MAD Blog Awards

Why My MAD Blog Awards Nomination Means More to Me Than You Could Imagine…

MAD Blog Awards

Last week, the finalists of the MAD Blog Awards were announced and I was absolutely blown away to find out that Mum’s the Word had been shortlisted in the ‘Best Pregnancy Blog’ category. This meant that not only had people read my posts about being pregnant with BB but they’d enjoyed them enough to nominate me for an award. That, in itself, is incredible and I can honestly say that I’m grateful to have even got this far. However, there’s a couple more reasons why being nominated for a pregnancy blogging award means so much to me.

When I met Husband in early 2006, I didn’t want kids. Or, what I should really say is that I’d managed to convince myself that I didn’t want kids. I’d suffered with gynaecological issues since the age of eleven and was told that my irregular periods and polycystic ovaries meant that it would be very difficult, and potentially impossible to conceive. My barriers went up and instead of allowing my body to dictate what my future held, I tried to regain some control by telling myself that a childless future was a conscious decision.

Meeting Husband threw a spanner in the works. He didn’t want kids either to begin with but eventually our love for each other meant that we both came around to the idea. We knew it would be difficult and could potentially end in disappointment but we took a ‘let’s see what happens’ approach.

It took about a year, but eventually we struck gold. If you’ve read Mum’s the Word for a while, you’ll probably know that my first pregnancy was a nightmare and my first birth even worse. In fact, the trauma of what happened was so great that I vowed never to have any more children. I suppose, in a way, the trauma is also what led me to start blogging – I was depressed and felt isolated, so I decided to give myself a way to pour my thoughts out.

In the meantime, I also started Maternity Matters with Susanne from Ghostwriter Mummy, a place to collate news, birth stories and other maternity related posts, our attempt to help other parents who’d been traumatised like us. It was a resource for lots of parents, but I think on a more personal level it was an attempt by both of us to draw something positive from what had been a dark time in our lives.

Life went on and Sausage grew into an amazing little human. A human who, eventually, started asking for a sibling. It took Husband and I a long time to come around to the idea of having any more kids, but ultimately we decided that we wanted to try. It must have been something that was definitely meant to happen as it took less than 2 months after having my implant removed for me to fall pregnant again! I hadn’t started my blog until Sausage was 2, so this was my first time blogging a pregnancy.

Nothing was straightforward and between potentially heartbreaking decisions, worsening gestational diabetes, crippling SPD, high blood pressure and a long stay in hospital I’ve had plenty to write about over the last 11 months! On top of this, we’ve been sent some amazing products, as well as being chosen to be ambassadors for Britax and MAM, and also been asked to write for other parenting sites too. Pregnancy seemed to bring with it a host of opportunities.

But, you see, it’s not the nomination, or the freebies, or the opportunities which make this so amazing (although they are obviously a HUGE deal), its the fact that I sit here with my biggest baby, my incredible big girl who is so brave and clever on one side of me and my tiny baby with lungs like Pavarotti on the other side of me, both sleeping soundly and that never in a million years did I think that I’d be blessed with not one, but two kids. Pregnancy was not something that was supposed to happen for me, but not only did it happen twice, I’ve been nominated for an award for writing about it.

And that, my friends, is a miracle.

If you’d like to vote for Mum’s the Word to win Best Pregnancy Blogger at the MAD Blog Awards, please go HERE to vote. Also, you can see the list of other nominees in my category below.

Circus Queen

Edspire

It Started with a Squish

Me the Man and the Baby

Cooking and Recipes

Things My Mother (in-law) Taught Me

I’m pretty lucky in that I have two mothers-in-law and that I get on really well with both of them. I’m not in contact with my own mum, but these two have been like mums to me over the last few years and I’ve learned a lot from both of them. They’re both brilliant cooks, in totally different ways; one cooks the best homey dishes, like stews and Shepherds Pie while the other is from Arkansas in the USA and makes the most amazing, authentic Southern dishes like chili and pumpkin pie.

Shopitize have put together a great video about what mums have taught us, which you can watch here:

I’ve blogged about their recipes, which they’ve handed down to me, before but I thought I’d share my two favourites again.

Linda’s Stew

Ingredients:

  • Neck of Lamb (fillet) ( I usually buy £10 worth), ask the butcher to dice it for you
  • One large onion, finely sliced
  • 1 bag of frozen mixed veg (avoid mixes with broccoli in, as it turns to floating green mush. Also, mixes with red pepper and sweetcorn in dont work so well either)
  • 1kg white potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 6 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 Matthesons Smoked Sausage
  • 2 x stock cubes
  • 2 x oxo cubes
  • 2 x cans of vegetable or lentil soup
  • water
  • flour, margarine and water for dumplings, or a dumpling mix
  1. Start by browning your lamb in your stew pot or pan. Once all of the meat is browned, fill the pot about 2/3 full with cold water. Return to the hob and  add the stock cubes and oxo.
  2. Add the diced potatoes, sliced carrots, frozen veg, smoked sausage and cans of soup. Mix well and put a lid on the pot.
  3. Cook for 6-8 hours, stirring intermittently. If you’re using a slow cooker, you may need to add more liquid so that it doesn’t dry out.
  4. If you want to add dumplings, wait until 30 minutes before you want to eat, bring the stew to a fast simmer and add the dumplings. Cook for at least 30 minutes.

Dumpling method:

  1. Add equal measures of flour and margarine to a bowl and, using your fingers, bring together to a crumb texture.
  2. Add a little water at a time, until the mixture comes together and will form solid balls. You don’t want it to be too sticky.
  3. Using floured hands, make equal sized balls from the mixture and lower into the stew with a ladle.
  4. Cook for around 30 minutes, turning halfway through.

 

Lori’s Chili

Ingredients:

  • Neck of Lamb (fillet) ( I usually buy £10 worth), ask the butcher to dice it for you
  • One large onion, finely sliced
  • 1 bag of frozen mixed veg (avoid mixes with broccoli in, as it turns to floating green mush. Also, mixes with red pepper and sweetcorn in dont work so well either)
  • 1kg white potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 6 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 Matthesons Smoked Sausage
  • 2 x stock cubes
  • 2 x oxo cubes
  • 2 x cans of vegetable or lentil soup
  • water
  • flour, margarine and water for dumplings, or a dumpling mix
  1. Start by browning your lamb in your stew pot or pan. Once all of the meat is browned, fill the pot about 2/3 full with cold water. Return to the hob and  add the stock cubes and oxo.
  2. Add the diced potatoes, sliced carrots, frozen veg, smoked sausage and cans of soup. Mix well and put a lid on the pot.
  3. Cook for 6-8 hours, stirring intermittently. If you’re using a slow cooker, you may need to add more liquid so that it doesn’t dry out.
  4. If you want to add dumplings, wait until 30 minutes before you want to eat, bring the stew to a fast simmer and add the dumplings. Cook for at least 30 minutes.

Dumpling method:

  1. Add equal measures of flour and margarine to a bowl and, using your fingers, bring together to a crumb texture.
  2. Add a little water at a time, until the mixture comes together and will form solid balls. You don’t want it to be too sticky.
  3. Using floured hands, make equal sized balls from the mixture and lower into the stew with a ladle.
  4. Cook for around 30 minutes, turning halfway through.

You can also visit the Shopitize Facebook page to see some of the shared recipes and find out about the great deals that they offer.

Baby · Family · Feminism

The Pronoun Game

We’re still at that stage where we can’t walk more than 10 feet without someone sticking their head into the pram and cooing over BB, which obviously becomes exponentially worse in Waitrose because the main demographic of shoppers is already drawing a pension and therefore are drawn to small babies like a fly to the proverbial ‘you know what’. It’s sweet that people are so nice and want to pass on that positivity, even if answering the same 3 questions (“Yes, she’s very little.” “She’ll be 6 weeks on Monday” “She sleeps brilliantly for a newborn, yes”) does get a little tiresome at times.

But today, I went renegade. I battled against conformity and threw everyone through a loop. I took BB out dressed…IN BLUE! This, so be specific:

IMG_20140317_145212

It’s a hand-knitted cardie that used to belong to Sausage and she was wearing it with a red babygrow,

I immediately noticed a change.

“OH! Isn’t she beautiful!” instead became “OH! Isn’t your baby lovely!”

Because, by dressing her in blue, I somehow seem to have challenged the gender perceptions of the septuagenarian population of Essex. They could see the pink blanket, my very pink changing bag but the addition of blue knitwear made everyone err on the side of caution. It made me think about MY perception of gender. If I saw a baby dressed head-to-toe in pink, I’d automatically assume it was female, but would a parent not have as much right to dress a little boy in pink, as I do to dress BB in blue?

I’m constantly telling Sausage that pink isn’t just for girls, girls can play with cars and Meccano if they want to. Just yesterday, Husband and I were telling her what it is to be transgender and that some people may appear to physically be one gender but actually feel like they’re something completely different. But how can I expect my daughter to understand gender issues when I buy into them myself?

And then, it occurred to me.

The reason people play the pronoun game is so as not to cause offence. People say ‘your baby’ or ‘they’ rather than ‘he’ or ‘she’ because they think it would be rude to guess wrongly at a baby’s gender. But…why? I guess parental pride could play a part, plenty of parents would find it offensive if someone guessed wrongly at the gender of their little darling, but that seems crazy to me. Sure, some babies really do look overtly masculine or feminine, but let’s face it, most of them are fairly neutral.

We need to stop treating gender as some hot-button of embarrassment and quit being so ridiculous about it. Dress your boys in pink and your girls in blue – colours shouldn’t automatically signify gender, they should be accessible to all, and when a myopic old lady calls your little dude “she”, laugh it off. It’s really not the end of the world, is it?!

What do you think? Would you be cross if someone got your child’s gender wrong? Do you dress your baby in the ‘wrong’ colours for its gender? Let me know!

Baby · Family · Parenting · Pregnancy

Going From One to Two

sisters5Before we decided to have another child, it took a long time for me to come around to the idea. I couldn’t imagine having the capacity to love anyone as much as I loved Sausage and the trauma of her birth added to my fears. Eventually, I realised two things; firstly, that I wouldn’t be a ‘first timer’ when it came to maternity care this time, which meant that it was possible for me to make informed decisions and be more in control of my treatment, rather than being carried along with the choices of doctors who thought they knew best (and ultimately, let us down completely). Secondly, that if the new baby was anywhere near as awesome as Sausage, then we’d be seriously lucky people and giving our daughter a sibling was important to us.

When Sausage was born, being our first meant that we lived in a totally baby-centric bubble for many weeks, in fact we didn’t even take her out of the house for the first time until she was almost 6 weeks old! Husband was in a job which required him to work shifts of either 7am-7pm or 7pm-7am, and life was very fluid, revolving around the new baby. With Burrito Baby, things have been totally different; it doesn’t matter if she’s been up since 4am, I still have to be up at 7 to get Sausage ready for school. It doesn’t matter if she’s only just gone down for a nap at 3pm, I still have to take her out to do the school run if Husband isn’t around to look after her. While Sausage was able to dictate the routine, BB has had to (to an extent) just slot into ours.

Obviously, now I have 2 kids, I know that it’s more than possible to have the same strength of feeling for two as it was when we just had one. Your capacity for love doesn’t get split between the two of them, it doubles and fills up every space within your being. We’re all still getting used to each other and muddling our way through to form some new sense of normality, but one thing that’s for certain is that I love my girls an immeasurable amount and it almost seems ridiculous to look back at my previous fears about not being able to love another baby as much as I adore Sausage.

On the downside, there have been some tricky moments. In the same way that BB has to slot into what we have to do on a daily basis, newborn babies (especially ones with colic) have no regard for routine. Sure, Sausage has to get to bed by a certain time on a school night, but that doesn’t automatically mean that BB will stop screaming if we need her to and it’s made for more than a couple of tricky evenings of me at one end of the house trying to soothe an agitated baby, while Husband and Sausage try to block out the noise at the other, then swapping places. When Sausage was a baby, we didn’t have anyone to think about but her and if she screamed the place down, well, so be it.

It’s also been tricky trying to split ourselves into two, when both girls need us. Obviously, there are things that Husband can do if I’m indisposed and vice versa, but sometimes it feels like I need 6 extra hands. BB is a tiny baby and needs us to provide her with everything she needs for mere survival, but although Sausage is bigger she still needs us to be there for her as much as we ever were and I’m not going to lie, it’s been a struggle. Luckily, BB is settling down and getting into a halfway-decent routine with sleep now, so I’m finding I have more time to do things with Sausage.

Obviously, these are just a few of the difficulties that come with going from one child to two and I’m sure we’ll encounter MANY more as the weeks go on, but the good is definitely outweighing the bad and we’re taking each day as it comes.

Beauty · Shopping

More than a Mummy: Finding Yourself Again

There’s no doubt about it, life changes in so many ways – most of them wonderful – once you have children. But along with the huge rewards that come with experiencing life once more through a child’s eyes, come a raft of responsibilities which can, some days, make you feel like a cross between a nanny and a cleaner.

Permanent feelings of guilt pretty much come with the territory when you have little ones, whether you’re a stay a home mum, you go out to work, you feel you’re spending more time with one child than the other, you worry you let them watch too much television while you do the chores… the list goes on…

But, for your children’s sake as much as yours, it’s vital not to lose sight of who you were before they came on the scene. Otherwise, you’ll end up feeling grumpy and resentful which is no good for you or for them. Here are just a few of the tips I’ve picked up along the way which have made me feel like me again…

A bubble bath

Even if the day has been ridiculously stressful, once the kids have had their bath and gone to bed, there’s nothing more relaxing than running a bubble bath of my own, taking my book in, locking the bathroom door and just having 20 minutes to myself before bed. I won’t be using the children’s bubbles though. My favourites at the moment are Origins’ ginger bath soak which leaves you smelling like a ginger biscuit and Laura Mercier’s honey bubble bath. Friends and family who are stuck when buying me presents know I’ll always be happy with a fancy bath soak.

Date night

Having children brings you closer together as you experience the magic of bringing a new person into the world. But, it also means conversation can be all about the minutiae of daily life, from nappies to weaning, school uniforms to the food shop. Setting aside a date night, even if it’s just once a month, gives us the chance to talk without any interruptions and to dress up and feel good about myself.

Some retail therapy

It sounds frivolous, and that’s because it is, but treating yourself to a little something can make you feel a hundred times better. Not everything you buy has to come in mini sizes or be practical. Investing in a new set of matching underwear is one of my favourite just-for-me purchases. Then, even if I’m running around in jeans and a jumper, I still know I’m wearing something beautiful underneath.

I’ve got my eye on La Redoute’s pretty polka-dot print set, which manages to be playful and a little bit sexy at the same time with its lace detailing. And, the cups are smooth enough so I can wear it under t-shirts. There’s also a similar style for those lucky enough to have a bigger cup size, with polka dots and white lace instead of black.

Start a blog

Just as I used to pour my thoughts into my diary as a child, I’ve found starting my own blog has given me a forum to talk about whatever I want to, whether child-related or not. More often than not, I write about my two favourite things in the world – apart from my family of course – fashion and food.

A hobby just for you

While after-school and the weekend can be a whirlwind of rushing around to get your kids to football club, karate practise, Brownies or swimming, finding something that just you like to do is a great way to rediscover who you were before your little ones arrived. So, whether you get back into a hobby you loved before you became a mum or whether you start something you’ve always longed to, taking time out for some you-time can bring you together as a family as you’ll all have news to talk to each other about at the lunch or dinner table that day.

This post was written by Katie who loves to write about her latest style picks and adventures in food. You can see her latest cravings over on pinterest.