What’s new in the mouse house


Actually, not much really.

I’ve just renewed my domain thingy which costs actual real money, and it made me think that maybe I should try a bit harder with this blog thing. I’ve been saying that for months actually, but I can’t quite find enough balance in our busy life. There’s just not much room for this, but I wish there was. I’ve always found writing about my life very therapeutic, and I still do. I really love having things written down to look back on too. I quite often read my old posts when they pop up on Timehop.

On the whole, life is really good right now. Apart from the usual money worries (how is Christmas so soon??) we’re doing really well. My mental health was worrying me for a while, but I feel like I’ve really got a grip of things at the moment. I’ve been feeling quite a bit better physically too, with migraines now a very rare occurrence and they’re mild even when they do appear. A combination of amitryptaline and sertraline seems to really work for me. I’ve had no aura, no flashing lights in my vision, and much less neurological pain. I’m tired though, and I haven’t been looking after myself. I still eat too much junk food. I really don’t need a big bar of chocolate every evening, but somehow I feel like I do. I’ve put weight on, I’m sure. Which isn’t great because I want to lose quite a bit, but it’s not the end of the world.

The big kids are doing great, with the eldest being made house captain at her school. Their days with us have been full of fun, with lots of train trips and boat trips and days spent in Techniquest doing science. Second kid made a gorgeous crown for a school project, and biggest kid has got really into photography. She turns 11 next week and has asked for a fancy camera.

Iris is still going to the local nursery two mornings a week and absolutely loves it. It’s a bilingual setting, and she keeps singing Welsh songs at home! She’s starting praising me in Welsh when I’ve done something ‘clever’ like using the toilet. Da iawn Mummy! I have no idea what she’s been getting up to there, but there’s a coffee morning coming up where I can talk to her key worker about how she’s doing. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s half term now, and I know she’s really going to miss it. She does have a Halloween disco to go to on Friday though! She’s got a witch costume but keeps telling me she doesn’t want to wear it, so she’ll probably go in her usual clothes.

We’ve not been letting the colder weather keep us indoors, which is lucky really as Iris now knows there’s a whole tv channel that just shows Peppa Pig all day every day and if we stayed at home she’d insist on watching it constantly. Because it’s been colder, we often get the big park in Pontypridd all to ourselves. If we go towards the end of the day there’s a tannoy announcement about the park closing, and Iris takes it much better from the tannoy than from me. This has reduced the amount of public tantrums by quite a few!

Astrid is doing really well. I planned to use the time Iris spends at nursery to spend some time with just Astrid, but she’s decided to sleep all morning nearly every time. It means I get some time to myself, but also means I have no excuse to ignore the dishes and laundry!

After struggling to dye my roots I decided that bleachy blonde hair was way too much hard work, and this week I went brunette. The plan is that it’s similar to my natural colour and so I can just stop dying my hair now. It’s just too much work and I can’t be bothered. I’ll probably change my mind. I have trouble committing to one colour!

With Astrid going to sleep pretty early in the evenings with Iris not far behind, I feel like we’ve got a little bit of time for us again. It’s nice. We’ve been watching Grey’s Anatomy from the beginning again. It’s weirdly nostalgic for me. Even though I was very late to it as a series, I watched it all when Iris was a tiny newborn. She never slept so I gave up going to bed. It’s such a good series and it kept me from getting really down during the worst days of sleep deprivation. Trevor caught the odd episode here and there, and he’s now enjoying filling in the gaps. I feel a bit bad about all the hours we’re spending watching tv because I really want to read some of my pile of unread books. I guess they can wait. One benefit to tv over books is that I can do something else at the same time. I’ve been crocheting loads, and finally finished Astrid’s star blanket that I started before she was born. Iris has one I made two years ago, and it’s nice that they’ve got one each now. I also made Iris a doll, which she has named ‘Jo with the bow’, but she refuses to play with it and says she doesn’t like it. I’m trying not to let that upset me!

My sister had a new baby when we were away camping in August, and we’ve been trying to get together as often as possible so we can all get to know my new baby niece. It’s great to get all the kids together anyway, as our little two and my sister’s three are all similar ages. I think cousins should be your first friends if possible, and I didn’t spend much time with mine as a kid. Now we’re not in contact at all, and I’d love for my kids and my sister’s kids to be there for each other even when they’re all grown up.

There’s been talk of getting a new kitchen here, even though we’re a long way from having the cash for it. I’m trying to convince Trevor that we need a dishwasher, but I don’t think he’s persuaded yet. We have a fairly good size kitchen, but it’s poorly designed and laid out in such a way that we actually don’t have much surface or storage space. If it was shuffled around we could easily fit a dishwasher plus more cupboards and more worktop space. Our bathroom needs doing too, plus we have a small hallway with a bare concrete floor that needs carpet or something. Our daft dog Seb has a thing for eating underlay and will happily rip up carpet to get to it. Thankfully that tiny hall was the only bit of carpet downstairs. Perhaps it might be better to put laminate in there.

I’ve started to think about what I want to do when it’s time for me to go back to work. I don’t think I’ll be doing anything anytime soon because childcare for two is too expensive. I’m thinking about not going anywhere to work at all, but childminding from home. I have a couple of friends who do it, and although hard work it does look like a good way to make some cash. I’ve worked with small children most of my adult life and have the relevant qualifications already, so it makes sense. I don’t plan on doing anything at least until next September when Iris will start nursery class at school. We applied for her place last week, which felt like a parenting milestone I was not ready for. She’s only 2!

It’s getting colder and the heating has been on a little bit for the first time this season. It feels like winter is finally on it’s way and I’m relieved for a change. Halloween has been spoilt a little bit this year by those stupid idiots dressing as clowns that we keep seeing on the news. The big kids have said they don’t want to go outside on Halloween, and I don’t feel much like it either. There have been quite a few clowns reported to police around here. Hopefully bonfire night will be better! We went to the display in Ynysangharad Park last year, and it was great. We’ll probably do the same this year. I love the big organised displays, but seeing fireworks for sale in supermarkets makes me nervous. How can it be right that anybody can pick up explosives when they’re just popping in for some bread?

We’ve started thinking about Christmas here, and like every year we’ve decided not to buy as much, even though we never manage to stick to any kind of budget. I want to buy Iris a balance bike and perhaps a Lottie doll but other than that I have no idea. Astrid has all of the old toys belonging to three big sisters to play with, so she really doesn’t need anything. Plus she’ll turn 1 just a couple of weeks later, meaning she’ll get even more presents she doesn’t need! I think we’re going to need a serious sort out before we do any shopping.

I don’t have any more news I want to record, so I’m signing off here. I’ll probably think of something else in a minute!

Astrid at 9 months

designI’ve been so incredibly crap at keeping records of what Astrid has learnt and how much she has grown. I was brilliant at this when Iris was tiny, so obviously I’m feeling all guilty and like I haven’t loved my children equally. So ridiculous!

This year has been such a whirlwind. There has been so much chaos and I’ve been so exhausted, but there’s also been so much fun and laughter. Astrid has completed our already rather huge family and she has bought us all so much joy. And stress too, of course.

She was such an easy newborn. She slept when I put her down. She was really laid back, portable, easy to feed and really cuddly. Once she started smiling she didn’t stop for a while, and seemed so jolly. Then she went through a leap or something and screamed almost non stop for a few months. It pushed me right to the edge and I’m not ashamed to admit that I briefly wasn’t coping at all.

All of sudden, out of nowhere, jolly Astrid came back. Thank goodness.

She’s rarely without a smile now. She has such a round squishy face and big deep dimples in her cheeks. Her fluffy blonde hair quite often sticks up in a happy sort of way, and she just lights up a room. She’s much rounder than Iris was as a baby, and Trevor often says she’s ‘a dollop of baby, like somebody got a big spoon and scooped her out of a tub of baby and dolloped her there’. I can’t argue with that.

Breastfeeding her has been so easy, especially in comparison to how feeding Iris was. She’s never done the cluster feeding thing, or the feeding for hours on end thing. She’s efficient and when she’s done she’s done. Feeding her solids has been so easy too. She loves food. Like Iris, she won’t be spoon fed. She absolutely refuses to be helped in any way. She hates mushy purée type stuff, much preferring stuff she can hold. She literally stuffs handfuls of food in her face, and makes happy ‘yom yom yom’ noises the whole time she’s eating.

She’s been mobile for a while now, and crawls all around at high speed. She pulls herself up to standing too, much to Iris’s disgust. She can reach toys even when Iris attempts to put them out of her reach. We’ve had to go back to being careful what we put on the coffee table, and once I forgot which ended with Astrid wearing a cup full of pink milkshake. I have a feeling she will walk earlier than Iris did, and honestly I’d rather she didn’t. She’s growing up far too fast for my liking!

She has two teeth now, and has started biting me when she’s breastfeeding. Ouch!

Just this weekend, she’s started saying ‘Dada’ and seems to know it’s the word for Trevor. If he leaves the room or she can’t see him she’ll call ‘daaaada’ until he returns.

Unlike Iris as a baby, Astrid likes her sleep. By this age I’m sure Iris had started having two naps per day a roughly the same time. Astrid has lots of naps and is completely unpredictable. She’s usually asleep much earlier in the evening than Iris used to be. Sometimes she’s ready for bed as early as 6:30! At the moment she’s struggling with a cold and her teeth so isn’t sleeping as well, but usually she only wakes once or twice a night for a quick feed and then goes straight back to sleep.

On the whole, she’s now a pretty easy baby to look after. She’s clearly not going to let being the youngest of 4 girls affect her, and already knows how to make sure she gets lots of attention. She’s a joy to be around (apart from when she’s angry – poor thing has my temper!) and has filled a hole we didn’t know was there. Her relationship with Iris is beautiful, and I’m enjoying watching it develop. I’m a bit shocked that bickering starts so young, but when they play together it’s so lovely to see.

Caketoppers – A review

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Oh how I love cake. It must be hereditary too, because both my little ones are obsessed with it. I try to limit it to special occasions, but I have to admit that Iris does have a ‘cake dance’ and loves a trip to a cafe for a slice of cake. Oops. Obviously, when I was offered the opportunity to try out some personalised cakes I didn’t hesitate. Yes please! I chose two images for my icing, and a few days later my cupcakes arrived. 

There was something a bit strange about seeing the faces of my kids in sugar form, but I got over it quite quickly. The autumn sun has been shining here, and so we packed the cupcakes up and headed to the park for a picnic. 

Shop bought cupcakes can be dry and a bit tasteless, especially chocolate flavour ones. But these were squishy and soft and not dry at all. I received one white sponge and one chocolate one. 

I’ll be honest, I only got a small nibble of each before Iris and Astrid decided they deserved them more. Iris thought seeing her face on a cake was pretty funny, and took some persuading to actually eat the icing. She kept trying to peel it off! I’m not a big fan of thick icing. Kids birthday cakes have way too much for me, and I usually leave it behind. Cake toppers use much less, a good amount but not too thick. 

The quality of the printed pictures was pretty good. I’ve only seen photographic cakes done by supermarket bakeries before, and these were better. I’d definitely order them again, for birthday presents or for parties. I think they’d make a good gift for new parents too! Baby cakes! 

Caketoppers cakes are available to order from www.caketoppers.co.uk 

*we were gifted two cupcakes for the purposes of this review, but all opinions and photographs are my own* 

Autumn. Again.

Photo 02-10-2016, 17 24 29.pngNormally at this time of year I’m completely in denial about the summer ending and autumn beginning, but this year I am not.

I’m not sure if it’s having babies or all the extra weight I’m carrying around, but I’ve gone from being the person who is always cold to always being hot and sweaty. I’ve had enough now. I don’t look good in summer dresses or bikinis. I want layers and knitwear and clunky boots. If I really must wear a dress I want to wear it with woolly tights. I definitely want to stop caring about how hairy my legs are now. photo-02-10-2016-17-32-58

Why does it keep raining when it is far too warm to wear a coat?

I also feel kind of odd about the cooler weather coming. Winter means Astrid’s birthday, and I just don’t understand how I don’t have a newborn anymore. When did that happen?

photo-02-10-2016-17-32-46We’ve already been collecting conkers. Iris has a whole bucket full of them and I have no idea what to do with them. Any crafty conker ideas this way please! At 27 months, I think Iris is just about starting to appreciate craft activities. Somehow autumn feels like craft season. I’ve been crocheting quite a bit when I can, and I really feel like doing some knitting. Or maybe cross stitch. Iris loves playing with glue and glitter, so I really should come up with some new ideas for things she can create. photo-02-10-2016-17-33-48

Halloween and Bonfire Night are two of my favourite celebrations! I’m really looking forward to carving pumpkins and watching fireworks. I’m a little bit worried that Iris won’t like fireworks this year. She’s developed a bit of a sensitivity to loud noises recently, and gets quite scared when noisy vehicles pass by or a hand dryer unexpectedly comes on. It’ll be a shame if we have to skip the display in our local park. It was so good last year! photo-02-10-2016-17-33-56

I sometimes write a list of things I want to do or achieve in Autumn. It helps to keep me motivated to fill our days when the cold weather is getting me down, but I don’t feel like it this year. I’ve got lots of ideas and want to do lots of fun things! I want to keep us outdoors as much as possible whatever the weather. I don’t cope well with being trapped indoors, and both of my little ones seem to have inherited that. DSC01970.JPG

Waterproofs and welly boots at the ready, we’ll still be having adventures all over!


Win a family photoshoot with Sweet Whimsy Photography 


A while back, we had a lovely family photoshoot in a strawberry field with the lovely Donna of Sweet Whimsy Photography. We’d never had a family photo shoot before. The whole idea of posing in a studio made me feel uncomfortable. I’m not a fan of being in front of the camera, and so very few of our snaps feature me. It’s as if I don’t go along when my family go out or go on holiday!

img_1488When Donna contacted me and told me that she doesn’t use a studio, preferring to capture families outdoors doing something fun, I was immediately interested. We met at Hendrewennol Fruit Farm in the drizzle on a grey day in July. The results are wonderful! Pictures that we will treasure forever. Donna really put us at ease, and I’m pretty sure Iris completely forgot that she was there.

Now Donna is giving away a £50 photo shoot voucher, and you can enter just by signing up for her newsletter. If you live in South Wales this is an opportunity you just can’t miss!

To enter, click here to head to the Sweet Whimsy Photography website and enter your email address.

Good luck! 

*all images by Donna Loring of Sweet Whimsy Photography* 

Starting at meithrin 

Last week Iris started at the the local meithrin, two mornings a week. I think it’s fair to say that she handled it better than I did. You could be fooled into thinking she was dreading it by the expression on her face in this picture! Actually I think she was just puzzled by me and Trevor taking so many pictures of her on the doorstep! 

We’ve been talking to her about starting ‘school’ all summer, and she remembers the day we popped in to fill in the forms and she played with some of the toys. She also remembered the big fancy bikes in the garden and has been desperate to start so that she can try them out. 

On her first morning, she walked in and sat in the sandpit. Trevor came with us, and we told her we were leaving and would be back to pick her up in a little while. “Alright, bye” was her response, and she barely even looked up. I was gutted and relived and so very proud all at once. There were no short sessions or settling in visits for my girl. She didn’t need it. (I’m choosing to believe that my attachment style of parenting – that so many people said would make her clingy – has made her confident, and safe in the knowledge that I’ll always come back  and be there when she needs me).

I have very mixed feelings about using childcare. I’m not working. I didn’t need childcare. I feel guilty for spending two and a half hours twice a week without her. But I’m doing it for her. She’s a very sociable girl, and we don’t always make it to groups and stuff. Often Astrid, me and Trevor are the only people she speaks to for days. I don’t think that’s enough for her! I’m also hoping that starting school next year will be less of a shock, both because she’ll be used to being away from me and because she’ll hopefully already know some of her classmates. 

While she’s there, me and Astrid have some time to play the baby games she’s no longer interested in. It feels like such a break to have just one baby again for a bit!