Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The Breakfast Club

The scene: Disgrace Towers.
The time: 7:15am

Rory: (from under his duvet in voice of disgruntled yet soon to be deceased gremlin): "MUMMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE."

Me: "Oh, you're awake then.

Rory: (sounding much like furious snake that has been poked with a stick) "Urghhh. GAHHHH.  GO AWAY MUMMY."

Me: "Oh, I thought you called out for me."

*no answer*

Me: "Rory?"

Rory: (now in voice of vexed hell beast)"I AM A STONE. I AM NOT TALKING TO YOU BECAUSE I AM A STONE."

Me: "Oh, right. I'll be a stone too then."

Rory: Shhhhh Mummy. Stones can't talk."

Me: "OK."

Rory: "I am a stone who doesn't like you, mummy."

And so on until I finally manage to prise grump-o-stone out of bed and fill him full of Coco Pops and bananas.

As you can see, my son is deeply unpleasant before he's had breakfast.  He shouts at me, throws himself on the floor and goes limp so I can't pick him up and refuses to answer questions.  I know how he feels - I'm vile before I've had breakfast too.

Now just imagine you're a child who hasn't had any breakfast.  Imagine going to school and being asked to listen, sit still, take in information, contribute to discussion, fulfil tasks and behave impeccably on an empty stomach.  I couldn't do it and at 34 years old, I have better impulse control than a primary school age child (ahem, one hopes).

Sadly, there are many children in the UK who do go to school without having had breakfast.  Some are neglected, others are from families for whom money is so tight that they just can't afford it.  Others come from perfectly affluent and caring backgrounds, but their parents both work and it's difficult to fit breakfast into the short window if time between waking up and getting the whole family out to school and work.

When I was a teacher, I used to keep a bowl of apples and a packet of Digestives in my cupboard all the time for anybody in my class who came to school hungry (This may make me sound like the patron saint of teachers, but lets be honest - I ate far more of the biscuits myself than I gave away), but while that helps, it's not a long term solution.

Hurrah then for school breakfast clubs, and hurrah also for Kelloggs, who gave over 500 schools a £450 grant from a total funding pot of £23,000 to help fund their breakfast clubs.  Without this funding, many of these clubs run at such a loss that they can't afford to stay open, meaning no breakfast for vulnerable children, so it really is a wonderful and worthwhile initiative.

The campaign was so successful that it's coming back this year and this time there's even more money in the funding pot, so that's at least another 500 schools (and countless children) who are going to benefit from the Kelloggs breakfast club grant this year.  Brilliant news, I'm sure you'll all agree.

If you know of a school which has a breakfast club and would benefit from this grant, tell them to visit Kelloggs here to apply before applications close at the end of January 2013.

I am a member of the Netmums Blogging Network, a unique community of parent bloggers from around the UK who have been handpicked by the Netmums team to review products and brands on their behalf. I have been paid expenses and supplied with a product sample for this review but retain all editorial control. All my Netmums Reviews will display the Netmums logo within the post.

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Friday, 26 October 2012

FOLKSY FRIDAY - Colour Me Fun review and Giveaway

Hello Disgraces, and welcome to my new regular Friday feature.

Every Friday between now and...ummm...nearly Christmas, I will be reviewing an item from a seller on the lovely www.folksy.com and running a giveaway for an item from the same shop.

"But what is Folksy?" you cry.  Well, it's a British online superstore of hand crafted items made by people all over the UK.  Each person sets up their own Folksy shop and lists their handmade items in it.  It's a fantastic resource for buying lovely and unusual gifts, homewares and cards (and, ahem, treats for yourself) and it is particularly satisfying to know that your money is going to a small business.  I have been scouring the Folksy pages to find sellers whose items I think fit in well with the tone of my blog.  I mean that they're quirky and appealing to parents, not that they're sweary and a bit crap, before you ask.

This week, we are kicking off with Colour Me Fun, who make crayons IN THE SHAPE OF COOL STUFF LIKE RACING CARS AND LEGO BRICKS AND PLANES AND SHIT.  Well, not shit.  That would be unappealing to say the least.  You know what I mean.

Tell me it's not just me who nearly wees a little bit at how awesome these are?  And that's not down to a dodgy pelvic floor, believe me.

They sell all sorts of shapes - there's love hearts:
Christmassy ones:
You can even have your name in crayons:
I could go on posting photo after photo of them as they have so many different shapes available, but I'd never get around the the review and giveaway.

Rory and I were very kindly sent a pack of eight robot shaped crayons to review.  They arrived well packaged in a sturdy box with enough bubble wrap to make sure they wouldn't break.

Now, I've been trying to interest Rory in colouring in and drawing for ages now, but he's rarely interested in it.  However, he took one look at the crayons in the shape of robots and announced that "WE MUST DO COLOURING IN IMMEDIATELY, MUMMY."  He then drew and coloured for about an hour, which is something of a record.  I joined in too (God, I love colouring in. And no, I'm not referring to the Sex & the City innuendo there).  We found them easy to use due to the knobbly shape being good for little hands, and the crayons were really good quality and very bright in colour.  They look so good that it feels a shame to use them, but even after an hour of use, the robots still look like robots, so they seem to last a good long while too.  What I liked most about them was that when Rory got bored of colouring, he played with them in other ways.  They became stacking blocks, then characters in a bizarre game involving a Cadillac, Macca Pacca and Noah from Noah's Ark.  he then went on to making letter and number shapes out of them by lining them up.  Brilliant.  I think they'd make a great stocking filler and they'd be perfect for party bags (er, for those of you who actually put thought into party bags, unlike me who just stuffs random tat in two seconds before the guests arrive).  All in all, a 10 out of 10 review from Disgrace Towers.

Now then, if you'd like to win a set of 8 crayons of your choice from Colour Me Fun, complete the Rafflecopter entry form below.  The more tasks you fulfil, the more entries you get.  Please don't claim to have completed a task when you haven't - if you win, I will check, and if you haven't done what was asked, you'll be disqualified.  Sorry.  This giveaway will end next Friday, just in time for the next one to start, so come back and find out who has won and what's on offer next Friday.  Happy weekend to you.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Reading Eggs Review

Now, it's not often that I go all serious on you, but I am 100% serious when I say that this review is about one of  the best reading resources I've ever come across, and I used to teach in primary schools so there's some serious weight behind that statement.  I am also 100% serious when I say that I believe that learning to read is the most important academic skill a child can learn.  So do read on if you're interested in teaching your child to read or enhancing their existing reading skills.

Rory and I have been trialling Reading Eggs; an online program which teaches children to read at their own rate with a series of lessons full of games, puzzles, stories and songs.  He's been interested in letters and words for quite a while now, and I have taught him a lot of letter sounds and how to segment words into different sounds already.  Given this interest, I thought that Reading Eggs would be appropriate for him.  It's suitable for children aged 3-7 (with Reading Eggspress available for 7-13 year olds), and your child completes a small test at the beginning to judge their level so they start in the right place.

For children who are not yet ready for phonics, there is the Play Room area, which contains lots of fun games and activities to help with mouse control and observation, which is perfect for pre-school children and a lot of fun.  Rory has spent a ridiculous amount of time in the Kitchen area of this section creating virtual pizzas and fruit salads.  He enjoys this so much, that I sometimes give him a pad of paper, a pencil and an apron and send him round the room to take orders from everybody so he can play restaurants.  He dutifully scribbles away on the pad and then goes and knocks up a virtual feast for all - brilliant for putting writing in context.

As he had phonic knowledge already, we started the lessons as well, which are recommended for Reception age upwards.  If your child has recently started school, I'd say these lessons are a must as they consolidate everything that is learnt in phonics lessons.  Rory is only just 3, but he still finds the lessons really engaging and easy to understand.  He sits on my knee to do them, so I'm always on hand if he doesn't understand something and I offer him lots of encouragement.  The lessons are bright, fun, obviously good quality and last about 20 minutes, which is the amount of time that tends to be dedicated to phonics each day at school.  The y focus on letter sounds, single words and sentences, just as would happen in school, so they complement existing learning really well.  They are presented by animated characters - so far we have met Sam the Ant and Jazz the Cat and there is a lot of variety throughout sessions, so he doesn't get bored.  He absolutely loves them.  Every day he begs me to "learn his letters" and gets so excited to see what he'll be doing today.  "The best thing ever is when Mummy lets me learn my letters!" he shouted at playgroup the other day, making me look like the sort of awful pushy parent who keeps her child in a box and only lets him come out to do calculus for fun.  That is how much he loves doing them.

But do they work?  Well, that's a big fat yes.  Rory's made a lot of progress already and is becoming really confident in deciphering and spelling out words himself.  Because he's only in pre-school for 15 hours a week and I'm at home with him the rest of the time, I top up by doing little activities with him off the computer to keep track of where he's up to (again, I am NOT that pushy parent - I promise we only do stuff he enjoys and that he wants to do).  Here he is the other day doing a word building sticking activity.  He completed it entirely without any help.  I'm really impressed - this is the sort of thing I'd do with a mid ability reception class at this time of year, not a 3 year old.  And he's bright, but he's not the next Einstein or anything - it's definitely down to Reading Eggs that he can do this already.  This might be making me sound a bit of a smug parent.  Believe me, I was anything but smug when he started shouting "C for Coke!  N for Nuggets!  B-I-G M-A-C" the other day.

I think what I like the most about it is that you can keep track of your child's strengths and weaknesses.  Rory's brilliant at phonics and word building, but clueless re: sentence building at the moment.  But that's fine - if things start getting too tricky, I can just go back and choose a lesson he's done already to re-cap or bide some time before going any further, and if he starts getting frustrated, we can just switch back to using the Play Room and have a break from the lessons.

In fact, the only negative things I can think to say about the whole experience are that occasionally a couple of the puzzles can be a bit glitchy, but that's quite rare, and that I would quite happily smack the Jazz the Cat character in the face with a P-A-N.

If you'd like to try Reading Eggs yourself, go here and have a look: http://readingeggs.co.uk/ It generally costs £39.95 for a full years subscription, which I think is well worth it.  there are often discounts available too, so look out for them.  And just for you, I have a code for a free extended 5 week trial (they usually offer 2 week long free trials, so you get an extra 3 weeks with this code):   UKB24MBT

Do give it a try and let me know what you think.  5 weeks is definitely long enough to make a huge difference, so see what you think.

I was not paid for this review.  Rory and I were offered a 5 week trial of Reading Eggs in exchange for a review if we liked it.  I was under no obligation to write a review at all.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

How to Clean Up Puke (by an emetophobic)

Have you heard of Emetophobia?  It is an extreme phobia of vomit/vomiting and I have it.  I've had it for a long time now - around 23 years to be exact.  And when I say 'extreme' I really do mean extreme - this is not just the normal horror that most people feel when faced with a puking child or a tummy bug, this is life controlling, severely limiting stuff.  I've coped a lot better with it for the last 8-10 years than I did before then.  I'm still a quivering, panicky wreck whenever I have to deal with it, but when I tell you that I used to starve myself so I couldn't possibly be sick and at one point couldn't even leave the house at all because of it, you'll see how far I've come.

Now.  What would be on your list of things not to do when you've got a crippling phobia of vomit?  Training as an early years teacher is probably up there, right?  Because you're sensible. I, however, am not sensible and did exactly that in my mid 20s.  Hurling a-plenty.  Awful.  Not the job; the hurling.  My several years of working in schools and with small children has taught me some helpful tips for dealing with pukey scenarios though, and it's only fair to share, so here's my vom attack list.  Do not read on a full stomach:

You will need:
Two buckets (one for vomit catching, another for vomit cleaning)
Febreeze.  no other air freshener will do.
A metric fuck-tonne of kitchen roll.
Disinfectant a-plenty
Disinfectant wipes (we're not saving the planet here people, we're cleaning up puke)
Bicarbonate of Soda: Lots
A dust mask that covers your mouth and nose if you're like me and are pathetic (find them in B&Q)
And (drumroll) - my secret weapons - lots of sand and an old cereal packet or similar.

Plan of action:
1. ALERT! ALERT! SPRAY THE FEBREEZE, I REPEAT, SPRAY THE FEBREEZE.  Spray it so much that you're all choking on the scent of 'fresh linen' for the next 3 days. Also, open every window in the vicinity.

2. Stick puke bucket under child.  Mad person tip: put on dust mask now to reduce germ and vomit scent inhalation.

3. Assess situation.

4. If the puke has occurred on carpet, a) WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? Have I taught you nothing? Rip all carpets up and cover entire floor of house in laminate flooring or PVC or something.  Carpets and small children = disaster.  b) You're going to have to go straight in with the kitchen roll to mop up and pick up chunks (bleughh), then clean it all up with soapy water before going over it with disinfectant in water.  Sprinkle liberally with bicarb and leave to dry.

5. If the puke has occurred on a solid surface like vinyl or laminate flooring or a table, you're going to make like a school caretaker and go in with the sand.  (Hum the Mission Impossible music here).  Sprinkle handfuls of sand all over the area of pukage. Be liberal with your sand.  You can't possibly use too much.  This will turn it into a solidified mass (heave) which you can then use your old cereal packet to scrape up and dispose of.  Any cardboard will do actually - you just need a bit to scrape with and a bit to scrape onto.  This negates the need to deal with any 'bits' and you can go straight in with the disinfectant and water before bicarbing the area like a mo-fo.

6. Getting rid of the bicarb once the area is dry is a problem.  Hoover it up, but this makes me obsess horribly about germs being in the hoover.  I end up using yet more disinfectant to wipe it down inside and out and chucking the hoover bag away.

7. Turn attention to child.  Plonk in empty bath and remove clothes.  Put clothes in washing machine to boil wash.  Hose down child with plenty of soap and water.  Dry.  Re-clothe.  Surround with towels.

8. If you're me, scrub self raw whilst sobbing and shaking, followed by disinfecting every single door handle, centimetre of floor etc etc.  Hopefully you're normal - if so, don't bother with step 8.

TOP TIP:  One of the schools I worked at gave children shallow bowls to vomit into, which they kept ready-lined with paper towels.  The shallow depth resulted in less splashback and the paper towels meant that the whole lot slid nicely down the toilet and left the bowl more or less clean, which meant that it just needed filling with water and bleach and leaving to stand rather than a traumatic amount of rinsing out and emptying.

There you go - hopefully that helps.  And if you're wondering how I can possibly be as phobic as I say I am after reading all of that, then believe me - last time my husband vomited in the toilet when he had a tummy bug, I had such a bad panic attack that I lost all feeling in my hands and face for 12 hours.  If you're like me, all you can really do is prepare yourself, think of a strategy and try and block it out while you're dealing with it.  And only have a child with someone who doesn't mind dealing with it - that's helped on most of the occasions.

Linking up here: http://mumsmakelists.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/top-tips-cleaning-up-sick-wee-worse.html  Have a look for more tips for cleaning up unpleasant bodily emissions.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

When Bad Things Happen to Good People's Bathrooms.

Lets be honest straight away: I am writing this post to enter a competition to win £2500 towards some serious home renovation.  I'll post the details at the bottom so if you live in a similarly afflicted house to mine you can enter too.  However, once you've seen my bathroom you won't need to enter because your house will look like a palace in comparison.  Seriously, I spend untold amounts of time praying that visitors won't need a wee because the bathroom is that shameful.

Cue some horror music to add atmosphere to the proceedings. We are going for the multi-sensory approach here, so if you could also waft a bottle of bleach under your nose at the same time, that would help too:
(ignore the video - we just need the sound effects for this journey)

We'll start gently:

That doesn't look too bad does it?  For a start, it's sparkling clean - I always make sure I keep our bathroom seriously clean as I don't want people seeing the mess it's in and thinking we live in total squalor.  Just because it's a DIY disaster area doesn't mean we're not clean.

See, sparkling. Albeit in serious need of some new sealant:

Moving on a little, lets take a closer look at those tiles:

These were the height of fashion in...wait...NEVER.  Although it's entirely possible that in 1992, someone saw them in a shop and thought "meh".  I loathe them.  I loathe them more than if the bathroom was a never-been-decorated-since-the-70s affair. At least awful 60s and 70s tiles have character.  These ones are just naff enough for visitors to imagine that we have no taste.  (We didn't choose them by the way - they were here when we moved in, along with the rest of the monstrosities that we inherited from the previous owners).

WOOAAAAAAAAAAAH! Just threw you in at the deep end there.  This is the result of a plumbing disaster of many moons ago.  Insect infestations tend to live in it and it cannot be hygienic.  Here we have tiles hanging off the wall, bare plaster, chipboard that's been hacked into and exposed toilet pipes. Hurrah.  

Aaaaaand here's a bit that looks like a rat's gnawed it.  I'm assuming that no rats have gnawed it, but hey - what do I know?

Home to a thousand spiders.

Yes, the floor tiles stop about 4 inches short of where the bath starts.  Because that's a great look.  Also visible is where the bath was particularly crappily installed and is coming away from the wall.  Oh happy day.

Not pictured (because it's too shameful to do so) is the grouting on the bath tiles that are orange with dirt. Disclaimer: they were like that when we moved in and it doesn't matter how much bleach/bicarb/whatever product it is that Jacko off Brushstrokes advertises I throw at it, it will not get clean.  Also not pictured is the crappy shower that graces your body with something akin to a spray of gnat urine rather than the thunderous elephant wee that dreams are made of (um, sort of, only less kinky).

"Why do you live like that?" I hear you ask.  Well, we moved into this house with the intention of doing some serious work on it, but then I fell pregnant with Rory unexpectedly (seriously - several gynaecologists who said I couldn't have children were proved wrong) so I gave up my salaried job to look after him and...well...here we are, blessed with the child we thought we'd never have, but penniless because I stay at home to look after him. I'd rather have my time with my miracle baby than any amount of money, but that doesn't stop me from feeling utterly depressed at all the things we can't afford to do to the house as a result.

So...that's my bathroom as it is now.  This is your cue to stop the horror music above. We'll change the soundtrack now. You can put down your bottle of bleach also and breath in the light, fragrant scent of spring blossoms:

This is what I want:

OK, not two sinks (due to bathroom being miniscule) and not a corner bath, but a calming, old fashioned oasis in pale green and white with panelling on the walls and bath instead of those godawful tiles, a bit of storage under the sink so I can banish Rory's toys there (never again will I be forced to take a bath with Thomas the Tank Engine and chums grinning at me from the bath rack like steam fuelled pervs).  Floor tiles that...you know...actually cover the FLOOR (imagine that!), I'll make green striped roman blinds for the windows to hide the unidentifiable bit of sticky stuff that nothing on this earth will shift from them (didn't photograph that - your constitutions are not strong enough) and - most importantly - NO GAPING HOLES where the wall has been hacked into.  There's a lot more on my Pinterest board here:  http://pinterest.com/disgracefulmrsj/bathroom/ and I've done a few (very vague) sums in my head and worked out that stripping the whole lot out and replacing with a lovely new bathroom suite, floor, panelling, curtains etc would probably come to around the £2500 mark, whereas a budget version of this operation (keep the current bathroom suite but strip off tiles and replace with panelling, new floor tiles, blinds, accessories etc would come to around £500 - which is handy because that's the runner up prize.  See what I did there?

What else? I'd get Rory to make some bubble art in toning greens and beiges to frame and put on the walls (good old charity shop photo frames painted white would be perfect) and a couple of bathroom/relaxation themed family photos too perhaps.  Plus I'd dig out some batteries for my much loved and trusty old cream Roberts radio as it would look perfect in there - and who doesn't need a bit of Classic FM in the bath?

I'd like to imagine that all of this will automatically make us into the sort of family who lounge around the house stylishly in matching understated pyjamas and always eat organic.  I'm also imagining that it will magically make my jeans fit again and mean that the house will never need cleaning.  The chances of that are slim to none, but what I can promise it would do is stop me from feeling embarrassed whenever guests have to use our bathroom and assuage my guilt over giving up a decently paid job to stay at home with my son and write for a pittance.  Fingers crossed, eh?

Ratedpeople.com Builders

Tots100 Home Decor/Renovation Competition in association with rated People.  to enter, go here: http://www.tots100.co.uk/2012/10/16/dont-miss-your-chance-to-win-a-2500-makeover/

Image credits: sinks and panelling originally published online here: http://www.kitchenclarity.com/2010/05/green-paint-for-a-relaxing-bath/
Panelled bath originally published online here:

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

"I SEE DEAD PEOPLE" Join in with my creepy Halloween linky

I'd just put Rory to bed the other night when he called me into his room to ask me a question.  This is an irritatingly normal occurrence and the question is usually along the lines of "why do flies exist?" or "why can't I wee out of my eye holes?"  This time, however, the question was "is that lady downstairs going to come and say goodnight to me?"


"Umm, what lady, Rory?"

"You know - that lady who's downstairs. By the fireplace. She's called Felicia."


"What's she doing downstairs?"

"I'm not sure. I think she was looking for something."


Needless to say, there was no lady downstairs and Felicia is not a name that my son is familiar with.  He was, however, absolutely insistent that she had been downstairs just before bedtime.  I mean, he does come out with some absolute bollocks sometimes, but I can always tell really easily when he's making things up, so I've come to the conclusion that either some ghostly type called Felicia was poking around by my fireplace, or Rory really and truly thought that he'd seen what he told me.  

I can't decide which.  My house isn't the slightest bit scary or uncomfortable.  But odd things do happen - things disappear and reappear in odd places etc.  However, I can clearly remember regularly hallucinating a racing track complete with cars whizzing around it in our living room when I was 2 or 3 years old and being too scared to get off the sofa because I could see that the cars would run me over.  who knows what goes on in the minds of little children?  Maybe they really can see spirits.  Maybe they just have such vivid imaginations that they can't control them or tell the difference between fantasy and reality.  

In any case, it's made me think differently about something that happened a few nights before the Felicia incident:  Rory was tossing and turning all night with a cold and making such a racket shuffling about that I couldn't sleep.  Richard had fallen asleep on the sofa downstairs in front of the television. I was finally drifting off to sleep at about 3am when Rory called out for me.  I woke up and decided that I was so tired I wasn't going to get up for him unless he called me again.  When he called for the second time, I shifted to get out of bed, when I heard Richard coming up the stairs.  I heard Rory saying that he wanted me and being told that it was too early to get up and he had to go to sleep, then Richard going back downstairs again.  I mentioned it in the morning, but Rich was adamant that he'd never left the sofa all night.  Gulp.  Was it Felicia or one of her mates?  Was my husband just sleep walking?  We will never know.

I think I'm too much of a hardened cynic to really believe in ghosts, but I love a good ghost story all the same.  So as this has neatly coincided with the run up to Halloween, I thought I'd run a Linky/Meme/whatever it's called for you to link up with your true creepy stories.  It could be your child having a Paranormal Activity moment a la Rory, or something from your childhood - or anything really.  Just add the link to your post below and make sure you include the link to this blog post in your post so everyone knows where to go to read some more scary tales:  http://howtobeadomesticdisgrace.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/i-see-dead-people-join-in-with-my.html

Happy haunting!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

'Baking' for slackers: Chocolate Ginger Rocky Road

Slack people should be able to bake too, even if they only have one square metre of kitchen worktop left that isn't covered in precarious piles of washing up.  We may be slummy, but we can make something yummy (this is a handy motivational chant that you can use for the duration of the following exercise in slothful baking).

So, today we will be making Chocolate Ginger Rocky Road.  The main reason for this is that Rocky Road is perfect for the sluggish.  You don't even have to turn the oven on and it mainly involves bashing stuff up and stirring it together.  Can we mix it?  Yes we can.  The ginger element has been added because I will do absolutely anything for any item of food that involves the combination of dark chocolate and ginger.  You may think I'm exaggerating there, but I'm not.  Seriously.  I'll do owt.

We are also going to be using as many Fairtrade ingredients as I could lay my hands on to support the Big Fair Bake (see bottom of post) and because sometimes slackers care.

You Will Need:
* A nice big bar of Fairtrade dark chocolate with ginger.  Green & Blacks do a nice one.
* Some Gingernut biscuits. About 12.
*A handful of Fairtrade apricots
* Some marshmallows. However many are left at the bottom of the bag after you've shovelled them into your mouth in a sugar frenzy.
* Golden syrup: some.
* Butter: Some. I'm not very specific am I? Errr, a  tablespoon maybe?

* You're going to want to break up the Gingernuts into smallish pieces.  Slacker tip: Put in a freezer bag and throw on the floor a few times, then get toddler to stamp all over it.  With a bit of luck it won't burst.

* Now cut up your marshmallows and apricots with scissors.

Here's a photo.  I would have liked it to be a pretty food blogger style photo, but lets be honest; our camera is held together with parcel tape and I had a 3 year old giving me a wedgie when I took it:

* Now it's time to melt the chocolate. I imagine you're supposed to use some sort of bain marie arrangement here, but sod that - we're idle and we're going to put it in the microwave.

* Now stir all the biscuit and apricot and marshmallow pieces into the melted chocolate until it's all coated.

Time for another sub-standard photo:

* Dollop the mixture into cake cases and put in the fridge.  Photo sideways for unknown reason. Pfff.

Sprinkle with icing sugar when fully set if you're feeling keen.

And there you have it: A tray full of delicious, Fairtrade friendly, home made treats (and they really are delicious) - minimal effort required.  It is now time to sit on the sofa stuffing your face while you read Take a Break.  

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Water Baby

Regular readers will be well aware that Rory was something of an...um... 'special' baby.  He emerged as 7lbs 8oz of spring loaded trouble and set to work tormenting us with his own brand of evil genius.

Have you read the Baby Whisperer?  If so, you'll know what I mean when I say that completing 'what temperament does your baby have?' quiz revealed him to be a Spirited Baby.  It turns out that this is a polite way of telling you that you have drawn the short straw of all babies, because yours is not going to sleep, will disagree with feeding, will crawl and walk early and is going to take malevolent delight in eating your degree certificate and poking all your worldly goods up the chimney.  As I read the advice for parents of Spirited Babies, I could practically hear the noise of a sad trumpet going "WAH WAH WAH WAAAH" in the background while an imaginary parade of parents with much more promisingly named Angel Babies skipped past our house with their middle fingers up.  At 3 months old, our health visitor took one look at him escaping from his Bumbo by rocking backwards and forwards at speed and ricocheting under the sofa and said "yeah, you won't sleep for the next two years, you're going to tear your hair out and he's going to drive you insane, but he'll be be a lovely toddler."  Not much comfort to two people who are existing on a measly couple of hours sleep per night and seriously considering re-naming their child Genghis.

He was beautiful though - all fluffy curls and huge blue eyes.  And I've never heard a baby laugh as much as Rory did or show as much enthusiasm and wonder at anything, which brings me to the picture below.

This is Rory at 11 months old experiencing the shower for the first time.  He was absolutely transfixed and so content watching the water trickling onto his hands that I had to take a photo.  This picture captures a moment of calm in the storm that was Hurricane Rory - a rare ten minutes in which my sparky little boy stood still and was happy to just 'be'.  I wondered what he was thinking about as he laughed at the water. He looks so innocent, and every time I look at this photograph I want to kiss his chubby baby cheeks again and snuggle him into a towel.  He may have been a difficult little blighter back then, but he was my difficult little blighter and I love him more than 30 angelic babies.

The next day, he stole the colander out of the kitchen cupboard and poured a full sippy cup of water through it onto the sofa, which explains what he was thinking about.  Like I say; spirited.

This blog post has been written as an entry into the Tots100 competition in association with Boots Mother and Baby