Thursday, 27 February 2014

Apologies to my followers...

I appear to have stopped writing...

I don't know how that happened.

My head is still full of ideas.

My phone still full of notes.

And yet none of them seem to be making them as far as this blog.

But there is lots to come.

In my head there are many posts.

I need to tell you about Little Owl becoming 24 months.

About the travel cots we checked out before going to India and which one we chose.

The dress that I have made for Little Owl.

The big change in her bedroom.

About our ideas for our bathroom.

The hole in the ceiling of the dining room that's been there over 2 years!

The hole Papa Owl has made in the wall of the dining room.

Our new fireplace.

The leaky roof.

Of the 3 jobs that I am currently doing!

Of how this is the season to be a maths teacher!

Of a big decision that I have made.

There are many things I need to share with you, so please stick with me, I'm juggling lots of things at the moment but I'll be back with you soon!

In the meantime, I can share with you that I have received a nomination in the MAD Blog Awards!

Thank you!
MAD Blog Awards

Nominations close in two weeks time, I'd love to get a few more nominations, especially in the New Blog category as this is, after all, the only opportunity that I will get in that category!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

MAD Blog Awards - My Top Picks

The MAD Blog Awards are an annual awards for all blogs written by Mums and Dads.  I had only just started blogging last year when all the excitement was going on but now I can be part of it! 

There are lots of different categories that you can nominate blogs for including Best New Blog (hint hint hint!!!).

While I was deciding who I would nominate and for what, I thought I would share with you some of my favourite blogs!

In alphabetical order....

Dancing with dirty feet
This blog is funky! They have the best reviews of the best products and the photographs and graphics used to promote the posts are always bright and colourful. There are so many reviews that I read and say "I want that!" and even if its not a review I have been known to ask where Birdie got her clothes from!  This is my go to blog to find new and exciting products!
This is one of the first blogs that I began to read regularly, it is written with such love and care, with a great deal of openness and yet a professional touch.  Jennie started the blog as a way of recording the early days with her twins who were born prematurely but has grown as her family grew with the birth of Matilda Mae.  Very sadly Matilda Mae died just over a year ago aged just 9 month and Jennie's blog has since become a place for her to build a legacy for her daughter.  
The energy in the blog is fantastic.  Kate is always out and about and up to different things with her three children.  Its been fun to watch baby Max grow up and see how he is beginning to join in with the older kids, talking of which - Gemma likes maths and goes to Brownies - now how cool is that?!! Kate also reviews EVERYTHING so if there is something you are wondering about getting be sure to pop over and see what she thinks!

Patch of Puddles
This is a blog that I don't read often enough but every time I end up there by chance, I just want to read more and more.  Its been around for a long time (over 10 years) and so there is a lot of 'back story' to read through.  The author Merry blogs about life and home educating her children (of which there are many).  I love the 'about us' page where Merry introduces each of her chicks - its like reading a children's novel and this is a family that I just want to be part of!
I love this blog, there's something so gentle about the way Bex writes and the love for her two young boys shines through.  I have been known to have a little tear while reading, particularly when she writes letters direct to her sons.  Bex is one of the few bloggers that I have met in real life. In fact I met the whole family at The Baby Show last October where she was getting very excited over a pair of gloves!
This is a new blog that started last October.  I enjoy reading about the adventures of Toby and remembering when Little Owl was that small - it feels like a long time ago!  Sarah (Toby's mum) has become a friend on Twitter and a bit of a support for me in this world of blogging!
This blog was started at about the same time as mine by an old friend of mine.  I love its gentle approach and practical nature.  I'm sure as Little Owl grows up this will be a go to blog for ideas and inspiration.
I hope you enjoy reading some of these blogs and don't forget the nominations are open until 14th March - make sure you get your vote in!

MAD Blog Awards

Sunday, 16 February 2014

The Versatile Blogger Award

Just before Christmas, the lovely Sarah over at Toby Goes Bananas nominated me for The Versatile Blogger Award. My blog is mainly about parenting and family life, but I do try to include bits of craft, cooking and house renovation! But here is your chance to find out a bit more about me...

The rules to the Versatile Blogger award are as follows…
1)  in your post, be sure to thank the blogger that nominated you
2)  write seven facts about yourself and nominate seven other bloggers
3)  you must use the versatile blogger award image on your post

So here we go!

I can ride a unicycle.  Well at least I could, as a teenager.  Not very well mind you, I can't free mount and pretty much only go in straight lines but I used to cycle the 3 miles from my parents house to the town centre along the promenade.  The night club I used to frequent was quite happy to stash it behind the front desk and I was never short of a young man to walk me home at the end of the night if it meant they could have a go!

I once caught a train (well several trains) to Hong Kong. I always imagined that one day I would do a big round the world trip, but somehow that never happened and I found myself all grown up with a fiancĂ© and a job.  The prospect of taking a year off to go travelling was just not feasible and so I made it my mission to see how far I could get in a summer holiday - overland!  We took four weeks to get to Hong Kong which included a few days in Moscow, a week in Mongolia, five days in Beijing, and a detour to see the Terracotta Warriors!  We stayed with friends for a few days in Hong Kong before flying back to the UK to start the new school year!

I'm a Girl Guide!  I've been a member of Girlguiding since I joined Brownies a when I was 8.  I moved on to Guides which I absolutely loved and stayed until I was 15 when I moved to the dark side and became a Venture Scout! By 17 I was back in Girlguiding as a young leader with the Guide unit I had loved.  I stayed there as a leader until I opened my own Ranger Guide Unit for girls aged 14-25.  I still run this unit over 10 years later!

I have a degree in Geology and it was once my ambition to work on the gold mines in Western Australia. Before I could get there I found myself in India where I met a South African Guide leader who pointed out to me that rocks don't talk back and I was a people person, and I needed people.  She had a point!

I have built a house! Well part of a house... As part of the centenary celebrations of Girlguiding, London and South East Region encouraged for all the Rainbows Brownies and Guides to raised funds for a project called Houses For Hope.  Then over the summer of 2010, 100 Senior Section members set off to South Africa to build a house for a family in Kwa Zulu Natal . 
I have a strong irrational fear of spiders and dead things.  So dead spiders are pretty much a total melt down.  Not so good with flying things either.  Actually this might not be that much a surprise to you if you read my post about having Dinner Alfresco.

I once bought a car off of ebay!  It was a 1981 Austin FX4, or in other words - a London Black Taxi!!!  I loved Birtha, she had been tweaked a bit so that the back seat folded down to a double bed, perfect for taking camping!  Other interesting features included a button on the floor to turn on the full beam which was great although sometimes when I pressed the button, all the lights went out!
So that's my seven - what are yours?  I'm nominating 

Many thanks to Sarah at Toby Goes Bananas for nominating me - I hope you have enjoyed reading!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Date Night

 They don't happen often

Actually, in the 21 months that Little Owl has been with us, we've had two date nights.

Just two.

We've planned others, but illness has always meant they have been cancelled.

In the end we gave up!

But today we have another planned.
Date Night #3

 Although planned isn't exactly true...

Little Owl is spending the night at her Grandparents!  
The whole night!
It'll be the first time that I have spent a night away from her.

Meanwhile Papa Owl and I are going out to dinner!
Although we haven't booked anywhere yet.

I'm looking forward to it, especially us both being able to have a drink with the knowledge that we can sleep it off in the morning!
But having dropped Little Owl off with her Grandparents
and kissed her goodnight
I had a little tear in my eye
And felt the need for gin.

Friday, 14 February 2014


Well, not snow exactly
rain I guess
I kissed Little Owl goodbye
and was walking out of the door
when the phone rang
"No power"
I felt euphoric!
A whole day free!
I am so excited!
But why?
I only work two days a week
so what makes this unexpected free day
better than the other 3 days?
I really don't know.
I go back into the house
say hello to Little Owl
have a cup of tea
and wonder what to do with my day
Its exciting
the possibilities are endless
but before I make any plans
the phone rings again
Another school want me!
Oh well...
But I'm still confused
Why did this 'snow day'
feel so different from all the others days
where I don't work
and could potentially
do anything
I'm not sure
but I think I need to start making the most
of my days with Little Owl
go on a few more adventures
Have days out
where we don't plan in advance
but just get up and get ready
and then set off
to who knows where!
Look out for more snow days!
Binky Linky

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Little Owl's Wardrobe

I just wanted to share with you Little Owl's new wardrobe!

When I say new, I also mean only wardrobe she's ever had!
Its not very exciting is it?

Kids rooms should be exciting

because being a grown up lasts an awful long time.

So I popped to B&Q and bought some of their funky paint.
Aren't the colours great?!

But it gets better...
The deep blue and magenta colours are blackboard paint

So when Little Owl is a wee bit older

(and can understand the difference between her wardrobe and the walls)

She'll be able to draw and write on it.

In theory, the Neon blue is meant to glow in the dark

But we haven't seen this yet.

And it took about half a dozen coats and still doesn't look great.
 But the finished wardrobe looks fab!

Just as a kids room should!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Maher - A Mother's House

Maher, which means Mother's House in Marathi (the local language in Pune) is one of the many Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) that Sangam World Centre works with.

I have visited Maher a few times before, but probably not in the last 10 years as its a little way out of Pune and takes about an hour to get there which is quite some journey in a rickshaw! Luckily this time Sangam had laid on a bus for us.

I was really pleased when we arrived to discover Sister Lucy, the founder of Maher was there. Sister Lucy is an amazing woman who has worked hard to support women and children who have become destitute.

When Sr Lucy was living in a convent, a young woman came to her, 7 months pregnant and asked for help, for shelter in the convent as she believed her husband was going to kill her so he could take another wife.  Sr Lucy did not have the authority to take the woman in and didn't know what to do to help. She asked the woman to come back the next day, giving Sister Lucy the opportunity to ask others for advice on what help she could offer.

That night, Sister Lucy heard screams and rushed out into the streets to find out what was happening. A crowd of people had done the same, and they found a young woman who had been set on fire. It was the same woman who had asked Sr Lucy for help earlier that day. Sr Lucy went with the young woman to hospital but she was too badly burnt, she couldn't be saved. They performed a C-section but the baby had suffered from the heat of the flames and had died.

While Sister Lucy was telling her story, I was trying to keep Little Owl quiet (mainly with biscuits). Little Owl spotted another little girl playing out of the door and I whispered to the member of staff sat next to me "how old is she?"

"She is 4. She was raped by a man"


Sorry, but how do you respond to that? This poor little mite, who was dancing and playing and finally built up the courage to come in to see the white people and receive hugs from the staff, had apparently spent some time in hospital literally being put back together after this brutal attack.

Every woman and child at Maher has a story to tell.

Sister Lucy originally started Maher as a place for women to come to but she soon realised that with women came children, and so Maher developed to support women and their children. Then Sister Lucy realised that many women were capable of supporting themselves if their children were looked after and so Maher grew again to take in children independent of their mothers.
On this visit, we went to their main centre where most of the children stay, but also where they hold their workshops and shop. Understandably, when women arrive at Maher, they are not in the best of mental health, they are not asked questions but, like everyone at Maher, they are treated with love.  To help build their strength and keep them mentally active, they are given some craft work to do, being taught the skills if they don't already have them. Gradually overtime, they relax and are able to tell their story.

In a previous visit, I was able to visit a home set up by Maher in one of the local villages. Some of the women who come to Maher are widows, who have been kicked out of their husbands homes following his death, particularly if they have no children, and rejected by their own parents as they would be seen as unlucky. These young women, or girls as many of them could still be in their teens, are unable to remarry and find it difficult to have a place in society. Maher has set up a several homes in the area where these women live as house mothers, looking after small groups of children, and therefore regaining a place in society.

To listen to Sister Lucy speak, is wonderful. When she explains what she is doing, and more importantly why she is doing it, you can hear that she is guided by love.  The compassion she has for every woman and child in her care, and therefore the ability to help them in the way they need help most is overwhelming.  There are now separate homes for those with mental health issues and those who have learning difficulties. The children of these women are also looked after in that home so that they can spend time together after school.
Part of the reason that Sister Lucy was unable to take in that first woman that came to her for help at the convent, was because she wasn't catholic. Maher takes in everyone regardless of faith, it is a home for everyone, and a place for everyone to pray.

I have written this post to share some of my experiences of my trip to India with Little Owl, however, if you wish to find out more about Maher or how you can help, you can visit their website here.
Maher is a very special place

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

It could be YOU!

I clicked onto my emails briefly before I left India to get my flight details and check in online.

In amongst all the junk, I spotted two emails from the national lottery.

 The first telling me I had won, the second telling me that the money had been paid into my account.

It does not appear to be spam.

It looks real.

But I have no time to check! Logging on to the National Lottery website has always proved difficult, trying to remember all my details as I only log on when I receive these emails - and believe me - that is not often!

Besides, I have a flight to check in for, a toddler to wrestle, and bags to pack.

I leave it, half forgotten.

But as I sat at the airport, waiting to board, wondering when I will be here again, I can't help thinking... What if?

What if it was a big win? I've only ever won £10 before but I think the minimum prize is now £25.

Could I have won £20k? Would I spend it in the same way as I thought last summer? I can't help but think there would be a flight to Pune booked if I had...

Could it be millions? Would it be? Do they just pay it into your account like a £10 winning? If not, what is the cut off? How much would they pay into your account before consulting you?

I think if I had a large amount suddenly appear in my account, my bank might just have phoned me to suggest what I could do with it! They are like that! Maybe they have spotted that I am India but I think that's unlikely.

 But what if? What if I have won the jackpot?

I'm sure houses and cars and holidays would be purchased but as I sat in the airport, I thought that I could return to Pune in business class for the 50th birthday of Sangam and bring a friend to help me too!

I arrive home and its all forgotten about, it took me a few days to remember. I had to request my login details, and then change my password, eventually I'm logged in and...

oh well

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

With rings on my fingers...

This is where my wedding and engagement rings have been since late on in my pregnancy with Little Owl.

Round my neck.

Living in the hope that I would magically shrink back to my pre-pregnancy weight!


Well that wasn't going to happen now was it?!!

With my trip to India looming on the horizon, I knew I didn't want to travel alone with a child without my rings on my finger.  Whenever I have travelled with a man in India my rings (or lack of them) have been noted.

So finally I had to acknowledge the truth and get them resized.

We decided we would ask the lovely people at HK Jewellery to resize them. Its a bit of a journey to Hertfordshire for us but as the rings were designed and made by HK, we didn't really want to hand them over to anyone else.
Photo by Steve Shipman

Since our last visit to the studios, it has had a bit of a make-over.  There's now a coffee shop with the most delicious cake!  Even better was a basket of toys in the corner to keep Little Owl entertained... not that she needed it, she very quickly became chief biscuit tester for the coffee shop!

The staff at HK were lovely as usual and while we were waiting to be seen I could hear a couple discussing their engagement ring with the designers.  It really was quite magical designing my own ring, discussing ideas, deciding on which metal to use,  looking at different stones, selecting the perfect one... then getting into the fine detail, the setting of the stone, the angle it sits at, the thickness of the band, planning ahead to how that would look with a wedding band and eternity ring...

As you can tell, I loved every minute of it and being back in the studios was bringing back happy memories of planning our wedding.  This visit was nowhere near as exciting, although Papa Owl did buy me a pair of pearl earrings to add to my small *cough* collection of Purple Label jewellery!

There was one other thing... my wedding rings weren't the only rings that needed adjusting.  One of my bridesmaids gave me a pair of Indian toe rings as a wedding gift.  They fitted but were just a little tight in the winter under socks and shoes so I cheekily asked if they could expand them too, and they did - while I waited!

So now I have rings on my fingers and on my toes!
Photo by Steve Shipman

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Little Owl @ 21 Months

Look at my grown up girl! 
The ten days she has spent in India have somehow made her seem more grown up! 
No new teeth this month but the canines are now very visible and appear incredibly pointy!
Signs and Speech
These have developed amazingly over the past couple of weeks.  As well as new words shoe, hi, up, me and stop, Little Owl has a new favourite phase "that's my mummy" which she uses whenever someone asks her name or tries to engage her in conversation such as "are they your shoes?" to which Little Owl replies "that's my mummy's" picking up my shoes.  We've even started to have small conversations, but I have been so caught up in them that I have forgotten to write them down afterwards!  Must do better!
What's new?
Little Owl's hair has started to thicken up, its still very short but her scalp is no longer visible which is great news!

Swimming is going from strength to strength, she is more confident with 4 floats and I think is ready to try 3.  Little Owl has also started to swim with a noodle (woggle? long tube float thing?) which keeps her much more horizontal in the water.
I have also heard Little Owl singing to herself a couple of times - it is so sweet but she goes quiet if she thinks I am listening!
What else is new?  Little Owl has been on a plane - well 4 planes and been to India where she has seen lots of cows, goats, horses, chipmunks, dogs and cats!
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