest to look for some inspiration on how to jazz up the bed and add a little bit of girly charm and personality. I'm not a terribly arty crafty person, but I enjoy the odd spell of DIY and customising when a wave of creativity overcomes me, so I'm thinking this:

 

I love the idea of Becky having a little snug underneath, and we have already put a nice new (pink!) rug, some fairy lights and cosy cushions into the space, as well as having moved some of her books, her dolls house, lots of dollies and Barbies in.

 
 
I think the monochrome colour scheme in this image is lovely against the pink accents, though I think it's probably not enough pink for Becky's liking *sigh*.



This is more like it: Becky would love the pink feature wall, and I'm going to look for some nice wall paper or border that I can use. I'll probably paint the frame white though, as I think it will look even nicer.
  
This is not the right colour scheme *obviously! It’s not pink!*  but I like the idea of getting some kind of curtain creation that would turn the downstairs into a little den - Becky LOVES dens! - , and the space can also double up as a bunk bed for when she has her little friends round for a sleep-over.

I best get started then! 

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17 Nov 2014

iParenting



Hi, I’m Isabella and I'm a naughty parent. I'm an iPad parent. There, I said it. Don't judge me. I can explain: I frequently use the iPad to occupy Becky; when I need that extra 20 minutes of kip in the morning after being up at night with Alex. When I take a shower. Or when I have to get some chores done and need a good girl who doesn't keep pulling things out as I'm tidying others away. Or when I just need a break; five minutes to myself, with a cuppa and my feet up.

It's bad, isn't it? I always swore I wasn't going be the Mum who plops her kids in front of the telly (surely the old school version of the iPad) to get some peace and quiet, but there you go, the reality of parenting has taken over, and I'm doing it.

Not that Becky minds. She loves it. She plays games on it, watches kid’s movies and programmes on Youtube and Netflix, and generally uses the iPad like a little wizz kid ever since she was just over a year old.

And whilst I do keep an eye on what she's watching and make sure that she plays / watches age appropriate things and educational stuff (well, apart from that creepy Kinder-Surprise-Egg woman who does just that, open Kinder Surprise Eggs!?! - Becky is totally fascinated by her and manages to sneak that in now and again), it doesn't take away from the fact that the iPad has become a pretty fundamental “tool” in my parenting. And a powerful leverage indeed.

A few times now, when Becky has been very naughty, I have threatened her with taking away the iPad, and it's a potent enough warning to instantly turn a rebellious child into an angel *Mwahaha! Evil laugh!*. Good job then that she hasn't as yet cottoned on to the fact that I won't actually follow through with that threat. That would be parental suicide. After all, how would I ever get anything done?
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14 Nov 2014

Boyzone



One of the lovely things about having a boy in addition to a girl is that I get to dress Alex in some of the gorgeous “little dude” clothes that are around. I’ve always thought that boys clothes are so much cooler than those available for little girls (blue is my favourite colour anyway), and it balances out nicely all of Becky’s pink things (she’s such a typical little girl!) that have taken over every aspect of her clothes, toys and generally all of her possessions.

I love buying clothes for Alex (Note to self: go easy on the online shopping!) and have also been lucky to have received some amazing gifts from friends, family and colleagues, so his little wardrobe is forever expanding. My favourites for him are snug babygros and sleepsuits, cosy leggings and cords, as well as soft knits and cardis, and as winter is approaching, I can’t wait to layer him up in his chunky pram suit and little wooly hats etc.

Above is just a small selection of recent gifts and purchases as well as my favourite oh so cute items. The boy’s definitely got style, don’t you think?

 

 
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13 Nov 2014

Two Is The Magic Number




Since our baby son Alex arrived in July, I have been in a bubble of happiness. It’s strange how such a small person can make such a huge impact on our lives, but he undeniably has. His arrival has made our little family complete. Not in a family planning kind of way (though that, too!), but by making us a unit of four, an entity that I feel we were destined to be.

John and I always knew that we wanted two children, even though or probably because – ironically – we are both only children, and we both hate it (more on that in a separate post soon). So giving Becky a sibling didn’t need much discussing, though we had slightly differing views on when exactly to expand the Griffiths clan. For John, this couldn’t have come soon enough (well, it’s easy to say for men, isn’t it?), whereas I wanted a slightly bigger age gap, regain a little bit of “me” first, enjoy my job again for a while, as well as generally dedicating some time exclusively to Becky before sharing out our attention and affection to another child.

What I wasn’t prepared for, however, was how amazing I would find motherhood the second time round and how different the experience is.

Following the birth of Becky, I found adjusting to life as a first time Mum hard.  After a traumatic labour we went straight into breastfeeding problems, colic, a constantly screaming baby and what I now know was a degree of postnatal depression, and the sleepless nights (and days!) nearly sent me over the edge. I remember just wanting to go back to work, where I knew what I was doing and that I was good at it, as opposed to looking after a baby, which I had no clue about and felt like I was failing at every hurdle.

So, despite everyone telling me beforehand that the second time is easier, I was sceptical and braced myself for the worst. “I just need to get through the first 12 weeks”, I kept telling myself, “then I will be ok”.

But I’ve been more than ok. And it didn’t take 12 weeks. As soon as Alex was handed to me in the delivery room with the words “It’s a boy!” (we didn’t find out the sex beforehand), I’ve been overcome by this wave of love and euphoria that just isn’t waning. Feeding isn’t an issue, he hasn’t got colic (thank Goodness!)  and while Alex is now almost sleeping through the night, even the early days of waking several times for a feed didn’t seem to bother me in the slightest. What’s more, I’m embracing my maternity leave, which I considered boring and isolating the first time round, and love making new mummy friends, joining mummy groups or just spending precious one-on-one time with Alex while Becky is at pre-school.

The fact that Alex is a boy is the icing on the cake. It totally wouldn’t have mattered if he had turned out to be a girl, it would have been absolutely lovely, but to have one each – our little girl with our little boy – does feel extra special. And I’m perpetually on cloud nine. Becky and Alex = happiness times two.  

 
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12 Nov 2014

Finding My Voice


Picture source: Pinterest
 
 
If someone had told me a few years ago that I would start my own blog, I would have laughed out loud. I didn’t do blogs. In fact, I admit, I was even quite cynical about the blogosphere, the sheer amount of blogs, topics and personalities out there and the fact that anyone and everyone can launch one. I suppose, as a journalist and editor, I felt that only “professionals” had the authority to express themselves publically. I guess I just didn’t get it. Until I got it.

Over time, and especially since having my daughter Rebecca, I’ve started to follow a number of mummy and lifestyle blogs, and one led to another, and another and then another, and suddenly I was sucked in. I finally understood that it’s exactly that multitude of voices and diversity of subjects that makes blogs and the people behind them the lovely creative community that they are. And I started to feel like I wanted to be involved. Be part of it. Join the conversation. Quite often, I would read something and wholeheartedly agree or disagree, share the same experiences or have different ones, and I wanted to share my own.

My final motivation to take the leap and launch “Fairies and Pirates” came after the birth of my baby son Alexander three months ago, when I found myself overwhelmed with so many emotions, experiences and thoughts and the feeling that I needed to vent them somewhere. To find my voice, if you will. So this is it. My little space of the internet, and my take on motherhood, work, life and getting a balance between all three. Welcome!
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