Look for me in April…

My handiwork.

 

…because March is just a manic month! My life has been all but completely consumed with Emilie’s upcoming 5th birthday party. I eat, sleep, and breathe party decorations, table layouts, and menu plans. Colour schemes, centrepieces, and cupcake stands dominate my daily life. The budget (if I’d even set one) has long been blown. Bouncy castle hired, invitations sent, RSVP’s coming in thick and fast…

I sit around the house hand-making decorations, arranging tablescapes, and hot glueing things that probably shouldn’t be hot glued.

19 more days til party time.

Bring. It. On.

Raising my 3 stooges

Back when Zoie was brand new.

Parenting: it’s not for the faint-hearted.

My  firstborn, my 6 yr old son Liam, has special needs and his years have been punctuated by hospital admissions, medications, therapies, and a whole lot of worry. My first experience of raising a child was an odd juxtaposition of fear, heartache, and unconditional love. That being said, my boy is all kinds of awesome. He loves music and is the dancing-est thing you’ve ever seen. And don’t challenge him to a game of football – you will lose. His smile can light up a room. He simply glows inside and out.

Everything else I ever needed to know about parenting, I’ve learned from my 4 yr old daughter, Emilie. A cheeky little whip of a kid with a kind heart and a splash of diva.

Although Emmie is my second child, raising her has been so vastly different. Liam met his milestones in his own time – we were used to a gentle pace with him. Emmie was walking by 7 months and chatting our ears off by mid toddlerhood. There were no worries about her health, no real concerns other than the usual ones that any parent has for their child’s future. Emilie was, and still is, a whirlwind of what raising a typical child is like.

Yesterday she got into trouble for telling tales on a schoolmate, today she asked my mom how babies get into mommies’ bellies. I’m fine tuning my stork story as I type. At parent’s evening tonight her teacher revealed that she is in the advanced reading group for her class and her numeracy skills are stellar. Last week she asked her classmate, Tristan, if he would marry her. The kid is on a roll. Guess I must be doing something right, haha.

By the time kiddo number 3 came along, I felt I had this parenting gig all figured out. I was wrong. Zoie, at 20 months old, is my ninja baby. She gets up to more shenanigans than the other 2 kids combined. She provokes her sister, eats anything she isn’t supposed to, and has one heck of  a scowl when she gets in a mood. If looks could kill….

Yes, my work is cut out for me.

There truly is no such thing as one-size-fits-all parenting. 3 kids, 3 completely different personalities and needs, all completely wonderful.

Running out of excuses, ha

Well talk about fallin’ right off the face of the blogosphere! What’s going on with me? Could it be that I’ve run out of things to say? Never, haha.

Last week was half term, which in my world means one stir-crazy 4 year old who redefined the phrase “couch potato”. I’m surprised her butt didn’t fuse to the sofa! I did manage to pry her away from the TV long enough to drag her to a doctor’s appointment (for her little sis), a session at the soft-play centre, a run around at the park, and two playdates. Win.

If I had my way, they’d be in school always. Yeah, I said it.

Besides the hassle of half term, I’ve been in full on party planning panic mode for Emilie’s 5th birthday. If you know me, you know my parties. And you know that there is no halfway. It’s all or nothing. If it’s not perfect, well, mama ain’t happy. The theme is a closely guarded secret. If I told you I’d have to silence you, then who would be left to read my blog? For those who do know the theme, consider yourselves a part of the elite few — my ninja party planning crew. All shall be revealed in time. Watch this space!

So other than losing sleep and ignoring the fact that I still have a 20,000 word dissertation to write, all is well in my world of nappies, snot, and bruised knees.

I promise to get back on the blogging ball. Soon.

 

 

Good to be back!

Well I finally managed to get my internet sorted out and can be welcomed back into the realm of the living. Being without my connection to the universe these past few weeks has been challenging to say the least.

Technology, I love you.

So last night, I went out with some fellow parents for dinner, drinks, dancing, and a late night slumber party! Actually, we were all in our jammies before 2am. True story. Next stop, zimmer frames…

On the drive back home this morning I heard the sad news about Whitney Houston on the radio. Damn. So so tragic. Truly a beautiful person with a phenomenal voice.

So here’s my little tribute to Whit. Her songs always either made me want to jump up and dance or bawl my eyes out. Now that’s the sign of great music. RIP dear Whitney, you’re singing in God’s choir now.

11 Things That Grind My Gears

I might not LOOK like I have three kids but I sure FEEL like I do!

1.  People who say to me, “You don’t look like you have THREE kids?!”  Really? Well what should a woman with three kids look like then? Enlighten me. I guess I’m supposed to look haggard or like I’ve gotten too friendly with my pals, Ben & Jerry? Here’s a recent example:

Standing in line at the checkout in the supermarket yesterday. Newborn baby in pram at the opposite checkout starts wailing inconsolably. I shake my head sympathetically and say “Oh I remember those days” to which the checkout lady practically shrieks “You’ve had a baby?!” I smile sweetly and say “I’ve had three…” and was immediately met by the audible gasps of not only the checkout lady but every customer within earshot. Right. Took my groceries and got the hell out.

The youngest mother on record was 5 years old. Keep that in mind.

2.  People who say, “You don’t look old enough to have kids!”  Seriously now? So, what, I can’t even pass for 15 nowadays?  Clearly someone has never watched Teen Mom.

So sorry the education system failed you...

3.  People who can’t spell. Oh. My. God. Now I’m no grammar Nazi and I am undoubtedly guilty of forgetting to spell check once or twice but for crying out loud! Facebook status updates are the bane of my existence! The thing that gets me riled up the most is the misspelling of simple words. “Themselfs” is a real winner.

"Oh hey girl! It's been sooo long!" (Not long enough)

 4.  When you are in town (or other random public place) and you see someone you know who you haven’t seen in a while and you don’t know how to react so you pretend that you didn’t see them because you aren’t sure if they saw you and if they did see you and are ignoring you, you don’t want to look the fool by going up to them and saying hi just in case they really didn’t see you or are actually trying to avoid you. So you walk away pretending not to see them and are left wondering if they did see you but were pretending not to and probably now think you are a bitch for not saying anything at all. Yeah. Happens to me ALL the time.

345... repeat after me. 345...

5.  People who say this:

“What part of America are you from?”

“The part called the Cayman Islands.”

“Oh um, ok, it’s just that your accent sounds so… so…”

“American? No it don’t, you na been payin’ attention awa?”

Because high voltage electricity is really bad for your health. And life.

6.  The one idiot who always insists on making a mad dash for the tube/train just as the doors are closing and either gets some appendage trapped or makes the doors reopen, thereby delaying my journey. You could fall onto the rails, genius. And then you’d be dead and the train will still leave your ass.  Just so you know.

First world problems...

7.  When my favourite food/snack/toiletry runs out at the store the one time I actually manage to make it there after weeks of daydreaming about it. Why??????? Didn’t they know I was coming?!

Get 'em Blade! Muhahaha

 8.  People who freak out over movie spoilers (you know who you are)… I mean is it really the end of the world if you find out that Edward and Bella’s little tot eventually turns out to be… **********… ooops. Ah yes, well nevermind.

And I was so sure green was my colour.

9.  People who ask me, “Is that your real hair?” No. I went out and bought this frizz-fest in a shop. On purpose.

That's what I say.

10.  People who say “Are you going to have any more kids?” or “You’re done now, right?” Well that’s between me and my uterus, thankyouverymuch.

If only it really worked.

11.  Sticky labels that don’t come off. Ever. You know the ones – you pick, peel, and scratch your fingernails to stubs just trying to get a piece off but can only manage to tear out one unsightly section so you go get the baby oil/washing liquid/WD-40 and douse and rub until the paper and glue become one big gooey mess only to wipe it off and find that it is still completely sticky underneath! Sigh.

So tell me: what are YOUR pet peeves?

Oh, for all my friends who find that they have said any of the above comments to me (or are terrible spellers), it’s cool. I still love you.  This is only directed toward ignorant strangers. And as for not being American – my hubby is American, my sisters are American, my kids are American by association, I spent one year of Kindergarten and two years of college in America. I freakin’ love America. I’m just not from there. That is all.

Good to be paraben free? pt. 2 – The haul

Following on from my earlier post on parabens, I decided to see what paraben free products  I could find in my local stores. I love an excuse to go shopping!

So while my aim was to see if I could replace my current products with ones that were paraben free, I decided not to panic if I couldn’t. Lucky for me, I found a wonderful range of paraben free products, brand names included!

Check ’em out:

1.  JASON Kid’s Only – Bath Gel & Shampoo – 99p each at my local 99p store

Verdict: These were the bargain of the day and my first purchase. They smell delicious and are also wheat/gluten free. I only wish that the shampoo was a bit more moisturising, but overall a great find!

2. Original Sprout – Natural Curl Calmer & Leave-In Conditioner – £10 &  £6 from afrotherapy.com but can also be found in John Lewis

Verdict: I love, love, love these products! Like I said before I plan to one day devote an entire post to Original Sprout. Not only are these products paraben free, they are also free of just about every other chemical as well as being vegan! They have a lovely smell and leave my girls’ hair soft and silky – especially the Curl Calmer which is a must for curly-haired kiddies. I use it in my hair too!

3.  Amie – Morning Clear Purifying Facial Wash – £5 from Waitrose

Verdict: Amie is a range of products formulated especially for pre-teen and teenage skin. I thought what better way to keep my face looking youthful? Haha. This face wash was creamy, moisturising, and a scrummy cotton candy pink color. I’ve been using it for 2 weeks now and I have to say my skin is completely glowing! Can’t fault it at all. It is also free of mineral oils, sodium laureth sulphate, GM ingredients, and is vegan.

4.  Mixed Chicks Kids – Leave-In Conditioner – £9.95 from afrotherapy.com

Verdict: I haven’t actually purchased this product but I wanted to include it nonetheless. After discovering that my favorite hair styling product Mixed Chicks Leave-In Conditioner was chock full of parabens, I was thrilled to see that their kids version is completely paraben, alcohol, and fragrance free! Win!

5. Nature Baby Care – ECO Sensitive Wipes w/ Aloe – £2.55 from Boots

Verdict: A good, strong wipe. Not as thick as the Huggies wipes I used to use and not as moist. They are fragrance free, chlorine free, paraben free, and biodegradable. I have to honestly say I much prefer the Huggies wipes to these and will probably be looking for an alternative brand to this one.

6. Sanex Zero % – Dry Skin Shower Gel – £1.30 from Waitrose

Verdict: Awesome shower gel. Really delicate almost citrus scent and left my skin feeling clean and smooth. It is paraben, phthalate, and color free. It is also eco-friendly and has a biodegradable formulation. Very good price too!

7. Tresemme Naturals – Nourishing Moisture Conditioner – £5.50 at Superdrug

Verdict: The conditioner of the gods! Seriously. No other conditioner makes my super curly hair as soft, moisturised, and silky as this bottle of creamy goodness. Smells great, contains organic aloe and avocado oil,  and is paraben and silicone free!

Good to be paraben free?

Well I’ve wanted to do this post for a while now, especially after I stumbled across this report which made me raise an eyebrow. It’s about parabens. Big word there. Here’s a definition:

Parabens are a class of chemicals widely used as preservatives by cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries

– thank you Wikipedia

My first reaction after reading the article was “great just one more thing that’ll kill us, just like all the cell phone waves that are turning our brains to jelly”. But then I remembered those three little anklebiters that call me “mum” and I that thought if I could possibly do my part to expose them to a few less chemicals, where is the harm in that?

Mind you this was also following on the back of the revelation that the red stuff my mom used to paint on my scraped knees back in the ’80’s (called Mercurochrome) actually contained mercury. Yeah. True story.

So, armed with the knowledge that I had managed to cheat a mercury-induced death (I was a real tomboy) I started to Google around the place looking for more info on these parabens. I found a couple of interesting articles:

What Are Parabens and Why You Should Avoid Them

Paraben Free Products

These articles (as you may have guessed) are in support of avoiding parabens, if you can, on the basis of “why risk it?” This is pretty much my stance on the matter. To gain a balanced view, however, I found some articles that stated that the concentration of parabens that are used in various products are of such a low level they are unlikely to be harmful to humans. Here is one mainly for concerned parents:

Parabens

I had a gander at the FDA website and they state that:

FDA believes that at the present time there is no reason for consumers to be concerned about the use of cosmetics containing parabens. However, the agency will continue to evaluate new data in this area.

FDA.gov

However, I did note that the paraben page on the FDA site hadn’t been updated since 2007.  So what was I going to do about all this mild paraben panic? Well I decided to inspect my cosmetics, toiletries, and those that I used for the kids. Imagine my complete lack of surprise when I found that just about everything I owned contained these preservatives. Even my super expensive Dermalogica face products. Great. Just my luck.

My plan of action? Simple. Throw them out. Seriously. I just binned it all. Most of the products were down to the last drops of liquid anyhow — things like the kids’ L’oreal shampoo and my Mixed Chicks Leave-In Conditioner (man I was pissed). The hair products I used for the girls were already paraben free (Original Little Sprout – omg, I could do an entire post on them!) as were a decent amount of other products I use like my Dove Invisible Dry deodorant.

The next day I went shopping. A little experiment to see just what kind of products I could find that were paraben free.

Stay tuned for the details of what I found!