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photo (24)Here's Dubz at the weekend, enjoying the paddling pool for the first time this year. This is his first time down the slide and he didn't quite expect to have water splash in his face. So while we did have a great time, this photo makes it seem like we were torturing our child. I love that Moozles is in the background, seeming to cheer on the torture. But she wasn't. She was just happy to have the paddling pool out.

If you want to see more silly family pics, pop on over to Brummy Mummy of 2.

brummymummyof2

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Have you read the Telegraph article Why Every Woman Secretly Craves a Daughter? Apparently 80% of the Britons who go to the United States for IVF are asking for daughters. I have to hold my hand up and admit that before having children I did want a daughter. Want is probably too mild a term to describe how I felt. I was determined. Not desperate but determined, as if I had a choice in the matter. I decided that I would be having a daughter, and that was that. And by sheer coincidence, my first child was a girl.

But I was not looking for someone to take care of me in my old age. I was not worried about which gender was kinder or less 'work'. Growing up as an adopted child, although I had a strong bond with my adopted father, I was not particularly close to my adopted mother. Though she loved me, I do not think she had a maternal feeling towards me. That coupled with the insecurities from being adopted, I have always craved a strong mother-daughter relationship. And I knew that having a daughter would heal me in a way that nothing else could.

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And heal me, she did. From the moment Husband put Moozles in my arms, my broken heart was mended. With Moozles, I can be the mother I always wanted. I can give her the attention and love I always craved. But I cannot say that having a son first would not have done the same. Having two children now, one of each gender, I can see that there is no difference in how close I feel to each of my children. Dubz is only two, so we are not able to communicate and have outings like Moozles and I. She and I have special mother-daughter time where we go to the ballet or see a film and go to a restaurant. But one day, so will Dubz and I.

Yes, Moozles was an 'easier' baby and toddler. Dubz, on the other hand, is a non-stop eating-all-the-food, house-destroying little boy. But I adore them equally. Our children are our children. And we love them, no matter how easy it is to take care of them and no matter if they will take care of us when we're old.

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Last week, in my attempt to lose weight and get healthy, I began a Healthy Living Lucky Dip. I will be trying out different healthy eating and diet regimes for the next three months in a bid to lose my baby weight. Last Monday I tried a personalised meal delivery plan called Total Diet Food. Every morning for five days, I had a hamper of food waiting on my door step. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks which had all been freshly prepared for me the day before. Everything came in its own container, so can be used at home, work or even the park.

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The week before I spoke to Ben at TDF and discussed my dietary issues (lactose-intolerant) and food dislikes (peppers/capsicums and feta cheese). I was put on a 1600 calorie per day diet which was free from dairy and which contained almost no gluten. I was a bit nervous about the calorie restriction as I have been living a life with no food restrictions. Endless cups of tea and chocolate bars to give me energy to get through the day, plus some of the kids' dinner before a late dinner with Husband.

I don't normally eat breakfast until after I have gotten home from the school run @9.15am. But with the plan I had food which was ready to be eaten and I was able to eat it while I made my daughter's packed lunch. This really helped with my energy levels. I did feel hungry the first two days. But by the third day there were no hunger pangs. I had plenty of energy and was sleeping better than I have done in a very long time. Have a look at some of the tasty things I ate.

Breakfast

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Lunch

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Snacks

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Dinner

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I don't think I have ever eaten so many healthy meals. I had plenty of fruit and vegetables every day (I somehow did not take any photos of the fruit that I had as snacks), as well as plenty of protein (such as chicken, duck, cod, salmon and sea bream). And instead of my usual white rice and white pasta, I ate couscous, bulgur wheat and gluten-free noodles. The only downside of the diet is that I seemed to need the toilet more than usual, if you know what I mean. *blushes*

On Saturday morning, after five days on the Total Diet Food plan, I weighed myself. And what a shock. I went from 15 stone 1 to 14 stone 12, beginning my weight loss journey with a loss of four pounds. Woohoo.

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So,  I can definitely recommend TDF. The food was delicious, healthy and fresh. Last week I was faced with a mums' coffee morning that was full of cookies and pastries as well as a playgroup party full of cake and biscuits. And I wasn't even tempted to cheat. Normally on a calorie-counting system, I can justify a sweet treat or two. But knowing I had delicious food at home kept me from cheating,

If you need a little help with your healthy eating or weight-loss goals, you can get 10% off your first order at Total Diet Food by quoting 'CalifornianMum10'. TDF also offer a five-day introductory plan for £135.

 

Family Fever
I was given the opportunity to trial TDF for the purpose of this review, but all opinions are entirely my own.

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This was taken on a rare night out a couple of months ago. I'm not sure what dance needs to be done as a group in a circle, but it we enjoyed it. I was at a parents' disco, organised by one of the mums from my daughter's school. We had fun drinking and dancing, but it was the first time I had been to a football club. It was a bit weird dancing by the window with all these blokes outside in their football kit who would sometimes watch us. But it was still better than going to a busy, sweaty club where you had to stand all night while 20-year olds spilled their lager on your favourite party wedges.

I began to think of what a truly great mums' night out would look like during a chat last night on Twitter with Em from Brummy Mummy of 2, Suzanne at 3 Children And It and Katie from Hurrah from Gin. This is what I came up with.

Hundreds of National Trust rangers face losing their homes following the decision to let out their Trust-owned properties at market rates.

 

Mummy Daddy Raves

1. Parents love the National Trust. For those of you not familiar with NT, they are often stately homes surrounded in beautiful gardens (so very British). The NT is popular with families as there is plenty of space for children to run around in the fresh air, there is often a playground and they have nice cafes and tearooms. NT properties are normally closed in the evenings. What a waste. They could open up once a week/month, depending on staff, so that mums and dads can come and partay. Preferably the lovely hall or even the tea room. Either would be nice and not sweaty. But we would be situated in lovely surroundings that we don't normally get to enjoy as we are too busy wiping muddy toddlers and stopping them from going for a swim in the lake with the ducks (true story). And you don't have to worry about us getting drunk and wrecking the place. Yes, we will get drunk but we're always so tired that we're all happy to leave my midnight

2. No plastic cups. We spend all day using our parenting ninja spills to prevent spills and crashes. Give us the china tea cups. Instead of tea, we'll have gin, lager and wine. Obviously not together. And right before the night finishes, everyone gets a cup of tea. Ooh, imagine that.

3. Lots of comfy chairs. We're tired from running around after our hyperactive energetic children. We need to sit down when we're not dancing. And maybe some footstools?

4. Cake. Enough said.

5. Cheesy songs we can all sing along to and to which we can have a good boogie. Even you 'too cool for school' dads out there. Put down your lady's handbag and get your groove on. You know you love a bit of Rick Astley.

So come on National Trust. This is a great idea. You make a bit extra cash and us mums and dads can party in style. So, NT, call me.

 

 Photo credit: National Trust

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I have been struggling with my weight ever since my youngest child was born. I gained a whopping three stone when I was pregnant with Dubz (that's an extra 19 kilo/42 pounds). His birth lost me one stone. I expected to lose the rest of the weight quickly, like I did with his sister. But breastfeeding Dubz (for 10 months!) unleashed a powerful hunger that only whole cheesecakes could appease. I get so annoyed when people talk about how breastfeeding burns loads of calories. It just made me hungrier than I had ever been in my life.

I expected to lose the weight last year but then I fell down the stairs and broke my toe. A few months later I had a laparoscopy for my endometriosis. All that recovering time meant a lot of time stuffing my face. And here I am, at the at the biggest non-pregnant weight of my life (at the weight I was when I went into labour with Dubz). So now is the time to get serious.

I've decided to try a few different diet/healthy eating plans, a bit like a lucky dip. You won't know what I will choose next. But if there is a diet or a exercise you would like me to try, let me know. As long as I am left with enough energy to take care of two young children, I will give it a go (that means NO to the Cabbage Soup Diet). Dukan? Paleo? Zumba? Ballet?

In the next three months, I'll be trying different things, randomly. Seeing what works. Seeing what doesn't. And hopefully the variety will keep me interested. And hopefully some weight loss will keep me motivated. This week I am trying Total Diet Food meal delivery service. I won't really be exercising as my body gets accustomed to such fewer calories (1600 calories per day rather than my usual 2500). Check back on Sunday/Monday for the first of my weekly updates.

This week I am linking up to All About You. Check out the yoga queen that is Mama - And More for sun salutations and other bloggers writing all about themselves.

 

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I write this on the sofa, with Husband and the kids nearby in the kitchen and garden. There is A LOT of shouting and shrieking. If you lived next door, you may even be tempted to think that there were six or seven kids being tortured. There is fighting and crying and the yelling of 'Mama Mama'. Now, I love being a Stay-At-Home-Mum but at the weekends I do like an hour to myself on the computer.

Maybe I should hide in the guest room, but I don't. I stay in the living room (our sofa is really comfy) and listen to World War 3. Husband says that it is not his fault. He is not used to taking care of the kids. He does not know how to handle the kids like I do. The children do not listen to him like they listen to me. So, this post is dedicated to my Husband. If any of you go through a similar issue, please feel free to pass this on to your partner. This obviously isn't just for dads, but for the parent who spends less time with the kids.

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A Beginner's Guide to Taking Care of Children

1. Put Down Your iPhone/Smart Phone/Newspaper. It is tough taking care of children if you are not paying attention to what they are doing.
2. When you see your children misbehaving, kindly ask them to stop. Perhaps offer them instruction on how to act nicely.
3. Take note of the time of day that your children eat every weekend. Your toddler might be less grumpy if you don't wait until 1pm to figure out what to make them for lunch.
4. Children require a certain amount of water to stay hydrated. Expect some lethargy and leg pains come bedtime if they only drink one glass of water during the day.
5. Although children love fruit shoots and crisps, this does not constitute a healthy meal. Children should be given fruit and vegetables. Really. They. Should.
6. You may be tired from working all week, but you are not the only one. Do more than your share, without being pestered nagged asked.
7. There is no need to shout at the kids. Yes, it has been a trying weekend of activities, tantrums and lack of sleep. But the shouting leads to crying which leads to the yelling of 'Mama Mama'. This leads to Mama getting grumpy.
 8. Children do not need to watch television constantly. They actually enjoy drawing, or playing in the garden, amongst many other things.
9. Learn where your children's clothes are kept. Is there anything more annoying than your partner asking where the kids' pyjamas are located? I think not.
10. After spending a day/weekend helping take care of the children, do not make any comments about how you are looking forward to going back to work on Monday. Not. Funny. At. All.

 

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We love adventures, be they big or small, at home or away. This weekend we decided to have a bouncing competition. We went into the garden for some fun on the trampoline. I gave the kids some chocolate Barny snacks, for fuel, then they proceeded to bounce into outer space. To be honest, my daughter Moozles did most of the bouncing. Dubz was a bit too busy exploring the chocolate centre of his chocolate Barny sponge cake.

Barny snacks are great for a day out, picnic in the garden or even just as a snack for the after school/nursery pick-up. They don't have any artificial flavours or preservatives. They come in chocolate, strawberry, apple and milk flavours. My son prefers the chocolate and my daughter prefers the strawberry. I don't have a preference as my kids have never shared any with me. Maybe one day Barny. Maybe one day.

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We were sent two packs of Barny snacks for the purpose of a review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own (and my kids' own).

 

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It's exciting (and a bit overwhelming) imagining how your kids will turn out. What they will be when they grow up. I have an image of Moozles becoming a scientist while Dubz is an explorer/archaeologist (okay, for some reason I imagine my son growing up to be Indiana Jones, not sure why). Dubz is only two, so a career is not something he thinks about. Moozles is six, so she is quite fixated on growing up. Her list of possible occupations include doctor, builder, waitress, policewoman and teacher (to be alternated on a daily basis).

So when the folks at Kids T-shirts asked us to review a couple of their kids' fancy dress/career t-shirts, I was intrigued to check out their website. The boys' range and the girls' range had many of the same t-shirts, including astronaut, doctor, chef and the ever-practical pirate. The girls' range also had princess and mermaid. Moozles was fond of the former but picked the police officer t-shirt after I pointed out that being a princess was not a job.

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It was tough picking a shirt for Dubz because he only likes to wear clothes that have animals on them. But since I don't want him to grow up to be a dinosaur, I opted for the t-shirt with a tie. Moozles and I decided on the green shirt since green is our favourite colour. It is pretty adorable and makes Dubz look like a businessman. Plus it looks like he's dressed up so can be worn for more formal outings (you know, for like when we go meet the Queen).

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The t-shirts arrived last week and I have been quite pleased with the quality of the cotton. They wash well and there has been no shrinkage in the tumble dryer either (I'm American, and I don't see myself ever hanging clothes on a line in the garden, no matter how long I live in the UK). The shirts range in price between £9.99-10.99, and shipping is free if you spend £20. I can see these shirts being especially useful if there is a dress-up day at school and they even have a section called World Book Day.  The t-shirts are also a good alternative to traditional fancy-dress as they are comfortable and hard-wearing, as many costumes are itchy and fussy.

Moozles enjoyed pretending to be a policewoman. She especially enjoyed pretending her little brother was a criminal and she kept chasing him around the house. I think I will need to get them pirate t-shirts as they would love matching shirts so they can pretend to sail a ship and make me walk the plank. Anything to get the kids to use their imaginations and forget about the telly is great in my books.

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Family Fever
I was sent the two t-shirts for the purpose of a review but all opinions expressed are completely my own.

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Have any of you ladies ever dated a Mummy's boy (that's Mama's boy for my American peeps)? Maybe you even married one? Well, I dated one for almost a year and it was one of the worst relationships I have ever been in. Part of it was that he was an asshole, but another part was that he was a mummy's boy. He was 25 and still living with his mother. Nowadays, due to the high cost of housing, this is more common. But it wasn't so cool back then. I can't express how I loathed my morning walks of shame.

And now I have a son of my own. A sweet, affectionate, clingy mummy's boy. I know I must do whatever I can to help him grow up into his own man. I will be doing him a disservice if he cannot love another woman as much as he loves me. Obviously if he is gay, then this is a moot point as I will remain his number one gal. *smiles longingly*  So I thought I would write a guide to not raising a mummy's boy. I have no expertise, just a lot of natural know-it-all ways.

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How Not To Raise a Momma's Boy (or The Dos and Don'ts of Raising a Good Boyfriend)
1. Don't continually tell your son that no woman will ever love him as much as you do.
2. Don't keep wiping your son's ass/nose even though he is 10 years old.
3. Do teach your son how to cook and how to wash his own clothes. There is nothing like the gift of self-dependency. On a related not, teach him how to make a killer cocktail.
4. Don't iron your son's underpants. This is something no boy/man should ever get accustomed to.
5. Do not let your son think it is okay to wear white socks with dress shoes. This will never be in fashion. Never, I say.
6. Do teach your son the importance of foot rubs. If your son insists on watching sports, teach him that each match/game watched equates to one foot rub to be given. Obviously your son will need to practice on you so that he perfects his foot massage techniques. You are welcome future girlfriends/boyfriends!
7. Do let your son know that it is okay to cry or show emotion in front of others. It's a new age people. Men no longer have to be strong and silent. BUT, it is not okay to cry if you see a spider.
8. Do teach your son to compliment others. Whether you are being wooed or have been together 20 years, a lady likes to hear that she looks pretty. Do teach your son how to compliment. Acceptable: 'that's a nice dress, you look beautiful'. Not Acceptable: 'you're pretty, for a bigger girl'.
9. Do teach your son that only babies should act like babies. Babytalk is not cool. Unless you are a baby. Hearing a teenage boy talk to his mother in babytalk (or vice versa) makes me physically revulse.
10. Do teach your son that there is no one like his mother. No point looking for perfection. ;) But if he looks real hard, he may find someone pretty darn nice.

 

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Kitchen 4

When we moved into our house last February, the first thing we had to do was tackle the outdated and ramshackled 1970s kitchen. It did not have an oven, and no one would install one due to the unsafe electrics and the wood cladding. There was hardly any storage and it just felt dirty. Another big issue - no plumbing for a dishwasher. Here are some 'before' pics from the day we moved into our house.

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It was tough going three weeks without a kitchen (we had a microwave in our living room and ate a lot of takeaways, which was far from delightful). But we made it through and ended up with a lovely cooking and eating space. A small kitchen is the price we pay for living in London. But I don't mind. Our kitchen really is the heart of our home.

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Here are some of items that make my kitchen perfect for our family. Some items were sourced after weeks scouring the internet. Some were impulse buys. I found a gorgeous G-Plan highboard from eBay for £50 but we had to push the dining table against it when our two-year old son started trying to climb the highboard. The space isn't entirely as I would like. But that is what happens when you have children. Their needs become more important that your styling needs.

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Bread bin. I have green accents throughout the house. This is my first bread bin. I am such a grown-up now.
G Plan chair. I had them reupholstered as they were originally red.

 

 

 

 

 

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White Panasonic toaster and white Bosch kettle. My first two kitchen purchases and they really enhance the Mid-Century look.
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Sonos speaker so we can listen to Spotify for our kitchen dance parties! Very modern.

 

 

 

 

 

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Funky floor tiles. Yes,please!
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Kids can eat at the table in the dining area while I tweet tidy the kitchen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Small but perfectly formed! Here is a pic after my Husband had made dinner for the kids. Luckily we can stick everything in the dishwasher, throw in a Fairy Platinum tablet and not have to worry about the dishes.

 

This post is an entry for the “My Kitchen Story” Linky Challenge, sponsored by Fairy Platinum.