Saturday, 25 July 2015

From the daughter of a violent man.

Domestic violence, it's alien tapping the keys to form that sentence.  I have never experienced it. 

That was my mum. And it makes me angry, my eyes swell with tears, I could smash through a brick wall with nothing but the pure angst that cultivates inside, any time I remember what my own father did.

But I should remember, to somehow honour my mother, the lady who endured feeling the force of someone's hand, strike her beautiful, loving face. The face I know as 'home'. The face I see my own reflection in. To remember her past and never forget how much, sole consuming ore, I have for the amazing woman she is, how she raised a daughter, alone, who was oblivious to the pain she once lived, at the hand of my dad.

I feel guilt, I feel so far removed from the life my own mother once lived, that often, although it's part of my history, and the culprit is part of my gene pool, it all feels a bit like a tale from someone's else's life tapestry. It's not, but how I ache for my mother that it was. 

My mum was young, from a sheltered childhood, one of three sisters. 
My dad was a city lad, doing what young men do in the 80's with some jail stints thrown in for good measure. 

I won't describe the attacks, I know details of few myself. I selfishly could not quite process hearing what one person had subjected 'my mum' too. It was more than I could handle as a naive teenager, the time I found out the true reason I had no memory of my father. 

All those years ago, mum never knew of women's refuges, helplines, and charities. 
She just ran. In the dead of night, with me as a babe in her arms. The nearest house with a light on, became a beacon of safe in the darkness that covered those streets like a cloak, running from the torture she was about to face, again, from him. 

And that's how it ended. She ran. With nothing. With no one. 

She was 19 years old. The same age I was busy travelling Australia after college. The age I was happy and seeing the world, all because my mum ran.

I've devled into the realms of allowing my mind to picture where we might be now had she stayed. I toss the thought quickly out, I don't even have the mental strength for that. 

I'm ashamed at who I'm biologically connected to. I'm ashamed my link is so close to such a creature. But more im proud, so proud, that my mother raised a confident child, with nothing but memories of doing roly pollies round our large pink blossom tree, crabbing trips and feeling as loved and secure as any child could ever need to. 

Domestic violence is real, it's happening right now, somewhere to someone. 

We need to show them their beacon of light. 
We need to hold up candles along the way to a life free of abuse. To show them, yes, run. 
Run today. Now. 

It needs to be at the forefront, the charities and refuges need exposure, all the time, as just one day that victim, man or woman, may see that article, may see that phone number. And go.
Hurtle towards a life they feel is unreachable, free from fear, control and pain. 

I will only let the darkness of my families past, become a light for someone else. Raising awareness, thrusting out into the media, charities who have their arms out, waiting to help you, hug you. 

My father did not win. He lost everything. A partner, a daughter and now grandchildren. 

Victims of domestic violence, you have more strength than I can ever fear to have. You face your battles alone, in silence, you endure, you survive. Please. Please reach out to the hands calling to you. They are there, they won't let you go.

You are strong, you can run, you can feel safe again.

I wrote this with the pure intention of getting it plastered everywhere. Anywhere. To give it a platform. To give victims their beacon of light. 

Share it, post it, copy it, I'm not ashamed to ask. 

As you do, think of just that one person it could help. 

My mum is now happy, healthy and the most inspiring woman I've ever known. 

Everything I have I owe to her. She brook the chain. For me and my daughters. 

Let's help someone else do the same. 

For any help, advice or someone to talk to there are so many charities there to help, below are just a few. They also are always looking for help promoting and sharing their work as well as volunteer opportunities. 








Monday, 20 July 2015

An open letter to Pinterest

We've had good times, great times, some of the best. 
But here's the thing.

I'm not quite sure how to say this, I need to break up with you. 

Wow. This is tougher than I thought.



Remember our Elsa themed party last summer?! You showed me how to erect a giant 'pin the carrot on Olaf'

You held my hand whilst I wrote 237 stickers saying 'melted snow' on bottles of water...

For a party of kids that couldn't read yet. 

Good times. 

You've been there for me Pinterest, 2am4am, any hour of my sleepless nights, I could count on you to show me a wooden pallet bench that only took 5 steps to make. 
It gave me a project, a focus. And we know I love one of those. 

All I needed was pallets, a hammer, nails, circular saw, sander, varnish, and, well my husband to do it..

It was going to be immense. 

I pinned it.

I pinned you.

I'd pin all of you, but I try to be selective, realistic, if you will. 

No! I loved your ideas on homemade guacamole, but come come my love, we both know my strong point isn't in the kitchen, silly Pinny! 

What's that? Homemade Gin and Tonic cake? Oh, go on then.

Pin. 

Your not making this easy for me you know. 

Yes, I now I've got 762 boards to think about first, and another 357 secret ones. 

I know they are our brain child, we built them together step by step, but they are saved on my app, I promise.
I'll never forget your cheeky little emails sent to me at lunch time with recommendations. They always made me smile, you little charmer. 

But look, it's not you, it's me. 

I have to break away, just for a little while, I promise. 

I need to come back to reality, I need to delve back into the real world and remember that I don't have a 700ft, pure white kitchen and I'm not a size 0, so that hot pant outfit I accidentally pinned 4 times isn't really going to work. (But thank you for reminding me I had pinned it already, your always there for me)

I need to step away from hobby craft. I'm getting stares.

I'm not sure how long I can keep convincing my husband that I have no money because the price of bread keeps rising and the children needed new shoes.

We both know it went on 'Mod Podge' and burlap. That nautical wreath was going to look epic in my bathroom.

I must spend my money on, food, because you know, I can't keep feeding my family beans whilst we run off together in a land filled of Instagram filters. 

I love you Pinterest, you brought out the crafter in me once more, and gave me hope I could be a first class makeup artist, hairdresser, chef, party host, jewellery maker, teacher and have the most organised and colour co-ordinated play room for my children, that would rival a Laura Ashley catalogue. 

But really, we both know I need to learn to sow first, and I should really tidy my house. 

Bye, Pinny, not forever, just for now. 

Until my husband feels I spend more time with him than you.

Cos' I guess that's kinda important.

Your devoted Pinner 

Martha. 
A Cornish Mum

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Simple tips for opening new doors to new adventures.

I'm 30 years old. I had my first daughter at a young, naive, fresh faced and lacking a bit of confidence, 22 years old. 
 
I hadn't yet entered my career, I had worked within the police, but left after realising I wasn't the sort of person that could leave that sort of work at the office. It was eating me up.  
 
When I fell pregnant, I had just started to work as a car hire receptionist, a job, until I figured out what I wanted to do. 
 
And then 'H' came along. 
 
Mothering, mothering was what I wanted to do. 
And so I did, and I still do, but now to 4 beautiful,  funny girls. 
 
Even though I knew I wanted to be at home with my daughters, I still had the itchy feet syndrome, to do things for myself. 
 
Not to become an investment banker or run the next multi million empire (that would come later..) but just to 'put myself out there' for anything, everything, that I could actually do, small little baby steps to just see where it would take me, whilst I was still navigating exactly who else I would be apart from 'mum'. 
 
The one thing I always did, was buy the local paper. Simple you say? You would be right. But remember, in this post I'm not trying to show anyone how to navigate stocks and shares from home. 
 
It's all about just becoming a get up and go person, rather than waiting for things to happen to you. 
 
Now, I'm not a fan of the news *hangs head,or, rather, buries it in the sand* but local papers are great for looking up opportunities. 
Now, by opportunities I'm not talking about looking for Avon reps, I'm talking about that local charity looking for volunteers, that art teacher offering a free lesson that may unleash an unknown talent. Things you wouldn't even think to type into a search engine as you didn't know they existed.
 
Here are a couple of examples of projects I got involved with. 
 
Some opened doors, some didn't, but all gave me confidence and a zest to keep on looking for what else was on offer. 
 
I saw a competition for a mother and baby to become the new models for a Hand Print Memory company, you know, where you take tiny hands and imprint them on pictures to pass on to loving grandparents. 
 
I was actually 7 months pregnant at the time of applying, so I sent my photo, of me and little 'A' and a rather massive bump, then pitched to them that having a pregnant model could actually really work for their brand, I didn't really know what I was talking about, but I sounded upbeat and ..it worked and we won! 
 
I didn't dream we would, but before I knew it my face was plastered all over their products and I had a box of free goodies sent as a thank you. 
This then opened the door to another little adventure. 
 
I always browse the like of Netmums and Mumsnet, fantastic resources are just a click away. 
 
One day I saw a post asking for pregnant models for a local photography studio. I sent in my picture from the competition 'A' and I had won, and yes, I got chosen for the job! 
 
I would like to point out here I am NO model!
I am 5ft2 and average in build, I think it was mainly down to being positive, enthusiastic and smiling, a lot! 
 
From the pregnancy model job, I got a
fabulous free photo shoot, pictures of my blooming bump and me, for free, and a massive boost in loving my pregnant body. 
 
None of these involved money. 
 
But that's not what was important. 
 
It was about building the attitude of being a 'do'er', meeting and talking to compete strangers and they were just great fun, day by day I become a happier and more positive version of myself 
 
In posts to follow, I'll go into other, some slightly random, things I have got involved in, and hopefully, they may inspire some of you to make your own luck, open doors you didn't know were there, and see how small adventures can change the person you are in 5 years time. 
 

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

My protein shake diet test!

So, I'm totally doing it. 

I'm so in the zone I can't even see that unopened pack of chocolate digestives beaming its lustful glare in my direction. 

I'm so in the zone, I turned down a scone this morning at my friends house. THATS how serious I am. 

Nope I can't see those biscuits. Nope. 
Ok let's just put them in the bin. 

I am embarking upon a protein shake diet. 

I will say now, this is not product endorsed, not diet advice, and just off of my own back, I'm happy to share the brand (if it works!) although I'm pretty sure you could use any shake! 

So. Today is day 1. Got to start somewhere right? 
I have about 10lbs I want to loose. Now some may scoff at that, others hopefully will know, that those last 10lbs cling to you more than a child being dropped off at preschool. 

I just can't shift them. 

And it's really, really, stuff my face with donuts to console myself, frustrating. 
So I've done some research, bought my shake powder and I'm off! 

The idea is this, to drink two shakes a day, one for breakfast and one for dinner (I'm dreading that one) to have a normal lunch and healthy snacks. 

I have literally no idea if this will work. But I am prepared to be guinea pig for anyone else thinking about doing it. And will report back each week how it's going. 

I'm hoping by week 1 to have lost 9lbs. 
No? 
Ok 1-2lbs a weeks will suffice. 

I will be honest and say I will be doing no exercise to compliment this, although I know how totally healthy and great that would be. 
But frankly. I haven't got the time. 
The 30 day shred has sat in my drawer for over a year and I've never made it to day 2. 

So I'm doing this on diet alone. Besides running around after a toddler with a new found love of climbing on top of dinner tables and window sills is enough excersise isn't it? 

Wish me luck. 

Dunk that chocolate digestive and have one for me. 

Here I go, week 1. 

Monday, 13 July 2015

Love/Hate Blogger Challange

I'm so pleased I have been nominated for this by the lovely Clare at  Sons Sand And Sauvignon as I'm intrigued myself what I'll come up with..

The challenge is simple, to list 10 things you love and 10 you hate.

And it gives readers a chance to see a bit more behind the blogger at the other end of the screen.

So here we go!



10 things I love

My husband and beautiful girls 

Festivals

Eating a piece of chocolate followed quickly by a ready salted crisp. Yes. Seriously. 

The feeling and noise of turning a page over in a book when you have pressed down quite hard on your pen. It crinkles. 

Diaries and note books. 

My girls giving me hugs out of their own accord.

Writing.

Music and dancing. 

Custard. 


     Baths that are far too hot  



10 things I hate

Feeling sick.

Soap operas. 

Dust in my children's bedrooms.

People who don't say thank you.

Unvarnished toenails (just my own!) 

Me with short hair. 

Stew.

Rushing.

Having a list of unfinished tasks. 

                                                    Sitting in a dark room with the TV on.





There you go. Slightly random maybe, but honest! It's quite good fun thinking of all the things that float your boat.

So now I nominate these wonderful peeps....

Toni at GymBunnyMummy

Battlemum

Mama MKDPR at pooprainbows




Sunday, 12 July 2015

The Blogging world scares me.

I'm new to this, about 3 months in. 
I started off thinking I would just write my pieces, hope someone, anyone would enjoy reading them, and go from there. 
If something came from it eventually great, if not, I'm just enjoying being able to have somewhere, other than the 'notes' section on my iPhone, to store my ramblings. 

However, I soon realised there's a lot more to it. A hell of a lot more. 
I won't lie, it's made me want to pull out a couple of times already. 

The first thing I did was join Twitter. 
It's great, I love it. 
Nearly everyone has been really friendly, inviting and given me little hints and tips, not to mention the great opportunities I see cropping up on there. 
My following quickly grew in just over 8 weeks to over 1000 followers, I was astounded and grateful I had the chance to share my work with 'potentially' this many people. 

Then I started to gently tiptoe into the realms of blogging networks. This is where the brakes went on. 
After filling out form after form, and realising I didn't have half of the social media channels on the tick list, I suddenly felt pressure to be on every platform possible. 
I hadn't even heard of 4 of social outlets if I'm honest. 

Right, I thought, let's get on it like a car bonnet. 
I went about starting to set up my blog on everything from Pinterest to Google+. 

I started to get a headache, I started to resent slightly what I was doing, and questioning why I was doing it. I was tired, I had been running after 4 children all day, I had a great idea for a new post, but I told myself I needed to register to trial a free pack of kids biscuits. 

Do I want to become a successful blogger? 
Yes, if successful just means that people enjoy reading what I have to say. 

I am in no way knocking anyone who is on every platform available to man. 
In fact I'm taking my hat off to you. 
I can see how much work is involved. Between writing, Twitter, reading other people's work and emails, I barely have time to brush my teeth, let alone have 12 other channels of interaction to check. 

For me, I'm not ready yet to throw myself fully into the true blogging world. 

I'm not ready to treat my blog as a business. 
For now, I'm going to enjoy my blog and mines honeymoon period, where I smile when I look at it, in all its simplicity, and look forward to just filling it with every idea that pops into my mind, so that its spooling over with my thoughts and jokes. 
Not worrying if I have placed enough pictures and linked it in all the right places. 

My font may not match the whole way through, my word optimisation may register on page 1012 on Google, but it's mine, it's honest, it's funny (I hope) and it's there to hopefully open some doors and show other parents to just go out there and give things a try, in anything. 

In one post I wrote 'Saving for my speed boat, a mum with a million business ideas', I spoke about enjoying what you do, or you more than likely won't sustain it. 
To make sure you have enough time to dedicate to your project without it compromising your family life too much. 

To work hard and have fun. 

I've had to remind myself of these things this week. 
I will start to tentatively explore out of my comfort boundaries, but not yet. 

My blog and I aren't ready. 

Saturday, 11 July 2015

What to do you choose? Family or money?



Easy answer for most parents usually. Family. That precious time together, you can never get back. 

And if someone else had the same decision, we as a family currently face, I am pretty confident I would be harping on about quality time together, the importance of being present whilst they are young and how money isn't the key to happiness. 

However this time it's me in the spot light. And now I'm really unsure. 

The (loosely) explained scenario is this. 
The Husband commutes currently 2 hours to work and 2 hours back. The great father he is, he gets up at (literally) the crack of dawn, so he can start and finish work earlier, and be home every night at a respectable 5.30pm to see the children and give me some respite.
I'm very lucky to have married someone who cares enough to do this. 

However, he has now been offered a shift rota. Primarily, this means for 4 days out of 8 he won't see the children, and a fair amount of weekend work would be involved, and just to add the 4 days off wouldn't actually be 'off' as he has other work too. 
Now it's not every weekend, but let's just say enough to bring any mother out in a sweat at just how much 'alone' time she is facing with the children. 

The thing is. It's money. A lot more money.

Enough to make me, the 'money does not even touch the importance of being together' and 'no turn down that extra money for Sunday lunch' person that I am, it's made me seriously question if we should in fact just grab this opportunity by the balls and run to the hills, or maybe fly off in our new helicopter (kidding). 

Part of me thinks of the stability it will give us financially, our home, savings, saving for our 4 daughters future education, it would bring us so many possibilities, for all of us, as unfortunately, money can make a lot of difference. 

But yet, I cannot shake this feeling, a feeling of its totally against every principle I have ever had, it's against the one thing I have always advocated. Being together. 

Yes, we could move nearer to his job, except neither of us want to, we are totally agreed that where we live is such the perfect place to raise our children, that the alternative fills us with dread. 
Our daughters are settled here, we may not have family near by, but I have built up such an incredibly strong network of amazing friends since moving into our little haven, that when the catastrophe of needing to go and watch a school play, but no children allowed (it's distracting apparently..) and I sit and look at my 3 young toddlers and wonder if leaving them outside on a lead is legal, I know I have friends to call upon who my girls love, and those friends will sit and have tea parties with them until I get home. 
We are happy here. So happy. 

But when do you sacrifice for money? Do you ever? 
I thought you didn't, but my lines have become blurred, between, is it really just the family time I'm concerned about? Or is it the thought of being on my own a lot that is eating away in the back of my head? 
Both, in honesty. 
And that is when I feel I need to pull my socks up, think of the future of the family and is it really that bad?

He won't be away for weeks at a time. He won't be posted abroad for months, and so many admirable women and men support their partners who do have to work away a lot, so why shouldn't I. 
I fear it's being too selfish. 
I want the financial stability. 
I want the husband at home every evening for supper. 

I can't have both. So how do you choose? 

Friday, 10 July 2015

I cannot stand baby classes.

Controversial. I cannot stand baby classes. 

Now please, please don't bite my head off. I know many people reading this will have been to some amazing classes, where your baby could use sign language to tell you she's hungry at just 5 months old and has learnt to count to 100 by the age of 2 because of these £5 a go sessions. 

But honestly, who on earth pays to have a complete stranger sing at your child in a fairly high pitched voice for 45 minutes, whilst your made to dance around and 'participate' as its good for bonding? 

I have done the above. And when I chatted to some other overly enthusiastic mums as they bashed their tambourine, I got reprimanded by the 'teacher' of said baby class and asked to use the 'tea and biscuit time' after the class for my socialising. 
I felt like the worst mother ever. 

Now you want me to pay £5 a class where you entertain my child and I can sit back and have fudge cake? (Whilst watching of course) I'm there. 

Yes, these over priced, need to remortgage to pay for a term up front classes, have their plus points, meeting new mums, getting out the house and subjecting your child to the wonders of other little ones. 
But surely, does a park not do the exact same thing?! And it's free...

True story. I recently took my 4, 2 and 1 year old to a play centre, there was a toddler music class about to start, the theme I got told was 'baking'. I was encouraged by the teacher to look through the window to watch what they were doing. 

So I did. 

I saw mums sporting bright red chef hats on, stirring pretend cake mixture in a plastic bowl, and trying to sing the words to a song they had never heard. 
I saw one mum trying to have a phone call whilst the music was blurring out 'now chop up the onions sizzle sizzle sizzle' and another mum trying to stop her toddler from constantly trying to escape out the door into the play centre, that the child so desperately wanted to get in to. 
I'm sure the kids enjoyed it, but when I enquired as to the price, I got told it was £5 per child, with a £1 sibling discount. 
Now, for those of us who have ventured into 'large families' you will understand, that for me that meant £13 a week. 
I'll say that again £13 a week for 45 minutes of something I could of re-created in my kitchen. 
With actual cake mixture. 
And an actual cake at the end. 
And still have approximately £10 left over. 
I struggle to see the allure? 
If it's meeting mums you fancy, join one of the many many meet up groups, or be brave and say 'hi, I'm tired, you?' to that mum at the park. 
If it's getting out the house you want, go to the swimming pool, something you can't actually do at home. 

My rant may seem pointless, but in today's age, I see mums putting so much pressure on themselves to have mastered baby massage, yoga, and sign language by the time their child is 12 months old. 

It's ok, you don't need to pay the equivalent of your iPhone phone bill per month to these classes, go take that money and spend it in Costa. You deserve it. Because after that 45 minutes is over, you still have another 12 hours of awake time to fill (if your lucky). 

And chances are your child will have much more fun in a swing. 

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

10 things to know about the 'Close Age Gap'

So, you've had a baby, it was messy, beautiful, painful but life changing. You sat back amongst milk soaked muslin cloths and empty packets of biscuits and thought 'yeah I could totally do this all over again' and so in the hormone ridden mess you are in, you jump back on that saddle (ahem) and get to making baby number 2. But here are 10 things from one that's been there, I should probably let you know first. 

1. You will time your day, not by clock, but by CBeebies. 
Yep, that tv/iPad/tablet will become your eldests surrogate mother. You will call on it any time the new baby cries, sleeps, needs to eat or generally just breathes.  

2. You will discover an even deeper meaning of the word guilt. 
Thought you felt bad first time round? Littlle John's clothes don't match? Little Sarah's hair looks untidy? Let me tell you, with two tiny humans, your guilt will stretch to, little John hasn't seen a park in just over 6 months and who knows what a toddler group is anymore? Because your children don't. 

3. The staring. 
Not from caring passers by asking if you need a hand carrying that enormous double Icandy pushchair up 6 flights of stairs. No, but from strangers, looking in horror at how you obviously had no self control around your husband and you haven't yet 'figured out what causes that'. Yes, I talk from experience. Helpful comments indeed.

4. You'll make some of your mother friends feel crap. 
Your friend with one baby won't feel like she can moan to you, about anything. 
After all, you've popped out two children in the time it takes most to do their weekly shop. 
They will praise you and say you make it look so easy, whilst secretly resenting you for making them feel like their toddler chucking peas all over the floor at dinner time wasn't actually something to have three bottles of wine over. 

5. You will never wash. Ever. One you've heard before right? Well, once you have two very small people, attempting to shower, instead of it just being hard to fit the time in, instead becomes a fear of the toddler sitting on the babies head or trying to feed little John from their boobies 'because mummy does it'. 

6. You will forever need to buy two of everything. Exactly the same.
Don't think you can buy that child a new top because all the others are stained and not buy the other child one, even though their wardrobe rivals BeyoncĂ©. And the tops will have to be identical. Don't try to pull 'ones a fairy ones a unicorn' crap here. It won't work. They WILL fight over the same one. And you will wish you had listened to me. 

7. You will loose all sense of personal space. When one child is occupied the other one will follow you like a woman follows a sign for Zara.  When you appease that child by handing them your bra to go play with, the other will undoubtedly become bored and start calling your name, looking round the house for you and follow you to the ends of the earth. 
You can try to hide. It won't work. Trust me. 
This circle then continues until your partner gets home and you run for your car as if you don't have just 5 minutes to yourself your about to start screaming like a child that's being strapped into a pushchair. It won't be pretty. 

8. The arguing. 
As your two little cherubs grow, be prepared for the inaudible arguing that will ensue. 
Will you have the faintest idea what they are yelling about? Hell no. Because they can't speak yet. But one holding the other up against the wall clearly indicates something has gone down here, and judging by the Barbie doll with one leg missing and its head the other side of the room, you can bet it's one of those times you wished you'd bought two...

9. Copying everything the other one does. 
With two such small, impressionable little minds running around together, things are bound to rub off. Sarah doesn't like carrots anymore? Well neither does John now. John takes a sudden dislike of anything that involves water of being washed in anyway, well Sarah now has that phobia, ten fold. 
So, imagine the pain of one child going through these phases. Then double it. That's a close age gap for you. 

10. The love. 
Aside from the public staring, the pushing, the fear of an A&E trip, there is a lot of love, and a lot of laughter. 
They will soon learn to love each other so much that when one is busy at a friends or school, the other will cry and literally mourn their sibling, until they come home again.
And then probably smack them round the head when they walk through the door. 
With the Barbie doll. 
But hey, I did the close age gap twice. So it can't be all that bad. 

(Typed whilst sitting in my car).