So, today I decided to use the rice / slow cooker to cook a risotto (slightly lazier than using a pan but easier when there are little people running around). Upon opening the rice cooker I discovered that I hadn’t learned from my first Top tip of the day. I found mouldy rice and moudly steamed veg festering in it. It had been there for quite a while – weeks not months though this time. Scrummy Mike tried to rescue it but it was so unhygienic we made the sad decision to throw it – annoyingly it was a wedding present (from F & L – sorry for ruining what you bought us!) but I have already found a replacement online. Phew.

I really must learn to check there is not an abundance of food left somewhere to go green. Learn Lucy, Learn.

 

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It was my birthday earlier this month. I was 30 something. I have gone into the next bracket up on surveys. Which is a tad annoying as selecting the next category up creates more categories below which makes you older officially not just in years but in survey land. And also makes me wonder what I have achieved in all those years.

Well it was 20 years since doing my GCSE’s. I did worst at art, as I did in my A-Levels. Which is ironic as it was the only bloody one I cared about. Maybe it spurred me on to get a first in design at uni. Sometimes you can get complacent if you always do well in something, then forget to put the effort in and so do badly. For me it was the opposite – I had to prove the examiners I was creative, and eventually I did but it took a lot of effort. Our uni course (interactive design) was a minimum 5 day a week 10-8pm (most days) effort in order to get everything done. While other friends had jobs, I was there trying to get my head around HTML and Lingo which I really hated. I visited schools to user test my Nut Allergy CD and waited for the dial up tone at home in order to do online research & create simple websites. No two lectures a week for me. But no exams either. I haven’t done an exam since A-Level maths. I somehow fluked an A (ask anyone who was in my class – I didn’t ‘do’ maths) so I suppose that’s one way to bow out of exams.

I often wonder what the point of exams are. They seem to have nothing to do with real life. I don’t sit there reading books, writing essays then answering multiple choice on parenting. I just get on with it (ok I read one book and got a bit annoyed with it, opened another and gave it to charity – arse off Ms Ford). I honestly feel some people thrive in an exam environment and some don’t. I think coursework is much more relevant and I’m glad that’s what I did for my degree. After all a steady stream of work is what life is all about, not just 2 hours of hell. Unless there is a toddler tantrum occurring.

Now is it even worth doing a degree these days? I went to Hull & lived in a house with no central heating, 2 doors down from drug dealers, for £20 a week. I came out with hardly any loan and paid it back within a few years of graduating. Nowadays you can be paying £9k / year for fees plus living bringing the average to around £40k (someone in the know reckons anyway). At first this sounds horrific, but if you don’t earn much you never have to pay it back. The more you earn the more you pay back, a bit like tax. So maybe it’s not so bad after all – if you come out of uni with a highly paid job then paying back the loan is worth it as you wouldn’t have the well paid job if it wasn’t for the degree.

I will encourage my boys to go to uni. I’d advise them to take a year out as I believe the extra year helps you decide what to do, earn a few bob & mature & drink a bit. I would also try to make sure they did a course relevant to a real life job, therefore meaning no need to do post grad courses in order to get a career.

However, if they don’t want to go to uni that’s fine – just as long as they have some sort of plan. A greenhouse, some plants and lots of spaced out friends does not a plan make. I have a feeling, although I don’t feel like I’ve done much in my life, if I was to compare myself to those my age who are still cultivating & smoking their hippy plants, I may find that I have achieved more than I feel I have.

They may be more green fingered but I’ve got a blog. 2 non-green fingers up at those examiners and pesky survey making people – next time I may just pick another category for the sheer hell of it. That’ll serve them right for fuelling my mini mid life crisis.

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My Top Tip of the Day is:
Do not leave hash browns in the oven for several weeks*, they make mould and a smell which makes you retch. And you have to chuck your best oven dish. Instead, eat them straight away.

* ‘lucky you’, I hear you say ‘no cooking for several weeks!’. Nope, we have 2 ovens which leads me to tip no 2 – if you have 2 ovens use them both. Don’t be a tight arse and just use the gas one more as it costs less to run.

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…I would prescribe every mum Prosecco** and chocolate to help them get through life.***

 

* I have no interest whatsoever in becoming prime minister but if some strange miracle happened this would be my main manifesto.

** Ok not everyone likes Prosecco so alcoholic or non alcoholic beverage of choice. I don’t think a mum exists who doesn’t like chocolate. (I fear I’m about to be proved wrong)

*** I am not advocating being drunk in charge of children. All I am saying is they drive some of us to drink. (Not to be confused with drink driving, which is NOT ok. OK?).

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We recently bought a big car – a Ford S-Max, to be friends with our old Rover 25.

Now Max & Rover (our car-dogs) both have their pluses and minuses. Rover was a fab london car – it is fun – you kind of feel like you are living on the edge somewhat feeling as if it may fall apart at any time ( it kind of is – it has no glove compartment, only some window winders & the air con doesn’t work), the boot doesn’t always close and it’s so bashed & scratched that you can leave it anywhere without worrying about it getting more dents (it got bashed – a lot – only twice by me & I blame Mike for one of those & a high kerb for the other. Ha). I can park it pretty much anywhere too – which is great in a busy car park, for instance when needing to squeeze in a small space when late for the theatre (again), as demonstrated the other week. It is also very cheap to insure & hasn’t needed much doing to it miraculously – it’s always passed its MOT. Not bad for an 11 year old dodgem car.

Now Max is like a whole new world. It has several compartments in which you can store stuff (like snacks & more snacks), front windscreen defrost (genius – though not actually tried), it has parking sensors, it knows if it is raining or dark (I think there are elves living in there switching the wipers & lights on when needed) and is actually also pretty fun to drive for such a big beast. It also has DAB radio so we can listen to Radio 6, or 5 live (actually hearing what the commentators are saying) and you can make it so all the kids songs & stories are played in the back speakers and you have relative silence in the front. Phew. But you can’t park it anywhere (this means parking miles away from the destination so more calories burned so maybe not a bad thing) and it seems ridiculous driving it if you’re on your own. I also feel very ‘mummy’ in it – I know I am one but it’s a bit cliche that I now have a people carrier, albeit a slightly cool one. It is our sensible car; it fits us all in (in Rover, the dog was squished by my feet and got a bad neck & tried to change gear with her paw) as well as the double buggy which is happy to get out and about further than the village. It is fun to drive as it can do 0-60 in less than 5 minutes and is an automatic (no stick I hear you cry – well actually I quite like not having a stick as sometimes stick can get stuck in Rover & make crunchy sounds) and pretty economical as it’s a diesel – in fact it is probably more economic than the Rover. It is 7 years rover’s junior – about 70 human years (dog years = car years don’t they?).

So we now have a nice mixture of cars. We can look like students or sensible family guys. We can squeeze in or spread out. We can give people lifts or wave at them as we trundle by. We can boil in the heat or put on more layers on journeys.

I will be sad when Rover goes to car heaven (or in fact we sell it – we have figured out maybe we don’t need it but it is hard to let go!) – I will probably keep the seats though as I swear they are some of the comfiest I’ve sat on.

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Max & Rover. See if you can spot one of Rover’s bashes.

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Well now the wait for a future king or queen is over, everyone turns to baby weight. Already newspapers are commenting that a day after the birth, Kate would DARE to have a tummy still. I mean, what was she doing in those 24 hours – was she not on a shake diet and on the treadmill? Shame on her!

For a lot of new mums, they do expect that stomach to disappear straight away. It doesn’t. It wobbles there like a big blancmange. Mine was also lopsided as my muscles split – I was just glad it wasn’t a hernia as they thought at first. It is still wobbly and sticky-outy and stretch-marky.

I’m sure kate will bounce back to her size 6 fairly easily. Indications suggest she wasn’t in much pain after the birth so hopefully she didn’t tear. I am not sure I know many mums who would be in heels the day after, or even able to walk up and down steps so soon after birth. Maybe she was grimacing inside.

What I am concerned about is how most celebs lose the baby weight really quickly. Some do take their time (Britney Spears) but others (Victoria Beckham) never seemed to have any in the first place to lose. She coined the phrase mend it like Beckham for those who have a nip & tuck along with their scheduled c-sections.

For me, it took me 9 months the first time to lose most of my weight. This time it’s 10 months & counting. In that time I haven’t dieted one bit, or exercised apart from a few Zumba classes & walking with or after the kids. I put it down mainly to breast feeding big boys and also down to being subtly active. My body shape is certainly not what it was BC (before children), but it was never going to be was it? It saddens me that for so many women losing the weight is their priority. For me it was feeding and looking after my kids. I won’t grow old & wish I’d spent more time working out or making up green shakes, but maybe I would regret not spending more time with them instead of worrying about something which has naturally occurred to women for thousands of years, but only recently seemingly become a problem. I hope Kate doesn’t feel pressure to lose that cute tum – loads of women will cheer her if she takes her time.

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Dear Kate

I wish you well in your birth. I hope it goes well & that you get a healthy baby. I don’t envy you giving birth with the whole world waiting in anticipation. It was bad enough for me and millions of others without that added pressure. Don’t feel bad if you don’t stick to your birth plan or something doesn’t go the way you hoped. Don’t feel bad if you can’t breast feed, or if you don’t bond with your baby at first. Don’t feel bad if you want to cry, or tell the media to sod off. Don’t feel bad not putting on makeup & just lounging in big comfy pants and pjs for a few days or weeks. Just do what you feel is best and don’t listen do what people want you to do. Give the new arrival a name you & William love, not that is expected. Give them lots of cuddles and love – they grow so quickly and before you know it they’ll be calling you names you don’t like!

Lucy

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Here’s a product I absolutely love. And Mike does which is even more amazing. Warning. I will now talk about poo.

I tried to get on with reusable nappies but having had 2 c-sections I found it a bit of a step too far – I do use them occasionally – like if I know one needs a change & will only be wearing a nappy a short while. The thing about reusable nappies is they are so cute – I just wish I had the energy to use them!

What I do love though, is reusable wipes. I ordered a Cheeky Wipes kit just after Osc was born and I’m still using them now. I have managed to persuade a few friends to use them too and they love them too. This kit is an updated version of the one I have – mine are just plain cotton. The Cheeky Wipes Ultimate kit has wipes which have cotton on one side and cotton velour on the other so you can use them for bums AND faces/hands – genius!

The idea of reusable wipes is that you have a dirty and clean box – the clean box has the wet cheeky wipes in soaking in water, and when you have used the wipes you put them in the dirty box, soaked in water. I must say I found soaking them really faffy (they were hard to get out and into the washer without dirty water spilling everywhere) so I just bung them in the wash on a rinse or quick wash cycle then wash them with my normal laundry. I then boil them sporadically and so far, my original ones have lasted 2.5 years. I did get some newer ones (now discontinued) but they weren’t as good – so make sure they’re the original or up to date ones if you do get them! The boxes, I must admit, aren’t that great (all broke) so I use some Tupperware ones, and the wipes and water work well for me – the drops are nice to add but they do start to whiff after a bit, especially in summer, so you need to change the water quite a bit.

My kids rarely have nappy rash & they get poo off SO easily – in fact I do use disposable wipes usually when I am out (they don’t always need a change so it’s much easier to bung a packet in than take a wet and dry bag for CW with me) and I hate using them – especially to get rid of poo – they just kind of smudge the poo around! You really do only need one Cheeky Wipe to several disposable ones.

I was lucky enough to win some aqua coloured cheeky wipes on Facebook and I use those for hands and faces – they get bits of Weetabix off that other wipes can’t and both kids like to chew them, weirdly. You can now buy a Cheeky Wipes Hands & Faces Baby Wipes Kit which is great if you don’t fancy using the ‘bum’ ones.


How cool are the coloured wipes!

(This is a Thursday Things What I like post – this post is not sponsored).

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1) Don’t take the children or dog

The concludes my top tips for a relaxing family day out

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