{The Ordinary Moments 2015} #23 – 4 Years On

{The Ordinary Moments 2015} #23 – 4 Years On

We’ve just closed the door on the Grandparents (James’ parents) as they go off to their local hotel for the evening after a lovely weekend all enjoying each other’s company.  Nothing particularly planned so we hung out at the park for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon and today we showed them the local woodlands that we always like to walk around.  As I looked around downstairs and checked the doors were locked and turned off the lights, I felt a twinge in my heart as the house felt empty and so quiet (the babies were just being settled in bed by James upstairs).

I walked up the stairs and glanced at the girls bedroom, the door was open and there are a few clothes on the floor as they just got changed to go back to their Mum’s home and I realised why my heart aches.  I miss them.  Desperately I miss them. My home doesn’t feel complete when they’re not here.

It’s so strange because these two little girls who have woven themselves deep into my heart must now have pierced through to the deepest layer.  I wrote recently about how I ‘feel’ again.  I am on anti-depressants just 10mg a day which is a very low dose according to the GP but it seems to work for me.  I am so much more balanced now.  I was worried when I reluctantly agreed to take them that they would make me numb to my emotions.  As my heart is finally healing after years of abuse and hurt, they seem to have done the opposite.  I ‘feel’ so much more.  I am not numb at all, in fact I’m laughing again, really laughing, I am getting goosebumps when I listen to singers I love, I’m crying when I read something moving.  I’m me again, and I’m definitely not numb.

The only problem with this seems to be that what used to feel normal (the girls going home to their Mum’s each week) now feels heart wrenching.  It’s been 4 years since these princesses came into my life and their names are now so deeply engraved on my heart, I’m weeping that they’ve gone home.  Of course this isn’t the sort of situation where they go home to an evil household and we should be fighting for full custody because I love them so much.  No, that is not the case at all.  The girls are deeply loved at both homes and they need their Mum and Kerry (Mum’s wife) in their lives as much as they need us.  This is something that I just need to adjust to as this is our normal life.  This is the way it is as a blended family.  I’m just so sad this evening because 4 years on, I just don’t feel complete without them here.  We are half a family.  We don’t see ourselves as a separate unit when the girls aren’t here, we see ourselves as one big family and we just don’t always get to be together because we share the girls with another happy family.  This has always been the aim as I made the active choice to love and treat the girls as my own all this time, it is now 100% a complete reality.  I would sometimes wonder if this was really true, but tonight has shown me although I did not birth them, I love and see these girls completely as my own.

We’re so fortunate that we have the girls as much as we do.  The girls pretty much have shared parenting.  We have them less at the moment as now James has the car for work and we live so far away, it’s not practical for me to do the school run with two toddlers, (it would be 2 buses and an hour each way Thursdays and Fridays), but as soon as we have a second car we will have the girls Thursday to Sunday again.  When it’s a Bank Holiday we usually get to keep them longer, in the holidays we will have them for 2 weeks straight which will be lovely.  I can’t wait.  We get to share Easter and Christmas and all family special occasions with them, they’re always here, they’re never excluded from any important events.  We’re really lucky that this pretty much shared parenting works so well for us all and that their Mum allows us to have so much time without having to go through messy court cases.  We’ve arrived at a really balanced happy place where whatever we can manage is what we do.

It took a lot of trial and error to arrive where we are.  It has been a long journey of swapping days, seeing how the girls responded, Isis being happy, Shayla being unhappy and vice versa, but we are now where everyone seems truly happy.  I feel so blessed to live this life.  It certainly did not always feel this way.  There have been times that I have felt it is too hard.  Trying to get two parents to agree on some decisions can be difficult for most families, we have moments where all four of us are at luggerheads., there’s no doubting that it is hard.  There are things I could share but they don’t belong on our special place, this blog is for us all and the girls read it regularly when they are at their Mummy’s.  Please if you are a step mum who is struggling though, especially at the beginning of the journey feel free to email me (dontcallmestepmummy@gmail.com) if you need some encouragement, or to know you’re not alone.  There are many support groups out there as well as on facebook.  There are many negative spaces on the internet for stepmum’s but also some supportive ones.

I am crazy happy with our lives and this afternoon as we were all walking through the woods I watched the children holding hands with James walking ahead of me as I talked to my in laws and said ‘Don’t you just feel like you need to pinch yourself?’.  It really does feel like a dream.  When I remember where I was 5 years ago and where I am now, I thank God for blessing me with such an amazing husband and wonderful family.

* This post is dedicated to all the blended families out there beginning their journey.  Keep going it does get easier and I know for us, even still, the best is yet to come.

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Taking The Camera Off Auto, James Bay & Whipped Cream #littleloves

Taking The Camera Off Auto, James Bay & Whipped Cream #littleloves

Wow another week has passed by and it’s Friday.  I love this round up post to remind me to take stock of all the little things that made up our week.  It always puts a smile on my face.  The lovely Morgana is back from holiday now so we’ll be linking up with ‘But Why Mummy Why‘ again.  Let’s do it..

Read

I received ‘the busy girl’s guide to digital photography‘ from my husband back in February.  You know what it’s like though when you’re a Mum, I haven’t really sat down with it properly.  Yesterday I sat there with the book and my DSLR and I have finally worked out how to get off Auto with my camera.  It took quite a lot of practice to get my head around it all.  I used one of the children’s Peppa Pig toys as a model (the toddlers were not co-operating) and once I’d mastered figured out how my camera works, I was able to take some snaps of the babies.  I am a LONG way off being a dab hand with my camera, but I am so happy that my journey has finally begun.  I love being creative, and I know I will feel a lot more satisfaction when I look at my photography, knowing that I helped create it, rather than just pointing and clicking.

Watched

Pretty Little Liars was back on Netflix this week.  I’ll be honest when I first started watching it, I watched it because I didn’t have much else to watch.  The plot is addictive, it’s kind of like a teen movie with thriller elements.  We’ve not known who the villain is for 5 seasons, although there’s been reveals along the way that made you feel you knew who it was.  There was a big plot twist at the end of Season 5 and Martina and I have been waiting with baited breath for the Season 6 premiere.  Normally we have to wait until September for new seasons from the U.S to start but they have called this the ‘Summer of Answers’ it began airing 2nd June so I’m excited to see what we find out.  I know I’ll still be left questioning a lot but half of the fun for Martina and I is the constant guessing.  She finds it hilarious that I’m always coming up with new theories of who ‘A’ is.  We loved watching the first one, and I won’t include any spoilers.  If you are a viewer and didn’t know it was back head over to Netflix right now.  It was a brilliant Season premiere.

Also, last Saturday Isis and I went to watch ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ check out our review below

Wore

I finally made some time to have something done for me.  I am now sporting some HD Brows, I think they look amazing.  I never knew that my eyebrows could look like this.  I have seen HD Brows look great and I’ve seen some look terrible.  I went to my cousin’s boutique ‘Peach Beautique’ and I am so, so happy with the results.  I will not go anywhere else now.  They look so natural, and really show off the shape that can be achieved if you know what you’re doing.  My eyebrows have always been blonde (James calls them invisible) so I usually just put a bit of mascara on give some shape.  Apologies for the miserable looking, no make-up selfie below but I am absolutely made up with them.

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excuse the late night grainy photo from the flip side of my camera phone

Heard

Our wire that connects to our phones has broken in the car, so instead of listening to our Spotify playlists, we’ve had the radio on this week.  I’m quite pleased as I’ve found some music I just wouldn’t have heard otherwise.  I will be buying a new wire today though as the girls want to listen to the ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ soundtrack so will make sure we have that before they are collected this evening.  My favourite song from our week listening to the radio is the lovely James Bay.  I love his voice.

Made

We ordered a ‘Magic Bullet’ last week and it arrived this week.  Martina and I have been having fun experimenting with different recipes.  It really does make everything so much quicker and easier.  We’ve had omelettes packed full of vegetables, quesadillas for the children packed with veggie goodness, gluten-free blueberry muffins.  There are so many things that we can do.  We will probably vlog some of our efforts as we’ve been enjoying doing that.

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We also made a big old mess when we did the ‘How Well Do We Know Each Other’ challenge.  The children enjoyed smashing us in the face with a plate of whipped cream when we got the answers wrong.

and lastly…

I’m preparing for Judah’s 3rd birthday later this month, so I am having a day out today with a friend.  I cannot remember ever doing this since children.  I managed to steal some time away for lunch the other week with my friend Rachael, today I am trying a little bit longer.  It isn’t something that will be a habit, but because of the nature of my shopping trip I can’t have Judah with me without spoiling the surprises.  I gave Martina the day off yesterday to prepare her for having a longer day with the children on her own today… wish us luck, that she copes and I’m not having a panic attack being out without them.  I’m being picked up around 9:30 and will be back after lunch … eek!

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Ten Reasons Why You Should Get an Au Pair

Ten Reasons Why You Should Get an Au pair

This is not a post about how an Au Pair will solve all your household problems, but reasons why it would work with your family.  If you don’t fit the scene set by this list then an Au Pair probably wouldn’t work for you.  After Martina being with us for nearly 4 months now I decided it was a good time to put my fingers to the keyboard and share what we’ve learned.  So here are my top ten reasons why you should get an au pair.

1) You need some help

An Au Pair, is not someone who is a slave, although after hearing some of the horror stories Martina has told me (she meets up with other Au Pairs for her days out, she finds them online) a lot of people think so.  An Au Pair is someone who can provide a helping hand.  They are not there to do everything.  They are a fantastic solution to after school care if you have older children.  Au Pair’s can collect your children from school and play games with them whilst you come home from work.  If you have an Au Pair that likes to cook, they can be really helpful in preparing meals for the children.  They can help with some light house work.  For us Martina is an extra pair of hands.  I was struggling to keep on top of the workload and it was getting me down.  It would’ve cost us approximately £80 a day to send the toddlers to nursery so I could get on top of things, or we could get an Au Pair for between £70-£85 a week.

2) You have a spare room

An Au Pair is someone who lives with you.  Part of their wage is that you provide a roof over their heads and food.  This is a big factor for some people as they don’t think they could cope with the idea of having another person (essentially a stranger initially) in their home.  I don’t think this is something that everyone can handle.  I genuinely believe if you are having any domestic issues then bringing another person into your home is a terrible idea.  It could provide a source of conflict if you aren’t secure in your relationship, especially as Au Pairs stereotypically are young girls seeking adventure and different experiences in a new country.  Again, I’ve heard some awful tales from Au Pairs that Martina has met of young girls who’ve been asked to stay in their room when the host family parents are home.  Like they’re Rapunzel locked in the tower.  If you are not a hospitable person then I would suggest avoiding an Au Pair.  It will just be an awkward atmosphere for you and for them.

3) You are a patient person

Au Pairs usually come over to a different country to learn the culture and language.  They are not trained childcare professionals and sometimes they have had no experience of working with children at all.  Again it depends on what you’re looking for from your Au Pair.  I had no intention of Martina being someone that would watch the children whilst I wasn’t in the home, so it didn’t matter to me that she hadn’t looked after babies and toddlers before as she was going to be another pair of hands.  As the months have passed Martina is excellent with the babies and they have now learned that they cannot run rings around her.  At first it was difficult as we had to go through the whole pushing boundaries again with Judah.  Obviously older children are different.  If you need an Au Pair to watch the children whilst you are not around, Au Pair world recommends that you don’t get an Au Pair for children younger than 2.

4) You know how to delegate

Having an Au Pair is like having a member of staff.  You are the manager and they are your employee.  As you could imagine this would be a terrible scenario if you have an Au Pair that is lazy and doesn’t want to work, also if you are a tyrant boss. I made a timetable for Martina and I when she first came but we now have a good balance where we work together effectively anyway.  It’s important at first to have structure, as it is just as daunting for them trying to figure out what they should be doing, as you may feel having another person in your home.

5) You’re an effective communicator

I thought that this was one I had nailed but it still can result in crossed wires when your native languages are different.  Some people specify that they would like someone fluent in English.  Most Au Pairs are using this experience as a way to learn the language better.  Martina’s English is excellent, but there are a lot of times when I need to remember that she speaks Italian and use pigeon English, or simplify sentences as if you were explaining to a child.  I have always had lots of friends from different countries (Poland, Malta, Italy, Russia), so this wasn’t so difficult a transition for me, but it still led to a few times of confusion.  I chose not to react as I put it down to the fact I must not have communicated what I needed effectively.

6) You’re willing to do some research

I joined a few different websites (we found Martina on Au Pair World) and spent about 6 months debating before we took the plunge to inviting Martina over.  I have a couple of friends who have gone to be Au Pairs in other countries on their Summer breaks from university, so the concept wasn’t completely alien to me.  However, taking the step to actually getting an Au Pair was huge for me.  I added Martina and a few others that were on my shortlist to my facebook page.  I saw their statuses as time passed.  There were girls who were constantly partying, and that’s fine that’s their life, but I knew it wouldn’t work well for our family life.  Then there was Martina, who was cutting off all her long locks and sending it to be made into wigs for children with cancer, and who was always in the library, or dressing up in fancy dress to help with charity events.  I knew that she was the one for us, we both shared a passion for social justice.

7) You can be honest about what you need and what you’re offering

I found it helpful that I am a blogger, I was able to show the shortlists who we were really easily by directing them to our blog.  I knew that a lot of Au Pairs want to live in the big cities, London especially and usually work for families that have some money.  I wanted them to know this wouldn’t be the sort of family that they were coming to, so they wouldn’t be disappointed and I wasn’t disappointed that they had wanderlust after a week.  I was clear with Martina that I would be in the home, I was clear about what we could afford to pay (she was willing to come for less, as she wanted the experience desperately but I needed to at least pay the minimum recommended for my own personal integrity).  Martina is coeliac and I knew what this entailed having my sister and friends who suffer from it too.  So I knew that I would be needing to buy different foods in for our gluten-free friend.  Martina was willing to buy her own food as she didn’t want to be difficult, and her Mum sometimes sends her parcels but on the whole I always buy in gluten-free pasta, bread, pizza bases, treats so that mostly we all eat together and Martina feels a part of the family rather than an outsider.

A girl that she found online, she met up with on a trip to Manchester came over to work with a family.  She is vegan and explained that before coming.  She stated that she wouldn’t need any special food, she would sort that for herself so long as they always had fruit and vegetables in she would be able to sort herself.  The host family said of course but then they never bought fruit and vegetables, so she needed to buy all her own food out of her minimal wage.  This same girl was treated like Cinderella in the home, she had to clean the windows and floors in the house twice a week, iron shirts for the husband for work, and do all the cleaning.  To me this is disgraceful, this is not an Au Pair, this is verging on human trafficking (the difference was of course that she could leave).  This girl was brought into our country under false pretenses and was basically someone’s slave.  She stayed in that position for a year because she had bonded with the children.  It’s awful how some people take advantage of good-natured people.

8) You’re interested in an intercultural exchange

Au Pairs may not only have a different language to you but also a different religion/belief system.  It’s important to be respectful of this.  It’s also great for the children to learn that not everyone is the same as their parents.  Martina has been raised Catholic and believes in God.  She comes to church with us sometimes, we may disagree on some theology, but it never comes up in everyday life and is not a concern to us.  This is something to consider though if you have strict religious beliefs.  You may not want someone communicating different beliefs to your children, although I personally find this interesting as when our children step out into the big wide world they will be subjected to a variation of opinions on everything that they believe.  Why not introduce some cultural differences early on?

9) You have a specific time period where you need an extra hand

There’s no reason why you can’t have another Au Pair once your first one has finished, but it is a lot easier if you know that this is for a season.  It’s become normal for us having Martina in the home.  I am from a big family, so it’s just like having another child to keep my eye on (one that is extremely helpful) or a younger sister.  To me the way we have things set up now, Martina could be with us infinitely, she is no trouble at all.  However, Martina’s lifelong ambition is not to come and live in our home and look after our children indefinitely.  She wants to travel the world and she thought it would be a good idea to improve her English first.  She will be leaving at the end of September, we have already talked about going to visit her in Italy in the future and she may come visit us over Christmas.  I really feel we’ve made a lifelong friend in her, and her family who have been lovely and visited just after Easter.

10) You don’t mind change and trying new things

Having an Au Pair is something I found so daunting, I had no idea how it would go for us, or for Martina.  We had said to her we would have a months trial and that if at any point she wanted to leave I wanted her to say, as there was no point in her being unhappy with us.  Nobody wants that around their children.  It has worked like a dream for us, but as I said earlier I have heard some horror stories.  So why not have a go, it could save you a fortune, provide another person to love your little people (Martina sees them as her younger siblings) and work really well.  What have you got to lose?

If you’d like to know more please feel free to ask questions in the comment box, Martina and I will do our best to answer any and all questions.  Or if you want to hear from her perspective go and check out her blog by clicking here.

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7 Steps to Simplify Your Life

7 Steps to Simplify Your Life

Before I start I just want to point out that none of this is my original thought although I wholeheartedly agree with it 100%.  I was visiting a local church Sunday evening as they had a visiting speaker that I have LOVED for the best part of two decades.  Paul Scanlon is an amazing teacher, trainer and fantastic communicator.  When he said that he would be talking about how to ‘Simplify Your Life’ my iPad notes were even more ready to go if that was possible.

Now I’m not one to just regurgitate things that I have heard, but this was so helpful to me.  I felt that it would be almost criminal to not share this information with the majority of my audience that are busy mothers trying to juggle a life/work/blogging balance.  As a race we crave simplicity but we’re moving further and further away from it with each generation.  It’s true that complexity is costly…the more we have, the more we need to maintain.  Makes sense doesn’t it?  So, with all this in mind I’m going to pass on these little nuggets of wisdom.

If you would prefer to listen to the podcast for yourself then click here.

1) Try to reduce Drama in your world

For there to be drama you need a victim, a villain and a conspiracy theory.  When I was struggling with depression this was so true for me.  I was often the victim, and I would believe that people didn’t like me.  Usually I just had too much time on my hands and I’d decided that they were doing it on purpose.  When the reality was, they probably weren’t giving me any second thought.  I saw some of the people at the weekend who had often made me feel so small, and I had determined in my head, that it would be lovely to see them now that I was happy.  I wouldn’t be searching for little things that backed up my once conspiracy theory.  In this case, it turns out, it actually was them.  I was crazily happy and tried to chat away as normal, they switched on their ‘mean girls’ act and genuinely were as rude as I’d convinced myself they couldn’t be.  I cried for an hour, as it took me by surprise. You know what though, in those scenarios, I have now removed myself.  I will not put myself in their company again.  It is not worth the time, drama, it is not worth risking going back to that place of feeling down, when I’ve been doing so well.  So to reduce that drama, I simply will remove myself from that situation as it isn’t somewhere that I ‘have’ to go.  In our family lives, it’s not always as easy to just cut people out, but if you reduce the drama in your life that you can control, it makes it a lot easier to cope with the real dramas that life throws at us and our loved ones sometimes.

2) Learn to say No

This is so vitally important.  I guess when it comes to the blogging world, you can compare this to linky’s, reviews and projects that really you don’t have time for.  When I first started blogging I was so enthusiastic and wanted to do so many things.  I had so many ideas.  I knew Morgana at ‘But Why Mummy Why‘ from outside the blogging world and I would text her asking if she wanted to join in with these linky ideas that I had.  She would respectfully decline as she already had a lot on that she was trying to keep up with.  I may not have understood it then (I certainly do now, with blogging etiquette, trying to improve readership and lots of commenting) but I 100% respected her decision.  It’s so easy to say yes to things, especially reviews when you’re starting out, but if something is not worth your time, or doesn’t fit in with the ethos of your blog then feel free to say no.

We go out of our way to teach our children that it’s ok to say no.  No if they don’t want to do something in particular, no if they don’t want kisses.  Sometimes in life there are things we just have to do, and we teach them that too.  Other than that I am a firm believer in establishing personal boundaries for myself and for our children.  I was a yes person for far too long and as lovely as it is being the person that people can rely on, it is the fastest way to burn out.  Take the time to love yourself and learn to say no.

3) Try to control your media intake

It is everywhere.  There is so much information flying at us from everywhere all the time.  It can be a distraction and often it isn’t the best information for us.  The internet for one can be an amazing resource that serves us in many ways, but also, in today’s society trial by media is now a disgrace.  It used to be innocent until proven guilty, now the media determines what they think about something and drag names through the gutter to the point that the innocent will probably take their own lives before they even get to trial.  It’s so sad.  Remember to take a step back.  Have a time that you put the phones away.  I love what Katie at ‘Mummy Daddy Me‘ says about having a no technology rule when they go to bed.  It makes it so much easier to switch off, converse with your spouse, have quality time, and actually get the sleep that we need without a twitter message demanding our attention.

4) Get Organised

I love the quote that he used here ‘it’s hard to change the world when you can’t find your keys’ haha.

I’m married to a dyspraxic so I’m very aware of how being disorganised can affect our world.  I love organisation, that doesn’t mean that I’m blaming everything we do wrong on my disorganised husband, it means we just have to work harder together to be organised.  To be fair, James doesn’t ever know what’s going on, I just tell him what we are doing that day.  He has to work extra hard at work to keep track of what is going on.  It usually means for him that he doesn’t leave something until he has finished the task at hand, otherwise he will get sidetracked too easily.

Being disorganised brings complexity and stress into your life that you don’t need.  It affects your own self-confidence, it can cost you financially (yep, disorganised people are the ones who end up paying the late fees).  This doesn’t mean that you need to become OCD, he stated it as a commitment to live well, not live tidy.

The truth is we can only really do what we can organise.

5) Get some Margin in your life

Margin is the distance between you and your limits.  This was so helpful for me.  I have recently been feeling so much better that I have been looking at things around me and wondering what else I can start doing.  Hearing this was literally like a light bulb moment for me.  I felt like God was going *nudge* ‘listen up here’.  I start work in 13 days, I will be working night shifts.  Martina will be going back home at the end of September.  I felt like God said to me, ‘that’s enough for now’.  There is enough change coming into my world at the moment.  Just because I am feeling great doesn’t mean that I’m yet in a place to be offering my services to every man and his dog because I love helping people, and I feel like for once I can.  (I mentioned that I was a yes person for so long).  Through my depression, I learned that there are times I just have to say no.  It’s great that I’m feeling good now, but if I keep piling up then I’m going to not have much distance left between my feeling great and being stretched to my limit.

I love being busy but I have certainly had to learn my limitations as a Mother of 4.  It was all well and good trying to do things for the church, but when I wasn’t managing to cook dinner for my own family or keep on top of the washing then it wasn’t really helping anyone.  Being that way can start to build resentment, and really, it’s only brought on by yourself.

6) Learn to play

This was my favourite point.  I absolutely loved learning this next information.  Now I am by no means a scientist or biologist, neurologist, but I found this fascinating.  He talked about how there are divinely superfluous neurones in our brain that are fired up when we play.  Stimulating these keeps us young.  This will be my biggest reason for doing the crazy challenges with the children on our YouTube channel.  He talked about Grandchildren and how they remind us of the importance of play (I can’t wait for Grandchildren haha, but I would like to keep our little ones small as long as possible first).

He chatted about people who had been through horrendous circumstances and families dealing with cancer and how when they engaged in play, you could see the shift on their faces, because play helps us momentarily forget.  It has the power to shift you, to reintroduce you to fun, joy and happiness.  I discovered this the other week (and I wrote about it ‘Sun, Sea and Sinking Sand) when we decided to venture dangerously off to the sea despite having no changes of clothes.  It was so much fun.  I felt like me again.  I realised the depression had finally lifted and I was beyond happy again.

7) Learn to manage your expectations

This is something I again had to learn the hard way when I was depressed.  Depression is very selfish, it just is.  It is all consuming, and you struggle sometimes to see where everyone else is coming from.  There were many times I wondered why person ‘x’ wasn’t doing what I would do in that situation if I saw myself struggling as an outsider.  People have their own lives though, their own struggles and I am not the centre of their universe, even though I was unfortunately my own.

James could not meet all of my needs, it would be impossible.  If we expect too much from people then nobody ends up happy, they feel stretched trying to make us happy but will only ever fail, and then we feel disappointed.

Paul Scanlon put it like this ‘if you don’t learn to manage your expectation you will have to manage your disappointment’.

Learning to manage your expectations is the greatest gift you can give to yourself.

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‘Just the 2 of Us’ 2015 #12 – {Cinema Date with Isis Mae}

‘Just the 2 of Us’ 2015 #12 – {Cinema Date with Isis Mae}

Saturday morning I was catching up with some blogging before chilling with the family.  The weather was not the best so we were planning on a lazy day.  Isis was helping me by reading a book that we had been asked to review so after we had finished I thought it would be nice to treat her.  I knew that ‘Pitch Perfect 2′ was out at the cinema, and wouldn’t specifically be James’ cup of tea, I’d asked my cousin a day earlier if she fancied it watching it and told me that the reviews she had heard were that it was rubbish.  So, I had put it in my ‘won’t bother with that’ pile.

However, Isis absolutely loved the first one, she saw it on DVD with her Mum.  I knew that it was a 12A so with Isis being 9, James and I had a brief discussion.  We basically decided she would see it on DVD with her Mum anyway probably when it came out and it was a treat to take her out to the cinema for always being so helpful.  We decided to go for it, I knew that if there was anything inappropriate I could always have a chat with her if needed.

The film was on at 11:30 am so it would be over lunch time, I didn’t want her to go hungry, I can usually wait until later, but if she started having hunger pangs, it would take away from the fun of watching, so we treated ourselves to some nachos and popcorn.  This is very rare at the cinema for us, we have decided that the prices are so extortionate it’s better to eat before or go for an ice-cream afterwards, but this was a treat for Isis.

We loved the movie, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, as there wasn’t really much of a plot but we LOVE music, dancing, singing and so we seriously enjoyed it.  It was funny, there were a couple of rude parts but they were funny, they weren’t portrayed crudely.  It certainly wasn’t anything that would destroy her innocence.  The innuendos just went over her head and mostly mine.  I’m really rubbish at getting things like that.

Here are a couple of iPhone snaps we popped on Instagram as we didn’t take the big camera with us (wasn’t really that sort of trip) –

just the 2 of us, justus2, quality time, one on one, mummy and daughter dates, cinema, pitch perfect 2, don't call me step mummy, mummy blogger, parent blog, vlog, movie review

just the 2 of us, justus2, quality time, one on one, mummy and daughter dates, cinema, pitch perfect 2, don't call me step mummy, mummy blogger, parent blog, vlog, movie review
toilet selfie after the movie

Later in the afternoon we filmed a review for our YouTube channel if you’d like to watch.  It’s just a short clip of what we liked about the movie.  If you’re not sure if it’s one to part with your money for then take a peek, we’ll help you decide

If you’ve had any one on one time with any of your littlies this week, from a stolen moment to an outing, feel free to grab the badge (I’m just fixing this now I’m self-hosted, it all went wrong) and link up below, make sure to hashtag on twitter #justus2 and I will be able to find you and retweet…

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{The Ordinary Moments 2015} #22 – Vlogging

{The Ordinary Moments 2015} #22 – Vlogging

Over the past couple of weeks a new ordinary has crept into our lives.  It wasn’t particularly invited, it wasn’t thought out, it definitely wasn’t planned but we tried our hand at something, and it brought us a lot of joy.  We have been having a go at Vlogging.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about making some more memories for us as a family, and being inspired by an interview I saw between Jenny at ‘Let’s Talk Mommy‘ and Lucy at ‘Dear Beautiful‘. Lucy was talking about how there is something about video when capturing children that just can’t be felt the same way on a 2 dimensional still photograph. She is so right, the cute little waddle that Eden has as she walks, the way Shayla’s eyes light up as she goes from somber to happy. Isis doing never ending cartwheels and Judah bopping his head as he dances. These moments are not caught the same on photographs and so we started picking up the camera more in video mode.

We have been experimenting with what sort of YouTube channel that we want to be, or if we will just be eclectic and put whatever we like on there.  We don’t have many subscribers so far so no-one is telling us what they would like to see more of, or less of yet, but maybe we’ll get there.  For now, we are just having fun experimenting with all the different kinds of things that we like to watch on YouTube.

I was recommended to try the ‘My Favourite Things’ Tag by Charlotte at ‘Write Like No-One’s Watching‘ and then Isis had a go too.

The children saw a funny challenge and thought it would be a great idea for James and I to have a go at ‘How Well Do We Know Each Other?’, mainly because it involved us getting our faces covered in whipped cream.

Isis was doing a book review for our blog and decided to add another dimension to it by vlogging about it too.

Shayla has been having a go too, but that is still at editing stage.  We also have been making video diaries and film reviews, chatting about how we’ve been getting on with Eden at hospital and tomorrow I’m going to be unwrapping one of our recent purchases.  We’re not sure, which direction we want to go in.  Isis wants to have a go at hair tutorials, as we love watching ‘Cute Girls Hairstyles‘ and sometimes we make our own variations.  There are so many things that we could maybe do, please if you have any suggestions for us comment below as this is all very new for us.

We’re all having fun and I remembered how much passion I have for media and editing, I studied it at college.  We’ll keep experimenting until we find our groove or until it isn’t fun anymore.  For now we’re enjoying ourselves and the children are loving watching themselves back.  Even Eden at 18 months has started posing and saying ‘cheese’ when she sees me with a camera.  I guess that’s the life for bloggers children.

The more of these memories we can store up and treasure the better for me.  I also had the awful thought recently that if (God forbid) anything happened to James or I then the children would have a more accurate and fuller picture of how much we loved them, who we are as individuals and together, and what we want for them and really think about them.  Having two cousins that we adopted as siblings when I was a child I know that they would’ve loved to have these memories (my sister was telling me the other day).  Their Mum made a beautiful video for them that they’ve watched over and over as years have passed and it is their greatest treasure.  With that in mind we’ve even been getting the Grandparents involved.  It’s enough to help all of us get past our inhibitions and shyness in front of the camera.

As always we’re linking up with the beautiful Katie at Mummy Daddy Me, so make sure you click on the badge below to go see all the other wonderful Ordinary Moments.

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{Me & Mine} 2015 – May

{Me & Mine} 2015 – May

Me and Mine May, Family photo project, Family portrait, Don't Call Me Step Mummy, parent blogger, vlogger, blended family, summertime

Daddy is loving

* His new job by the sea

* Being able to take cheeky lunch breaks with us

* stashing sweets in the car (seriously it’s like a tuck shop)

* all our YouTube challenges

* Mummy being able to move and being happy

Mummy is loving

* Being able to move YAY!!!  Feels like it’s been forever but wuhoo!

* Vlogging, having lots of fun editing

* Sneaking off to the cinema with Isis

* Beach fun and summer days approaching

* Stealing our girls extra with all the Bank Holidays and Half Terms

Isis is loving

* Making YouTube videos with Mummy

* watching Pitch Perfect 2

* listening to Pitch Perfect 2 soundtrack

* putting on lots of make-up and pretending she’s Taylor Swift

* doing Shayla’s hair

Shayla-Rae is loving

* School, she just excels there

* her new phone at other Mummy’s

* playing in the sunshine

* days spent at the park

* smashing whipped cream into Mummy’s face

Judah is loving

* wearing his new hats

* going out lots on his scooter

* walks in the woodlands searching for the Gruffalo

* Minions as always (can’t wait to see his face on his birthday next month)

* Picking beautiful flowers for Mummy

Eden is loving

* singing ‘Peanut Butter Jelly Time’

* wearing headbands again – YAY!

* her pacifier (really need to figure out how to get rid of this now)

* mimicking everything we say

* telling us she loves us

Me and Mine May, Family photo project, Family portrait, Don't Call Me Step Mummy, parent blogger, vlogger, blended family, summertime

I can’t believe we missed the last couple of months.  I take so many photos but always forget to make sure to take some with me in them.  I’m getting better at that recently.  It’s getting harder to photograph us as a family without Eden running off so these were the best ones that we could grab.  We may need to think more creatively next month.  I’m really happy at the moment, and just loving spending time with all our children.  I cannot wait for the Summer Holidays.  I love when we can see the girls longer.  With not having a car to do the school run and dropping a day in the term times, it just doesn’t feel long enough.  In the Summer we will be able to see them more and I can’t wait for our 2 weeks with them all to ourselves.

We have been having so much fun making videos for YouTube, it’s become a real thing that we can do as a family.  We can create ideas together, the children like watching me edit (James can’t abide it, he doesn’t know how I have the patience).  They enjoy watching the videos back and it’s lovely to see it helping them grow in confidence.  Isis has made a radical turn around with her self-esteem.  Just before Christmas she hated how she looked, she would never say that she was pretty.  Now she sees herself on camera and tells me ‘I’m gorgeous, I look really pretty there’.  I love the difference.  I hope no-one ever takes it away from her, the world can try so hard to bring us down at times.  I pray that as my self-worth improves it helps them to keep theirs.

Me and Mine May, Family photo project, Family portrait, Don't Call Me Step Mummy, parent blogger, vlogger, blended family, summertime

dear beautiful