My Instagram in 2016

You may have seen recently on Instagram lots of people posting their ‘2016 Best Nine.’ It is calculated by a website using your username taking the most ‘liked’ pictures into account. Last year was the first year I did the ‘Best Nine’. I instantly loved the idea I knew I would be doing it again next year.

So first up: Here are my 2015 Best Nine.

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I still love all of these photos.  But I knew I wanted to post more in 2016.  I wanted to average one a post a day, which as you can see I achieved.

Here are my 2016 Best Nine.

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I like all of these photos, of course I do but they are all from the last month roughly. Since this website takes into account your most ‘liked’ pictures I can at least see that my account has obviously continued to grow month on month. This is positive for me to see but I don’t think these are my 2016 Best Nine so I thought I would pick Nine of my own that are my ‘Best’ regardless of likes and comments. Then I realised that I couldn’t stick to just nine because some of my baking pictured are my favourite so I am splitting this into two categories: Family and Food. I will do the Family pictures in this post and the Food pictures will follow later in the week.

Family Best Nine

This is one of the least ‘flattering’ photos I have of Perky but her whole face exudes happiness.  I absolutely love it!

This was taken at RHS Wisley which is one of ur favourite places to go.  Pinky thought this little gazebo looked like a witches house so she had to go in and have a look.

How could I not include with one… Her expression makes me laugh every time! As does the caption.  She used to ask some crazy stuff!

I love this of Perky and Daddy.  They had just gone down a huge slide together, her big sister was too much of a wimp to have a go but Perky kept asking for more!

Too cool for school 😎 #mysundayphoto

A post shared by ✨ Kirsty ✨ (@winnettes) on

The caption says it all… Look at that attitude.

This was taken on our summer holiday in Menorca.  This had to make my top 9 as it includes all of us, we all look happy (because we were) and we are all looking at the camera.  All parents can relate to how hard it is to get this shot!

This really does just sum them both up!

Exploring #wisleygardens today and I lost my camera to this budding photographer 💕

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This had to be included.  Pinky really began to find a passion in photography this summer, I basically lost my camera.  Her favourite things to capture were flowers and as you can see here things like height difference were not going to get in her way.

This is a recent post but I love it.  Over the past (nearly) two years these two have become closer by the day.  Yes, they bicker and fight, what can feel like all of the time, but they are also each others comfort.  They turn to each other for reassurance.  They give each other their biggest smiles and no matter what has happened that day they always give each other a good night kiss and cuddle.  So when I managed to capture them walking hand in hand chatting away, how could I not share it?

I have really enjoyed writing this and going through my Instagram to choose my favourite photos.  It was unbelievably hard to pick just nine.  I am definitely going to do this again next year (but I may have to pick a few more than nine).

My Top 5 Family Christmas Films

I am a huge Christmas fan. I won’t lie; I start getting excited in September. I love Christmas shopping, even if I do it all online. I save all of my wrapping until Christmas Eve when I sit down with a Mulled Wine or Winter Jack and wrap all of the presents watching a Christmas film (or two). I have decided to compile a list of my top 5 festive films.

  1. Arthur Christmas (2011) (U). I only discovered this last year and it quickly went to the top spot in my rankings. This is a modern take on the Santa Clause story. Santa misses a girl on Christmas Eve and his son, Arthur, comes to the rescue along side a wrapping specialist elf, Bryony. It is so sweet, suitable for all of the family and with some modern twists and humour that will keep parents chuckling away. arthur_christmas_poster
  2. Home Alone (1990) (PG). Is there anyone who doesn’t know Home Alone? Ok, just in case… Kevin is a young boy who invariably drives his parents a little crazy. In the madness of trying to get about 20 people out of the house so they don’t miss their flight for their Christmas holiday, he gets forgotten. Whilst home alone over the festive period he protects the house from a couple of burglars, the wet bandits. Of course everything is alright in the end… Ooopps, spoiler alert! I love ‘Home Alone: Lost in New York’ too, but the original is the best.                                                          home_alone_poster
  3. Miracle of 34th Street (1947/1994) (U). I think I prefer the more recent version but that is mostly because I was always a huge fan of Richard Attenborough and his Santa performance was brilliant. This is a story about a girl who no longer believes in Santa. She meets a man who tries to convince her he is the real deal even though her mum told her Santa doesn’t exist. It is a lovely story that shows the importance of hope and having something to believe in no matter what age you are. mv5bmti3odezoda0nv5bml5banbnxkftztcwmji1mjiymq-_v1_uy268_cr30182268_al_
  4. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) (U). This is such a lovely film with a message we all need to hear every now and again. A man who feels overwhelmed by everything in his life and a general waste of space, is shown what the world would be like if he had never existed. It shows him how he has touched so many lives throughout his time. We all need to feel valued and appreciated. It is easy to forget the impact we have on others when the daily grind gets us down. This film always puts a smile on my face.mv5bmtmzmzy5ndc4m15bml5banbnxkftztcwmzc4njixnw-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_
  5. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) (U). What is not to love? The Muppets, Christmas and utter silliness. The Muppets take on the Dickens classic is brilliantly funny, heart warming and addictive. I have lost count of the amount of times I have watched this film and now the girls love it too.                                                                                              muppet_christmas_carol

What are your favourite Christmas films? Have you watched any yet (shhh…we have)?

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The Light at the End of the Baby Tunnel

So there are many reasons people decided they are done with children. We are done with two. We feel complete. We also cannot ignore the fact that my body couldn’t physically cope with another pregnancy. However, there are also some smaller, almost silly, reasons we are done with babies. We can see the light at the end of the baby tunnel and it is so bright and beautiful.

Pinky is three, nearly four, and Perky is nearly two.   They are slowly becoming their own independent little ladies and despite the constant ‘Mummy Mummy Mummy’ things are calming down. These are my ‘lights at the end of the baby tunnel’:

  • We are nearly done with nappies. Pinky is potty trained and I will start training Perky in the New Year. I have finally decided. She has been ready for a little while so I am not going to put it off for much longer.
  • No more sterilising bottles. We haven’t done this for a long time as Perky dropped her milk at 9 months (trust me that little porker didn’t need it anymore). But my goodness I seriously hated sterilising the bottles!
  • They can talk. Now this comes with a lot of negatives (have a mentioned the constant ‘Mummy’?) but it does mean they can tell me if they have pain, need a snack or are happy/unhappy. I no longer have to second-guess them and myself.
  • They have personality. Pinky is a little diva but she is also extremely sensitive. Perky is a little comic and loves nothing more than making us all laugh. I don’t miss the eat, sleep, poop, repeat baby stage.
  • Nap time isn’t the extreme necessity it used to be. Perky does still nap but if she misses it every now and again it doesn’t make much difference. This means days out can be whole days out. They aren’t mornings out not too far from home so I can get her back to sleep.
  • Hubby and I can go out and not worry. They are old enough now for me to know they will be ok in the care of their relatives and I don’t feel the overwhelming need to phone and check every 5 minutes. There are only two of them so with the right car seats they fit in everyone’s car. On that note we don’t need to get a bigger car!
  • Teething is nearly finished. I hate teething. I myself remember the pain of my wisdom teeth so I do understand why the girls get so grumpy. Pinky has all of hers now, not that I ever kept track. I knew when she was teething for the most part but her last ones didn’t break through until about a year ago. That means for the past three years one or both of the girls have been having teething pain. Perky has 5 left to break through! Only 5 more teeth and we are done.
  • I no longer have baby hormones in my body. Other than the monthly PMS rollercoaster I am much more level headed. I hate to admit it but I am easier to live with, I don’t react well to hormones.
  • We can all eat together. I only have to cook once in the evening now the girls can hold off until Hubby finishes work. Before I was cooking for them, then us. Nightmare!
  • No more weaning! I hated weaning… Simple as that.
  • No more health visitors. I’m sure they mean well and I know we will still have the 2 year check to get through with Perky but I actually can’t remember when I last saw one (probably at her 1 year check).
  • My body is mine again. It isn’t in the nice pert, trim condition it was before children. It definitely looks like a former war zone and I don’t have the courage to look ‘down there’ even two years down the line, but my body isn’t going to be invaded occupied by another little human. I am claiming it back.   One day I may come to terms with the fact that my dignity has long set sail without me.

So there are some of the more silly and non-important reasons we are done with growing our little family. No we don’t feel the need to ‘try for a boy’, yes we are happy with saying ‘Never again’. It is time for us to call it a day on the baby years, so we have.

I admire those who go on to have more and more children. I do understand why you would. Kids are amazing and as much as they drive parents crazy they make existing so much more worthwhile and fun. Our girls have completed and fused our family; we have what we need and what we can cope with. We have enough love for 20 children (perhaps more) but that doesn’t mean I am not done.

As they say…. Quit while you are ahead.

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The A-Z of Parenthood

A is for Appetite: How on earth can someone so little eat so much?

B is for Bribery: See my Parenting Bribery 101 for more details, in summary this is the daily saviour.

C is for Curiosity: Be prepared to answer an average of 8586 questions per day.  Kids are really curious, have google at the ready, a half arsed answer will not suffice.

D is for Danger: There is danger literally everywhere.  This is worse as a first time mum.

E is for Elocution: Kids may be able to talk but their pronunciation leaves much to be desired.  Prepare for some hilarious moments (hopefully not in public).  For my niece socks are co*ks apparently.  Can anyone find another hilariously rude slant on this one? Or is it just me with a mind in the gutter?

F is for Farts: Call them what you will, they are ‘Botty Pops’ in our house, Kids find them hilarious, always.  The louder the better, they have no sense of embarrassment.

G is for Grey:  Parenthood bought with it the first of many grey hairs! Oh and eyebrows… fml.

H is for Hair Washing: Who knew such an innocuous part of washing could be such a drama?

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I is for Imagination: Kids have the most vivid imagination.  Sometimes, just to keep you on your toes, they will balance this with being the most literal people around.

J is for Jealousy: Kids seem to have a large amount of jealousy.  Cuddles given to Hubby, Toddler needs cuddles too.  Sibling has something, Toddler needs something too.  They simply cannot bare to feel left out.

K is for Kisses: Give them lots and lots of kisses.  They won’t let you for long and who doesn’t like to know they are loved?

L is for Love:  One of the most amazing parts of being a parent is the love you feel and receive in return, it is absolutely indescribable.

M is for Mother: It doesn’t matter if you are a Mum or a Dad your own Mother will suddenly make so much more sense to you.  Be prepared to apologise for your past indiscretions.

N is for Normal: Whatever you used to think was normal will be different as a parent.  Accept it and embrace it the new normal.

O is for Organisation: Not everyone is naturally organised, if you aren’t then get organised.  It will help no end.

P is for Poo:  There is no greater expert in the types, colours and consistencies of poo than a parent.

Q is for Quiet:  Say goodbye to the quiet.  You will spend all day craving it and then when the little ones are in bed asleep you will miss them and their noise.  Plus everyone who owns a toddler knows silence is dangerous not golden.

R is for Repetitive: Nothing can be done once. Everything you do or say that involves the toddler will be repeated over and over and over….

S is for Snot:  Children just seem to have a constant stream of snot! Even in the summer!

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T is for Tears:  There will be lots and lots of tears, unfortunately it will probably be at a 50:50 ratio between yours and the childs.

U is for Ups:  There are so many downs in parenthood, often due to lack of sleep and short fuses, it is important to appreciate and savour the ‘Ups’ when they come.

V is for Volume:  Kids seem to need everything in large volume.  Nappies, snacks, toys, clothes, you name it there will be lots of it!

W is for Waistline:  Say goodbye to it! Mums and Dads!  I’m not saying forever, of course if you put it a ridiculous amount of effort you can probably get close to a pre-child waistline.  But don’t try too hard because even if you achieve it you will suddenly realise your arse has sagged 3 inches! (I speak from experience)

X is for Xylophone:  Why on earth is this noisy toy available and aimed at toddlers? Seriously! Also if they drop the sodding thing on my foot one more time I’m going to find the person who made it and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine.

Y is for Yelling:  You will do your best not to yell.  Every fibre of your being will go into not yelling.  At some point you will break and you will yell.  It may not be at the child, it may not be at your partner, but you will yell.  Chin up! Move on! It happens to the best of us.

Z is for Zzzzz’s of Sleep:  Never again will you get into a decent deep sleep, it’s simply part of being a parent.  You will sleep, but you will always sleep with one ear open.

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Parenting Bribery 101

I recently wrote about my Unexpected Mummy Skills and a comment by Lucy at This Mums Life asking about my bribery skills has inspired this post.  It has occurred to me that I am a master in bribery.  I am not bothered that I do it, I don’t feel guilty because quite frankly it gets the job done.  I have found throughout this parenting rollercoaster that a single approach to the ‘negotiation’ will not work.  There are many variables that need to be taken into account such as why is the bribe needed? What are you trying to achieve from this? Can I reasonably uphold this bribe at a future date? You wouldn’t want to promise a trip to the zoo simply in exchange for a toddler putting their shoes on…. Trust me they will rememberer from now until eternity that putting their shoes on should get them to the zoo, not a mouldy old cookie.

Now I suspect (but could be wrong) that there are two types of people reading this now… Those that eagerly await my thoughts and tips on bribery.  Welcome! I take it you are parents to toddlers, possibly at the age of 2 – 4 years old.  What I like to call the ‘Prime Manipulatable Years’ or ‘PMY’s’.  I feel your desperation for five minutes peace.  Or, perhaps  you have already been here and done it.  Please tell me the need for such frequent bribes ends soon.

There will, of course, be those feeling a little curious about the title but think offering a biscuit is a good enough bribe, or that you shouldn’t bribe your child at all!  (Do these people really exist outside of baby books?) You should bring them up to respect your authority as a parent.  Welcome also, feel free to continue reading even if you disagree with me.  Once your child hits the PMY’s feel free to refer back here, you may finally understand what I am talking about.  Perhaps you might like to ‘bookmark’ this post for future reference?  I too used to think bribing your children was for the weaker parent.  I was wrong! Oh, so very wrong.  Now if there was a Masters degree in this subject I would pass it with first class honours.

So on to the types of bribes:

The ‘Go and sit down’ bribe: Usually a simple snack, ideally healthy (I keep the unhealthy ones for more important bribes).  This won’t buy you much time but it will allow you to make that cup of coffee you so desperately want without the child hanging off your waist and risking third degree burns.  If you chose a large apple you may have enough time to drink some of said coffee before they finish their snack and resume their previous position around your leg.  How do they hold on tighter than a Greenpeace Environmentalist attached to a tree?

The ‘please put your shoes on NOW’ bribe:  This has two subsections!

  1. We are just going for a walk to get out of the house before Mummy goes certifiably crazy: Use a biscuit.  If it has chocolate in it you will get out the house, on average, three times faster.
  2. We are going out to meet friends/family: Have the treat ready (out of sight) but ensure they know they can only have it when you arrive at your destination in a timely manor.  If I’m feel particularly mean I will also promise something I was already going to provide whilst out and about, that way they think they have earned it and you get them out of the effing house!

The ‘I need five minutes peace’ bribe:  This will vary from child to child.  Pick their favourite activity or toy (other than the comforter) and hide it! Yep, hide it!  Then when you need some peace and quite bring it out.  For Pinky and Perky it is painting.  We have some cool glitter paints which are hidden in a cupboard and I went out and bought a large roll of white wallpaper liner from Homebase.  You can get loads of the stuff for about £5 or £6.  It’s much thicker than standard paper so it doesn’t t break as easily with sharp pencils or too much paint.  Granted this takes a bit if time to prepare but once they are set up and ready to paint I can get a good ten minutes of peace.  It might not be quiet as such but they aren’t saying ‘Mummy, Mummy, Mummy’  every twenty seconds.

The ‘Reeeeally late bedtime’ bribe*:  I usually use this on a Sunday, and sometimes every other day of the week depending on how fed up I am.  Pinky likes to ‘stay up late’.  She won’t go to be unless Perky is already in bed.  Easily solved… Off to bed Perky.  However, sometimes this isn’t enough so in the interest of keeping the balance I will occasionally let her think she is staying up even later than normal.  This involves doing dinner a little earlier, doing the bath a little earlier, closing all the curtains and making everything cozy.  Then when ready for bed we get into my bed and either watch a cartoon or read a book.  This may kill about 10 minutes then its bedtime.  Pinky thinks she has stayed up really late, in actual fact she is in bed half and hour earlier than normal.  Now that was easy I hear you say… well there is a little more to it.  Sometimes she is so tired that it is ok she is in bed early, mostly though it just means she spends the next two hours going in and out of her room…. So heres the real bribe (no the cartoon was only half of it).  I tell her if she is ‘good’ and goes straight to sleep and doesn’t get up then we will go to the park or soft play in the morning after breakfast.  Really the reward is up to you but for that extra half an hour of child free evening time I guarantee it’s worth it.

The ‘Eat your dinner’ bribe:  I know what you’re thinking, that one is easy, it’s pudding.  Well, not in our house it isn’t.  I once heard a Health Visitor explain to a worried mum that although it could be tempting to use the yogurt as a way to get a child to eat their dinner it can be detrimental in the long run.  She explained that using it as a treat always makes it something they will crave.  Instead, always offer the yogurt.  That way it becomes as normal as the dinner itself.  Plus children don’t have the same food hang ups as an adult does so they really won’t deliberately starve themselves.  After a couple of missed meals they will soon eat!  This little nugget of advice really stuck with me, I wasn’t even a parent when I heard it.  So this eat all your dinner bride has taken a little imagination on my part.  This is a deprivation bribe really.  ‘If you don’t eat your dinner you won’t get…’ Pick your own thing your child would respond to.  Pinky responds to no Paw Patrol, or other cartoon of choice the next day.  And believe me she knows I will stick to it.

Some days I simply ask the girls to do things for me rather than trying to bribe them.  ‘Please stop annoying your sister.’ ‘Please share your toys, she had that first anyway!’  These days I am clearly delusional with sleep deprivation!

Bribing works, accept it, embrace it and move on.

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t use bribery with their children? If so please, please, please share your secrets with us all.

*This will only work until they are able to tell the time. Use it whilst you can my friend!

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Pumpkin Patch Visit

We have never been to a pumpkin patch before.  It wasn’t something I ever thought the girls would enjoy.  Now Pinky is older and she has been getting excited about halloween because they have been doing loads of preparation for it at nursery, I thought it might be time to go.

What fun we had!  The girls were excited from the moment we got out of the car.  Pinky was off!

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‘Look Mummy!’ ‘Lets go this way!’

I couldn’t stop them, they were picking up pumpkins left right and center.  They loved the witch statue, the witches hats, even the spiders in the webs.

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Eventually we found a little pumpkin that Pinky could carry and we went and bought that one to take home.  She held her chosen pumpkin all the way home as if her life depended on it.

If we have time, we will go back again this year, if not we will definitely be back next halloween.

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A Mini Break to Wales

Over the years I’ve got used to the fact that my mum lives over 180 miles away and isn’t around to help with the girls as much as I would like, and she would like of course. There are many down points to this but one of the major pros is we have a ready made get away. Mum rents the house out as a holiday let so we can’t go if she already has a booking but we have rarely found this to be a problem as we don’t go during peak holiday seasons.

Before we had the girls it was our little sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of life. Now it’s less of a sanctuary mostly due to needing eyes in the back of my head on a large scale. The house is very set up for kids but with slate floors and stairs it’s hasn’t been very suitable during the crawling stages. Now Perky is a good confident walker it is easier to go for a weekend and not worry excessively about the random stone step in the living room. Of course the girls don’t care, they just want to spend time with Nanny. Every time we do go Pinky becomes my mums shadow. Everywhere Nanny goes, Pinky goes. Well this visit everywhere Nanny and Pinky went, Perky went too! It’s very cute and very welcomed by me….. 5 minutes peace!

We packed up the car and headed off on our way. Unfortunately the girls didn’t sleep for long in the back, certainly not as long as we hoped. We have a couple of iPad holders for the car and had downloaded Frozen for Pinky and Pingu for Perky. We have the Recaro Monza Nova car seats which have headphones built into the seat. I can tell you this is the best feature ever! We could have the radio on whilst they watched their respective films. There were no arguments and best of all I couldn’t hear ‘Do you want to build a snowman?’ for the 2,598,676th time.

Wales is famous for many things, rain is one of them. As we arrived at the tolls on the M4 it started to rain, the irony was not lost on us.

We didn’t venture much further than the local village for coffee and cake over the next couple of days. Grandad was a little poorly so the girls took their nursing duties very seriously and wanted to check on him regularly. I suspect really they took this as an opportunity to stroke and play with the cats but at least they had the kindness to pretend it was to look after Grandad.

We spent our days playing in the house, walking down the lane, feeding the horses and net fishing in the river. It was very relaxing and a much needed break from the suburbs. By the end Pinky even started calling my Mums dogs by their names rather than referring to them as ‘That dog’ and giving an accusatory point.

We were sad to leave but I must be honest this sadness disappeared when we got home and ordered a curry. May as well finish the weekend on a high! Who knows when we will get back down there. Life is getting busier and busier.

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