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Monthly Monday Melfie

Do you ever look through your camera roll to fawn over your darling little children? Fun family days, cooking and crafts, silly moments. All captured easily on our camera phones. But do your children ever ask 'Mummy, where are you'? Or perhaps you look at your family having fun, and wish that there was a record of you too? Well, here's your chance.

Pop on the forward-facing function on your camera, or get in front of a mirror or window. And take a photo of you and your child(ren). Take a  melfie (mum selfie). I don't know about you, but there just aren't enough photos of me with the kids. I take hundreds of photos each week, and always capture special moments between my husband and the kids. But I rarely remember to ask my husband to take photos of me and the kids. And he never thinks of it (he is not much of a picture-taker anyway).

So, I am hoping you will all join me. Once a month, on the first Monday of each month. Let's get mums back in the picture. Link up a post. It could be one melfie, or a collection of several. It could be just photos, without words. Or you can include an explanation behind the pics. The photos just need to be taken by you (or even one of your children if they are in the photo). And the photos must contain at least one mummy and at least one child. If any of you dads out there want to take part, then melfie can also stand for 'mother-effin-cool-dad selfie'.

I hope to see you all on Monday, 3rd November 2014 for the first Monthly Monday Melfie. Link up, and tweet up. #monthlymondaymelfie

Californian Mum in London
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That's right, it's Wednesday again. Which means another ridiculous photo of one of my ridiculous children. This time it's da boy. Last week, after he finished his lunch, I told Dubz that it was time to go upstairs for a nap. And he reacted like any normal two-year old. He got up onto the table and had a cry. Eventually he marched himself upstairs and passed out within one minute of being put into his cotbed.

Get Off The Table Wednesday Get Off The Table Wednesday Get Off The Table Wednesday

 

 

 

 

Pop on over to the Brummiest BrummyMummyof2 for more real pictures of funny family life.

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American Goodies at American SodaAmerican Goodies from American Soda

One of the toughest parts about being an expat, after being apart from family and friends, is missing the food of your homeland. When I moved to London, 13 years ago, I could not get my hands on any American food items. But these days it is a lot easier to find American groceries in the UK. Besides some basics you can find at the big supermarkets, there are specialty online websites that offer American food and drinks.

American Soda is one website that offers a vast range of American drinks, candy, food and baking goods. All of which can be delivered to the UK, Ireland and Europe. To celebrate my one-year blogging anniversary, American Soda are offering one lucky reader to win some fab American goods. And you don't even need to be an American expat to enter!

On offer is a six-pack of Dad's Root Beer, a tub of Marshmallow Creme, a tub of Toasted Marshmallow Creme and a credit of £5 to spend on anything you might like to try. If you're not familiar with Marshmallow fluff, besides eating it sinfully from the tub, you can use it to make rice krispies treats, gooey brownies and cookies and lots more. You can also use it as a frosting on cakes or cupcakes. Check out this Huff Post piece for more ideas, and mouth-watering photos.

American Goodies at American Soda

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Jack Skellington Cupcakes

My six-year old daughter, Moozles, is beyond excited at the prospect of Halloween. So this weekend we put up some decorations and did some baking. I have recently renewed my relationship with Pinterest. And after a browse, Moozles decided that these Jack Skellington cupcakes were what she wanted. There is obviously not much instruction there, so I thought I would share what we did.

Whenever I ask what kind of cake we should make, everyone asks for chocolate. So, I make my Husband's favourite chocolate cake recipe (if I make chocolate cake for kids, I use a more kid-friendly recipe). Since my family members are chocoholics, they can handle this fudgey cake based on Mary Berry's Very Best Chocolate Fudge Cake.

Chocolate Fudge Cake
175g self-raising flour
280g caster sugar
100g butter (room temperature)
3 large free-range eggs
50ml whole milk (I use Lactofree)
40g cocoa powder
6 tbsp boiling water
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 160C (fan-assisted)/180C. Mix all the ingredients, apart from the last three. In a separate bowl, blend the cocoa powder and the boiling water, then add to   the rest of the mixture. Add the baking powder and mix.

This can be baked as 12-15 cupcakes or in two 8-inch cake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes.Leave to cool in the pan before icing.


Buttercream Icing
180 icing sugar
90g butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix half the sugar with the rest of the ingredients. Once that is blended, add the restof the icing sugar. I use a hand blender for icing. I also use a tea towel to cover thebowl so that my kitchen isn't covered in icing sugar. Then spread the icing onto the   cupcakes.


To decorate the cupcakes:
You could either use black gel food colouring on some of the icing to make the eyes, 
nose and mouth.
I had some leftover ready to roll icing from the lion cake I made for my son's birthdayin May. I cut that up and let Moozles add them to her cupcakes. The beauty of these cupcakes is that they do not need to look perfect.

Jack Skellington Cupcakes Jack Skellington Cupcakes Jack Skellington Cupcakes Jack Skellington Cupcakes

 

 

Jack Skellington Cupcakes Jack Skellington Cupcakes Jack Skellington CupcakesSo, we have made Halloween cupcakes. The house is partly decorated. Next week we will be going to our local pumpkin patch. Then next Friday we will be trick-or-treating around our neighbourhood. Roll on Halloween!

Halloween & Jack Skellington CupcakesHalloween & Jack Skellington Cupcakes

 

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

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Learning How To Blog

Today marks my one-year anniversary of blogging; my blogiversary. The year has flown by. I had started a blog on Blogger three years before, but hadn't actually had the nerve to write anything. So one night, impulsively, I came up with a new name, a design, and wrote this post. I think I probably only had six or seven readers the first month, but I really enjoyed the writing.

I had almost no idea how blogging works. I didn't do any linkys, or take many photos. I didn't sign up to Britmums or Mumsnet or Tots100. But I wrote. And often not very eloquently. My blog was my diary. Then in December, whilst recuperating from a laparoscopy, something clicked. I started writing more regularly, figured out how to join linkys and started to publicise my blog posts on Twitter. In April 2014, I was short-listed for a Brilliance in Blogging award in the category of Fresh Voice. Though I did not make the finals (and completely did not expect to), I was given new-found confidence. I went self-hosted (in WordPress) in June, and have enjoyed blogging more with each passing month.

I had been feeling isolated as a SAHM, and blogging made me feel part of a community. Especially as an expat, it is easy to feel different and isolated. I am lucky to have such a wonderful husband and two such spirited children. And I am lucky that I actually love living in the UK. But sometimes I just want to chat about random crap, and my two-year old just wants to eat toast and watch Mr Tumble. At the time, Dubz was only one and didn't talk or watch television.

So, for anyone thinking about blogging or who is new to blogging, here are some things that I have learned in the past year.

1. Write because you want to write. There are thousands and thousands of parenting blogs on the market. Don't just write because you think you might get free stuff. Write because you have something to share, something to share and/or something to record.

2. Use a spell check. It can be so irrritating to find misspelled word after misspelled word. Also, read your post out loud. This gives a good indication to how well your sentences flow.

3. Learn what blogging entails. Tots100 have lots of great blogging tutorials, so go have a look. Britmums is also a fab blogging network and its blogging how-tos are extremely helpful. I have also found the Newbie Class from Potty Mouthed Mummy to be a lifesaver.

4. Make friends. Many of us began blogging to fill an empty space in our lives. Writing, reviewing, going to events--yes, these can all be fun. But get on Twitter or Facebook. Chat. Butt in on conversations. Get to know the people who follow you and who you follow.

Enough of my reflection and advice. I just want to say thank you to everyone who has read my blog (whether you were there for the first post or if you discovered me last week). Thank you for your tweets and comments. And for filling up the little empty space in my life. xx

 

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Royal Wicked Wednesday

My daughter, Moozles, wanted to play dress up on Monday afternoon. Her two-year old brother, Dubz, did not want to be left out. So while Moozles dressed up as Queen Elsa, Dubz donned Moozles' Belle costume. I love this photo. Moozles is looking delicate and shy, like a princess. Dubz is just making a weird face.

Royal Wicked WednesdayThe beauty of having a big sister, there is a surplus of princess costumes, hair accessories and high heels to experiment with.

I also had to share this photo. It looks like Dubz is gazing at his sister adoringly. He's actually squatting because he is doing a poo (in his nappy, thankfully).

Always handy having blackmail photos for when the kids get older. haha

 

brummymummyof2

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Son, have fun. Daughter, hope you are learning valuable skills for the future.
Son, have fun. Daughter, hope you are learning valuable skills for the future.

My daughter is six years old, and my son is two. I wish that I could say that I treated them equally. But recently, I have realised that I don't. As I consider myself to be a strong woman, I want my daughter to grow up to be a strong woman too. I am determined that she grow up to be independent and resolute. And my son? Well, I want him to be a respectful man, a kind and happy person. Do you see the disparity?

Dubz is sweet and happy (who knows if he is clever, after all he is only two). He has all the potential of becoming prime minister or a rock star. Moozles is sweet and clever. So I do not want her working in a lowly post in an office, passed over for promotion because she is too bashful. So I am a bit tougher on her. But I don't think this is right.

As a woman, you grow up with so much criticism. From yourself, and others. The way you look, dress, act. It is not fair to have to deal with that from your mother. I want my daughter to have a great life. I want her to be happy. But I also want her to be successful. I know how tough it is for women in the workplace. We have to deal with bosses who stare at our chests and colleagues who comment on our looks. And when we have children, the masses voice their loud comments on pregnancy sickness, maternity leave and any reduction of hours. And to top that off, we are paid 35% less than our male counterparts. Ouch.

There is some sense in wanting to prepare my girl for this world. But while I prepare her, I should not be critical of her. Moozles needs to know that her mother is in her corner, in this big bad world. That I am fair and kind, in a world that can be biased and cruel. She should not grow up seeing me encourage her brother's cheekiness while expecting her to be serious and studious. Mother-Daughter relationships are complicated enough. I don't want Moozles feeling like an outsider as she watches Dubz and I clown around. After all, there is room for all three of us to be silly.

Are Mothers Tougher on Daughters

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

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mumturnedmom

This week's topic from MumTurnedMom is 'the mistakes we make'. This really spoke to me. I have made my share of mistakes. I think that I am my worst critic. Especially as a mother. Mothers are continually bombarded with issues of parenting perfection. The perfectly cleaned house. The perfectly made meal. Those perfect homemade cupcakes and the perfectly made craft project. All whilst wearing the perfect outfit with the perfectly styled hair.

Sit down, ladies. I have something to tell you. You see, there is no perfection. There is trying, and doing your best. And mistakes. A whole lot of mistakes. But it doesn't really matter. As long as you try your best at parenting. As long as you love and protect your children. It is okay to make mistakes. Your children don't care if the house is clean. They don't care if you've warmed up fish fingers and peas or if you've steamed sea bass on a bed of spinach. They don't care about the dust on your skirting boards. They don't even care if you wear a messy ponytail every day.

Your child probably does care about the crafts and the cupcakes, though. But they can actually be a bit rubbish, and he/she will still think they are amazing. That's the beauty of children. They see the best in things. They don't see the mistakes. They notice the time you have put in. They notice the attention you have given them. So put down the mop, cast aside the hair straighteners. Grab a glitter glue stick and make your child's day.

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Ballet Revolucion

Normally, trips to the ballet are part of Mummy-Daughter outings with my six-year old. But this weekend I'll be heading to the ballet. In. The. Evening. I'll be going out with a friend to see Ballet Revolución in London (check back next Tuesday for my review).

If you're not familiar with Ballet Revolución, it is a mixture of ballet, contemporary dance and hip-hop. The dancers and live musicians are Cuban, and will be showing off some sexy and fast-paced dance moves. If you have seen Ballet Revolución before, there are all new costumes, music and dance moves.

Ballet Revolución has been touring all over the world, and this will be its third run at The Peacock Theatre, at Sadler's Wells. It will be playing until the 25th October.

Ballet Revolucion

 

Photo credit: photos courtesy of Sadler's Wells' website
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Where Babies Come FromAnd this, my friends, is how I learned about the birds and the bees. When I was seven years old, my parents gave me this book to learn how babies were made. Illustrated naked people - an illustrated penis entering an illustrated vagina. And of course, the above. *shudder* BUT it did show me how things worked.

Are you reading this post, or just staring at the picture? Can you even look away? While you're staring at the picture, does anyone know why the doctor is carrying a hammer? And why is no one ready to catch the baby?

Anyway. In the last week, my six-year old daughter has been asking me how babies are made. I don't think my daughter is ready for images like the one above. She is a sensitive soul, and I worry that these kind of images would scar her for life. After all, to this day, I have never been able to kiss a man with a beard.

So I sat Moozles down for a Rated-6 version of how babies are made. I told her that ladies and girls have vaginas. I had been calling it a front-bum as I was worried that vagina was too clinical a word for a toddler. But she's six and I thought she should know that she has a vagina. Natch.

Moozles is quite interested in science, so I grabbed her Human Body Encyclopedia. Near the end of the book, which she hasn't gotten to yet, there are a few pages dedicated to reproduction. I think that these pictures, along with my words, have helped explain where the baby grows, how the baby develops and how the baby comes into the world. Although I mentioned the egg and sperm, I did not mention any need of a penis. After all, in these modern times, making babies happens in many ways.

Where babies come from Where babies come from

 

 

 

 

 

Have you explained how babies are made? How did you do it? Does your child know that they have a penis or a vagina, or are you still using 'cute' names?

If you fancy a giggle, have a look at this video version of the The True Story of How Babies Are Made. The video is made from the pictures from the actual book.

 

*Photo credit: top photo: from 'The True Story of How Babies Are Made', written by Per Holm Knudsen
Bottom two photos: from Human Body Encyclopedia, published by DK
 
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